Final Musings, Thoughts, and What to Do Next from OpenWorld

Instead of doing mini posts for the rest of the CRM-world related news from Oracle OpenWorld, I am going to summarize them in a  few bullet points.  These are the not-worthy-of-an-entire-post-yet-interesting-nevertheless-news:

  • Fusion Hype: Probably the most over-hyped item in the show, and the most expected.  If you add to that the presence the Governator (man, he is funny… and a good speaker), the final keynote was one one of the most insane scenes I have ever experienced in Technology (and I used to go to Comdex to see Bill Gates speak in the heyday).  Was the hype about Fusion Apps worth it?  We don’t know yet.  They demo good, they look interesting, but they are not going to be GA until next year.  As my life as an analyst taught me, there is not app until it GAs.  More waiting, but sneak peek is good.  Ray Wang at Altimeter Group has a good post of where they stand now.
  • Hardware Hype: To those that sneered at Larry for gushing over the Exadata machine and the 5100 Flash Card (and made fun of me for talking about them), your lack of understanding of the world we are moving into is astonishing.  This “stuff” is what we are going to need in the very near future to tackle the analytics work necessary for Social Businesses to become effective. Yes, they are technology in a world of strategy, but this is the technology we need.  This is the first attempt to filtering the fire-hose of real time.  We are not even started in how to handle being social, and what we need to do about it.  As Larry Ellison said during his final keynote: all applications are BI (what he calls analytics for reasons known only to him and his marketing team) ready and can run with Exadata machines.
  • Firehose Hype: the entertainment for the last night in the hotel was a massive fire in an office building half-a-block away.  Next time you talk about firehoses, I have seen one in action.  Not pretty trying to drink of that…
  • On Demand Hype: Is On Demand CRM real? Yes.  I saw it, it works, it does the basic job, Oracle delivered what they promised.  Now they can go back to focusing in On Premise.  Truly? On Demand is no more than a delivery platform that is, in spite of the Cloud Hype, still not necessary.  Oracle has time to do it right (which I hope they use wisely to revamp what they have done).  On Demand is, as it was two and five years ago under other names, not-yet-ready-for-enterprise-primetime.  And I mean everyone, not just Oracle.
  • Cloud Hype: To paraphrase Scott McNealy, the cloud does not exist, get over it.  Salesforce tried their best hand at a demo of Service 2 and to hype the “cloud”.  It was a good demo, some people or others got a Flip camera out of it, and most others got drenched.  Larry Ellison had made some disparaging remarks before the conference about the cloud, Marc Benioff tried to prove him wrong: zero sum game.  My opinion: as a long-time student of distributed architectures and technologies for the enterprise, calling it a cloud if overhyping, by a lot, a delivery mechanism.  We don’t have a cloud yet, although we may in the future.  Don’t know yet, but I am certain it is still not here.  There is no cloud at this point, move on.  Denis Pombriant, an excellent analyst at Beagle Research, thinks differently and you should read his analysis and make your own conclusions.
  • CRM Hype: Leaving everything else aside, and to rehash what smarter analysts have said, tip-of-the-hat and warm applause to Anthony Lye and his CRM Team.  I had not been to the Oracle show in a couple of years (did keep track of the work being done through interactions with Anthony and his team – Mark Woollen, Christine Viera, Melissa Boxer and Adam May ) on their recommendation.  I have to say that after two-plus years of work they have finally delivered the work promised after the acquisitions of PeopleSoft and Siebel.  A mature set of applications that work, with a good solid framework that is adaptable, flexible, and useful.  Oracle does CRM the way they have always done things: focus on the needs of their customers and deliver against them.  It may not be the most good-looking set of functions, but it works. It integrates. It delivers.  Good job in getting us here (see my deeper review of the CRM applications in yesterday’s post).  Yes, I know the people in the team, some of them are friends, but that does not change my comments: the applications and the framework on which they rely works well now.
  • Logistics Hype:  AT&T failed miserably the test for massive use of their network.  Miserably.  Verizon fell apart during the final keynote. Wi-fi still needs some time to get better with heavy use (maybe they should tie them to an Exadata machine).  Twitter is… let’s just say that I am glad I never bought into the hype of using it for Customer Service or any other missions critical function — AT&T fared better than Twitter, and that is all I am going to say.  If I ever need to organize an event for any size larger than 5,000 people I am definitely going to call the Oracle team.  Forget tip-of-the-hat, moving 25,000 people from downtown SFO to Treasure Island (middle of the bay, accessible via the Bay Bridge), feed them, give them a concert, and bringing them back to their hotels — within four hours is… no words to describe them.  In addition, they were exceedingly good to all attendants, and amazingly responsive to the needs of analysts, press, and bloggers.  Amazing team, incredible results.
  • “Soccer” Hype:  As Ross Mayfield said (right at the end of the conference) “Must have been the hand of God…”  Argentina qualified for the World Cup next year.  If you don’t understand that reference (Wikipedia, Video), you don’t know about Football (the real one, not the pads-laden one).  In either case, I now have a reason to look forward to 2010.

