Oracle claims met with scepticism

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Oracle's pledge to continue perpetual support for the applications that it's gobbled up on its spending spree of the past few years is being met with scepticism by members of the Oracle Applications User Group. Nearly two-thirds - 61 percent – of PeopleSoft and Siebel users believe that Oracle will eventually force them onto Oracle replacements according to a new study. Some decidedly mixed news for Oracle comes out of the study. While 63 percent of people using only Oracle-developed software plan to install Oracle Fusion middleware within two years, only half of those who use products that Oracle acquired say they are interested. The user group members also seem concerned that the recent purchase of BEA Systems for $8.5 billion may be one acquisition too many and will divert attention from further development of the Oracle applications portfolio.

Overall it was probably nice timing that Oracle chose to announced general availability of JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Tools 8.97 this week as part of the Applications Unlimited initiative. "Market dynamics and competitive pressures continue to force companies to improve productivity, simplify systems management and improve enterprise integration. As a result, standards-based technologies and development environments are a top priority for CIOs and CTOs," said Bob Mick, vice president of Emerging Technologies, ARC Advisory Group. "With this latest release, JD Edwards applications further leverage Oracle software so that customers may capitalise on the benefits of a Service-Oriented Architecture, usability enhancements and a lower total cost of ownership."

NetSuite has had a turbulent few weeks with its hugely successfully partial IPO followed by a hefty fall in the firm's share price. (With immaculate timing as the NetSuite share price found its level, Forbes listed rival as the second Fastest Growing Tech Stock. Google took first place in the Top 25 ranking.) But the software as a service (SaaS) vendor is ploughing on with business as usual, claiming this week that NetSuite-powered e-tailers reported record sales growth in 2007. The firm reckons that since 2005, NetSuite's Ecommerce customers have collectively experienced an approximately 88 percent increase in unique visitors (from 58 million in 2005 to 109 million in 2007), and an astonishing 257 percent increase in Web revenue (from approximately $140 million in 2005 to $500 million in 2007). "We're proud that once again we were able to help our e-commerce customers succeed during the holiday season, typically their busiest time of the year," said Mini Peiris, vice president of product management at NetSuite. "It is a time when the quality of the buying and service experience - not the size of the merchant - can make the difference between winning a repeat customer and losing a potential sale entirely. NetSuite is committed to allowing our e-commerce customers of all sizes to continue to help them succeed by offering the best possible shopping and service experience."

Also doing well on the stock market was SAP which said this week that it expects to see sustained growth this year following a 3.0-percent rise in net profit in 2007. SAP said its net profit had risen to 1.94 billion euros in 2007. Sales rose 9.0 percent to 10.26 billion euros. But the firm warned that the acquisition last year of the French company Business Objects for 4.8 billion euros would trim another 180 million euros from its accounts this year. CEO Henning Kagermann sees this as a price worth paying. "This will help us further penetrate the fast-growing business user segment and will be another driver of growth as we move ahead," Kagermann said.

Finally, CRM isn't getting any more successful. Companies are still struggling in the areas of marketing, analytics, customer service and indirect sales despite investing millions in CRM systems. According to Forrester Research , 60 percent of respondents at 260 companies said they delivered poor, disjointed customer experiences as a result of below average customer interaction management. Meanwhile, a third of respondents rated their ability to create and route incidents to the right customer service agent as poor or below average.

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