You wouldn’t know it from the press release announcing Oracle CRM On Demand Release 18, but the Market2Lead marketing automation technology has been integrated into the platform. I received a demo of the integrated solution last week and will offer some initial analysis.

On the whole, the combined solution makes a very compelling marketing automation platform (MAP) case, with key data centralization that drives further alignment between sales and marketing for visibility and analytics. While tight integration between a marketing automation platform and CRM system is nothing new, such a combined solution compresses the implementation time considerably, as well as the costs involved in the integration for mid-size and larger companies.

There are two key integration layers that make this a valuable solution: contacts and reporting/analytics. The same contact record is used for both the marketing automation platform and CRM parts of the solution, which in addition to neutralizing integration issues enables transparency around data sharing since all marketing activity is included in the contact record. Activity data is particularly useful; for example, forms data can be displayed in the record in its native format if desired so that a rep sees the same forms and choices that were made by a prospect. Forms data can also be verified in real-time and in multiple languages against any internal or third-party data source. Working from the same contact record can also negate the need for an add-on application that many marketing automation platforms now include for giving sales reps access.

On the reporting/analytics side, sales and marketing gain a full picture of the integrated pipeline. Users can see the impact that individual tactics are having from an ROI perspective. One of the more impressive reports show the sales velocity of the integrated pipeline. Of course, this level of detail relies on both sales and marketing ensuring that records are updated, which is the case with an MAP/CRM integration scenario.

So does this signal the death of the current MAP-integration-with-CRM paradigm that is prevalent due to the lack of robust native CRM marketing functionality? For current Oracle CRM On Demand customers, Release 18 is certainly a compelling solution to consider whether you have no marketing automation platform at present or you’re dissatisfied with your current provider. While marketing automation platform vendors may be able to argue that their platform contains more functionality, it may be hard to justify slight differences in features vs. the benefits that an out-of-the-box integrated Oracle platform gives both sales and marketing, particularly given the integration timelines and woes we continue to hear about from our clients.

We’ll be publishing a more in-depth profile soon, but this certainly raises the bar for what one should expect from a CRM vendor’s marketing automation functionality.