Oracle shows off on-demand 'social' CRM module

Oracle will give an insight into the first in wave of social networking based CRM (customer relationship management) applications at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston, this week.

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Oracle will give an insight into the first in wave of social networking based CRM (customer relationship management) applications at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston, this week.

Oracle Sales Prospector, which Oracle first previewed back at its OpenWorld show in November 2007, will ship before August, according to Mark Woollen, vice president of CRM development at Oracle

The software is supposed to help salespeople find the best leads by analysing the buying history of companies, based on private and public information. Users contribute data from their sales transactions, which over time improves the database and leads to better recommendations, according to Oracle.

However, the process will rely on salespeople sharing potentially valuable information with their peers.

Woollen suggested it would be possible for users to create a "mutual back-scratching society," while acknowledging that they probably won't give away their "book of business" wholesale.

The software features a higher quality user interface than typically seen in many CRM systems. The back end is based on the company's Fusion Middleware platform and employs Oracle's data mining technology for analysis, according to Woollen.

But it should "not necessarily" be viewed as the first offering in the long-anticipated wave of Fusion Applications, the vendor's next-generation product line that will gradually replace its current family of software, Woollen said.

That's because Prospector is focused on social networking, as opposed to being a mainline CRM product, he said.

The second version of Sales Prospector will add integrations with transactional CRM systems, including Oracle's Siebel offerings and Salesforce.com, which will enable users who pinpoint a good lead in Prospector to "promote the prospect to an opportunity," Woollen said.

The company plans to release updates roughly twice a year, he said. Oracle declined to provide pricing information.

Additional "social CRM" modules are in the pipeline. They include Sales Campaigns, for creating and analysing e-mail marketing efforts; and Sales Library, which revolves around sharing and rating sales presentations.

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