Oracle puts 'social' in corporate CRM

Riding on popularity of social networking sites, Oracle unveils customer relationship management tools that incorporate Web 2.0 and "social" functions.
Written by Joel D. Pinaroc, Contributor

PHILIPPINES--Enterprise software giant Oracle has embedded social networking functions into its latest customer relationship management (CRM) offerings, allowing the applications to emulate social networking sites.

At a briefing here Tuesday, company executives said the new social CRM applications are aimed at leveraging popular social networking sites such as Facebook, Friendster and LinkedIn, and enabling these applications for corporate use.

According to Prasad Rai, Oracle's senior CRM networking collaboration and mobility, there has been "a wave of innovations currently ongoing in the CRM space". One of these, he said, focuses on the transformation of "corporate" CRM applications to allow these applications to "mimic" social networking Web sites.

Rai explained that social networking sites, which were created primarily to facilitate information sharing, can now be used as business tools.

Globally, he said, the number of people adopting social networking is staggering. 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, most enterprise software are often not built to support social networking functions. "But, the good news is, there 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, dubbed Oracle Social Apps.

"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 to enable traditional CRM tools "to understand conversations"--something which social networking sites are very good at.

Under 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 Sales Prospector is now available in the Philippines, while the two other social CRM applications will be released in the country "very soon", Rai said. Oracle is targeting the new social CRM offerings at local service industries, the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry¸ financial markets and small and midsize businesses (SMBs).

The social CRM applications are priced at US$70 per user per month, and are available via cloud computing or on a software as a service (SaaS) delivery model, Rai said.

Joel D. Pinaroc is a freelance IT writer based in the Philippines.

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