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Past, Present and Future? The CMC Yearly Round-Up

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18th Dec 2006
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In this article:

  • Introduction
  • That was the year that was...
  • That was the year that will be
  • Market Makers
  • They Said What?!?

    So that was 2006! Not as eventful as 2005 perhaps but a market ticking over nicely and with more than a little bit of fun and games en route. Here’s our annual look back at some of the highlights with added commentary from some leading market makers, a peek into the crystal ball by our contributing editor Chris Middleton – and some quotes of the year that some people might rather forget!

    See you in 2007! Happy Christmas from everyone at the CMC!

    That was the year that was...

    The year of getting SaaSy

    It might still be a good few years before the software as a service (SaaS) model fully enters the computing mainstream, but 2006 saw some important pieces fall into place. With every major vendor in the applications market now pushing some form of SaaS gambit, this was the year of getting SaaSy.

    Analyst firm Gartner Group says that SaaS accounted for approximately 8 per cent of CRM total software revenue in 2005 Gartner estimates 2006 SaaS revenue to reach 12 per cent of total CRM software revenue.

    For their part, large companies are now buying in to the idea of SaaS, according to a study of CIOs from management consultancy McKinsey and Company, finally dispelling the notion that the model is suitable only for small to medium sized companies that have been its traditional breeding ground.

    CIOs are attracted by SaaS’s lower up-front costs, lower total ownership costs, and faster implementation than traditional licensed software, both of which substantially increases the likelihood a new application will provide an attractive return on investment. The most popular SaaS business applications, according to the McKinsey study, are for human-resource management, billing and order entry, and sales management.

    This was also the year in which the SaaS vendors firmly became the tails that wagged the CRM market dog as SaaS pureplays like NetSuite, RightNow and most particularly Salesforce.com got under the skin of larger enterprise CRM firms and set them reacting to their agenda.

    Juergen Rottler, Oracle's head of on-demand services, has publicly acknowledged the growing strength of the SaaS model. “On-demand isn't just for small to midsize businesses,” he said. "It ranges from a few individuals to thousands of users. In general, our on-demand customers and the number of users are growing. We're seeing great interest among Fortune 100 companies. On-demand is picking up; there's a lot of activity."

    For the first quarter, ending August 31, Oracle reported $125 million in On Demand revenue, an increase of nearly 50 year on year. For the full year to 31 May 2006, On Demand accounted for $397 million out of total revenue of $14,380 billion. Oracle says that it has more than 1.7 million users of Oracle On Demand services across more than 2,200 companies. The 1.7 million figure includes subscriptions, managed applications, and software management consulting services. - which is noticeably different to claiming 1.7 million subscribers.

    Among the pureplays, RightNow continued on a steady course with some impressive customer references while NetSuite stepped up its marketing ‘oomph’ a few notches, scoring some nice blows on Salesforce.com – but there’s still a long way to go before the notion that it is Ingres to Salesforce.com’s Oracle will go away.

    As for Salesforce.com, the quarterly releases continued apace, the AppExchange started to fill up with third party applications and there was the announcement of Apex, a new programming language that will be a central plank of the push to make Salesforce.com a development platform rather than just an on demand CRM offering. As 2006 draws to a close, Salesforce.com remains comfortably in control of setting the SaaS agenda – if that’s going to change in 2007, the other players will have to up their games quite significantly.

    There were a couple of newcomers to the SaaS fold, completing the line of the major applications vendors. Of those two, tangibly the most reluctant to step up to the mark has been SAP – the ultimate enterprise on-premises vendor. But SAP executives are notoriously cagey about their support for the model, repeatedly emphasising that on demand implementations can be brought back in house easily. It’s not exactly a whole hearted burst of SaaS evangelism.

    The other SaaS new boy was Microsoft – surely the least surprising announcement in the CRM market in 2006. The commitment – which had been vigorously denied for months and months – was widely predicted by market watchers everywhere. The reality of the situation is simple: the momentum behind the SaaS revolution is now so great that the company cannot stay out of the market.

    In the event the news was triggered by the arrival of Ray Ozzie as Microsoft Chief Software Architect and author of a memo called, 'Services Disruption' where he stated the future would be dominated not by software like that made by Microsoft, but by services offered by companies like Google and salesforce.com who were changing the software game forever by delivering a new paradigm.

