At Larry Ellison's keynote yesterday at the Oracle OpenWorld event, he announced the Oracle Public Cloud and Oracle's move into Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IAAS) offerings, primarily geared towards Java developers and users of Oracle's Fusion Applications. The brand "Fusion Applications" represents a set of over 100 different modules (financials, HR, etc.) which have been designed to run both on-premise and now in the Cloud and is launching after six years of development.
Clearly the Sun acquisition gave Oracle a lot of the Cloud technology to get to this point, but Salesforce's $2 billion in revenue, increasing penetration into enterprises, and launch of Database.com at the Dreamforce event might be pushing Oracle more quickly into this direction.
However, Ellison was quick to point out that Oracle's Cloud approach was an open one and would enable deployments to be moved to other Cloud environments such as Amazon.com (at least in theory) because of its Java roots, rather than a proprietary one like Salesforce.com's where applications are built with a proprietary language (Apex). Cost, however, was not discussed.
In addition to IAAS and Fusion Applications, Oracle will also have other hosted applications available in its Public Cloud such as its database platform, the SUN OS's, Fusion Middleware, and its Enterprise Manager offering.
This move is more evidence that the industry is moving full steam ahead to Cloud-based deployments, where enterprises can consolidate legacy spending, have fewer servers and other hardware, fewer on-premise software deployments, and a greater reliance on SAAS applications and other service-oriented offerings such as data-as-a-service (DAAS).
One of the things you can see from the picture below is that the Cloud really lays the foundation for "data service" components (notice the distinction versus "database service"), enabling enterprises to quickly leverage third-party datasets and data-oriented business functions such as customer contact data validation. This would be more difficult to achieve in on-premise solutions because third-party data has to be acquired, stored, maintained, and managed - a costly and time-consuming process. With the Cloud, you can simply plug into these services and have all of the third party data managed for you.
So the Public Cloud has been announced, but when will it be launched? StrikeIron is eagerly waiting.
Oracle announced the Oracle CRM On Demand Release 19 Innovation Pack at the Oracle OpenWorld event today in San Francisco.
The release includes an enterprise marketing component enabling marketing professionals to build and manage campaigns, Web sites, and other customer-facing documents. It also includes lead management capabilities as well as role management and segment targeting.
In addition to the marketing features added to Oracle CRM on Demand, there is also a hosted contact center capability introduced in this release.
Presumably, much of these marketing features are the bearing of fruit from the Market2Lead acquisition last year. Oracle's expansion into a marketing automation platform demonstrates continued investments into SAAS and CRM On Demand, enabling it to compete more against entrenched SAAS stalwarts such as Salesforce.com
With marketing automation being added to Oracle's CRM on Demand platform, high quality and comprehensive data at the foundation becomes an even greater imperative. Fortunately, StrikeIron's integration of its Contact Data Verification Suite into the Oracle CRM On Demand platform will play an even greater role in the success of Oracle's SAAS initiatives going forward with this new announcement.
In addition, StrikeIron's mobile messaging solutions can play a significant role with the new campaign capabilities introduced today, as it does with many customers currently using it on other marketing automation platforms as part of critical mobile campaigns.
kicked off this week in San Francisco. CEO Larry Ellison gave the keynote last night where he introduced and highlighted the Exalytics Intelligence Machine, a new in-memory appliance that utilizes data compression and also storing data in DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory) to substantially increase business data analytics performance. It analyzes data "several times faster" according to Larry, enabling the scanning of 200 GB/sec of data, enabling "questions to be answered before they are even asked."
This and other announcements highlight what should be a great conference and show. It will be interesting to see if Oracle provides increased clarity around some of the following questions this week, such as:
What are Oracle's long-term Java plans? Will it continue to remain open post-acquisition of Sun, or can we expect to see a flurry of Java-licensing lawsuits such as the current one with Google they may cause some to doubt its interpretation of "openness"?
Will Oracle continue to move into larger-scale systems, including more hardware offerings, to compete with IBM and SAP? Oracle currently has sold over one thousand of its Exadata machines to date, so it is currently heading in this direction.
