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Oracle's CX strategy points toward real-time responses

As data increasingly becomes key to an effective CX implementation, Oracle's CX strategy points to what technology it's focusing on to win over corporate customers.

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. -- CRM leader Salesforce continues to invest in customer experience, but Oracle thinks it has a better CX strategy for winning over customers. At its annual Media Day on May 1, Oracle executives laid out plans for "winning the apps battle" when it comes to customer experience and other enterprise applications.

"The big opportunity is that CX is growing, and the C-suite wants a platform that integrates, which is a big-scale opportunity," said Rob Tarkoff, executive vice president of Oracle CX cloud development.

Tarkoff said CX is entering a third stage, where data is key -- a trend that happens to play right into database giant Oracle's wheelhouse.

"CRM, with companies like Salesforce, was about getting as much you could into the cloud. Then, there was a second phase, the consumerization of IT, designed to let customers feel like they were using Netflix or Amazon," Tarkoff said.

The third phase includes systems that help companies get ahead or in front of customer demand.

"It's about using data to get real-time responses to run more effective campaigns. Data is the No. 1 conversation I'm having with customers," he said.

Oracle Media Day photo
Rob Tarkoff, Oracle's executive vice president of CX cloud development, makes a point during a session on 'winning the apps battle.' To his right is Steve Miranda, Oracle's executive vice president of applications development.

CX extends beyond sales and marketing to such areas as field support. Tarkoff noted the example of Oracle customer Kubota Tractors, based in Japan. Field service technicians use augmented reality to help farmers in Iowa and elsewhere tweak the tractors' controls.

"Field service technology is about connecting a lot of data to the end-user experience," Tarkoff said.

While impressed with the breadth of Oracle's CX strategy and offerings, Rebecca Wettemann, analyst and vice president at Boston-based Nucleus Research, said the company has to do more than offer advanced technology.

Oracle's investment in edge capabilities -- like sales and forecasting and territory management, for example -- gives Oracle deeper functionality in some specific areas.
Rebecca WettemannAnalyst, Nucleus Research

Wettemann said Oracle's challenge is to move from making technical pitches to business pitches -- in other words, not just marketing technical features, but telling customers how it can help their business perform better.

If it polishes its business pitch, Oracle has a number of competitive advantages on the tech side, Wettemann said. "Oracle's investment in edge capabilities -- like sales and forecasting and territory management, for example -- gives Oracle deeper functionality in some specific areas."

For its part, Salesforce has its own set of competitive advantages.

"Salesforce's investment in ecosystem partners and making it easier for customers to buy partner applications through AppExchange give it an advantage over Oracle in being able to bring edge CRM innovations to customers -- although Oracle's clearly making investments there," Wettemann said. "Oracle has a number of interesting partners, particularly in the AI space."

As for what's next, Oracle said it's continuing to develop conversational user interfaces -- including bots, various chat technologies, SMS and voice -- within its customer-facing applications.

"We're making sure that, in every transaction, you can initiate a search from a chat. If you're filling out a form with 20 different fields, voice or chat is not efficient, but we can at least initiate the process," said Steve Miranda, executive vice president of Oracle applications product development. "The vast majority of self-service transactions can start with chat."

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