While there is no denying that CRM is the backbone application enabling sales and marketing operations, talk to anybody in pharma who regularly uses CRM and you're likely to hear one or more of the following complaints (if not all of them):
â— Too expensive
â— Poor UI, not intuitive
â— Takes too long to locate needed information (too many drill-downs)
â— Not a complete solution, need too many 3rd party bolt on solutions to meet all my sales and marketing needs.
â— Data entry is too time consuming
â— Takes away from selling time
â— No easy way to share presentations and multimedia with field sales and 3rd party ad agencies.
â— Limited capabilities to measure, manage, and refine campaigns.
As a result, while most people agree CRM is a necessity, it's often a love-hate relationship.
This past week Oracle held its 5th annual Life Sciences Forum in Princeton, NJ. The conference provided a wide range of content focused on their products and partnerships across the life science spectrum. But this year's conference placed strong emphasis on Oracle's new CRM On Demand Life Sciences Edition R17, and deservedly so. R17 is the largest, and most impressive, CRM On Demand release that Oracle has had to date, and it provides many significant upgrades over earlier versions. Using the previously mentioned traditional CRM complaint list above as a baseline for discussion, the following sections describe how Oracle has successfully provided improvements around each area of CRM frustration.
CRM Complaint: "Not a complete solution, need too many 3rd party bolt on solutions to meet all my sales and marketing needs."
R17 includes new functionality for Sales Force Automation (SFA) and closed-loop marketing, with improvements focused around three core areas:
â— Sales planning and execution – Includes state license tracking, extended customer profiles, best call time per location analysis, promotional item tracking, and most importantly, new business planning features. Sales teams can now define business plans, set objectives, and track accounts, contacts, and activities against those objectives to monitor performance. Team planning is also supported, enabling multiple reps to track team-wide execution against goals.
â— Sample management – Sales reps can track inventory, do interim audit reports, execute compliance reporting, and perform inventory period closeouts. Sample administrators can perform product allocation assignments, document sales rep acknowledgment of product transfer, and track returns, losses, and thefts.
â— Integrated closed loop marketing – Seamless integration with CRM. Click streams are tracked, stored, and analyzed by core CRM for instant viewing by sales and marketing. Full functionality for marketing to work with content, and manage content security and approvals.
While there are other components of sales and marketing that life science companies using Oracle will still need to use 3rd party vendors for, Oracle now offers the most comprehensive suite of life science sales and marketing capabilities available from a single vendor.
CRM Complaint: "No easy way to share presentations and multimedia with field sales and 3rd party ad agencies"
Flexibility has been improved in R17. Companies can now expose Siebel metadata to non-Siebel applications to create easier interfacing with Adobe Flash, Microsoft .NET, etc… Oracle is also developing an asset verification gadget for ad agencies that don't use Siebel, which will allow pharmas to more easily collaborate and exchange content with ad agencies.
CRM Complaint: "Data entry is too time consuming"
One of the most time consuming steps of CRM is simply logging in and entering information. This not only takes valuable time, but user frustration can result in diminished CRM use and ultimately in-complete data. Oracle PIM Sync On Demand supports bi-directional synchronization of contacts, appointments and tasks with CRM On Demand R17, while Oracle Outlook Email Integration On Demand allows users to link emails to Account, Contact, Lead, Opportunity and Service Request records in CRM On Demand. In addition, the new version of Personal CRM Gadgets allows users expose more CRM information on their desktop, such as with RSS, maps, Twitter, etc…, using either pre-built gadgets or by creating their own.
CRM Complaint: Time efficiency
Several traditional CRM complaints ("Poor UI, not intuitive", "Takes too long to locate needed information, too many drill-downs", and "Takes away from selling time") all relate to time efficiency. Beyond the functional improvements, the most noticeable enhancement in R17 is the user interface. The new SFA component of R17 (referred to as Sales On The Go) contains a drag and drop user interface, and screen flow optimized specifically for life science sales reps. The application automatically captures and analyzes rep activity (ie. presentations shown, call times, etc.) to reduce data entry required by the rep and improve sales rep efficiency. The direct benefits to the sales rep should increase SFA utilization, resulting in better data capture. Oracle Personalized Content Delivery (Oracle's closed loop marketing and edetailing solution) also provides a similar drag and drop UI for marketing to work with content, and manage content security and approvals, helping to address the CRM complaint of "Limited capabilities to measure, manage, and refine campaigns."
CRM Complaint: Too expensive
Pricing is always a touchy subject, and sensitivity to pricing for life science companies varies greatly by company size and need, but Oracle states it is striving to be the low cost provider of CRM for the life science industry. Oracle CRM On Demand Life Sciences Edition R17 is now available for $70 per user per month for Life Sciences CRM and the new Oracle Sales On The Go SFA application, and for those companies looking to harness Oracle PCD , it is just an additional $20 per user per month.
The expansion of Oracle's CRM portfolio into closed loop marketing and significantly improved sales force automation tools is a clear indication that Oracle has chosen to double down its bet on sales and marketing in the life sciences. Considering that all recent IDC Health Insights' data shows budgeted IT spend on the sales and marketing side of life science companies growing significantly faster than most other areas of the enterprise, Oracle has certainly put its money in the right place.
Oracle's heavy investment in UI enhancement is evident, and its improvement alone should help companies increase the value they get from their existing Siebel investments. CRM On Demand is Oracle's quickest growing application, and it is now the fourth largest software application in the company.
Competing vendor applications and standalone solutions for CRM, SFA, edetailing, and closed loop marketing all still have a heavy presence in the market and will continue to do well in pharma's without a large Oracle installation. However, point solution vendors will have a more difficult time remaining competitive in pharma's running on Oracle CRM, considering Sales On The Go and PCD's seamless out-of-the-box integration with Oracle CRM and their competitive price point of $20 additional dollars per user per month.
Given Oracle's wide base of pharma's using its CRM solution in the industry, Sales On The Go and PCD have created a large up-sell opportunity for Oracle, a significant upgrade motivator for Oracle customers, and overall it should help Oracle become substantially more difficult to compete with in the pharma sales/marketing space.
Oracle announced this morning that it is acquiring Phase Forward, a leader in the life sciences clinical developement arena. Deeper integration in the future between Phase Forward (clinical development data) and Oracle CRM is now a certainty, which will further benefit life science sales and marketing organizations. According to IDC Health Insights Top 10 Life Science Vendors List, as of 2009, Oracle was already the #1 Life Sciences software vendor (based on software licence revenue). With the addition of Phase Forward, and the organic growth expected from Oracle's expanded investment in sales & marketing, Oracle has certainly cemented its #1 position in the life sciences for the foreseeable future. Considering the life sciences is an industry that not too long ago was firmly grasped by SAP, considering all the recent developments that have strengthened Oracle's life science capabilities....the ringing silence coming out of Walldorf right now is surprisingly deafening.