Mark Barrenechea: Oracle's senior VP of CRM products divulges the company's CRM strategy

By Eugene Grygo, InfoWorld |  Software

Being in e-business means running a very efficient IT organization, which means tightly integrated products, very little custom code, and very little data movement. That's the trap that client/server got companies into.

InfoWorld: Oracle has links to SAP. Do you anticipate creating links to other ERP vendors?

Barranechea: Our current plans are to continue to deepen our integration to SAP. With SAP and Oracle, we cover about 75 percent of the entire ERP space. We think that's a good return on our R&D dollars. Anything past that is probably diminishing returns.

They [SAP] remain very late into the CRM market space. In fact, their ability to acquire has started to vaporize. SAP's strategy has narrowed; they may never introduce a true CRM suite.

InfoWorld: If they did introduce a CRM suite, what would that mean to your relationship?

Barranechea: They would probably just introduce a point solution initially, like field sales automation. Not e-commerce. Not customer care service contracts. They could be three years out to a robust CRM solution, if they even deliver one. That's a huge window. Customers today want to move to an e-business suite.

So our strategy remains integrating to SAP [and] being extremely opportunistic in their installed base. Oracle brings a lot of credibility to the SAP installed base because we are the No. 2 ERP vendor. We know the ERP space.

Companies like Siebel do not bring credibility into the SAP space because they come at it from a field-sales automation perspective. It's a great opportunity for us to integrate tightly to SAP.

InfoWorld: Do you see any new companies on the horizon that you think are important to keep your eye on?

Barranechea: Kana, Brightware, and E-gate. These are e-mail centered companies providing marketing automation and customer care.

The other area we're watching is online services ... to actually deliver online services vs. packaged software. I think if I look a year out from now, that's what we'll be talking about.

InfoWorld: Why do you think that?

Barranechea: If you look at the small and medium enterprises and the new e-businesses, they don't want to buy a machine. They don't want to buy software, install it, set it up, hire Andersen Consulting to get it done. What they want to do is go to a dot-com site, register themselves, and be up and running just like E-Trade. It's come on our radar that we need to transition products into services.

The traditional sales automation deployment cycles are three to six months right now. The question is can we get those deployment cycles down to a day or a week through an online service?

InfoWorld: What else is on your mind?

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