Cisco does not have to own all the solutions in order to become credible as a collaboration / Web 2.0 / Enterprise 2.0 solution provider. I expect acquisitions to occur (and wish Cisco had picked off Zimbra), but there is no need for the company to compete with its own software across all categories. Instead, Cisco can put together a range of services (represented by the deal below) that leverage its WebEx Connect platform. Being the "packager" of a solution can have its advantages - especially in the SBM market where this partnership should resonate well. Cisco can continue to build out a comprehensive framework that leverages its SaaS platform and compliment that framework with its own capabilities (e.g., unified communications). In some situations, that solution could conceivably connect to parallel on-premises applications and/or infrastructure. Cisco might also find itself as an attractive partner to smaller vendors that cannot compete with Microsoft over time and are unsure about Google in terms of consistency and sustaining a partner ecosystem.
This is a smart move by Oracle as well. It needs a channel like this to respond to the software plus services mantra that Microsoft touts. This is bad news for Salesforce and also for IBM.
WebEx Connect enables a new generation of collaborative business applications and services. The WebEx Connect client allows users to build mashup applications customized for particular business processes from on-demand, on-premise or on-thedesktop applications. For example, a WebEx Connect user can quickly build a sales mashup with WebEx Sales Center, Siebel CRM On Demand, a social networking site, and an e-mail and calendaring client. These business mashups improve productivity by integrating with WebEx Connect's unified collaboration and communications capabilities to provide contextual collaboration within a business process.
"Effective collaboration accelerates any business cycle, and when combined with CRM, brings salespeople closer to their customers," said Subrah Iyar, vice president and general manager, Cisco WebEx. "This alliance brings together three fast-moving trends: enterprise 2.0 mashups, the explosive CRM area and on-demand application platforms." WebEx CRM On Demand by Oracle delivered by WebEx allows sales professionals to manage their entire sales process from within a single collaborative application suite. Users can easily market, demonstrate, present, track, forecast and close with the combined capabilities of WebEx collaborative applications and Siebel CRM On Demand.
WebEx CRM On Demand by Oracle delivered by WebEx offers a comprehensive set of CRM capabilities including:
- Sales management tools that allow users to engage prospects at key points in the sales process
- Sales dashboards that consolidate critical information and streamline activities for a 360-degree view of every opportunity
- Integrated reporting to improve sales productivity by automatically tracking WebEx meetings and prospecting activity
- Powerful forecasting, reporting and pipeline visualization tools to analyze sales data
- Real-time process management to optimize sales methodologies with testing and analytical feedback.
CRM On Demand by Oracle is available today from the Cisco WebEx sales organization; it is scheduled to be available through the WebEx Connect application ecosystem in early 2008. For more information, go to, http://www.webex.com/smb/oracle-crm.html