Oracle: Melting PotBy Baselinemag | Posted 2005-11-08 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 linesand 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 SiebelI 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 2006welcome 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.
ORACLE OPERATING RESULTS*
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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