Monday, October 17, 2011

Siebel CRM, Oracle Fusion Applications and the Future of CRM


(phew, what a bold title...)

Fellow Siebel connaisseur and book reviewer, Oli recently asked me how the - just recently GA'ed - Oracle Fusion Applications and - the not-so-young-anymore - Siebel CRM are related.

I answered the question in a quick comment. However, I find it important to point out a few things about how Oracle (publicly) sees the future of its homegrown (eBusiness Suite) and acquired "legacy" apps (PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, Siebel, Retek et al.) in reference to its latest offering. At this point it seems legit to reconfirm the blog disclaimer that all opinions expressed on these pages are my own and not necessarily my employers.

1. Siebel CRM is mature

Believe it or not, Siebel CRM as we know it has been introduced to the vain market of enterprise applications 16 years ago. Version 8 (available since 2007) is considered the last milestone release. Over the last years we could observe a slowdown in the somewhat frantic release cycles (compared to Siebel 7) and as a result, most customers are happy with their current Siebel 8.0 or 8.1.1 release and some of them already on the limited 8.2 release.

Siebel 8.x is the culmination of thousands of person years (and billions of dollars) of investment in what is - in my humble opinion - the most flexible framework for enterprise applications on the market with more than 60 horizontal and industry-specific applications. The functionality of these applications fills tens of thousands of bookshelf pages.

So the point is, the thing is mature. As a natural result of this analysis, Oracle has put Siebel CRM under the "Applications Unlimited" umbrella. Which means:

There will be support, maintenance releases and - announced at OpenWorld recently - innovation packs (delivering cross-release functionality for customers who want to avoid costly upgrades).

Siebel and CRM OnDemand Roadmap from Oracle's Fusion Applications Overview presentation.
But there will not be a billion dollar investment in new functionality (or architecture) in existing applications. It just seems a natural and understandable decision.

This does not mean that Siebel CRM is dead, it's just mature and has the best of its years still ahead of it (and so do thousands of technicians who make their living with Siebel CRM).

2. Fusion Applications are real

If you followed the buzz around OpenWorld 2011 just a little bit, you might have already gotten the message that Fusion Applications are - after 6 years of development - now generally available. Oracle has thoughtfully prepared the market with 200 early adopter customers and by training thousands of internal and partner staff (sales and tech).
Fusion Applications screenshot from Oracle's flickr set.
The investment of Oracle in Fusion Applications is huge and the result is a suite of enterprise applications which is unparalleled - even in its first public release - in breadth of functionality.

3. The relationship of Siebel CRM and Oracle Fusion CRM

One of the main principles of the Fusion Applications development effort was to bring the best ideas, architectural patterns and business practices of all "legacy" applications (eBusiness Suite, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, Siebel CRM, Retek, etc) into the new suite.

So the trained eye will see typical "Siebel patterns" in Fusion CRM. On the other hand, the requirements for CRM have drastically changed in the last years, so there are lots of new things as well.

4. Customers Options

From the very first public presentations, Oracle has always made clear the following options for customers:

1. Stay with your legacy application

For customers who wish to preserve their investment in Siebel CRM and other Oracle "legacy" apps, Oracle recommends to upgrade to a mature release (e.g. Siebel 8.1.1) and flock under the "Applications Unlimited" umbrella.

2. Co-Existence

Customers who wish to augment their existing legacy app with new functionality offered by the Fusion Applications stack can easily do so, because Fusion Applications are designed from ground up to co-exist with Oracle's legacy apps.

For example, you could augment Siebel CRM with Oracle Fusion Applications Incentive Compensation.

3. Embrace Fusion Applications

You (or your CIO) are convinced that Fusion Applications is the next big thing and you want to ditch all those dinosaur apps (or you don't even have them), then Oracle will gladly serve the licenses for Fusion Applications.

Fusion Applications adoption choices for customers, from Oracle's overview presentation.
Summary

In my personal opinion (expressed throughout the above article), I believe that Siebel CRM is not dead. Too many hours and dollars/euros/rubel have been spent by customers in Siebel projects to naively believe that they will just dump it all for version 1 of Fusion CRM.

While I usually don't do to much IT crystal balling, we should see another decade of thriving Siebel projects but there is a new flower in the garden which we shouldn't neglect (translates to: WAKE UP and get TRAINED on Fusion Applications ;-)

have a nice day

@lex

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Alex - Nice post....