    But it's not all as simple as it seems. Yes, Microsoft has finally bowed to the inevitable and made a CRM Live commitment. But although the service will be delivered via the WORLD WIDE Web, you won't be able to subscribe to it unless you're in the US – and even then that won't itself be possible until some time in 2007! For Microsoft there’s also the issue of having to work through the partner relationships upon which it has been so dependent until now. Microsoft has to change its business model and make sure that partners follow and adapt.

    Still, the usual suspects are now all lined up with the SaaS box ticked in their product portfolio. Which particular version of SaaS you choose to buy into as a customer is up to you. And remember, they are most emphatically not all talking about the same thing when they use the term on-demand! But at least they’re all here now. Caveat emptor!

    Still hanging on the telephone

    We all hate call centres. Maybe it would make us better people if we all made a New Year’s Resolution that we’d promise to be more positive about call centres but let’s face it, even with the transient nature of such resolutions, this one wouldn’t see out the first week of 2007!

    While call centres and offshoring have been part of business for years, 2006 was the year that proved to be the tipping point in terms of public antipathy towards them. Consider the recent study from RSVP Media Response which found that some 99% of respondents said that they would rather speak to a British call centre operator rather than a foreign counterpart. Some 8 out of 10 people get annoyed by call centres who stick rigidly to scripts rather than accommodating their specific request, while three-quarters (74%) loathe automated call centres than are manned by computers and voice-activated machines

    A total of 42% claimed call centres rarely understood the reason for their call, another 41% claimed operators only occasionally identified the problem, and 15% said call centres never get to the bottom of why the customer called. Of all 1,300+ interviewees, only 2% said call centres always answered their problems and dealt with them appropriately.

    All told, it’s a pretty miserable response. But are things changing? Not so you’d notice seems to be the answer in the main. Companies are still making the passage to India. For example, mobile phone giant Orange plans to close down its call centre in Peterlee in north England and create 300 more jobs in India, where it already has a staff of 1,000. The call centre closure will lead to abolishing 900 jobs. Meanwhile Norwich Union axed 321 jobs with the closure of its customer services centre in Liverpool. The centre, which handles calls for Norwich Union Direct, is set to close by November this year because of "continuing growth in online insurance sales" and "increased efficiency", the company said.

    The company has also announced 17 compulsory redundancies in its technical support team in Sheffield. Work from the Liverpool call centre is to be offshored to India and existing centres in the UK. The company has another operation in Liverpool and a customer centre in Sheffield where possible vacancies will be identified, it said. Of the 321 staff, 180 work in motor insurance, with a further 40 in home insurance customer service, and the rest in a range of support and administrative roles.

    On the other hand, there are those firms who are making PR hay out of booking a return flight. Powergen famously shut down its Indian call centres after finding that offshoring had affected customer satisfaction. Complaints about Powergen were twice the industry average, according to consumer body Energywatch.

    From now on all calls made by customers will be answered in the UK rather than by call centres in India. "Offshore call centres may have their place for certain industries. However, we believe that we can best achieve industry-leading customer service by operating solely in the UK," said Nick Horler, Powergen's managing director. “When customers contact us they need to be confident that their query will be fully resolved quickly.”

    Interestingly Powergen racked up the biggest improvement in overall customer satisfaction across the energy industry in the past year, up by two positions since the last survey by energywatch. Previously ranked bottom, the company came in fourth place this time around, but report found a 55% decrease in the number of complaints against Powergen over the past six months after Powergen brought its call centres back from India to the UK.

    So it’s hardly surprising then that online insurance company eSure is bringing its offshore call centre work in India back to the UK from February next year after complaints from customers. Founder Peter Wood, who took over as chief executive last April, said that Indian call-centre staff are excellent at doing everything by the script, and but that they can lack both flexibility and a cultural and practical understanding of UK culture.

    "Rule-wise they are brilliant, they stick to everything the Financial Services Authority wants," he said. “I don't want to slam India, but a lot of customers didn't like calls being handled there. We have trained our staff well and dealt with most of the problems, but customers are still not happy.”

    Other firms, such as Dell, Apple Computer and Abbey, have also pulled out of India citing customer satisfaction issues, while yet more, such as Bank of Scotland, have made a public virtue of not venturing abroad with their customer service operations.

    One of the most vocal and long standing opponents of offshoring has been Nationwide. According to its research, 91 per cent of people say it is important to them that their calls are handled from call centres based in the UK, while 84 percent say they would be less likely to deal with a company if they knew it used call centres abroad.

