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Oracle pushes forward with CX tech amid layoff cycle

Rumors of the demise of Oracle marketing, CRM and customer service turn out to be unfounded, as the company forges ahead with vertical-specific CX offerings.

Oracle CX cloud apps are alive and well. The company is pushing them forward, despite recent layoffs of U.S. staff.

Users in seven vertical industries -- automotive, consumer packaged goods, communications, financial services, healthcare, high-tech companies and utilities -- now can access new data science models tailored to their businesses. These complex data models typically are shaped by data scientists rather than business users.

The new models connect to the Oracle Unity customer data platform (CDP), the underlying technology that enables personalization by connecting individual customer profiles to various CX apps such as CRM, marketing and customer service systems.

Oracle had previously customized some of its CX applications with industry-specific apps, workflow automations and CDP integrations under the CX for Industries moniker for industries such as telecommunications and utilities. The new data science models move Oracle more in line with Salesforce and Microsoft, which have industry clouds based on data models specific to each vertical's needs.

Taken in aggregate, Oracle has built an integrated CX stack and infrastructure that is composable -- possessing an architecture customizable to a user's needs -- and built on APIs with microservices that run on top, said Liz Miller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research. It will compete with Microsoft and SAP, which also offer composable infrastructure. It will also compete to a lesser extent with Adobe, HubSpot and Salesforce.

"You're starting to see two camps in the CX market," Miller said. "Hyperscalers [such as Microsoft, SAP and Oracle], and CRM-centric tools as platforms, like Salesforce, that are going to be business applications that sit on top of that composable infrastructure."

The Oracle CX data science models were released in conjunction with CloudWorld, Oracle's annual user conference.

Oracle CX mobile texting
Oracle CX Unity for utilities enables automated notifications that kick off service automated interactions -- including self-service content recommendations -- with a user's customers.

Tarkoff addresses layoffs

Rumors have swirled around Oracle's CX unit since word of layoffs hit LinkedIn in August. A Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notice (WARN) notification -- required by California law when a company lays off 50 or more employees in a 30-day period -- indicated plans to lay off 201 employees in Redwood City, Oracle's former headquarters before it moved to Austin, Texas, in late 2020.

The filing covers California employees only; Oracle has 143,000 full-time employees globally, 48,000 of them throughout the United States and 6,500 in Redwood City.

The CX layoffs came as Oracle combined sales and engineering operations from 14 different companies it had acquired during the last decade-plus into one operation, said Rob Tarkoff, executive vice president and general manager of Oracle's CX business. He said the company made enough progress in moving acquired applications to its Fusion cloud architecture -- and harmonizing data structures -- that it was time to consolidate the teams.

"Anytime you go through a restructuring, that affects jobs," Tarkoff said. "That's obviously a painful thing, and you never want to do that."

Tarkoff added that the applications Oracle acquired -- such as Siebel CRM, purchased for nearly $6 billion in 2006 -- will remain as standalone products even as Oracle pushes development for more modernized Fusion cloud editions. Each acquired application has its own development roadmap, and Oracle will support them and their users "forever," he said.

Rob Tarkoff, OracleRob Tarkoff

Some of the sales operations' reductions were spurred by customer fatigue of being contacted by multiple salespeople from each Oracle application they used, Tarkoff said.

"Customers [told] us: 'You're making it too confusing to work with Oracle, you have too many salespeople with too many discrete product pillars. I just want one person I can talk to about my application estate; I'm fine if you bring in specialists, but I don't want to have to deal with five sales reps just to get five individual applications across ERP, HCM and CX purchased. I want to have an easier customer experience,'" Tarkoff said.

Don Fluckinger covers enterprise content management, CRM, marketing automation, e-commerce, customer service and enabling technologies for TechTarget Editorial.

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