Oracle adds Telstra notch to SaaS belt

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news Oracle today revealed it had rolled out a large software as a service-based customer relationship management implementation for Telstra over the past year, in one of Australia’s first major known deployments of the software giant’s CRM On Demand platform.

In a statement, Oracle noted the rollout had taken place within Telstra’s Wholesale division, which sells services to other telcos for on-sale to the retail market. The deployment took place in July 2010, with Oracle stating the new platform captured all sales and marketing activities conducted at Telstra Wholesale in one centralised location.

“Prior to the implementation, Telstra Wholesale‚Äôs ability to respond to customer inquiries in a timely manner was hampered by IT inefficiencies, such as having to access multiple systems to source customer updates,” Oracle’s statement said.

“With Oracle CRM On Demand, staff can easily manage and capture customer information in one centralized location. By acquiring the ability to access work flows for pre-sales and post-sales information, Telstra Wholesale capitalised on more business opportunities and finalized customer agreements faster.”

Telstra said it selected Oracle CRM on Demand because it integrated easily with the company’s existing IT infrastructure. The company has an extensive deployment of Oracle’s Siebel software, which aids it in managing billing for its retail customers. It also deployed the analytics module included in the software, and intends to deploy a marketing module that will allow the telco to launch and track campaigns for newly released products as well as managing events, for example.

Neither Telstra nor Oracle was immediately able to comment on whether the on-demand system is hosted on-shore or in Oracle facilities outside Australia, however it is unlikely that the data is hosted in Australia, as it was only in September last year, after the Telstra deployment had taken place, that Oracle announced plans to provide CRM On Demand to Australian customers from a datacentre in Sydney.

The move was seen as the company firing a shot across the bow of rivals such as Salesforce.com, which has nabbed a substantial number of customers in Australia with its own software as a service CRM suite, but which has yet to establish an Australian datacentre.

Telstra is also a customer of Salesforce.com, with the US company revealing in November 2010 that the telco had for the year prior been using its Ideas application to bring good staff ideas to management.

Oracle’s news comes as one of the company’s other main rivals, SAP, has also recently been pushing into the SaaS space in Australia, making its Business ByDesign platform available in Australia recently, and this week, announcing the appointment of existing staffer Greg Harbour as vice president of its OnDemand division.

opinion/analysis
The software as a service market is supposedly white-hot in Australia at the moment, and only likely to get more so — or at least you’d assume so, given by the sorts of statements which Australian CIOs are fond of making about it at the moment, whenever you talk to them about it.

However, and I’m not sure why this is, over the past several years we haven’t seen many announcements at all in the space about customer deployments by traditionally strong SaaS vendors such as Salesforce.com and NetSuite. Now that SAP is adding itself to the roster, if these companies don’t start announcing customers soon, and on an ongoing basis, I’ll start to be a little skeptical about the strength of their momentum in the Australian market, in the face of competition from the likes of Oracle and Microsoft.

Image credit: Oracle