Oracle introduces social networks to CRM

News update Its new software offering lets businesses bring social networking and online collaboration into their CRM infrastructure.

update SINGAPORE--Oracle launched on Monday two new products that it said will allow users to integrate social networks into their customer relationship management (CRM) system.

The software vendor's CRM On Demand Release 15 features capabilities that aim to enable users to be more effective and productive in their jobs, according to Oracle. With the new software offering, businesses can bring social networking and online collaboration capabilities into their CRM infrastructure, allowing their employees to manage various forms of customer interactions via a centralized platform.

Anthony Lye, Oracle senior vice president of CRM, described this as a "radically new" approach to collaboration and productivity that leverages Web 2.0 tools. Social networks create a new type of relationship between the vendor and customer, he said at the product's launch.

Lye explained: "Selling is a social [activity]. Traditional CRM was much about hierarchy. It wasn't social. Social CRM is a new structure with new relevance [to today's end-users]."

Sticky notes, a feature in the new offering, works with the software's Message Center to enhance collaboration, said Oracle. Together, these software components enable back-and-forth commentary that is accessible and viewable through a homepage, the software vendor said. For example, team members can subscribe to sticky notes to create a social network around a potential customer or revenue opportunity, where all members of the network are kept up to date simultaneously.

The launch also saw the release of Oracle Mobile Sales Assistant for Oracle CRM on Demand for customers using Research In Motion's BlackBerry platform.

This application is designed to help mobile professionals collaborate with colleagues and customers wirelessly, complete frequent tasks such as managing appointments, and close deals while on the road, Oracle said.

With a single click, users can view account team information and customer contact information, and communicate with the team through a call, e-mail or text message.

Lye said no user training is required for the mobile application, which is delivered as a service. "Every customer gets a URL to access the application and no configuration is necessary," he said.