For the second time since its acquisition of Siebel, Oracle is rolling out a major upgrade of the iconic on-premise suite. Version 8.1.1 has rehabbed many of its features — as well as lavished a great deal of attention on the loyalty functions.
The company is also introducing Oracle CRM Gadgets for Sales — five mini-applications that provide enterprise data and service leveraging Web 2.0 content.
In this version, Oracle has updated Siebel Self-Service, including Siebel eSupport and Siebel eCommerce applications, with industry-specific customer self-service applications for communications and the public sector. Oracle has also enhanced the multi-channel functionality with Siebel Chat and deeper search capability.
Siebel Marketing has been upgraded with a closed-loop feature that automates strategy, planning, multi-channel response and lead management execution. Siebel Sales has an enhanced user interface, and its forecasting capabilities have been extended to allow sharing of data in cross-functional teams and to perform ad-hoc adjustments that help improve sales quota attainment. There is also new deal registration functionality that gives visibility into channel partner deals.
The biggest change in this version, however, is the new features in Siebel Loyalty, Mark Woollen, vice president of CRM strategy at Oracle, told CRM Buyer.
“Loyalty is a rapidly growing part of the CRM market and is no longer considered part of marketing.” He said that a number of customers — many of which are in the airline and telco industries — are upgrading to 8.1.1 because of the loyalty functionality. These include American Airlines, Chiles’ Lan Chile and another North American airline.
New features in Siebel Loyalty include membership enrollment and management, loyalty points accrual and redemption, member services, partner management and promotion management.
Oracle also released a separate series of mini-applications for the Sales module. Called “Oracle CRM Gadgets for Sales,” these are aimed at improving the sales rep’s productivity, mainly through leveraging Web 2.0 content such as corporate information or public data or personal information from social networking sites.
They work even when disconnected from the network — a key selling point, in fact, is their ability to quickly access information without having to launch a browser or log into a corporate network, Dipock Das, senior director of CRM strategy for Oracle, told CRM Buyer.
“Historically a user would have to open multiple browsers and go to many different Web pages to get the information that these tools deliver.”
They also come with pre-built integration with Oracle Contact Center On Demand which allows users to make phone calls and then capture the call information directly into the CRM system. Future releases of Oracle CRM Gadgets will come with browser-based capabilities and an SDK to to build additional Internet gadgets.
The new apps include the following:
- My Contacts Gadget: Helps users search contacts from their Siebel CRM or Oracle CRM On Demand application as well as click-to-e-mail and click-to-call their contacts, as well as search for contacts across multiple Internet bases and social networking sites.
- Top Accounts Gadget: Provides a mashup of account management data from the Siebel CRM or Oracle CRM On Demand system together with Internet-based content. Market updates and RSS feeds provide information about public events and information regarding an account.
- Top Deals Gadget: Gives real-time insight into the status of sales opportunities that are scheduled to close in the current reporting period.
- Search Gadget: Available only for Siebel CRM, this is a desktop-based search tool for content in their Siebel CRM application.
- Oracle Sales Quota Gadget: Supplies real-time information for current quarter sales pipeline, target for the quarter and the quota achieved to date.
Oracle, like most vendors, now is trying to encapsulate the value that social context can deliver in their CRM products, Rebecca Wettemann, vice president with Nucleus Research, told CRM Buyer.
“They are continuing to look at ways at supporting what is the natural behavior of sales people. Ultimately it is that kind of functionality that drives greater user adoption.”