Oracle Open World this year was interesting; just to mention one special: first software demo directly performed by Larry Ellison as CIO. But what was more interesting for me was how Siebel and Oracle Cloud are evolving. There are some key elucidations on how the two interact collected from the exhibition demos.
The first natural question that popsup while watching the Sales Cloud demo was: what happened with Fusion? Well, if you check the Sales Cloud tab name you will see Fusion branding still displayed. So, yes, Sales Cloud is Fusion re-branded and with a simplified UI.
First of all, Siebel and Sales Cloud have a process based integration. This means that part of the sales process is carried through in one and part in the other. The current version allows for a one-way data flow from the Cloud to Siebel. It means that in order to start using the Sales Cloud, one needs to perform an initial data load to populate it. Sales Cloud Release 9 (next one) will cater for bi-direction data flow.
Sales Cloud is modeled on Siebel with corresponding “data maps”, facilitating integration. Only part of the Siebel objects are available in the Sales Cloud (Quotes, Opportunities and Pricing are not, for example). Additional objects (both standard ones not yet covered and custom ones from the on-premises Siebel) need to be built in the cloud and integrated via web services.
But let’s have a look at what Sales Cloud can do for a sales representative.
A sales representative can access her own Contacts via the Sales cloud. Searching the ones needed, exploring the related information necessary for a sale, adding new contacts, etc. When adding a new contact, a first check is performed on the data available in the cloud application to make sure this is not a duplicate; a second duplicate data check is performed later on when importing the data from the cloud to Siebel. Integration with the Customer Hub for data checks is possible (but not out of the box). (Contacts Yes)
She can also relate the contact with the corresponding Account, search accounts, create new accounts, etc. (Accounts Yes)
Once she has the Contact and Account ready, she can engage with the lead/customer in order to start the sales process using the simple user interface as support. But once she gets the Contact’s interest, and a Quote is requested, the scenario changes. Oracle Sales cloud does not handle the pricing part, thus the Quote can be started but can’t be completed on the cloud. What is needed is the input from the on-premises Siebel solution. (Quotes, Opportunities, Pricing No)
The way the demo-er put it was: Sales Cloud can do all the necessary basic tasks, but the heavy-lifting is left to Siebel. The pricing customization, workflows, complex calculation of discounts, checks on discounts and approval escalations are still just Siebel domain. However, it is possible to embed in the cloud the necessary Siebel views via some frames, facilitating the end-user process flow (no need to start a new application). With a little help from Open UI, the look-and-feel of the Siebel standard application could be customized so that the user does not even realize she is stepping into a new application when . But, this means customization and is not available out-of-the box.
What convinces and attracts in using the Sales Cloud is the easy interface and reduced administration, I’ve been told. Of course, giving up administration comes at a price, as the control on the DB side (and the flexibility it provides for deeper customization) is lost. No additional license is required for the Sales Cloud, however check with your Oracle representative and also the small print, just to be on the safe side.
The interface is looking quite good and I can see how sales representatives could be enticed by it. However, the many customer presentations on OpenUI at the OOW14 have mesmerized me. With IP2014, Siebel can look really great and above all have a full responsive design. User Interfaces as beautiful as any fancy website or cloud application, if not better, and, moreover, less customization requirements due to the adaptive responsive design (no more need for specific css based on the used device). One of the cases presented was a mobile application entirely based on Siebel Open UI, working on tablets/iPads and phones: stream-less process, beautiful UI, powerful support. It makes a Siebel professional dream of possibilities.
So, back to our question: Sales Cloud with or without Siebel? Without Siebel, the Sales Cloud can’t support a complete sales life-cycle. On the contrary, Siebel with Open UI provides simple UI interaction with full support and, thanks to the newest IP2014, the mobile version can handle synchronization with the server in a real smooth way, without interrupting the sales representative work.
In order for Sales Cloud to be operational from a functional point of view, dedicated development and customization are required.
Oracle demoers recon that Sales Cloud is meant to be used by sales people outside of the company, while Siebel remains the internal sales people support.
The Siebel mobile from IP2014, with the new OpenUI (and adequate browser) answers all the end-user requirements for an intuitive and practical user interface that is also beautiful.
As Oracle is pushing more and more on Cloud marketing and PR, many of us expected a lot from the Sales Cloud and related solutions. But we will need to wait (probably) for a full out-of-the-box integration and all the functionality that we currently have on-prem to be available in the cloud.
During OOW14, I’ve heard Oracle customers asking (themselves and others) what should be the next move: Cloud or OpenUI? These are very different approaches as Cloud is a shift in paradigm while OpenUI is an extension of the current one. You can find more considerations here.
In the meanwhile, I’m still thinking of the possibilities OpenUI offers such as seamless mobile applications. If you are working with Open UI, have a look at e-Tools and how it's V3 can help you out, check the free Beta Enrolment to see if you are eligible.
A simple process overview: start in the cloud but rely on Siebel for the heavy-lifting
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