Oracle executives sought to allay customer concerns on Tuesday over its product road map, saying it won't force them off older products brought into its arms after its buying spree of CRM (customer relationship management) vendors.
Oracle previously said it will indefinitely offer three levels of support for products from its multibillion dollar acquisitions of Siebel Systems and PeopleSoft.
"We committed to protect your investment," said Loic le Guisquet, senior vice president of CRM for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Oracle is moving ahead with product releases, such as Siebel's version 8 line, PeopleSoft version 9 and Oracle CRM version 12, and those products will retain their own pricing. The company says it has 5 million "live" end users of its CRM products.
"All of the product lines are going to go on developing," le Guisquet said. "Be assured about that."
Oracle, which seeks to challenge SAP with the acquisitions to round out a total CRM product line, up to now has been reticent to discuss how the product lines will be integrated and how customers will be affected. But on Tuesday, Oracle outlined its vision for Fusion, its plan for product integration expected for delivery by 2008.
The long-term integration is of crucial importance for enterprises, which make enormous investments in complicated software products.
Fusion will be prominently based on Siebel on-demand and on-premise CRM products. Oracle said it will combine the functionality and design from its E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft CRM and JD Edwards CRM.
Oracle envisions helping users better track customer preferences, buying patterns and offer better responses at the right times. Customer expectations for how they should be remembered and rewarded by companies are getting higher, le Guisquet said.
Companies running efficient loyalty programs have seen up to 100 percent more growth in business, an important part of CRM, le Guisquet said.
The Oracle and Siebel development teams will use open standards and SOA (service-oriented architecture), using standards such as BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) and XML (Extensible Markup Language). In moving to Fusion, Oracle believes the advantages of future products will be a natural draw for customers, allowing them to make decisions at their own pace.
"The first question I always get is 'What do I need to be on to protect myself from Fusion,'" said Stephen Fearon, leader of Oracle's CRM Solutions sales. "We know there's a lot of fear out there with customers."