Observers Skeptical About Success of Oracle CRM Buyout Binge

SAN FRANCISCO—With its $5.85 billion buyout of Siebel Systems on Monday, Oracle will face persistent questions about how it can effectively market or integrate what amounts to seven different CRM product lines, software industry executives and analysts said Monday.

Oracle Corp. officials said Monday that the Siebel Customer Relationship Management products will be folded into Project Fusion,which is Oracle’s effort to combine the best features and components of the Oracle E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft Enterprise and JDE Enterprise One into a coherent product line.

However, industry executives and analysts said they were skeptical that Oracle would successfully carry out the massive task of integrating applications from three different large software companies with its own products.

Customers will have questions and concerns about which of those CRM products are going to survive in any recognizable form for the long term, said Bruce Richardson, chief research officer with AMR Research Boston.

This will give competitors such as SAP AG or an opportunity to offer there products as perhaps a less expensive or less complicated alternative to Project Fusion, Richardson said.

With Monday’s acquisition, Oracle has acquired the existing on-premise and on-demand versions of Siebel CRM.

In addition, Siebel was preparing to deliver by the end of this year Nexus, the next generation of its CRM products that is based on Software Oriented Architecture.

Oracle also had its own CRM product line and had developed an on-demand version of those products.

This array of product offerings will likely cause a lot of confusion for customers until Oracle can show what CRM components will become prominent in the new Project Fusion, he said.

Click here to read Charles Garry’s commentary about whether it is wise for Oracle customers to tie a large portion of their IT capabilities to a single vendor.

The integration process is going to take time, and this gives a nimble company like time to show how they can provide the same solutions quicker and for less money, he noted.

However, Oracle is unlikely to face serious legal opposition from the Securities and Exchange Commission this time as it did when it launched its hostile buyout of PeopleSoft, he said.

The SEC will review the acquisition as it always does, but “I just don’t see any major issues with the SEC” this time around, he said.

PeopleSoft’s staunch legal resistance to the Oracle buyout raised issues to which the SEC had to pay attention, Richardson said.

Since Siebel and Oracle reached an amicable buyout agreement, those issues don’t exist this time.

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