    "Call centres are at the very heart of our service offering which is why we are committed to keeping ours in the UK where we have strong links with the communities in which we operate. said Nationwide executive director Stuart Bernau. "While outsourcing overseas may save costs in the short term, by being based in the UK Nationwide experiences less employee turnover than call centres overseas and we believe our employees are more productive as well. Call centres abroad may suit some of our competitors, but they are not the right option for Nationwide or for our customers.”

    One of the more alarmist reasons for the rejection of India is of course security - or lack thereof. The biggest scandal of 2006 stemmed from Channel’s 4’s expose of data theft in call centres, a row which set the Nasscom trade association on a desperate defensive gambit.

    The documentary focused on two middlemen, one of whom was captured on camera offering to sell a database with the credit card, passport and Internet banking details of as many as 200,000 people. The second middleman reportedly offered to sell the personal details of customers of companies like Halifax, Bank of Scotland and Woolwich for £5 each.

    Nasscom’s handling of the crisis did nothing to calm the situation with president Kiran Karnik seeming more interested in shooting the messenger. “We are concerned about the verifiability of such stories, especially sting operations where monetary inducements were provided,” he said. “These operations sometimes go beyond uncovering wrongdoing and actually induce criminal activity that is then recorded and aired.”

    He added that there was the suspicion that such investigations were based on international jealousy of India. "Few other countries are subject to the same level of scrutiny, [but] concern over data security is not limited to any one country," said Karnik. "Such stories go to prove the lengths to which some vested interests will go to threaten this global industry with its reputation for customer value and security."

    But the impact of the disclosures could be significant. Already 80 per cent of people in the UK believe that financial services companies which outsource services to overseas countries are damaging their brand image, according to a survey on behalf of the International Financial Services District Glasgow.

    A massive 80 per cent said they thought offshoring did damage the brand with just 7per cent saying it did not. Age plays a part in attitudes: 89 per cent of over 50s said they thought offshoring damaged the brand Some 49 per cent said they would consider switching their custom because of offshoring, but in practice only one in 10 said they had already switched their custom to another company because of the offshore issue.

    But before the ‘India is unsafe’ witch-hunt saddles up for another attack, it’s worth noting that according to Strathclyde Police as many as one in ten businesses in Glasgow have been infiltrated by gangs to steal customers' financial details from their call centres – and no-one’s screaming for companies to pull out of Scotland…yet!

    That was the year that will be

    The sea change in the CRM market from the vendors’ perspective over the past 18 months has been about acquisition and expansion in the case of enterprise software vendors such as Oracle, but also about the continued emergence of a new and viable stream of businesses in the form of the software as a service (SaaS) players.

    For traditional big hitters such as Oracle, 2007 and beyond will mean a shift of focus from expensive acquisition, absorbtion, and market consolidation to ensuring its Peoplesoft and Siebel acquisitions are properly integrated into its much vaunted stack of technologies. Failure to concentrate on this could mean a long winter of discontent for some Oracle users, not to mention Siebel and Peoplesoft customers, whose increasingly vocal criticisms of Larry Ellison’s buying spree have revealed themselves in low satisfaction levels across the board for Oracle’s services.

    The challenge is not quite so acute for acquisitive vendors such as SSA, but the underlying principle remains the same. All of the traditional CRM players should focus on support, innovation, and answering the kind of CRM FAQs that, for many customers, remain unanswered.

    Intensified competition from other big hitters with deep pockets such as SAP and Microsoft in the CRM space will make 2007 a confusing place for cautious users, IT strategists, CIOs and purse string holders, as the US and UK economies cool and face a sustained period of uncertainty about their underlying health.

    This factor alone could push increasing numbers of customers towards swifter, more nimble technology providers such as the SaaS brigade, as many businesses question the validity of expensive enterprise upgrades – the priority for most in 2007 – when hosted services are on the march.

    However, one notable exception will be the public sector, which will be the largest new customer base for in-house CRM (with the ‘C’ standing for ‘citizen’) applications as a means of sharing data across local and regional boundaries, targeting services, and slashing costs.

    All CRM users will be looking to extract more and more value from their enterprise technology investments, and the imperative for them will be improving customer-facing capabilities, extracting business intelligence from them, and also – one hopes – investing in the management, structural, and cultural changes necessary to join up the disparate channels of their business. For many customers of the banking and financial services sector, for example, the reality of multi-channel business still fails even to come close to the promise.

    As a result, business intelligence (BI) suites will be the most significant application investment for large corporate customers, while improving integration between applications, security, and adopting a service-oriented architecture (SOA) will be the the largest ongoing projects within many businesses.

