Oracle plans to spend up to $100,000 marketing its customer relationship management (CRM) systems next year as part of its aggressive goal of ousting market leader, Siebel Systems, within 12 to 16 months.
The database giant officially launched Release 3i of its 35 module CRM range on Tuesday at the Oracle Applications User Group conference in San Diego. The family includes software to automate the complete sales and marketing cycle including ecommerce, call centre, field sales and post sales service and support.
Oracle says 3i represents its first complete range of CRM applications and is not shy of knocking the competition for only addressing a small sector of the industry.
Mark Jarvis, senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said: "Siebel talks CRM but what they have is a mobile software automation software - that's it. CRM is about how you market to customers. Where do customers go first - to the Web. If they don't buy from your electronic store front the next thing is telesales and then field sales. This is the piece Siebel provides."
Mark Barrenechea, senior vice president of CRM applications, said: "By our next fiscal year, which begins on 1 June, we will be bigger than Vantive and Clarify combined and next year we will be just behind Siebel."
Oracle currently has 250 users of its CRM products and Barrenechea predicts this will increase by 1,000 within the next fiscal year.
CRM is a serious business for Oracle. The market is projected by the Gartner Group to be worth $1.5 bilion this year and Oracle is mobilising its 17,000 strong consultants around the world to begin selling. It will also bring Oracle head to head against competitors with products that rival each component of Oracle's family, such as ecommerce and call centre automation.
Predictably company chiefs deny that all this attention on the CRM business mean Oracle is defocussing on its ERP platform, but admit that the CRM market is growing at a much more faster rate than ERP.
According to Barrenechea: "CRM will eclipse ERP in terms of revenue."
The company is busy adding analytical features into its ERP range, currently shipping as Release 11. It admits that like its competitors, it concentrated too much on reducing the number of keystrokes entry clerks had to make to input information rather than enabling company bosses to garner useful information about their business.
Oracle said it is also continuing to move away from client server architecture to basing ERP, as well as CRM, on the Internet to reduce the number of systems required and because using the Internet is more intuitive.
Oracle will begin shipping CRM 3i on 15 May, with the next release of ERP Release 11 - called 11i - to follow in September. Soon after, the CRM and ERP products will follow the Release 11i nomenclature - for example, Release 11i ERP and Release 11i CRM.
Although the two products can work together CRM and ERP are not bundled together. The CRM package will also work with third party ERP packages but only the Oracle database.
Barrenechea believes customers will initially pick and chose modules from the CRM range, rather than buy the whole system, because the market is still immature. The same goes for ERP software, where only 15 per cent of the installed base is using the entire platform.
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