Many of the presenters at the recent Oracle CloudWorld conference confirmed the overall impression that the centre of gravity of the customer experience universe is shifting.
For Keith Dawson, Research Analyst, Ovum, the shift is clear.
“It’s moving away from telephony-centric applications (and solution providers) and toward more varied enterprise software applications - and therefore platforms delivered by IT- and BI-friendly firms such as Oracle,” he says.
Whether one is pro or anti cloud deployment, Dawson believes it is clear that service operations professionals are no longer particularly keen to bear the burden of their own infrastructure, especially if that infrastructure comes with a years-long upgrade timetable and lock-in to a set of features that expands at a similarly slow pace.
Oracle’s executives, who spoke of the way they are delivering infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and other components, indicated that Oracle is prepared to come to market with a broad application suite that integrates customer experience tools into back-office, human capital management (HCM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and supply chain management systems.
“It has been clear for some time that enterprises are looking for connections between siloed front-office and back-office applications,” Dawson adds.
“They have also been expected to begin to look at some of the large software vendors for help in putting together business-wide platforms for all their customer management apps.
“Oracle appears to be building, from the infrastructure layer up to applications, a series of offerings that can perhaps supplant the decades-old reliance that contact centres have had on voice-based suites.”
Also at the event in New York City this month, Oracle demonstrated its growing data-as-a-service (DaaS) offering.
“DaaS (decoupled from applications and combining both internal and external data) is a new way to connect the growing world of business applications,” observes Laurent Lachal, Research Analyst, Ovum.
Lachal says Oracle “rightfully showcased” its ID Graph technology, which combines the Oracle Marketing Cloud and Oracle Data Cloud to enable marketers to connect customer identities across disparate channels and devices.
“Ovum would have liked more focus on data privacy and monetisation, but we expect the company to develop these themes in the future,” Lachal adds.
Research and Development
Debate over the merits of a suite versus best-of-breed approach has persisted since the dawn of enterprise applications, adds Tim Jennings, Research Analyst, Ovum, offering another dimension of analysis following CloudWorld.
“But as these solutions become more of a composable business service platform, Oracle’s belief that it represents the best of both worlds is exemplified by the notion that business process automation and unified business intelligence are key differentiators in the world of modern cloud applications,” Jennings claims.
Jennings believes the blending of business process management (BPM) technology with core applications and the embedding of analytics into daily user processes can make individual software modules stand out from the crowd.
“But the ability to easily extend these processes across multiple applications, and to gain analytical insights that require data from different business domains, requires a very carefully designed suite of applications on a common technology base,” he adds.
In Jennings’ opinion, Oracle already has the “most complete portfolio” of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, and there is no let up in the search for innovation.
“Cloud deployment has enabled the company to produce two significant new releases of its applications a year, with all customers running the same version, and any customisations represented in metadata so that they do not act as a barrier to upgrades,” Jennings adds.
“Anonymised user data is extensively analysed to inform the development of new functionality and the user interface.”
In addition, Jennings believes there is “considerable momentum” behind customer adoption for organisations of all sizes and across all geographies, and this is supported by Oracle staff focused on implementation success, the exchange of best practice between customers, and the company’s global support network.
“As enterprises become increasingly comfortable with core applications such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) in the cloud, we believe Oracle’s considerable R&D muscle and heritage of application innovation will deliver strong business value to its customers,” Jennings adds.