So, where to now?  Oracle has some work left to do in CRM, OnDemand, and definitely on Fusion Apps.  I can see the starting lineup and it is pretty good.  I am eagerly awaiting to see the progress in the next few months.  Next few weeks will bring different perspectives (SalesForce.com, RightNow, SAP) and I will be able to bring a more complete picture of where the CRM world stands.

Is it all about Social CRM? It never was.  It is all about CRM – the next generation.

_________________
Disclaimer: I did not take a payment for writing this review, nor is Oracle a client.  I don’t expect them to become a client based on this review, nor do I expect any compensation or revenue to be generated from my review.
I do have a relationship with Oracle as an analyst and blogger that brings me certain perks.  I was allowed access to the Conference, some of my expenses were paid, and I was able to talk and discuss the product with different people in the organization in great detail based on that relationship.  Those perks do not influence my opinion on the product, nor do they improve the chances that the review will be better.  It is what it is, and I saw what I saw.
The views expressed in this review are mine and only mine, and they are my understanding based on the long exposure I had to Oracle, Siebel, PeopleSoft and the industry.  Any errors are also mine, and will be corrected if pointed out.  This is my understanding of where Oracle’s position is today in the CRM market, and no one else but me is responsible for these views.  My  recommendation to clients, prospects, and anyone interested remain the same: this is just an opinion and you are admonished to do your own Due Diligence before committing to this or any other vendor.  I am not responsible for your decisions, and even if you hire me to help you select the best solution for your organization, it is still YOUR decision.

6 thoughts on “Final Musings, Thoughts, and What to Do Next from OpenWorld”

  1. Hi Esteban

    Great write-up. Nothing less than expected.

    I particularly agree with you about the need to be looking more intensively at social data from all sources and about the need for specialist analytical tools to help do this. As I wrote in a post on
    It’s Time for a Balanced Scorecard for Customer Data, social data is just one of three types of data that are currently largely missing from customer analytics (the other two are customer context data and customer needs data). It will be interesting to see how the computational machinery and the analytical tools (as well as the analytical methods) change to cope with the flood of social data, particularly once MobSocNets start to be used by large numbers of customers.

    Keep up the great work.

    Graham Hill
    Customer-centric Innovator
    @grahamhill

    1. Graham,

      Thanks a lot for your comments. I agree with your definition of data we are missing, and I think that the “new” business model will have to focus on those to become better as well.

      I sense that business are not quite aware, and articles like your balanced scorecard (which I do have bookmarked and I re-read every now and then) are critical for aligning them with what they need.

      Analytics (and the data behind it), communities (beyond forums as they are defined today), and reputation are the areas where I will focus my research for 2010.

      Thanks
      Esteban

  2. Hi Esteban,

    I wonder if your analysis could help calm down the effect of the massive marketing stream coming from the big (social) CRM / SAAS vendors. I doubt it, it is a huge tsunami.

    And I fuly agree with you that we tend to lose focus on what we are trying to achieve through CRM.

    It seems that we are out on building a nice house. And instead of talking to a reputable architect about the design and construction, we go out looking for hammers and tools to build it. That does not sound too smart, does it? I meet lots of customers who are out looking for tools without a good understanding of what they are trying to achieve.

    How can we get this back on track again? How can we help decision makers focus on the real (CRM) issues again. How can we help them think over their ways of finding, sustaining and growing profitable customer relations?

    Regards,
    Robbert.

    1. Robert,

      I am but a single voice, and I know the effect I could potentially have is only a long-term campaign.

      However, I wish more people were to understand how vendors work better, so as not to throw the baby with the bath water. Yes, there is very powerful marketing element at work in virtually every vendor. Has to be. They need to differentiate from others in ways that are palpable to the users and easier to understand by the executives. This hype in marketing is not what drives the execution – or even comes close to it – in the good vendors.

      The other part of the vendor that most users don’t bother is the product itself. The quiet preparation of a successful product, the development, testing, execution, and the long, tedious work to make sure it does what is supposed to do. Forget marketing, this is about making it do what customers want it to do. This is what takes time (more than 12 or 18 months) and why every 2-3 years you see a good product come out from the vendor, that works and accomplishes what is supposed.

      This dichotomy is done at the product level by employing product management people and product marketing people. Guess who has a louder voice? There is some coordination between them, but asking them to work together works only in smaller vendors. As vendors get larger and financial needs shift, product marketing turns up the hype and product management tries to catch up. This also happens when the products become exceedingly complex.

      I know I am babbling here, but to get back to my original point: products are not as hyped all the time, but over time they do become what they are supposed to become: good, working, efficient products.

      Think about that, and you can see how working with a vendor is a life-long situation for most companies because those that understand the process know that by the time they are ready for an upgrade (hint: not every year) they will get what they need from their vendor.

      How can we get back on track? smart corporations know to listen beyond the hype, to create their own lists of requirements and features, and to work with their vendors’ product management people to get them done. They also know there is nothing you can do about hype.

      What was that saying? Hype makes the world go around?

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