    The desire to capitalise on previous investments will make many private sector buyers reluctant to commit to any major new CRM spending, although the applications market overall will continue to grow at a reduced rate. Services will rise to the top of the enterprise technology wishlist.

    In 2007, other major growth areas will be in support, hosting and co-location facilities, mobile CRM applications development (and porting), and SaaS offerings, from both market definers such as Salesforce.com, NetSuite, and RightNow, and traditional big hitters such as Oracle, who are being forced to react to the loud collective voice of the SaaS players, relative to their size.

    NetSuite’s promised IPO, most likely in the summer, will be one of the defining moment for this sector of the market, as any flotation will throw down the gauntlet to major stakeholder and funder Ellison in terms of whether he continues to regard such companies as a private investment, or as a low-cost means of hothousing a market that he can step in and control.

    For companies such as NetSuite the greatest challenge will be finding a way to target the smaller buyers who make up perhaps 60% of their potential customer base – successful companies that are small in terms of staff numbers, which lack an IT decision maker or strategist, and who regard technology as being a cost as much as an investment. For such companies, familiar names such as Microsoft will seem a more reliable bet if they have little concept of what SaaS even means.

    However, the signs are strong that SaaS will move out of its SME niche and into bigger businesses and organisations who are attracted by the concept of ‘outsourcing’ an enterprise app and using the Internet as a means of integrating salesforces with head office.

    As a concomitant to this, the mobile space will be the focus of many new CRM offerings in terms of new or ported applications, and inevitably also the focus of most of the innovative marketing, customer, and sales campaigns in 2007. Mobile networks, in particular, will be in the vanguard of CRM innovation.

    Alone among the big hitters, Microsoft will face an uphill battle of its own making, as Vista will remain low on many businesses’ list of priorities, as the new operating system will also mean major upgrades to networks and hardware - poor timing during a period of economic uncertainty and the business imperative for companies to capitalise on existing enterprise investments and get closer to their customers. Many of the benefits of Microsoft CRM for Vista offerings will remain undiscovered for some time.

    However, the most interesting challenge to the CRM market in 2007, from both vendor and user perspectives, will be the extraordinary rise of ‘social networking’, and the burgeoning popularity of sites such as MySpace, YouTube, and even the virtual kingdom Second Life (where many companies are setting up shop).

    Increasingly, customers both large and small are beginning to question the fact that, if it is so easy to post content on such sites and generate direct feedback and customer satisfaction levels – at little more than the cost of a broadband connection – then why are such instant metrics, ease of use, customer leads, and marketing opportunities harder to source from CRM suites, which cost many, many times as much to use?

    It is a safe bet that any online, browser-accessed CRM tools launched by a global brand – Google being the obvious candidate – would rewrite the rulebook of the market and reach customers both large and small far more easily than SaaS vendors can with their far smaller marketing clout.

    Market Makers

    Loic le Guisquet, senior vice president, Oracle EMEA CRM

    Undoubtedly, the highlight for Oracle CRM in 2006 was the successful integration of Siebel, establishing our position as the global leader in CRM with five million live end users and over 100 million registered self-service users. Ninety per cent of Siebel's customer-facing teams stayed with Oracle and, with Siebel CRM technology intended to form the centrepiece of the next-generation Oracle CRM application strategy, we continue to invest in growing these teams.

    The launch of Oracle’s Applications Unlimited programme was another significant milestone. Oracle's commitment to develop, enhance and support our applications offered customers more value from their existing applications, and the choice to evolve to new technologies when the time is right. After our delivery of PeopleSoft Enterprise CRM 9, this commitment will be further underlined in 2007 with the launch of Oracle E-Business 12 and Oracle’s Siebel 8 applications.

    What we've also enjoyed this year is seeing how numerous customers have used our technology to transform their businesses for the better. This has been evident across all industries: a major European telco reduced its cost per sales lead by 41%; a global drinks producer cut the time to organise promotional campaigns from seven weeks to two; while in launching a new 24/7 telebanking service a leading European bank set itself up to save Euro 7.6 Million over five years and is already seeing a return on investment of 320%.

    Looking ahead to 2007, the ability to sense a customer's requirements and respond in the appropriate manner will have an increasingly important impact on business performance.

    Mobile technology and the internet mean that customers now have more choice than ever, and their expectations of customer service have grown accordingly. The dramatic growth in extending CRM directly to customers, online commerce and self-service is a reflection of this. Similarly, while product innovation and process efficiency both play their part in addressing customer needs, it is the way customers are treated and the loyalty it generates that drives profitable customer relationships - customers won't be tempted to move if they're already getting what they need.

