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Oracle’s Suite For Delivering A Unified Customer Experience Just Got A Lot More Credible

Omar Akhtar

Oracle’s sales, service and marketing platforms might not be a completely integrated offering, but it’s got a credible roadmap to get there.

To show its commitment to being a holistic “Customer Experience” platform, Oracle decided to host three simultaneous conferences at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas this week, one for each of its Marketing, Sales and Service Cloud platforms. The underlying message; all three platforms are harmoniously working parts of one big cloud platform that ultimately serves the customer.

Oracle CEO Mark Hurd said the market was finally at a point where implementing CX solutions was now a reality. “A few years ago there was a lot of talk of suites, but less talk of buying them,” Hurd said. “But now customers are asking, ‘Can I buy sales and service now as a solution? Can I integrate B2B marketing with sales automation?' We’re beginning to see that now." Hurd acknowledged that while Oracle’s integration story was far from perfect, the company had progressed to the point where it had real credibility in offering these solutions in a holistic way.  And following the footsteps of his former boss Larry Ellison, Hurd couldn’t resist taking a shot at the competition, specifically Salesforce and its pricing strategy. “The biggest thing I’ve seen from Salesforce is this aggression in raising the price on its renewals,” Hurd said. “It’s an interesting strategy, we’ve never seen this many Salesforce customers wanting to switch.”

In an exclusive half-day session for industry analysts, the unified CX suite was reinforced in all of Oracle’s conference presentations. The top executives from Marketing, Service, Sales, Commerce and Data Cloud took the stage together to give a joint briefing on the new features their platforms were rolling out, and more importantly, the new ways they were integrating with each other.

For Oracle Marketing Cloud, a major piece of news was that Oracle Social Cloud was now going to be reporting directly to the leadership at Marketing Cloud. It’s a move that makes sense, especially given how the market is moving away from social simply being a listening and publishing tool, to being a channel that supports overall content strategy, which forms the nucleus of the marketing plan. 

Product updates included the launch of an Account-Based Marketing feature within Eloqua, and welcome integrations between B2C content-delivery tool Responsys and content-personalization solution Maxymiser which allows the user to orchestrate personalized messaging on a website in conjunction with messaging in email, SMS, MMS, push messaging, in-app messaging and display advertising.

But the real highlight in the CX suite story is the added integration of Oracle Data Cloud (formerly BlueKai.) A powerful marketplace for third-party customer data, Data Cloud now gives marketers the ability to model their online audiences based on critical offline data, such as in-store purchase transactions. A second integration leverages its recent acquisition of AddThis to give marketers access to keyword data to help them target audiences with paid media. Although the announced integrations were marketing-centric, the Data Cloud presentation made it clear that it is seen as a resource for all the CX applications, and we can expect further connections within Sales, Service and Commerce Cloud.

Another showcase for Oracle’s CX narrative was a panel discussion and Q&A session with reps from five companies who were all using multiple products from Oracle’s CX suite in their efforts to deliver a unified customer experience. It’s a stark contrast from last year when the customers Oracle showcased were still using only one or maybe two products from its suites, with little signs of connection across marketing, sales and service functions.

Scott Strickland, global CIO for the audio/video solutions company D+M Group talked about how his team was using Oracle’s products to drive an IoT-focused digital transformation for the company and its products. “We transformed this company around the digital delivery model,” Strickland said. “Our black box and speakers can now collect information and aggregate it into customer profiles, allowing us to be much more proactive in how we can engage with them.” By embracing IoT technology, D+M Group was able to track how its customers were interacting with its devices, so that when they called in for a service issue, the company was able to pull up their history and help solve their problems in a faster, more personalized manner. In addition, D+M Group used Oracle’s Social and Marketing Clouds to listen to customer conversations about product updates they desired, present them to the product team as market research, and then send targeted messages to those same customers with news of the product updates they had been talking about.

Another customer story came from Carrie Leader, director of eCommerce at Elaine Turner, a Houston-based designer of handbags and shoes. Leader outlined a roadmap for connecting Elaine Turner’s in-store experience with its online site using Oracle’s Sales, Marketing and Commerce Cloud. Since 75% of the store’s transactions come from in-store appointments, getting customers to come in and spend time with sales reps is a big goal. To do this, Leader’s team plans to add a “Book An Appointment” button on its eCommerce website which would then capture the customer’s information in the CRM, along with a history of the items they browsed. Using Marketing Cloud, the company could then send reminder emails to the customer, along with content relevant to the items they were browsing. An integration with Commerce Cloud could show customers which items were in stock, and which items might be running low, giving them an added incentive to visit.

These highly personalized, relevant experiences for customers aren’t just gimmicks, they’re the new norm of what brands are expected to do in order to differentiate themselves in the digital era. And these experience can only be delivered through a coordinated strategy across all the customer facing functions of a company. Oracle may have made a lot of progress on the technology side of those efforts, but it’s still up to brands to do organize their people and processes to help deliver on that vision.