Will Oracle continue to push the "Public Cloud", or will it steer customers and the industry more towards its "Private Cloud" solutions that are "more secure" but also require individual software purchases rather than time-shared subscriptions?
Now that Fusion Applications have been made available on Cloud, on-premise, and mobile platforms, where is is the collection of offerings and integration with other Oracle platforms headed from here?
Will it continue to add more features and capabilities to its On Demand applications, such as CRM On Demand? Its acquisition of Market2Lead last year demonstrates its advance into On Demand marketing automation platforms.StrikeIron
, as an Oracle Gold Partner, is expressly interested in the future direction of Oracle and where the company is headed. Currently, our collaboration with another Oracle partner
, ActivePrime, enables us to deliver an integrated customer data quality solution to the Oracle CRM On Demand platform. Also, offerings such as our customer data quality solutions
and mobile messaging solutions
are available for integration into Oracle's broad stack of applications, products, and platforms. All of the great database innovation in the world won't help if it's not running on top of high quality, complete, and accurate data.
StrikeIron delivers real-time data services that provide specialized business functionality from the "Cloud". These include many different solutions such as using constantly updated reference data to validate, verify, and enhance customer data, provide communication services such as text message notification solutions, ecommerce related services such as sales tax rates, foreign currency rates, and several other data-oriented services.
These solutions are put to use by our customers in the form of XML-based Web services. These are actually application programming interfaces (APIs) that give our customer access to this functionality over the Web, out in the Cloud, and without the requirement of having to manage any of the supporting back-end data sources (we take care of that). Because of the flexibility provided by offering SOAP and REST protocol Web services, these solutions are platform independent and work with just about every development environment in existence.
Many of our Web services-savvy customers take our APIs and build them into their custom Websites, applications, and business processes utilizing the development environment of their choice. This enables them to customize and optimize the access to our Web services and their functionality as they see fit, including usage levels that fit their requirements.
However, many of our customers often make use of system integrators who have been given the task to solve a certain problem, acquire any necessary technology and execute on that technology to deliver a desired result. Very often, these system integrators' search ends with StrikeIron as the solution. They "try out" our services and solutions with their current environment on behalf of their customer, and then as they determine that it fits their requirements, the actual production usage begins.
Most of our system integrator relationships have come to us this way, and then as they have success and enjoy our capabilities and reliability, they begin to utilize StrikeIron on many different projects and with many different companies. We provide a significant level of support to system integrator partners to help them meet the needs of their customers.
To demonstrate this ongoing commitment to system integrators, today we are announcing a partnership with Astadia, a cloud computing systems integrator and top partner with Salesforce.com, Eloqua, and Informatica. They will use their expertise in a wide variety of SAAS and Cloud applications to bring StrikeIron's data quality solutions seamlessly into their customer base. We are very excited about this partnership and look forward to working more closely with the Astadia team.
At their annual Dreamforce event in San Francisco this week, Salesforce.com announced its latest features and offerings available in the Winter '12 release of its SaaS CRM product. While there was a good deal of talk around the "Social Enterprise" and their Twitter-like Chatter product (announced in 2009), the new product offerings announced are primarily geared around the data that is at the foundation of an organization's CRM system.
So why the focus on data? Now that there is a broad base of customers that have been using Salesforce CRM for years, the demands from these customers do not appear to be around new CRM-related features, but rather the data requirements that exist at the very core of CRM.
Early in the CRM system discovery process customers can get excited by slick product functionality. Yet, as these CRM systems are put to use and optimized, its the data and data-related issues that ultimately come to the forefront of an organization's needs.
For example, announcements included:
- Database.com, an "Enterprise Cloud" database available over the Web has now reached general availability with the capability of creating "deep social profiles".
- a "Data Residency Option" is now available within Database.com, allowing critical and/or sensitive data to be stored somewhere else other than Salesforce.com's data centers (perhaps a response to Larry Ellison's data security critiques of Salesforce?).
