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Oracle Sort Of Announces Oracle CX

Just slightly overshadowed by DCG’s own AR day and coming out event in New York City last Monday, Oracle announced Oracle Customer Experience (CX). (Press release; YouTube channel.)

Oracle’s CX hits all the right buttons

By all reports, Oracle’s presentation, with a town hall discussion and self-guided demo kiosks, hit all the right buttons. My former colleague R. “Ray” Wang – never one to be easily impressed – tweeted, “A most different and customer centric event.” In the opening remarks by Oracle VP Mark Hurd,  as well as other videos and press releases, Oracle emphasizes all of the scary – and therefore impactful – numbers, such as: 89% of consumers will abandon a brand after a bad experience and 86% will pay more to ensure a favorable experience.

Although the business critical demand for great customer experience is obvious and undeniable, most organizations still lack commitment. Hurd noted that “62% of online brands can’t actually connect” to consumers. (He implied connecting via mobile, but I think he meant consistently connecting across the consumer’s desired touch points.) Even more depressing, Forrester’s last customer experience index found that only 3% of brands scored “excellent,” and just 36% managed to earn “okay.”

CX Suite vs. Sweet CX

Oracle aims to enable companies to march bravely into this CX breach. The proposed suite (Hurd was careful to spell out suite, in case the assembled thought he was offering customer experience pastries) is nothing if not comprehensive, with a mix of organically developed and recently acquired solutions, including:

  • Oracle Fusion CRM products
  • Customer Hub and Product Hub for Master Data Management (MDM)
  • FatWire (now WebCenter Sites) for Web Experience Management
  • ATG for e-commerce
  • RightNow for customer service
  • Endeca for enterprise search
  • Collective Intellect and Vitrue for social analytics and social marketing, respectively

Key takeaways

1. It’s a suite! It’s a vision! It’s a suite and a vision!

Summarizing the core elements of great customer experience, Oracle’s Hurd said (my emphasis), “[At] Oracle, we believe our vision is the ability to help customers do this. We believe we’re the only company on the planet in a position to do this today. We’ve done it through a series of organic R&D and acquisitions, integrating into a suite (s-u-i-t-e) of capability to enable customers to have a different customer experience with their customers.  This is not [ . . .] a series of point products, but our vision of our customers’ ability to have an experience with their customers. . . .” (See 10:11 in this video.)

It would be fun to unpack that statement for a few hours, but here’s the software marketing rule of thumb: Any mention of vision always trumps product. In other words, you’re not going to buy and implement Oracle CX “today.”

2. And anyway, look for the relationship beyond the product.

“Today”, Hurd stressed, “having a good product isn’t good enough. You have to have a great relationship and a great experience with that customer, to keep that customer.” Nothing could be truer – and this applies to Oracle, and every other “CXM” vendor, as well. So in addition to carefully monitoring how Oracle turns their vision into reality, you’ll want to see if they consistently deliver that customer-centricity sniffed out by Ray Wang.

3. Was that the first salvo in the war of CRM and WCM for the heart of CXM?

CXM is a complex ecosystem, and Oracle, like the other platform vendors, can highlight the value of having as many parts as possible in an “integrated” solution. But the question is, what’s at the core of that system? At DCG, we believe the answer is content. (As Geoffrey Moore agued in this paper on systems of engagement.) Forrester’s Brian Walker might argue that it’s e-commerce platforms. Oracle implies that it’s CRM. Hurd listed three core elements of customer experience. Companies, he said, need to:

  • Connect with the customer, wherever they are
  • Know who they are, when you connect
  • Execute a transaction, when the opportunity exists

This lines up neatly with Oracle’s proposed suite, but what’s missing? I would say it’s the actual customer experience. After you connect with me, and given that you know who I am, what are you going to do until I’m ready to transact (and how do you help me get there)?  You’re going to communicate and build a relationship with me, based on mostly digital interactions. (That sound you hear is my DCG colleague Robert Rose shouting “It’s Content Marketing, damn it!” from a hilltop in California.) And the content assets that form the building blocks of that relationship still depend on that-product-category-previously-know-as-WCM.

If WCM is at the core rather than CRM, Oracle just needs a quick rewrite on their vision statement, thanks to the FatWire acquisition.

What do you think?

Who will rule the CXM roost? (Services is another possibility.)

And what will be the impact of Oracle CX?

Russian Doll image courtesy Creative Tools & PackshotCreator


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