The Oracle-Siebel combo not only gives Oracle access to Siebel's customers, but also its infrastructure, improving Oracle's standing in the battle against SAP and IBM.
The acquisition of Siebel Systems Inc. gives it access to Siebel's Universal Customer Master (UCM) management and Universal Application Networking (UAN) to compete with SAP Master Data Management (SAP MDM) and IBM, which recently acquired Atlanta-based DWL Inc., one of the leading master data management companies.
Oracle's own Customer Data Hub (CDH) launched a year ago to combat SAP's MDM initiative. It did not achieve its goal and Oracle has since talked very little about it.
Master data hubs add very little value to the business unless the business applications exploit the hubs at run time. This requires instrumenting the applications to seek unified master data from within the application-scope at run time and not just for data warehousing, reporting and analytics alone.
Today, most data hubs are designed for business intelligence applications and not for online transaction processing (OLTP). SAP realized this fact a few years back that they needed a central Master Data Management (MDM) solution to standardize master data not only among many SAP instances, but also to other SAP and non-SAP enterprise applications as well.
However, unlike Oracle's Customer Data Hub, SAP launched its Enterprise Services Architecture initiative using its SAP NetWeaver architecture, which required SAP to service-enable its existing applications, making it possible to use MDM services for master data lookups easier by the application from within the process-scope during run-time.
Again, it is all a work in progress. One important fact about SAP MDM is that it is part of SAP Business Process Platform and not as a stand-alone product.
Some may argue that Siebel in Oracle will dilute the focus on new customer relationship management strengths. I think quite the opposite.
Oracle's acquisition of Siebel opens an opportunity for it to make very rich Customer Relationship Management and Master Data Management products as an integral part of an enterprise business operation and not just a stand-alone product. This inside-out and enterprise-integrated approach adds enormous business value as opposed to having a rich stand-alone CRM product.
It is too early to tell how Siebel's infrastructure will be integrated with the Oracle 10g application platform but one thing is quite promising. Oracle has a great opportunity to look at its entire architecture including PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel applications and not only 'fuse' redundant products together, but go back to the drawing board and architect the next generation of intelligent distributed agent driven business products exploiting the Oracle distributed grid architecture.
For now, during the coming few years, Oracle customers will face quite a huge challenge in navigating through this great Oracle conFusion.
Naeem Hashmi, chief technology officer of Information Frameworks, is an expert in the enterprise resource planning business intelligence industry and a pioneer in ERP data warehousing. Contact Hashmi at firstname.lastname@example.org.