Oracle CRM On Demand Exposed -
Sales Force Automation

CRM systems can be divided into Sales Force Automation (SFA), marketing, and Customer Support (CS) functions.

Oracle CRM On Demand Sales Force Automation

Oracle CRM On Demand has evolved to be a significant player in the SFA space due to a large degree from its acquisition of UpShot and the multiyear effort to make the product competitive with other pure SaaS products such as While gets the loin share of attention as a pure-play SFA tool, Oracle CRM On Demand provides greater core SFA functionality and a much more robust interface than

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Oracle has the advantage over many other CRM vendors due to its strength in both back office ERP products in addition to CRM systems. In general, this translates into a much better integration between the CRM system and core ERP functions. Practically speaking, the single biggest integration point between the two systems is sales order management. Oracle On Demand provides an automatic pre-built integration to Oracle ERP systems. Thus, if you use Oracle ERP on the back-end, it will appear to CRM end users that they are in the same system when they process orders. If you do not use Oracle ERP, you are on your own to build the integrations via a web services based integration engine. The only other vendors to offer both SaaS CRM and ERP solutions were Netsuite and Aplicor. Both Aplicor and Netsuite provide integrated order management between their CRM and ERP systems, in addition 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 ranging from sales rep productivity to customer centricity. Oracle CRM On Demand enables reps to track the usual items for any given account in the system including fundamental data about the account, contacts, activities, opportunities, leads, sales orders, assets, etc. It is noteworthy to mention some subtleties in the user interface and data model that limit its flexibility. For example, account address handling is modeled from the ERP system using “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). Otherwise, users report that working within an account using Oracle CRM On Demand is intuitive and relatively simple to use.

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If you track custom data on your clients (meaning data fields that are not part of Oracle’s core data structure), there is both good and bad news. First the good news; it is easy to add basic fields to the system for raw alpha-numeric data capture. The bad news is that it can be difficult to put these data elements to work in other parts of the system such as reports, data views, or workflows. The ability to easily add new fields makes Oracle CRM On Demand a strong contender for capture of customer data but many questions remain about how that data can be used once collected.

Another weakness of Oracle CRM On Demand’s tools is that it allows sales reps to use their own data to refine account targeting and answer basic questions without first selecting an account. Consider this 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 ability to target accounts at the rep level which is where the majority of sales will be driven. Moreover, there is a clear need to maintain a trained staff and keeping them on hand to help reps on simple requests like this one.

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Oracle CRM On Demand has entered the Web 2.0 fray with a series of integrations to social networking portals like Linked In and Facebook. This is relatively new functionality that most mainstream CRM vendors have yet to add to their offerings. Oracle had the foresight to see that many firms are asking about the use of Web 2.0 tools in business operations, and there’s no place simpler to trial the integration than in CRM. The concept is straight forward enough – a sales rep is planning to call on the CFO of a Fortune 1000 company but before doing so he wants to see if anyone in his social network has a relationship to her. Using the simple search tools, you can look to see if your network and that of the prospect have any overlap and thus a point of commonality. Certainly, this feature has been an attention getter for Oracle as it demonstrates that there is viability for Web 2.0 tools 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 stretch at best. Senior executives lack the propensity for embracing Web 2.0 tools as of yet; therefore it is often difficult to connect your existing network to prospective executives. Moreover, the idea of sharing personal data via social networks makes many sales executives and managers very uncomfortable.

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