Paul Greenberg on Oracle's CRM roadmap

Paul Greenberg, president of the 56 Group LLC and author of CRM at the Speed of Light, discussed Oracle's plans for its CRM roadmap, including a RESTful architecture, relational data from within a CRM system and Oracle's CRM vision, while at the OpenWorld conference.

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Paul Greenberg on Oracle's CRM roadmap

Interviewer: Well, thanks for joining us.

Paul Greenberg: My pleasure.

Interviewer: We got a bit of a glimpse of Oracle's CRM and road map here. Tell us what stuck out to you with their plan for the coming year.

Paul Greenberg: Well, it was really fascinating, actually, even more than I kind of expected. First, in broader context it was the only thing that stood out in the entire conference so far has been their CRM maps but granted I have a narrow lens, both literally and figuratively. But the rest of what they seem to be talking about with apps and their road map from last year was kind of nondescript, that's the best way I'll call it.

But the CRM stood out and it stood out for a couple of reasons. Number one is that they are implementing actual social CRM as opposed to, what I prior said about them, enterprise 20. Actual social CRM concepts and I'll give you an example of something that is dramatic about what they are doing. You remember there was some discussion, or for those of you who are hearing this for the first time you don't remember, there was some discussion about two things. Number one was what they called implicit relationships. The other thing was a [Seabolt] tool kit that was associated with both improved visualization in the UI side on the one hand and the use of turning stable metadata into something consumable for customers.

All right, one of the demos that they showed if you remember was, it had a button that said connect with someone like me. All right, that button, when you hit it, allowed you to go to other people who fit your profile at similar profiles. And then ask them a question based on you as a customer talking to them as similar customers about something related to, say, the product offerings that were associated with the bigger company.

Interviewer: And, as I recall, their point was that kind of all of this relationship data is already within the CRM system. What's your take on that?

Paul Greenberg: Well, it's not entirely the case. I mean, you still need profile data. There's a process in the political world they call micro targeting. What micro targeting basically does is it looks at your lifestyle and it says okay, this person drives a Mercedes. They've got an income of $214,000. He wears Regents, blah, blah, blah. They say due to all of these factors given similar people to him and their past voting histories and patterns he's likely to vote for Obama in the presidential election. Or he's likely to vote Democrat in this race here and there, something like that. That's micro targeting.

What they're talking about with implicit relationships is actually, let's call it a variety of micro targeting. The idea is that what you're really doing is finding customers who are similar. Some of the data is going to be in the transactional stuff that [Seabolt] provides but some of it's also going to be in the profile data. When I spoke with Anthony Lie afterwards he said that pretty explicitly.

But the interesting thing about it is this: number one is it's taking what has been traditional CRM data which has been used for a limited kind of insight and it extends it and provides the value that the data provides to the company to the customer too. Then provides a channel for the customer to actually communicate with the similar people. Now, that is actual social CRM in action as opposed to just the typical stuff that Oracle has been doing, which has been ground breaking in it's own way but still is very focused on internal collaboration. This is social marketing at its best but it's also true social CRM and it's a first step toward it. That really stood out to me.

Interviewer: They also mentioned moving towards a restful architecture. Could you talk a little bit about that and what that means?

Paul Greenberg: Yeah, that's kind of interesting. Two years ago if somebody asked me about rest I would have said yeah, I need some. Right? But I didn't really know much about it but I did know that Sage, for example, had been moving toward using restful architecture as the foundation for all of their stuff. They've been the leaders in the use of restful architecture. But typically large enterprises of Oracle scope that deal with larger enterprises use service oriented architectures which are considerably more complex than rest. I mean rest basically has four commands that it functions with and that's it. When you see HTTP that's rest, okay? It's very familiar to people.

Now the fact that they have developed a restful API for some of their social CRM capabilities is a fabulous move. I think beyond Sage itself they may be the first vendor, I may be wrong about this so if anyone here is listening from SAP or Microsoft or Sales Force feel free to attack me. But they may be the first vendor to actually use a restful API given that their history has been service oriented architecture. It's a very important step because rest is very familiar. It also opens up marketplaces for much smaller companies if that's what you want to do. It's a really good move. In fact, you have pinpointed exactly the things that I actually wrote into my blog this morning because those were the things that really stood out.

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