Oracle focuses in on CX
Oracle focuses in on CX

Larry Ellison Takes on Salesforce and SAP as Oracle Intensifies CX Battle

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After two decades of CRM being all about sales and marketing and nothing but, Oracle has joined SAP in leapfrogging that traditional approach dominated by Salesforce with CX portfolios that enrich business insights with data from ERP and HCM systems.

(On my weekly Cloud Wars Top 10 rankings, Salesforce is #3, SAP is #5, and Oracle is #6.)

Earlier this month, I highlighted the SAP CX approach in a couple of articles:

Here’s an excerpt from the first of those two articles, which features comments from my interview with SAP product chief Thomas Sauressig.

“CX is absolutely strategic for us,” Saueressig said. “The Emarsys acquisition also signals that we’ve doubled down on that commitment or we would not have acquired a company in that category.”

Emarsys is scheduled to formally become a part of SAP in the near future following regulatory approval. The acquisition will close “a wide gap between commerce and the [SAP] customer-data platform to fill the customer-engagement piece at scale. This is a particularly important opportunity these days with the coronavirus and with omnichannel certainly becoming the new norm for everybody,” Saueressig said.

In his view, the combined strategy of CX plus ERP gives SAP the edge over Salesforce because it enables businesses to expand their customer-centric data, insights and workflows from end to end. Salesforce can’t match that because it doesn’t offer any ERP solutions. 

Theoretically, that all makes perfect sense and I believe will ultimately become the winning strategy in this market. 

But while that end-to-end approach might be the irresistible force, the immovable object it’s trying to displace is Salesforce and its incredible momentum, market share, and reputation among customers.

Of the many recent pieces we’ve done about Salesforce, I think this one clearly lays out the company’s momentum and brand-power in the face of some pretty fierce competition: The Magic of Marc Benioff: 10 Key Drivers behind Salesforce Q2 Surge.

Into that competitive dynamic comes Oracle with a totally revamped CX portfolio and an impressively orchestrated strategy from executive VP and CX product leader Rob Tarkoff.

Like SAP and unlike Salesforce, Oracle has a full suite of enterprise applications that include not only a full complement of CX solutions but also end-to-end SaaS apps for ERP and HCM. And this screenshot from an Aug. 6 video presentation by Tarkoff, called Personalized Marketing in the Experience Economy, reveals the breakthrough thinking that Oracle is bringing to the fast-emerging CX marketplace.

Ringed in the screenshot by Oracle’s 5 application segments of Marketing & Sales, Service & Support, Supply Chain, ERP, and HCM, the strategic differentiator for Oracle’s new CX businesses promises this: “Bring front office and back office processes together to empower whoever gets to the customer first and enable new customer-centric business models.”


Oracle focuses in on CX


That’s a fresh and powerful perspective that reflects the new reality whereby many businesses are engaging with customers and prospects through not only sales but also every operating group or function within the company.

And in the same overall way that SAP says its inclusion of ERP data in its CX solutions will drive better outcomes for customers, so too is Oracle betting that its massive portfolio of Fusion SaaS apps will allow it to give business customers data, insights and opportunities that Salesforce’s narrower focus simply can’t match.

And Oracle promises to go even farther, Tarkoff promises on the video: “When you run all of this on an Oracle Gen2 infrastructure, and when you run all of this on a Fusion back-end data model, you can bring all of these data points and all this intelligence and all this capability together to serve the customer in a completely differentiated way.”

I have to say that I like the bluntness and the ambition of that Oracle CX vision at the center of the screenshot, particularly this part: “empower whoever gets to the customer first.”

Oracle is also aggressively pushing to differentiate itself from Salesforce and SAP (and the Digital Experience business of Adobe, #10 on the Cloud Wars Top 10) by offering a solution that it says transcends the currently hot trend of a customer data platform.

Oracle Unity, Tarkoff says on the video, is not just a customer data platform but is in fact a “customer intelligence platform” that provides immediate context and real-time data optimized for industry-specific relevance.

We’ll find out more later this week as Oracle founder and chairman Larry Ellison joins Tarkoff during the virtual Oracle CX Summit for a session called, simply, The Future of CX.  [UPDATE: Several hours after this article was published, Oracle changed the date for the CX event featuring Ellison from October 29th to November 9th.]

This is a huge statement from Oracle about the serious manner in which it intends to overhaul its image in the CX space because Ellison would certainly not make the time to appear at the event unless he felt it could challenge Salesforce for the leadership position in this increasingly strategic category.

We look forward to sharing some of Ellison’s perspectives as CX continues to present itself as one of the most-strategic and most-important battles in the Cloud Wars.

Disclosure: at the time of this writing, SAP and Oracle were among the many clients of Cloud Wars Media LLC and/or Evans Strategic Communications LLC.


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