He made it clear, however, that although Oracle can sell Eloqua as part of a broader suite, customers will still be able to purchase and use it separately, including with rival CRM systems.
Oracle will continue to support and enhance existing two-way integrations between Eloqua and the likes of Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Kurian said. This will be part of an "open integration strategy" that will also give customers the choice of what social collaboration tool they'd like to use in conjunction with Eloqua, such as Salesforce.com's Chatter, he added.
Part of Oracle's rationale here may be to calm any jangly nerves existing Eloqua customers may have, particularly ones that aren't Oracle shops. But another consideration may come down to the fact that many Salesforce.com customers use Eloqua for marketing automation, since Salesforce.com itself doesn't have something comparable, and Oracle is happy to continue receiving their business.
This week, Salesforce.com launched a Twitter-powered marketing platform, which is now in private beta, but it doesn't appear that offering will fill Salesforce.com's functional gaps.
To that end, it has long been speculated that Salesforce.com will acquire a marketing automation vendor rather than continue to rely on partners such as Eloqua and Marketo, but that hasn't happened so far. Salesforce.com also made an investment in Infor, which has a marketing automation product called Epiphany.
"They have too many small investments that create a conflict of interest if they get into marketing," said analyst Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research. "So they have to create a place for marketing products to fit in the ecosystem without cannibalizing it. Hence the confusion."
"In Oracle's case, they bought one of the best cloud-based marketing platforms, and they will keep buying their way into innovation in the cloud," Wang added.
There's substance to the broader customer experience strategy like that described by Hurd on the webcast, Wang said.
Core CRM software "has been a failure at most companies," Wang said. "It succeeded at managing sales folks and automation, it barely touched the customer, it sucked at building relationships. The shift away from CRM is about front office and supporting customer experiences. The emphasis is about engagement and building relationships. We're now focusing on the more important aspects at which CRM failed."
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