Enterprise-software giant Oracle has embedded social-networking functions into its latest CRM offerings, allowing the applications to emulate social-networking sites.
At a briefing in the Philippines on Tuesday, company executives said the new social CRM applications are aimed at harnessing the capabilities of popular social-networking sites such as Facebook, Friendster and LinkedIn, and enabling these type of applications for corporate use.
According to Prasad Rai, Oracle's senior director of CRM networking collaboration and mobility, there has been "a wave of innovations currently ongoing in the CRM space". One of these, he said, centres on the transformation of "corporate" CRM applications to allow them to "mimic" social-networking websites.
Rai explained that social-networking sites, which were created primarily to facilitate information-sharing, can now be used as business tools.
Globally, the number of people adopting social networking is staggering, he said. These social sites are becoming the catalyst for more people to access the internet, he added.
Although Oracle acknowledged that companies have their own CRM applications, it said most enterprise software is not built to support social-networking functions. "But, the good news is, there are many companies now looking at how to use the popularity of social networking and integrate these applications into the corporate CRM," Rai said.
He noted that this trend compelled Oracle to unveil its collection of Social CRM Applications.
"Oracle's Social CRM Applications essentially allow companies to solve business problems with Web 2.0 and social applications," Rai explained. He noted that one key feature the software vendor integrated into its Social CRM Applications was the ability "to understand conversations", something which social networking sites are very good at.
Under the banner of its Social CRM Applications, Oracle also announced social sales modules, including Sales Prospector, Sales Campaigns and Sales Library.
In a product demo, highlighting how social-networking features have been incorporated, Oracle said its Sales Prospector application can be integrated "tightly" with existing social-networking sites, so employees can access relevant information regarding potential customers.
The Social CRM Applications can also be integrated as a separate mobile CRM tool for deployment on Apple's iPhone, Oracle said.
The social CRM applications are priced at $70 (£44) per user per month, and are available via cloud computing or on a software-as-a-service delivery model, Rai said.
Joel D Pinaroc is a freelance IT writer based in the Philippines.