Oracle Takes on Salesforce.com
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Some of the features borrow from the approaches that popular Web sites MySpace and Facebook use to connect people. In the case of Oracle's software, they use the features to help salespeople figure out how to best persuade potential clients to buy their products.
"I have a new lead. Now I can search for my network for people who have a connection to this person, for an expert who can help," Wettemann said.
"That was a wake-up call. They have come to a realization that there is money to be made from delivery of software as a service," said Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with Global Equities Research. He was not briefed by Oracle.
Oracle bought No. 1 customer relationship management software maker Siebel two years ago for almost $6 billion.
The new product, based on technology acquired in the deal, will drop the Siebel name and be called Oracle CRM On Demand. It is Oracle's 15th release of sales force automation software in 4-1/2 years.
Analysts have said Siebel software users have complained that they have had to enter large amounts of data into the programs, discouraging their use.
The new version does a better job of splitting up those tasks, so that each worker only enters data relevant to his or her job, the analysts said.
"This is focused on the personal productivity of the user, not the organization as a whole," said one of the analysts.
The social networking features alert workers when colleagues have ties to a sales prospect, or help them identify experts who might be able to help close a deal.
SAP, the world's biggest maker of business management software and one of Oracle's biggest rivals, announced similar features in its on-premise customer relationship management package late last year.