- Data.com is a new service announced that allows company and prospect data such as that available from Jigsaw (acquired last year by Salesforce.com) and Dun & Bradstreet to be pulled into a company or contact record.
In other words, after listening to customer feedback, Salesforce has recognized how critical data assets are to the success of a CRM implementation. This should be an indicator to anyone implementing CRM, from Salesforce.com or anywhere else, how important a focus on the data itself must be for success. Look for more data-oriented solutions to come out of Salesforce.com and its partners, including continuing enhancements to data quality solutions for Salesforce like StrikeIron provides.
StrikeIron's Global Address Verification Web Service enables addresses to be validated for existence and accuracy in over 240 countries around the world. This Web service is a very useful, easy-to-integrate API for checking shipping addresses, validating customer data, identity verification, and several other use cases where address accuracy is important. A simple SOAP or REST call from a Website, business process, application, or mobile device (a single line of code in most development environments) is all that is needed to invoke the service and verify a global address via the Cloud. We take care of all the underlying reference data updates, so the most recent, accurate data is in use at all times.
One of the primary methods for validating a global address is "basic" verification. It requires only an address line, a country-specific locality line (such as city, city & state, city & province, etc.), and the country. Using that information, the appropriate country-specific postal reference data will be utilized to provide the result.
Just for demonstration (and fun), here are a few sample addresses that demonstrate validating some famous addresses around the World:
In each case, the three parameters are used to validate the existence of the address, provide the necessary postal codes, and also provide a formatted address line which could be used for mail delivery.
There are also some more advanced functions which provide the ability to localize an address for a given country ("Germany" versus "Deutschland" and "Milan" versus "Milano" as examples), perform in batch, and provide more advanced result codes such as confidence levels.
Here is a list of supported countries (and corresponding postal reference data granularity).
If you would like to see how it works with your data, please contact us at email@example.com (or call us, +1-919-467-4545) for a trial. It's also available fully integrated into Salesforce.com.
As technology evolves, companies inevitably upgrade to new CRM systems, often from new vendors, and often moving to completely different platform approaches, such as from enterprise CRM software to software-as-a-service or "Cloud" solutions. Salesforce.com, Netsuite, Microsoft CRM, Oracle CRM On Demand, SugarCRM and the myriad other CRM platforms all provide ways to import legacy data into them, but this should only be one small piece of the actual data migration.
Since any CRM system is only as good as the data within it, a CRM migration represents a unique opportunity to significantly increase the value and usefulness of the internal data assets that can fuel the success of the new system. A well-thought-out, comprehensive data migration plan can be worth its weight in gold.
For example, a CRM migration is a great time to:
- Validate email addresses to ensure that they are current and the particular contact still works at his or her listed organization (if not, this can be an opportunity to re-engage with contact organizations)
- Validate all physical addresses are valid and deliverable for future communication purposes
- Ensure phone numbers are valid and up-to-date
- Eliminate junk contact records
- Eliminate duplicate/redundant contacts (Robert Johnson at IBM and Bob Johnston at International Business Machines)
- Fill in missing data (missing addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, etc.)
- Enhance existing data by adding useful demographics such as an organization's number of employees, revenue, SIC code, and more
- Standardize data to ensure non-ambiguous representation in the database for better reporting (Ohio=OH,VP=Vice President), etc.
- Take the time to apply any other organization-specific data requirements that can help increase levels of success
Other things a data-centric organization can do during a CRM system upgrade is to put filters and other real-time data quality and data enhancement mechanisms
in place at new points of data collection such as Web-to-lead forms. This can ensure the data doesn't degrade over time, and that these same sets of issues don't exist a year later.
It's also important to establish an ongoing data management plan
, complete with goals, metrics, and incentives.
Experienced, insightful data professionals will recognize the unique opportunity CRM migration represents. Don't let it slip away.
The "Cloud" has been seeing a lot of momentum this past year, and one place where that is readily apparent is in the stock price of companies making major strategic investments in Cloud technology and associated offerings, as well as aggressive go-to-market plans with those offerings.
