Oracle CRM and Business Intelligence in Two Real-World Environments

by Drew Robb
Oracle CRM and Business Intelligence in Two Real-World Environments

Two case studies from Oracle OpenWorld: Using CRM and business intelligence for success.

Each year, Oracle opens its customer doors to the press at its annual Oracle OpenWorld event. Enterprise Apps Today took advantage of the opportunity to see how Oracle's business intelligence and customer relationship management (CRM) offerings were performing in the real world.

The business intelligence (BI) customer turned out to be storage vendor Brocade Communications Systems. Salil Durani, director of enterprise applications architecture at Brocade, was happy to discuss his experiences with Oracle business intelligence within the company.  Brocade, he said, uses a wealth of Oracle applications: Oracle Master Data Management (MDM), Oracle BI, Oracle Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and Oracle Identity Management (IDM).

Brocade's acquisition of Foundry Networks caused a problem for the unified company: While Brocade sold mainly to other OEMs and to businesses, Foundry's line of IP LAN products exposed the corporate network to a large number of IT users and consumers.

"We decided on an enterprise architecture at the back end using Oracle MDM for our Customer Data Hub," said Durani.  

Another problem was business intelligence isolation. Durani said that BI applications tended to be siloed. The service, support, financial and sales teams had BI running, mainly SAP BusinessObjects. But executives couldn't easily integrate and correlate the data and were forced to get by using a large number of spreadsheets.

"Enterprise intelligence was zero," said Durani. "We really needed to achieve an enterprise definition of the customer."

His problem was how to move that state of affairs towards a unified business intelligence environment. Each line of business head was happy with his/her system and didn't see any real reason to change. The only workable strategy was to convince C-level execs as to why it was wise to implement Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) across the company in conjunction with the MDM initiative.

One example of the limitations of the previous arrangement was in the sales arena. As Brocade sold mainly through the channel, it had to wait for point of sales (POS) data being sent in from partners or for support feedback when customers called in. But that data sat in separate databases: sales information in one system and customer support in another – nothing tied together. And in any case, Durani said the POS data from the channel was relatively poor. As a result, forecasts were little more than guesses.

Durwani decided to leave BusinessObjects running in the individual units and slowly knock it out as Oracle OBIEE was rolled out bit by bit. To date, he said, projects and procurement are on Oracle BI.

"We chose a top down implementation of OBIEE and then we map it to BusinessObjects," he said. "As you map, you find inconsistencies."

As OBIEE takes over more data, IT provides managers with dashboards that automatically generate the data they need. By creating common definitions, consistency is gained between departments. That opens the door to tying products to specific channel partners, finding out how much was spent in marketing to motivate them to sell that product and the overall return on investment.

"We can now see our margins much better, and determine the success of various deals," said Durwani.

Next up, the company is working through its service department. Finance and order management will move onto OBIEE next year. Brocade continues to run Saleforce.com and has linked that data to OBIEE. Other cloud vendors feed into Oracle BI too.

What are the benefits? Durwani notes improved quality of service. As an example, he cites the fact that sales reps can see service requests and see how a particular account has been going. That enables them to ensure any ongoing issues are resolved before any face to face meetings. Cross-selling and up-selling, too, have increased.

"We are now confident enough in our data to make far more aggressive forecasts," said Durwani.  

Page 2: A happy Oracle CRM customer

Zurich Financial and Oracle CRM

Zurich Financial/Farmers Insurance is another large Oracle customer, gravitating toward Oracle Siebel CRM, Oracle CRM On Demand and the Oracle SOA suite.

It was using BEA for SOA before, and Siebel CRM before the Oracle acquisition. Salesforce.com was also in use as well as in-house CRM.

Back in 2007, an evaluation of sales and marketing led to testing of many CRM tools such as SugarCRM, SAP, Microsoft, Salesforce.com and Oracle/Siebel. Partha Srinivasa, CIO of global shared services at Zurich Financial, had already been using Siebel extensively in call centers, so Srinivasa felt it made the most sense to standardize on Oracle as a single CRM system for sales, service, marketing and call centers.

At that point, the company's Farmer's Insurance unit moved over gradually to Oracle CRM tools.

"That evolution has now begun at Zurich Financial, too," said Srinivasa.

He prefers a phased approach, commencing with core CRM functionality and adding other modules gradually. At Farmers, that means establishing that CRM core across the boards, phasing out other non-Oracle modules and then adding the needed Oracle modules for CRM.

Srinivasa ran into a cultural problem – a perception of "big brother is watching you." This necessitated the use of change management processes. For example, instead of pushing CRM as a technology initiative, the whole emphasis was in making it a way to improve field actions and sales. For most people affected by it, the words Oracle, Siebel and CRM were not uttered. Those insurance brokers using the system properly are posting 20% more growth, said Srinivasa.

He brought up one last point – when he deploys Oracle Siebel CRM and when he prefers Oracle On Demand.

"Oracle On Demand is a very good vanilla CRM product where speed to market is important – it tends to have good TCO cost of ownership for new territories and geographies," he said. "But for in-house uses where heavy traction volumes, huge SLAs, high risk, and/or heavy integration to the back end is required, Siebel is best."

Srinivasa is planning to do a proof of concept on the Oracle Exadata and Exalogic appliances, too.

  This article was originally published on Friday Nov 11th 2011
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