Will Oracle's Freebie Shot Hurt (Or Only Graze) Siebel?
In August, Oracle Corporation, one of the largest providers of software
applications for e-business, announced that over 400 large to medium enterprises
in over 15 countries are actively managing their sales activities with
OracleSalesOnline.com, the new, free online service that provides businesses
with immediate access to Oracle's enterprise-strength sales force automation
(SFA) products. OracleSalesOnline.com seems to have an appeal to companies
of all sizes, from start-ups to Fortune 500's, and from all sectors of
the market, including financial services, telecommunications, consumer
packaged goods, consulting services and technology. Companies currently
using OracleSalesOnline.com include: Acrossworld Communications, Businesshere.com,
C3 Communications, Campusinsiders.com, Carwashers.com, Cintra, Davanita
Design, Dev-sol.com, Enterprise Rent a Car, Financial Finesse, MediMorphus,
Montage eINtegration, Netledger, NewGen Software, NIC Company, OhioOnline.com,
SCI, Speedgreetings.com, US Can, and Xtreme.com.
delivers Oracle's sales automation applications via the online model using
the same enterprise application traditionally delivered on a CD. Designed
to get a sales force of 50 to 500 sales reps up-and-running quickly, OracleSalesOnline.com
can supposedly be used by any member of a sales hierarchy to view opportunities,
manage the sales process, make accurate forecasts, track sales and access
customer information on a global basis.
of all sizes are quickly realizing the opportunity of leveraging enterprise-strength
applications without implementation and hardware costs," said Mark Barrenechea,
senior vice president, Oracle CRM products division. "With OracleSalesOnline.com,
we are making it easy for companies to begin the transformation to e-business,
by giving them quick and easy access to key components of Oracle E-Business
Suite 11i. Businesses get instant global benefits by understanding their
pipeline and forecast, and now have the ability to manage by facts. And,
OracleSalesOnline.com provides the same enterprise-strength sales applications
that run such enterprise sales organizations as Oracle and HP."
While giving a piece of software away as bait for locking potential users
into buying more additional components and/or service is not new (Netscape
being most widely known), Oracle may kill the following three birds with
one shot: 1) it may give its archrival, Siebel Systems, some pause, 2)
it could bolster its ASP part of the business (which has not achieved
its expectations as yet), and 3) it might plant a seed for future sales
of components of its comprehensive 11i product suite.
we believe Oracle will achieve some success in all its endeavors from
above, it is not going to cause tectonic moves among the CRM market leaders.
Although Siebel took the news in its stride and shrugged it off initially,
it will very likely have to come up with similar, retaliatory moves. Despite
its current superior functionality and market share, Siebel will have
to deal with Oracle's thrown gauntlet containing allegations that Siebel's
product is lagging in its Internet deployability and that it still needs
integration to a back-office. However, Oracle's moves may affect much
more seriously smaller CRM players (e.g., Goldmine) or companies that
currently offer similar commoditized functionality, like Salesforce.com.
this move may help Oracle enter potential customers via their back door,
it is not going to seriously jeopardize Siebel's leadership without proven
rich CRM 11i functionality supposedly tightly interwoven throughout its
entire 11i product suite. Early indications from early Oracle CRM adopters
have shown significant improvements compared to its earlier, sub-optimal
releases. This should be more disturbing news for Siebel and other pure
play contenders for the CRM throne rather than a mere 'freebie' promotion.
Users should certainly consider Oracle's latest offering, but avoid selecting
it without looking at what the other vendors have to offer. According
to an adage from ancient times "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts!" - carefully
read the contract's fine print and double check what is behind Oracle's
generosity. Use the existence of other alternative CRM applications to
leverage the best deal. If you already have a significant investment in
Oracle technology, then pursue the Oracle option. However, do not hesitate
to venture elsewhere. Improvements in products interconnectivity make
going beyond Oracle Applications a more viable option than in the past.
and enterprises looking for commodity CRM products integrated with the
ERP system may find the Oracle product very attractive. Users are also
advised to consider both the maturity and the functionality of the product
in their evaluations and make comparisons to competitive offerings. Future
clients are also advised to request Oracle's written commitment to promised
functionality, length of implementation, and seamless future upgrades,
particularly for the recently released products and the products whose
release dates are eminent.
a more general note, we would strongly advise anyone considering a CRM
product to define the requirement very meticulously before making any
decision. Each component should be put through its paces using a well-documented
set of requirements, scripted scenario demonstrations and rigorous reference