Oracle Marketing on Tap

SAN MATEO (05/21/2000) - In keeping with its single-source product strategy, Oracle Corp. this week debuts marketing elements of the CRM (customer relationship management) component of the Oracle 11i E-Business ERP (enterprise resource planning) suite.

Although industry observers applaud the business value of the 11i software, others say that a best-of-breed approach is still a viable option in lieu of evidence that Oracle's approach, which is to keep applications on a single server and provide users with Web access, can work.

The Oracle Marketing modules of 11i cover the major steps of a marketing campaign from the preliminary stages, which include planning, pricing, and promotion, to the execution phase, which encompasses multiple interactions with customers and analysis of the sales and marketing promotion via existing data warehousing and mining tools, said Juliette Sultan, vice president of CRM product strategy at Oracle.

Oracle Marketing is one of five main groups that constitute Oracle's CRM offerings. The others are Oracle Call Center and Telephony, Oracle Sales, Oracle E-Commerce, and Oracle Service. Each group has its own set of specific modules.

One of the major differentiating features of the Oracle Marketing software is the underlying integration with other components of 11i, Sultan said. For instance, Oracle Marketing provides links between the leads generated by campaigns and the 11i order management system, she said.

The Oracle Marketing software can also capture leads and sales generated via the multiple channels of an e-business, such as the Web, call centers, or e-mail. The Oracle iMarketing module can be used for online marketing efforts such as affiliate advertising management, banner campaigns, online event sign-ups, surveys, discounts, and coupons, Sultan said. The iMarketing software can also be applied to product recommendations or substitutions derived from shoppers' profiles or information about product availability.

Although Oracle is ahead of its ERP and CRM competitors as far as vision is concerned, the 11i suite, including Oracle Marketing, "hasn't been tested in the field yet," said Steve Bonadio, an analyst at Meta Group, based in Stamford, Conn. The vendor has not been able to provide customer references for 11i in spite of a fairly persuasive business value proposition, Bonadio said.

"We're not convinced that it works," he said.

Even so, Oracle has the parts that can enable users to bridge the gap between stand-alone CRM and back-end systems, Bonadio said. If Oracle can "tie it all together, [11i] will be significant," he said.

As for Oracle Marketing's acceptance by users, it will come down to a choice between the benefits of an integrated suite vs. best-of-breed, Bonadio said.

Users who are standardized on Oracle are more likely to seriously consider Oracle Marketing whereas those in the best-of-breed camp might be better off sticking with that approach unless Oracle can provide more compelling reasons to switch, Bonadio said.

Oracle Marketing for Oracle 11i is available now, and pricing information can be accessed via the Oracle Store.

Oracle Corp., in Redwood Shores, California, can be found at www.oracle.com.

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