While Larry Ellison’s no-show for his scheduled Tuesday keynote has stolen many of the headlines, there was no shortage of other notable announcements during this week’s Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco.
The CEO’s decision to watch the Oracle-sponsored America's Cup boat race rather than address the Oracle faithful did not go down well at the event – with attendees flooding out of the Moscone Centre in disgust after having queued for hours to listen to Ellison.
And this will likely be the abiding memory for the discontented crowds - even though there was plenty to pick through at the annual Oracle jamboree, including a strong message about its Cloud strategy.
While Cloud and in-memory databases were the two main headline grabbing themes of this week's Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco, CRM wasn't forgotten with a dedicated CX @ OpenWorld customer experience track running across several days.
As with the rest of Oracle's messaging at the conference, the notion of choice - on-premise or Cloud delivery - was prominent. "All of the components of our Cloud are built to integrate with your existing, on-premises investments," said Steve Miranda, Oracle's SVP of Applications Development. "If you so choose, and if there's an advantage for you, you can migrate to the appropriate Cloud solution at the time you choose."
"We haven't slowed our investment into the E-Business Suite, Siebel, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards or other [on-premises] applications," he added. "If anything we've accelerated that investment to keep that commitment to Applications Unlimited."
But the idea of co-existence between Cloud and on-premise was cemented through various customer examples, such as SouthWest Airlines which has layered Oracle Social Marketing onto its existing Siebel-based frequent flyer loyalty scheme. The airline monitors customer interactions on social media using Oracle tools so it can "stitch that experience together" with customer interactions with the loyalty programme.
"Airlines have to communicate with and engage with customers in a wide variety of circumstances, and we try to do that with a family, collegial, fun feel using audio, video and photos," said Ryan Green, senior director of customer loyalty at the airline. "We're using Oracle Social Marketing to produce and execute that content."
The airline also reckons that it has increased its loyalty programme membership by 20% with the help of the Siebel system.
According to Thomas Kurian, EVP Oracle Software Development , CX is one of the two most popular applications for the Oracle Cloud, the other being HCM, each with 100,000 instances.. He added that there are currently 21 million people across 163 countries carrying out 19 billion transactions a day on the Oracle Cloud.
“[We can] give you enterprise resource planning, human capital management and customer experience in a single Cloud,” he said.
There are three components to the Oracle Cloud, he added:
- A common infrastructure with platform services
- A range of SaaS apps
- A social relationship management set of software products
Kurian also ran through the latest enhancement to the Oracle Customer Experience Cloud, which as all such presentations seemingly must do in the Cloud market these days boasts "the most sophisticated marketing automation tool".
There was also a redesigned Oracle Sales Cloud on offer, one which streamlines and unifies sales, marketing, and service components. This includes an opportunity page which can incorporate data from social media, marketing email clicks, search and other digital channels which build up a picture of a more qualified lead.
"The opportunity page adds a new level to social listening as well," Kurian added, "because it can display information that's relevant to that particular salesperson…very valuable information that can be leveraged to make the sale."
"Throughout the entire process, the Oracle social network is monitoring the process, and providing notifications and updates to everyone involved in the sale," he added. "The updated Sales Cloud integrates flawlessly into the rest of our customer experience offering. It will no doubt help sales reps know their customer better, drive smarter sales, sell more, and make more money for themselves, and for their company."
The other big announcement was the opening of the Oracle Cloud Marketplace, Oracle's version of 'frenemy' Salesforce.com's AppExchange of business applications. It works the same way: customers browse the apps on offer and can purchase them from the Marketplace for us.
“The Oracle Cloud Marketplace is specifically designed to help organisations quickly and easily find, evaluate, and purchase the applications they need to reach their business goals," said Steve Miranda, executive vice president of Applications development, Oracle.
"As the perfect distribution channel for Cloud applications, it also creates exciting opportunities for our partners by enabling them to easily develop, integrate, publish, and monetise their innovative applications.”
There's a long way to go before the Marketplace matches Salesforce.com's version in terms of number of participants. Oracle boasts an initial 100, which includes CRM firm Xactly.
“The link between sales force automation and sales incentive compensation is critical because it allows finance and sales to access and analyse information that positively impacts sales and financial performance,” said Scott Broomfield, chief marketing officer, Xactly Corporation. “Xactly’s participation in the Oracle Cloud Marketplace further extends our reach in the Oracle community."
Elsewhere, the other theme of the conference was how businesses can manage Big Data more effectively and make more sophisticated use of information to create better customer experiences among other things.
26% of consumers have posted negative comments about companies and 86% have stopped doing business with companies that disappoint them, according to Oracle President Mark Hurd. “The damage that can do to your brand is enormous,” he said.
And the problem is going to get worse, he added. "There are nine billion devices connected to the Internet today," he noted. "By 2020, that number will grow to fifty billion."
90% of data in existence was created within the last two years and the amount of data in the system will continue to grow exponentially in the coming years. "I'm not going tell you how big it's going to be. It's just going to be big," he said.