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Oracle Spruces Up CRM Marketing Software

Oracle Wednesday unveiled the latest version of its customer relationship management (CRM) marketing applications. The Redwood Shores, Calif.-based company said the goal is to let marketing managers predict customer behavior to deliver more precise marketing programs.

Makers of CRM software have been challenged recently to single out customers who get the most bites in marketing departments at a time when dollars are not so frivolously thrown around. Software providers such as Oracle, and rival CRM application providers such as SAP , Microsoft and PeopleSoft , have been asked to provide more accurate software because the more precise the applications are, the less a business conducting a marketing campaign has to spend on time and capital. This is part of an industry shift toward greater return-on-investment since the economy began lagging a few years ago.

The latest version of Oracle Marketing portfolio, recently announced at the DCI CRM show in Boston, culls customer information from a single source to personalize and improve campaigns in on the fly. The new software features data mining analysis so marketing managers can target customers better, as well as central content management to make messages flow with consistency.

What is so different about the new Oracle Marketing applications? Well, the software maker says traditional analytical applications were designed for system analysts and are often to complicated for marketing managers to use, which has resulted in an inefficient, or inaccurate campaign analysis.

This time around, Oracle says it has added data mining capabilities, which aim to pinpoint customer behavior, from its expertise in constructing its 9i database, to its marketing software applications. The new capabilities should ensure more focused marketing campaigns. For example, marketers can more easily identify profitable customers or those that are most likely to defect, and develop loyalty programs to elicit a desired response.

Oracle counts 1-800-FLOWERS.COM as one of its customers using Oracle Marketing to provide better service for their 10 million customers.

"In our business, it is not acceptable to have our employees spending vast amounts of time trying to figure out whether a customer has bought something from 1-800-FLOWERS.COM in the past six months," company CIO Enzo Micali said in a statement. "Oracle Marketing will give our entire marketing staff the ability to focus on more sophisticated analysis, such as recognizing patterns in buying behavior. Analysts and others will be able to analyze data, find trends, and respond to changes more quickly, ultimately driving more revenue."

Other upgrades include tighter integration between Oracle Scripting, which creates and deploys scripts to lead call center agents through customer phone interactions, and Oracle Marketing, to make CRM more personalized.

Oracle Marketing is also being integrated with Oracle Content Manager to eliminate duplication in marketing content management. For example, marketing campaigns can now be properly represented in Oracle Web store and Oracle iStore by managing all content in that online store from a single source.

The latest version of Oracle Marketing is now available, arriving the same week rival SAP is presiding over its Sapphire 2003 conference in Orlando, Fla. There, the German-based applications maker unveiled new versions of its mySAP Customer Relationship Management (mySAP CRM) software.

Just as some of Oracle's 9i database characteristics are being employed for Oracle Marketing applications, mySAP CRM uses the company's NetWeaver integration platform to improve analytics, marketing, sales and service functionality. Sap's new version of CRM is intended to offer an easy upgrade path for existing customers.

Oracle's announcement comes against the backdrop of uncertainty that ensued after its takeover bid for PeopleSoft, which saw Oracle up the ante from $16 a share to $19.50 per share Wednesday, making the overall deal worth $6.3 billion.