This is my fourth time attending Oracle OpenWorld in as many years. The show drew a large crowd this year, topping 60,000 attendees. I focused on customer service sessions highlighting the Oracle RightNow, Oracle Siebel, and Oracle Knowledge (InQuira) products. I went to high-level vision sessions, road map sessions, and customer testimonials. I also spent a lot of time talking to systems integrators that have recently deployed these solutions. This year was by far the most enjoyable conference experience. Here is why — and keep in mind that all of my comments are about its customer service portfolio:

  1. Oracle has matured its customer experience messaging. The vendor explains the importance on being focused on customer experiences that are in line with customer expectations through the entire customer engagement journey, from researching to buying to using, and how few companies are doing a good job at delivering on expectations — a point that Forrester backs with a tremendous amount of research and data.
  2. Oracle has made many CRM acquisitions in the past several years, including Vitrue (June 2012) for social marketing; Collective Intellect (June 2012) and Involver (July 2012) for social engagement and monitoring; Eloqua (February 2013) for marketing automation and revenue performance management; RightNow (January 2012) for customer service; InQuira (July 2011) for knowledge management; ATG (Jan 2011) for eCommerce; Fatwire (June 2011) for web content management; and Endeca (December 2011) for site search. Oracle has reorganized these assets into their Oracle CX portfolio: Oracle Marketing, Oracle Sales, Oracle Service, Oracle eCommerce, and Oracle Social. In most of the sessions I attended, Oracle was very clear at mapping where each product fit into its customer experience management portfolio and how it delivered value to the company’s overall customer experience strategy.  
  3. We know that delivering end-to-end consitent customer journeys is difficult to do, and takes heavy lifting from a professional services standpoint. Oracle did a good job, in road map and customer examples, at being pragmatic about how to implement this overarching vision, by focusing on key pain points and customer journeys within an organization. For example, there were many point solution examples, such as where RightNow knowledge and digital channels were used to augment Siebel capabilities for customer service.
  4. I did not hear one reference to the Fusion service. The confusion about the investment road map for the customer service products (is it RightNow?; is it Fusion Service?; is it Siebel?) has been cleared up. Oracle is investing in RightNow and in Siebel. These are the core customer service solutions, and they are key to delivering end-to-end customer experience journeys.
  5. I saw a renewed attention to Siebel. Siebel is a mature product, and the road map that was presented is comprehensive and addresses some of the existing product’s shortcomings. For example, the Siebel UI has often been viewed as having usability issues. The new Siebel Open UI — released last year and reaching a point of wider adoption this year — addresses this pain point very well; demos and customer examples backed this up.
  6. The RightNow customer stories were straightforward, with well-articulated ROI. For example, explained how its implementation helped increase customer satisfaction scores and decrease operational costs.
  7. The knowledge road map is also very well articulated, with two options for knowledge (from RightNow and InQuira) and an explanation on the various options to choose from. Oracle’s messaging has not changed since I last heard it in March, and the team is heads down on executing its road map.
  8. Many systems integrators mentioned that they are seeing focus, not only on implementing solutions needed to support end-to-end customer journeys, but also on the data management and data quality issues that arise from the integration of these solutions.
  9. I saw many sessions dedicated to building connectors and integrations between products, making it easier for customers to tailor solutions to fit their specific requirements.
  10. The one downside was that Larry Ellison missed his keynote to watch the America’s Cup. The upside was that the Oracle team won the event.