Oracle On Demand CRM Software Review
By Edy Jacobson
Table of Contents
Price and Service Offerings
Sales Force Automation (SFA)
Business Intelligence (BI)
Software Customization and Integration
Data Center Security and Reliability
Professional Services Support and Training
Other Comparable Vendors To Consider
Oracle CRM On Demand is Oracle’s answer to the burgeoning software as a service (SaaS) CRM industry that was popularized by Salesforce.com. Oracle originally entered this market with its acquisition of Siebel Systems in 2006 and began marketing the Siebel On Demand CRM that was still in its early stages of development. Realizing that Siebel On Demand was a weak competitor to Salesforce.com, Oracle set about building a more formidable on demand product. After three years of hard work and acquisition of another hosted CRM company (UpShot), Oracle has finally built a product to compete favorably with Salesforce.com and other leading SaaS solutions.
While significant progress has been made in building a stand-alone sales force automation tool, Oracle CRM On Demand continues to appeal primarily to larger companies that have an Oracle ERP system in the back office and have deep enough resources to bridge any limitations in the CRM product through customizations. Oracle CRM On Demand integration to the Oracle ERP is pre-built making this an obvious candidate for a customer facing solution if you run Oracle ERP. For those who do not, Oracle CRM On Demand offers a solid sales force automation system and little else. Marketing management is quite limited and will require additional customization effort to provide functionality that is standard in most competitive CRM offerings. Since Siebel is a leader in call center technology, Oracle CRM On Demand embeds much of the same functions as Siebel. However, Oracle CRM On Demand call center system performance in a hosted model is questionable and requires an investment in customization to work effectively with the service module. Fortunately for those who need help putting the pieces together, Oracle’s own consulting group, as well as a wide variety of system integrators that focus on Oracle technology are ready to step in and help – at a cost.
Oracle acquired Siebel in 2006 and that began the push to develop a software-as-a-service (SaaS) CRM offering from Oracle. Oracle’s charismatic CEO, Larry Ellison, had long been touting SaaS as a wave of the future. Despite the fact that Oracle’s business applications had no SaaS offering, nor any public plans to be offered as a service, Oracle’s technology stack, including its award winning database and infrastructure platforms were being used by a number of upstarts to develop SaaS offerings. Netsuite is the best example of a SaaS solution based on an Oracle technology platform that is being used to deliver a SaaS ERP/CRM solution. In fact, Mr. Ellison owns much of Netsuite today reflecting his belief in the SaaS model.
In acquiring Siebel, Oracle captured an impressive customer list and its first real SaaS offering in Siebel’s On Demand CRM. At the time, Siebel On Demand was the smaller kin to Siebel’s well known on premise CRM offering. It possessed dramatically reduced functionality and was delivered in a multi-tenant model to primarily small and mid-sized businesses that did not have the staff or facilities for a massive Siebel on premise CRM deployment. It also allowed Siebel to achieve a degree of forward-thinking by demonstrating that Siebel could play in the SaaS market.
At the time of the acquisition, most of Oracle’s focus was on appeasing concerned Siebel on premise clients that the on premise product would still be “supported.” Oracle also reiterated its commitment to maintain the Siebel On Demand product, which would quickly be renamed Oracle CRM On Demand. While there was a great deal of focus on the on premise market, the On Demand product essentially disappeared from the industry after the acquisition. Industry analysts theorized that the focus at Oracle was on migrating off IBM infrastructure to Oracle’s and that much work needed to be done to build-out the Siebel product.
Oracle acquired UpShot CRM which was also a SaaS offering that possessed a much more robust user interface than the legacy Siebel On Demand product. By combining Siebel’s experience in CRM with UpShot’s more contemporary technology, the combined teams set about the massive task of building a legitimate SaaS offering.
Two years later, Oracle On Demand has become a formidable competitor in the hosted CRM market. After near silence on the offering while it was being developed and adapted to leverage Oracle’s technology platform after the Siebel acquisition, Oracle’s public relations machine has only recently begun churning out press releases on new customer acquisitions. Gartner, the leading IT industry analyst firm with extensive inside access to Oracle executives, reports that Oracle has approximately 150,000 users for the Oracle On Demand product. Interestingly, the company reports in marketing materials that its Austin, TX data center, “…hosts Oracle applications for more than 3.6 million Oracle On Demand end users.” Consistent with Oracle’s historical trend of exaggerating their license sales, the 3.6 million is likely the total user base for all Oracle On Demand applications, which the company loosely construes to be any application they host from Austin.