But looking at Siebel roadmap it seems 8.2 will be the last Siebel major release. After that Oracle will release functionaliies via innovation pack and if you are on 8.1 or 8.2 there will not be big Siebel upgrade project needed in future.

do you agree?

@lex said...

Hi Anonymous,

predicting what comes after 8.2 would mean some amount of unprofessional crystal balling.

Although I personally believe that customers will "settle" with their 8.1 or 8.2 version because of the innovation packs.

have a nice day

@lex

mroshaw said...

Thanks for the detailed response, Alex!

My Linux is still a little shaky so I'm waiting on the Windows Fusion installers making an appearance of eDelivery - sorry, 'Software Delivery Cloud'! Can't wait to have a mess around with it all.

It's reassuring to think that Siebel has life in it yet. I agree with you wholeheartedly that customers will not neglect the vast investments that they, and Tom / Oracle, have made in the technology - financially, and it terms of development and testing effort. Long may it live (and pay my mortgage).

Out of interest, what Oracle University courses would you recommend to get started? Is there an equivalent of the good old 'Core Consulting' course?

Kind regards,

Oli

@lex said...

Hi Oli,

the courses are "under construction" but once they are available, I'll certainly post.

In the meantime any education that brings you closer to the Fusion Apps technology stack (ADF, JDeveloper, Groovy, Oracle BI, Essbase, Fusion Middleware, Enterprise Manager, ODI, etc) is worth consideration.

have a nice day

@lex

dommisse said...

Hi,

My big question is how much development to we as a customer continue to do in Siebel and how much of this is throw away or will there be a migration path from Siebel to Fusion or will it be a re-implementation?

OdEd said...

One of the books about Fusion Applications that I would recommend that if people are looking for a basic introduction (not requiring too advanced technical skills) to Fusion applications and their concepts : Quick Start Guide to Oracle Fusion Development: Oracle JDeveloper and Oracle ADF (Osborne Oracle Press Series)

Anonymous said...

Hey Alex,

Thanks for the good description.
I am a siebel developer from last 2 years. I want to learn fusion middle-ware, but can you guide me how to learn by myself without going expensive oracle training.

Is it possible to learn ourselves?

Thanks
Ratna

@lex said...

Hi Ratna,

you might want to peruse this post for a list of official training. It includes some free resources.

have a nice day

@lex

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for the fast response.
:)

Thanks
Ratna

Clarissa said...

Thanks for such great info.
But what about call center features? I can't find anything on Oracle Fusion CRM.

Thanks again,

Clarissa

Alexander Hansal said...

Hi Clarissa,

while there is no official statement from Oracle, I think we can assume that future versions of Fusion CRM to have much more breadth of functionality.

have a nice day

@lex

Anonymous said...

I want to know how will be career for the developers in Siebel for next 5 years down the line.Will there be only support projects and less opportunity in Siebel.Please suggest.

Alexander Hansal said...

Hi Anonymous,

I am not the one to look into the proverbial crystal ball. But even without the latter, it is quite clear (just look at the latest innovation pack) that Siebel CRM on premise is still the best CRM for big projects.

So, in my personal opinion there is plenty of good work to do in the next years.

have a nice day

@lex

Anonymous said...

Alex

May me you could enlighten for you are\were Oracle employer.

1) Why is Open UI is still a guessing thing?. When would se see the curtains raised. Or is it already to the market?.

2) Any idea if Oracle decides to reduce siebel pricing?. I guess this is one area people are refraining from Siebel.

Appreciate your thoughts.

Thanks
Dharma

Alexander Hansal said...

Hi Dharma,

ad 1) Open UI has been release just a few days ago with patch set 8.1.1.9.

ad 2) Please contact Oracle Sales for pricing information.

have a nice day

@lex

Anonymous said...

I am a Siebel developer and working on 8.2 version of Siebel(Public Sector).Is this version contains 'Open UI' feature.Also if open UI comes into market,what kind of logic it will require,same as we apply now or something apart from Siebel like JAVA etc.Please clarify on this.

Bishwajit Sinha said...

Hii..I am a fresher working in in Siebel technology. Kindly tell me if it is good for my career and scopes. Thank you.

Alexander Hansal said...

Hi Bishwajit,

Siebel CRM is still the best on-premise CRM system for large corporations and if you intend to work in such realms, there are many good career opportunities.

Ensure you get a good foundation on enterprise application technologies and interfaces as well as JavaScript, jQuery and CSS (Open UI will be a big topic).

have a nice day

@lex