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Oracle CRM developers detail their strategy

In a move that reflects the blurring of the lines in the enterprise applications space, about six months ago Oracle combined its CRM and ERP divisions. Now the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based software maker will pool its application development resources. John Wookey, senior vice president of applications development, and Andrew Kass, vice president of CRM development, gave an update on the company's customer relationship strategy.

How many of the 5,000 developers work on CRM?
Another example is the trading community architecture, which is a centralized model for defining a person, organization and the relationship among those. It gives you, from an information model perspective, the single definition of a person, whether they may be a customer, supplier or both. And that model gets used by our SFA team, marketing, manufacturing and so on. What percentage of your CRM customers are part of your ERP installed base?
It depends on how you define CRM and ERP. If you mean of the customers we had five years ago, how many today are CRM customers or how many are brand new customers? I'd say it's about 50-50. In our European organization, there's a huge business for us in selling our applications on top of an SAP installed base. We sell our call center on top of it, our sales force automation system on top of it. Siebel has seen a lot of this business too, even though SAP does CRM. How many of the 5,000 developers work on CRM?
We don't typically break that out for competitive reasons, but a significant amount are on CRM, probably not half but in that ballpark. Detail the layoffs you had a couple of months ago when you combined the Oracle ERP and CRM development teams.
It was a pretty small reduction in terms of overall head count. There were some areas where we had overlap in the two groups, and that's where the cuts came from. We currently have about 5,000 application developers, which I think makes us one of the largest [companies] in the world. The need for all of those people is based in our focus on building a broad set of applications. Increasingly over the last few years, we've had more focus on industry-specific solutions, so we've got a lot of dedicated developers on those teams, along with the traditional CRM applications. What ever happened to Oracle's 'CRM in 90 days' guarantee?
We're not calling it that anymore. It's kind of ridiculous to say you're going to have CRM in 90 days. CRM is not just a set of technologies; it's a way of doing business. We have fast forward flows to get you up and running in 90 days, but we're not going to say that you can achieve the whole idea in a set time. What's your perspective on the mid-market CRM opportunity? Are you looking to scale down for this sector since it's so hot?
We've built out these very sophisticated capabilities for large global enterprise, so addressing the mid-market is different. A big part of the mid-market effort in the applications development is built around including the ability to turn off and hide functionality that you don't need or want. The focus is on ease of use of the administration tools. A lot of companies have missed this idea. And it carries over to the large enterprises as well, because they're looking to reduce implementation time too. We've taken the applications and made it easier to configure what you want, to change the labels or terminologies for different industries. We've made it so you can use one or the other or both together, and this is across all the different functional areas. How many of the 5,000 developers work on CRM?
If you count the fact that we share a lot of components, a lot of the requirements that we need to leverage come from the ERP developers. The workflow components, which are a core capability for tasks, calendar, etc. come from there. In terms of functionality, there's a big trend toward CRM for verticals. Do you spend a lot of time building applications to address the specific needs of different markets?
In a lot of cases we understand that we don't have a perfect technology for a specific industry. For instance, in the life sciences industry we partner with a company called Dendrite, which builds SFA for the pharmaceutical business. It's a lot different than traditional SFA because of the way relationships work there. We've got dozens of these partners to address different vertical markets.


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What ever happened to Oracle's 'CRM in 90 days' guarantee?
We're still pushing the fast forward idea, though. If you can't come in with a fixed price/time frame deal on services, the customers are going to look somewhere else. More than half of our deals now are fixed price deals. Enterprise companies are asking for this sort of functionality as well?
Well, actually they are now. It offers a model of deploying, running and managing your services on a component level. Some of our biggest customers are running our 'fast forward' flows that get them up and running in three months with zero customization. And some of them have adopted our hosting model. The focus on administration, on 'keeping the simple, simple' and scaling down functionality with the full functionality still there is becoming more popular.

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