SAN FRANCISCO -- The first set of Oracle Fusion Applications are called Sales Prospector, Sales References and Sales Tools, Oracle founder Larry Ellison told a huge crowd at Oracle OpenWorld 2007 today.
Ellison said the three salesforce automation applications, which are based on existing Siebel tools, are coming out as planned during the first half of 2008, but they're not designed to be a replacement for applications provided by the likes of Salesforce.com.
Ellison said the tools represent the "second generation" of salesforce automation, whereas Saleforce.com and Siebel OnDemand are "first generation." The key difference, he said, is that the older tools are designed primarily to help the salesperson forecast, while Oracle's upcoming Fusion tools are designed to "help the salesperson sell."
"It's really all about the science of selling," he said.
Sales Prospector is a data mining tool that looks at a company's customer data and determines what specific types of companies are buying. It then uses that information to profile other customers and make suggestions as to what a salesperson should be selling and to whom. Ellison compared it to Amazon.com, which at check out time tells customers that "people who bought this DVD also bought this DVD."
Ellison said the second Oracle Fusion application, Sales References, helps salespeople determine which satisfied customers will serve as the best references on future sales.
Finally, Sales Tools provides a database of sales presentations provided and rated by members of a social network of salespeople, according to Oracle.
Oracle, which has purchased more than 41 software companies over the past four years, including customer relationship management giants PeopleSoft Corp. and Siebel Systems Inc., first announced Oracle Fusion in 2005, saying that it would be a brand new platform combining "the best" spoils of its many acquisitions. But since then, the company has periodically come under fire from analysts and end users who believed that Oracle wasn't offering up enough details about the plan.
To clear up confusion, Ellison today offered up what he called the characteristics of a Fusion application. The Oracle chairman said that all Fusion applications will be built on standards-based middleware, they'll all be service-enabled so that they can easily integrate into a service-oriented architecture, and they'll all be available as Software-as-a-Service, an on-demand model of software delivery.
After watching an Oracle executive demonstrate the new applications, Cerelia Sumlin, a practice manager with Business and Technology Resource Group Inc., said she was impressed with the Fusion applications' ability to talk to other systems.
She added that many of her firm's clients are currently taking a wait-and-see approach to Fusion.
"Most of our customers are PeopleSoft customers and they want to know, 'What does Fusion mean to me and how should I build that into my strategic five year plan?'" she said. "They want to see more of what Fusion is before they make those decisions."
Another conference attendee, who didn't want to be identified, wasn't quite as impressed with Ellison's keynote.
"I thought it was pretty much like an infomercial," he said. "In general, I wanted to see more vision. He's a big CEO of a huge firm. I wanted to see where tech is going and how Oracle fits in with the big picture, not just Fusion."