Oracle executives on Tuesday gave a more detailed picture of their plans to integrate technologies gained through October's $1.5 billion acquisition of RightNow, maker of cloud-based software for customer service through the Web, social networks, and contact centers.
The RightNow deal, which closed last week, "is a big deal to us, it's core to us," Oracle co-president Mark Hurd said during a webcast event. "It's about delivering superior customer service." Oracle has "a very aggressive plan to invest in RightNow and build a stronger road map than ever before," he added.
Other Oracle executives outlined the company's bid to reinvent the notion of CRM (customer relationship management) software, discussing how RightNow's applications will work as part of a continuum involving Oracle technologies for e-commerce, natural language search, customer segmentation and other areas, many of which it also procured through acquisitions.
"In a very real sense the basic rules of business have changed," said Greg Gianforte, RightNow's founder and CEO. "Globalization has increased customer choice and supply now exceeds demand for most products. This gives consumers power." Products are also becoming commodities faster than ever before, with new features quickly copied by "fast followers," he said.
New features aren't enough, traditional marketing programs are less effective, and social networks can greatly amplify customer complaints as well as positive remarks, Gianforte added. "The only thing left is word of mouth. The only way to do that is deliver great experiences."
But the buying process "doesn't start around customer service," said Thomas Kurian, executive vice president of product development, who oversees Oracle's entire software catalog. "It starts from the time the customer feels the need for a product." There is a series of "touch points" throughout the lifecycle of a product purchase, and Oracle has the technology to reach every one of them, he added.
First off, Oracle's FatWire Web content and software can provide customers with compelling material as they research their buy, while Oracle's Social Network and Siebel Marketing application could bolster targeted marketing efforts, according to Kurian's presentation. Then the vendor's Endeca search technology can help customers find the right product for their needs, with its ATG Commerce product supplying an e-commerce foundation to execute the sale.
Further along the continuum lies Oracle's financials and supply chain software. RightNow's lineup of applications then completes it by covering ongoing product usage, maintenance, and recommendation scenarios, according to Oracle.
For example, Oracle plans to integrate RightNow Service with ATG Commerce, Kurian said. "Now if you're an agent, you get an up-to-the-minute view of who the customer is, what they have bought," he said.
Oracle intends to deliver these and other integrations "on a very aggressive schedule," Kurian said, while providing no dates.
He noted that the business-to-business buying experience has different customs than the consumer world. B-to-B customers may research purchases on the Web, but they're also often invited to marketing events or seminars, and get direct sales calls, whereas "in the consumer space, it's largely e-commerce and retail point-of-sale," Kurian said.