Oracle deal does little for CRM

Oracle deal does little for CRM

Summary: Oracle has gobbled up Siebel, leaving the CRM market poorer and less likely to grow

TOPICS: IT Employment

The ecosystem of the CRM pond is simplifying rapidly. With Oracle's latest acquisition, Larry Ellison is helping depopulate upmarket CRM providers much as a pike clears away the perch: Siebel joins the remains of PeopleSoft and JD Edwards in the belly of the beast. For Oracle, this is growth by acquisition: the rest of the industry could be forgiven for seeing it as consolidation and the slow erosion of choice.

That's a bad sign. In all of the self-congratulatory publicity and analyst-friendly explanations, little has been said about the software itself. While Siebel correctly identified and efficiently exploited a market segment, it was far better at selling software than making it. The more interesting side of the company was involved in partnerships with IBM and Microsoft, none of which is unlikely to find favour with Larry Ellison; Oracle has bought customers, not key technology.

Oracle has also fended off potential competition. Either IBM or Microsoft would have made a more interesting purchaser of Seibel — IBM to flesh out its application stack on top of DB2, Microsoft to promote its slow march into the upper echelons of corporate data respectability. Now, both companies face a far tougher fight if they want to become serious competitors in CRM — again, the effect will be to chill development in a market that is far from overburdened with bright new ideas as it is.

Which leaves competitors such as Netsuite and, each of which pronounces themselves delighted with the demise of their biggest foe. They will do best if Oracle is happy to impose its old-fashioned licensing ideas on Siebel's customers, or if either IBM or Microsoft gets stung into breaking out the chequebook. With Ellison the majority investor in Netsuite and still a considerable part of, there may be considerable resistance to taking the latter path.

As for the end users, the menu is looking like pike or nothing. CRM has never had the most palatable range of choices, but that is positively tasteless.

Topic: IT Employment

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  • The consolidation of the big end of the market is making selecting a CRM partner a difficult choice, who knows how long they'll be around.

    An alternative approach is to adopt open-source solutions such as SugarCRM which provides you access to the source code, and a guarantee that you either switch support vendors, or maintain the system in-house, even if the vendor gets bought out and the product discontinued.

    We provide independent support for SugarCRM, along with dozens of other organisations around the world. Check out what open-source software can do for your business. A live demo of SugarCRM is available at