Oracle acquires hosted call center firm

Barney Beal, News Editor

Chalk up yet another acquisition for Oracle. Yesterday, the software giant announced the purchase of Telephony@Work, a provider of IP-based software for hosted contact centers.

The deal extends Oracle's reach into on-demand CRM via its purchased Ineto

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in early 2004 and launched Contact On Demand, its hosted customer service application.

Telephony@Work is already the underlying telephony platform for Siebel's Contact On Demand application and -- over time and phased release cycles -- Oracle will capitalize on the platform across all the Oracle, Siebel and PeopleSoft CRM applications, according to a prepared FAQ document on the Oracle Web site. The entire customer lifecycle -- from a customer's initiating communication (phone call, email, Web callback, IVR self-service) to the logging of the activity in the CRM system -- is planned to be delivered through Oracle's CRM suite of applications, which includes on-premise Siebel CRM, Siebel CRM On Demand, Siebel Contact On Demand, Oracle E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft Enterprise, and Oracle Business Intelligence Suite.

CallCenterAnywhere, Telephony@Work's multichannel contact center application, will still be made available.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Mike Betzer, vice president of product management at Oracle, said in a statement, "Traditionally, CRM applications and telephony components have been delivered as separate, standalone applications requiring extensive computer-telephony integrations between the voice and data platforms. With the unified software Oracle intends to deliver running over IP telephony, service providers should see increased productivity and an enhanced customer experience."

Oracle's latest acquisition comes as contact centers are embracing  remote agents.

The move comes just one day after RightNow Technologies Inc., a Bozeman, Mont.-based on-demand CRM vendor, released a new set of voice applications based on its experience in customer service technology and last year's acquisition of Convergent Voice. The new applications use automatic number identification, touch-tone interactive voice response, or human speech to identify customers when they call.

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