    We all understand the importance of capturing significant customer events with event-based marketing. For instance, for a bank, a change of address means new financial needs, insurance requirements or underwriting implications. For a telecommunications company it could signal the need for new landline, internet, or other services.

    In 2007, we will see organisations moving beyond transactional and process-driven CRM to the real-time application of analytics and intelligence. This will enable each customer-facing employee to respond to customer behaviour in real-time and proactively engage the customer in the most appropriate manner.

    Over the next twelve months, we also anticipate considerable adoption of hybrid CRM solutions - mixing on-premise and on-demand CRM - by large enterprises which want to have the best of both worlds: deep, industry-specific CRM for their core users combined with cost-effective, immediately available CRM as a service for their departmental users, personnel at remote subsidiaries or business partners. With hybrid CRM, businesses can quickly get departments up and running and enjoying the benefits of better customer information while large-scale CRM initiatives are being developed.

    Steve Garnett, Chairman EMEA, Salesforce.com

    It’s a bit chilly in London for this time of year. And once again this year, there’s a lot of talk about a visitor from the north. Not the one in a red suit - the one with a red face: a sheepish Microsoft, which, after delays and apologies, is delivering Vista. As Vista completes its glacial slide into crates of shrink-wrapped boxes, we can’t help but wonder: is the grip of Microsoft’s Ice Age ending too?

    Steve Ballmer has said that it will be the last time that customers will have to wait six years for the next version of Windows. He’s only partly right, I think. Customers and competitors have stopped waiting for Microsoft to innovate, and its premature product announcements have lost their power to chill an industry. We can’t imagine our lives without the innovations that RIM, Apple, and Google have brought to market. We can however imagine our lives if we had to depend on Microsoft’s iterations of these inventions - it’s just not a very pleasant exercise, especially during the festive season.

    Yet it is an important image to keep in mind as Microsoft slouches towards the age of Software-as-a-Service. A year ago, Bill Gates and Ray Ozzie proclaimed that the model that Google and salesforce.com are pursuing is the future. A year later, Windows Live was launched as a web hosting service, and none of us has sampled Word or Excel as a multi-tenant, on-demand service. But like many of you, I have used Writely, iRows, and dozens of other services that encourage collaboration and sharing via the Internet. Just last month, Steve Ballmer told the Wall Street Journal that he sees a rich future for rich clients. So much for the end of the Ice Age in Redmond.

    We inspired some eye-rolling back in 1999, when we predicted The End of Software. Today, our numbers alone are impressive: we exited the third quarter with a half billion-dollar annual revenue run rate, one of an elite group of just 40 software companies that have made it that far. But now the analysts are piling on with predictions of accelerating momentum for SaaS. Even more remarkable is that most of these reports were developed before we introduced Apex, our new on-demand programming language - a development that will surely add fuel to the fire. It’s an impressive list: Triple Tree says that 40 per cent of software will be on demand by 2010; Gartner says that 24 ,per cent of new business software will be on demand by 2011; McKinsey says now 61 per cent percent of enterprises plan to adopt SaaS; and Deutsche Bank ,also predicted that SaaS would be about half the market by 2013.

    By 2013, Microsoft may have finished Vista’s successor. But by then, one of Microsoft’s most enduring contributions to the technology industry - the ability to make people care about its products - may have melted away.

    Neil Morgan, European Marketing Director, Omniture

    The highlight of 2006 for our industry was in my opinion the moment that online media time passed that of traditional media. On October 8th a study by Jupiter showed for the first time that the time European consumers spend online has overtaken the hours they devote to newspapers and magazines. The survey of more than 5,000 people in the UK , France , Germany , Italy and Spain showed that media time spent online has doubled from two to four hours whilst print media consumption has remained static at three hours per week. Marketers ad budgets will always follow media consumption and I believe that Summer 2007 will be the tipping point that will throw marketing budgets, and the focus of CRM projects from old to new media.

    As for 2007, I see the ‘old media’ CRM industry waking up to the potential of new media customer marketing. With online marketing and advertising budgets moving upwards of 20%, and in some campaigns over 60% of marketing budgets technology suppliers have to recognise to support the challenges marketers face in delivering online campaigns. Measurement is key if marketers are to confidently invest in and measure the results of online campaigns.

