Oracle On Demand CRM Sales Force Automation Software Review
CRM software systems are composed of sales force automation (SFA), marketing, and customer support (CS) functions.
Sales Force Automation
Oracle CRM On Demand has evolved to be a strong player in the SFA space in large part through its acquisition of UpShot and the multi-year effort to make the product competitive with other pure SaaS offerings such as Salesforce. While Salesforce.com tends to get more attention as a pure-play SFA tool, in several aspects Oracle CRM On Demand provides greater core SFA functionality and a much more robust interface than Salesforce.com.
Oracle CRM On Demand has the advantage of being published by a company that also understands back office accounting as a result of offering ERP products in addition to CRM systems. In general, this translates into much better integration of the CRM with core ERP functions. Practically speaking, the single biggest integration point is sales order management. Oracle On Demand provides pre-built integration to Oracle ERP systems and a web services based integration engine that allows customers to build their own integration to non-Oracle ERP systems. Thus, if you use Oracle ERP, it will seem to end users that they are in the same CRM system when they process orders. If you do not use Oracle ERP, you are on your own to build the integrations. The only other to SaaS CRM and ERP solutions I was able to find are ones offered by Netsuite and Aplicor. Both Aplicor and Netsuite provide integrated order management between their ERP and CRM systems. Finally, Aplicor offers an open web service suite much like Oracle’s for integration with other systems.
Overall, Oracle CRM On Demand offers a solid SFA system spanning sales rep productivity and customer centricity. Oracle CRM On Demand allows reps to track the usual items for any given account in the system including the account base data, contacts, activities, opportunities, leads, sales orders, assets, etc. There are some subtleties to look for in the user interface and data model that limit its flexibility. For example, Addresses handling is modeled on the ERP system with “bill to” and “ship to” as standards. This can be a negative if your clients have additional addresses to track (for example, the location of a branch office that you need to visit). Users report that working within an account using Oracle CRM On Demand is intuitive and relatively simple.
If you track custom data on your clients (meaning data that is not part of Oracle’s core data structure), there is good news and bad. On the good news front, it is easy to add basic fields to the system for raw data capture. On the bad news side, it can be difficult to put these data elements to work in other parts of the system such as reports, data views, or workflows. This makes Oracle CRM ON Demand a strong contender for capture of customer data but there are many questions about how that data can be used once collected.
Oracle CRM On Demand’s tools that allow for sales reps to use their own data to refine account targeting and answer basic questions without first selecting an account remains weak. For example, a rep who is making sales calls in South Carolina might want to see a list of contacts for all accounts that have had greater than $10,000 in sales in the past 12 months. This would require a custom query or report in most cases. Regardless, it is not easily obtained by the sales rep without first getting help from someone else. This fact reduces the system’s utility in targeting accounts at the rep level which is where the most sales will be driven from. Moreover, there is a clear ongoing cost to have trained staff on hand to help reps on simple requests like this one.
Oracle CRM On Demand has recently entered the Web 2.0 fray with a series of integrations to social networking tools like Linked In and Facebook. This is fairly unique functionality that most mainstream CRM vendors have yet to adopt. Oracle had the foresight to see that many firms are asking about the use of Web 2.0 tools in the business operations, and there’s no place simpler to trial the integration that in CRM. The concept is simple enough – you are calling on the CFO of a Fortune 1000 company and want to see if anyone you know has a relationship to her. Using the simple search tools, you can look to see if your network and that of the client have any overlap and thus a point of commonality in who you know. Certainly, this feature is an attention getter for Oracle as it demonstrates that there is a business use for Web 2.0 in CRM systems. As a practical matter, Oracle CRM On Demand users we have spoken with have found that using these tools to establish a connection with a decision maker is a bit of a shot in the dark. Many senior executives do not embrace Web 2.0 tools personally as yet and therefore it is tough to connect your existing list of executives to the list of executives of prospective customers. Moreover, the second and third order impact of sharing personal data via social networks makes many sales executives and managers uncomfortable. It does not help that a prospect knows a sales rep formerly worked for a competitor where they had prolific sales as it undermines credibility.