To demonstrate this, take a look at the one-year stock price increase of eight major cloud vendors versus the Dow Jones Industrial Average. These eight growth companies were selected because of their software-as-a-service (SAAS) or infrastructure-as-a-service (IAAS) focus. They are Informatica (INFA), Salesforce.com (CRM), Amazon (AMZN), Netsuite (N), Rackspace (RAX), Success Factors (SFSF), Akamai (AKAM), and VMWare (VMW). These securities have seen on average an 81% price increase over the past year, versus a paltry 6% versus the Dow Jones Industrial Average (which at least has gone up).
Will it continue? There is still a long way to go in this space, so probably so.
Salesforce.com is holding its Dreamforce event this week in San Francisco, and its staggering run continues to show no signs of slowing. The conference is Salesforce's eighth and largest ever, with twenty-two thousand attendees. Salesforce and its CRM "Sales Cloud" has always been one of the poster-children for SAAS, and is now riding the Cloud wave higher and higher. It was a product offering originally geared towards SMBs with minimal IT staff but now has penetrated companies of all sizes with its annual revenue run rate of $1.7 billion USD.
The use of the product at large companies is a clear signal. It was very telling during the keynote that half of the enormous audience raised their hands when Marc Benioff, Salesforce.com's CEO, asked how many in the keynote hall were from companies with 1000 or more employees. This is solid evidence that SAAS, and the Cloud, or at least the Salesforce.com version of the Cloud, has arrived emphatically in the enterprise and is growing there at great speed.
Salesforce has not only been a success for the company itself, but also for its hundreds of technology and product partners, many of which are at the expo with booths (including StrikeIron). Many of these partners have fared well providing add-on capabilities (like our native, Force.com data verification/quality services for Salesforce) to the core CRM and related-product suite. For example, there has been an 82% increase of application installs from the partner AppExchange this year versus the same time last year, nearly doubling the usage of partner applications and add-ons.
Some other feathers in the Salesforce cap:
In addition to its recent nine-figure acquisition of Jigsaw (a giant, crowd-sourced database of business cards), a $212M+stock acquistion of Heroku, a Ruby-based platform-as-a-service play was announced this morning.
- Salesforce's Chatter product was named as one of eWeek's "products of the year".
- The stock price (NYSE:CRM) has doubled in the past year.
- They have recently acquired 14 acres of land (at a price of $278M) near downtown San Francisco for groundbreaking of a brand new campus, as they are currently busting at the seams at their current Financial District address (spanning multiple high-rise buildings).
- New offerings such as Database.com (a Cloud-based database product) and Chatter.com (Facebook for businesses and business people) have been announced.
- Revenue continues to grow at 35% year, and recently beat analyst revenue estimates (November).
And on and on...
And since nearly 80% of all software purchases are still for on-premise software applications, there's a long way for Salesforce, and the Cloud, to go.
So anyone who suggests that Web-based applications, the Cloud, and SAAS applications are a short-term fad need only look to Salesforce.com for the evidence that suggests otherwise.
StrikeIron is going to be sending a large contingent of team members out to the Salesforce.com Dreamforce event December 6th-9th at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. It is being billed by Salesforce as the "Cloud Computing Event of the Year".
We will be showcasing our native Force.com applications, where we have seamlessly integrated several of our data verification offerings into the Salesforce.com CRM platform, including address verification, email verification, and the Do Not Call list (checking in real-time for outbound compliance).
We also will be showing our Informatica Cloud Contact Record Verification plug-in, where data being loaded into Salesforce.com from various sources can be validated and enhanced as it is being loaded into the system (daily lead loads for example). This can provide for dramatically better data quality within Salesforce, which is often cited as the #1 problem with CRM ROI.
And then of course we have several other data-as-a-service and data verification offerings that are easy to integrate into any application. While the underlying technology for cloud-based name, address, email, and telephone verification is the same, there are of course many cases where you would want to do this outside of Salesforce, but still to the benefit of CRM and other applications.
We will have engineering (including our CTO), marketing, and business development folks (including myself) available for anyone who wants to explore our technology, asks questions, and discuss partnership opportunities.
We hope to see you there!