    Web 2.0 winners and losers. Large investments are being ploughed into trendy Web 2.0’ initiatives because they are cool. Whether they are Rich Internet Applications (RIAs), Blog sites or User Generated Content, people are putting heavy investments into these new channels. Like CRM in the late 90s, many of these investments are being made without thought to the returns that they will generate. The consequence is that once the froth blows off, many will wonder why they did them at all. The winners however have been applying the same measurement practices to their Web 2.0 programmes as their existing ones and can pick the ones that work to produce a real return on their investment. Web 2.0 can add real value to the user experiences of a site. 2007 will separate the men from the boys of new media marketing.

    They Said What?!?

    “We're not going to be outhustled by anyone.”
    Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer makes a none-too-subtle dig at Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff.

    "I am flattered by Steve, he is a great hustler himself! He is not just being outhustled by someone, he's being outhustled by everyone!”
    Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff doesn’t care.

    “CRM started to go wrong when rolled out across large field services and salesforces, which are two groups who will never do what you tell them to do.”
    Steve Elsham, Head of CRM Applications, Oracle UK, wins friends and influences people.

    "ASPs failed for a number of reasons. The applications they were outsourcing weren’t designed to be hosted. They were client/server applications that were retrofitted to work on the Internet. I think a comment like they were putting lipstick on a pig is appropriate here."
    Zach Nelson, CEO of NetSuite, reckons some apps need a good makeover.

    "If Tom [Siebel] had not killed Sales.com then there would be no Salesforce.com. What Tom was doing with Sales.com was exactly what Benioff has done with Salesforce.com, but the model was just too far ahead of the market at that juncture. You can look back and say that if we hadn't killed Sales.com, then there would not have been a Salesforce.com."
    Bob Stutz, SAP senior vp for Worldwide CRM Product and Strategy, explains that Tom Siebel ‘Doh!’ moment.

    "Larry had to spend $11 billion just to get me back to Oracle!"
    Jesper Andersen, Oracle's senior vice president of applications strategy, explains the real reason Oracle bought PeopleSoft. Who do we reckon he wanted to get back from Siebel then?

    "I think my response was, 'What idiot dreamed this up?'"
    Mary Anne Davidson, Oracle´s chief security officer, on the claims that Oracle database is unbreakable. PS: It was Larry, Mary Anne!

    “In this case, I think it would be more fun to crush them. We will try that for a while.”
    Charles Phillips, Oracle Co-President, on why he won’t be adding Salesforce.com to his corporate shopping list.

    “Oracle says it will deliver Fusion in a few years time. Or 'Con-fusion' as it should be called.”
    Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff doesn’t care about that either.

    "There's a lot of romantic notions about open source, that just from the air these developers contribute and don't charge. Let me tell you the names of the companies that developed Linux: IBM, Intel, Oracle — not a community of people who think everything should be free. Open source is not a communist movement.”
    Oracle’s Larry Ellison takes all the fun out of open source and (probably) adds RedHat to his corporate shopping list.

    "There are some major differences from the looks of things - like we wrote ours, and they bought someone.”
    NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson reckons you can’t buy in good product functionality. (Has he told NetSuite’s major shareholder Larry Ellison yet, do you think?)

    "I know this e-mail may/will depress you. You told me years ago that it's OK to raise the 'diversification issue' with you quarterly.... Well, I'm doing so."
    Philip Simon, Ellison’s personal financial adviser, takes his life in his hands to warn Larry Ellison to curb his spending.

    “A bigger question is, if a decision is taken to run Fusion on multiple technologies, then how long before a decision has to be taken on whether to split Oracle into two companies - an applications one and a technology one.”
    Ronan Miles, head of the UK Oracle Applications User Group, poses a good question; we’re still waiting for a good answer from Oracle.

    "This helmet is too small for my head!"
    ‘Darth New Kid’ in NetSuite’s Star Wars spoof video ripping off his mask to reveal the face of Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff beneath.

    “May the Salesforce.com be with you!”
    Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff really doesn’t care about that!

    "Microsoft CRM Live - who'd have thunk it!?"
    Microsoft CRM boss Brad Wilson announces a hosted version of the product. Who’d have thunk it? We all did, Brad, we all did!!!!

    “Gartner noted that only 19 percent of SAP CRM customers actually use it. If fewer than a fifth of our customers used our service, we’d consider that a failure. At SAP, they call it a business plan.”
    Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff doesn’t think much of German planning.

    “It’s a starting point.”
    Dave Girouard, vice president and general manager of Google's enterprise business, on Google’s online business applications. Memo to the rest of the applications industry: Be afraid, be very, very afraid.

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