Oracle Puts CRM Online For Free

Oracle Corp
claimed to have turned the enterprise software market upside-down yesterday with the launch of a free-of-charge, Internet-based sales force automation application,

Four hundred customers in fifteen countries were live at launch of the service, which provides the core sales applications from Oracle’s flagship enterprise software suite, delivered as a free, online service. The application uses the same enterprise-strength software that has traditionally been delivered on a CD.

“Companies currently looking to invest significant dollars in a sales automation implementation should first consider,” said Mark Barrenechea, senior vice president, CRM product division, Oracle Corp. “You get enterprise strength sales capabilities for free – with no hardware, maintenance, training or implementation costs. The days of spending hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars for sales software are over.”

But rivals and analysts were quick to point out that Oracle trails badly in the enterprise customer relationship management (CRM) software market to rivals such as category leader Siebel Systems Inc . “Giving away something nobody wants is easy,” was the verdict of Gartner analyst Michael Moaz.

The move is intended to tempt businesses to begin using Oracle’s E-Business Suite of applications. Core functionality in, such as customer and pipeline management, calendering and activity management, will be free. But additional functionality such as sales compensation, global sales forecasting, and expense and travel management will be offered on a pay-per-use basis.

Designed to get a sales force of 50 to 500 sales reps up-and-running quickly, can be used by any member of a sales hierarchy to view opportunities, manage the sales process, make accurate forecasts, track sales and access customer information on a global basis. It gives sales professionals personalized access to sales tools, such as income planning and forecasting, and allows them to share information, updates, leads and follow-up activity with other users in their organizations.

The company said it will bring further applications online from its E-Business Suite in coming months, such as customer service and marketing automation.

The infrastructure supporting is powered by HP, EMC2 and Cisco.

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