Oracle: Melting Pot

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2005-11-08 Print this article Print

Oracle's plan to fuse four customer relationship management packages, including Siebel and PeopleSoft, leaves customers with mixed feelings.

Need a customer relationship management package? Take your pick: Oracle has three discrete CRM product lines—and will soon offer a fourth. Besides its own software, Oracle is continuing to develop and support products from PeopleSoft (folded into Oracle earlier this year) and JD Edwards (which PeopleSoft bought in 2003). Then there's Oracle's pending $6 billion acquisition of market leader Siebel Systems, expected to close in early 2006.

Oracle says it plans to use Siebel's software as the "centerpiece" of its Project Fusion CRM, an amalgam of the best features of the four product lines, which it promises in 2008. For now, customer opinions on Oracle's buying binge range from skeptical to bullish.

Stephen Elioff, senior vice president of customer relationship management for Toronto-based investment firm AGF Management, is solidly behind Oracle's plan to combine the best of its CRM systems. With Siebel part of Oracle, "We probably will have access to the greatest intellectual capital in the world for CRM," he says. "It's a 'super CRM' group." AGF has 700 employees using its PeopleSoft customer relationship management system. Elioff acknowledges it "might be a bit of a bumpy road" to a unified CRM application, but says: "When you have an application on this scale, there is no such thing as a smooth road."

Some customers believe Oracle's vision will take far longer to materialize than it anticipates. "The notion they're going to wave a middleware magic wand and integrate PeopleSoft and Siebel—I think they're being incredibly optimistic," says Patrick Piccininno, vice president of information technology at the IHOP restaurant chain. "They have a difficult enough job supporting their own applications."

Meanwhile, others say they're relieved that Oracle seems to have eased the pace on merging product lines. For example, this fall the company announced plans for another major release of PeopleSoft applications, version 9.0, in June 2006—welcome news to Carlos Medrano, vice president of information technology at The American College, which uses PeopleSoft CRM. "I'm much more comfortable now," he says. "The indication was that they were going to move to the Fusion project sooner."

Oracle, however, maintains that its road map has never changed: "We've always stated that the entire suite was going to be available in 2008," says a spokeswoman.

Customer Relationship Management

500 Oracle Pkwy.
Redwood Shores
CA 94065
(650) 506-7000


John Wookey
Senior VP, Applications Development
Oversees development of JD Edwards, PeopleSoft and Oracle business applications. Prior to joining Oracle in 1995, he headed development of enterprise resource planning applications for Ross Systems.

Dave Stephens
VP, CRM Applications Development
Joined Oracle in 1996 after he was an engineering consultant with Aspen Technology, which develops software for managing manufacturing operations.

More than 50 customer relationship management applications, including software for managing sales contacts, tracking customer service and creating marketing campaigns. Customer Data Hub software centralizes and synchronizes customer information among multiple sources.
Reference Checks

The American College
Carlos Medrano
VP, I.T.
Project: Distance-education company in Bryn Mawr, Pa., that trains financial advisers uses PeopleSoft CRM to manage marketing campaigns and coordinate contact with students and institutional customers.

Patrick Piccininno
VP, I.T.
Project: Chain of 1,200 restaurants collects customer feedback and resolves complaints using Oracle CRM.

AGF Management
Stephen Elioff
Senior VP CRM
Project: Canadian mutual fund company uses PeopleSoft CRM to let salespeople and customer service staff track contact with financial advisers and investors.

American Hospital Association
Carol Kummer
VP, I.T.
Project: Chicago-based consortium of hospitals and health-care networks is consolidating contact information for 100,000 people with Oracle software.

Sealing Devices
Patrick Harris
Dir., I.T.
Project: Maker of gaskets and industrial lubricants uses Oracle CRM to let sales teams communicate about customer opportunities and feedback.

Teri Lancaster
I.T. Mgr., CRM
Project: Window and door maker uses Oracle CRM applications to let sales and marketing teams manage customer interaction, as part of an enterprise resource planning project initiated in 2002.

Executives listed here are all users of Microsoft's products. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.

2006FYTD 2005FY 2004FY
Revenue $2.77B $11.80B $10.16B
Gross margin 73.9% 77.5% 77.2%
Operating income $712M $4.02B $3.86B
Net income $519M $2.89B $2.68B
Net margin 18.8% 24.5% 26.4%
Earnings per share $0.10 $0.55 $0.50
R&D expenditure $400M $1.49B $1.2B
* Fiscal year ends May 31; FYTD reflects first three months; results do not account for siebel acquisition

Total assets $19.60B Stockholders' equity $11.33B Cash and equivalents $3.79B
Short-term investments $842M
Long-term debt $157M
Shares outstanding 5.24B
Market value, 10/28 $65.44B
**As of aug. 31, 2005, except as noted


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