Organizations are increasingly seeing the strategic benefits of enhanced customer engagement. But many are struggling to understand how to put a broader customer experience strategy into practice amid siloed processes and departments. Particularly in contact centers, new technology has to be melded onto existing platforms in ways that enhance experiences without disrupting operations.
This dynamic is forcing software providers to address complex issues related to how clients deploy integrated CX platforms. As organizations attempt to unify CX teams, breaking down operational silos, tying together data resources and implementing key performance indicators that reflect real customer value become critical. The key question for many firms is how to make slow-moving, risk-averse business units adapt to changes in technology and customer expectations that are happening at lightning speed. For vendors like Oracle, this creates the opportunity to educate the market and act as a trusted partner to its clients.
In February 2023, Oracle put forward a statement of direction that laid out how the company sees the next few years of development in customer experience technology, including general industry trends and its own planned responses. It is one of the first cases of a major platform vendor publicly asserting a plan for addressing the many cross-departmental use cases for CX and describing how its software will knit service operations together with sales, marketing and most important, back-office applications.
Oracle’s CX strategy focuses on its Fusion platform, which is the overall vehicle for delivering niche applications with functions that seamlessly flow into one another. Fusion combines back office-facing tools like enterprise resource planning, supply chain management and human capital management systems with the front-office’s traditional CX tools in contact centers, sales, service groups and marketing. Fusion uses the company’s Unity customer data platform as the central, controlling, unified data source.
CX buyers will zero in on Fusion Service, which has three components: Oracle Business-to-Consumer Service Suite, which is the present-day evolution of the RightNow system; Oracle Business-to-Business Service Suite, developed from Engagement Cloud; and Oracle Field Service Suite, a product of the TOA acquisition. Unifying disparate applications to build them on the Fusion platform required a deep reengineering of all three components, coupled with a renewed user interface spanning the applications.
Oracle’s direction statement points to vertical industry applications as a key part of the company’s strategy over the next five years. The company has specific development groups building tools that customize Fusion Service components for unique use cases in several key industries: outage management for utilities is one example.
Oracle’s strategy appears to validate the idea that the use of niche, point solutions to solve narrowly defined business problems is making way for a software approach that encourages the use of broad, mega-platforms. These allow for solving narrow problems through deployment of modules or components that plug into the platform. And while generally those add-ins can be either through partners, marketplaces or organic development by the platform provider, Oracle’s plan is to leverage the three already-existing tools for B2B, B2C and field service use cases. Ultimately, this is going to foster broader CX thinking in organizations, as contact center software rubs shoulders in these suites with knowledge resources, enterprise resource planning and other tools that provide the capabilities needed to successfully interact with customers.
It is true that service operations are beginning to take different forms in B2B and B2C situations. This is most notable in field service, where the cost of service varies tremendously based on the complexity of the issue. Plus, the long-term value of a customer can be much higher in B2B organizations.
Service is also fracturing along vertical industry lines: The steps needed to provide successful experiences for retail customers, for example, are very different from those taken by a utility company. When we look at service through the lens of broad CX as opposed to the lens of the contact center, the processes and tools required expand and become very persona- and use-case-specific. While it is possible for a contact center to serve multiple use-case needs without much trouble or transformation, it is much harder to build enterprise-wide experiences and journeys without invoking core enterprise platforms and data sources.
Oracle is correct in its three basic assumptions: CX suites will be preferred over point solutions, seamless connections to the back office are essential and service processes are fracturing along industry and functional lines. Ventana Research asserts that through 2026, technology for field service management will become differentiated based on the different needs of specific industries and of B2B and B2C use cases. There is no reason, however, to think that fragmentation will be confined just to field service.
Oracle was recently rated an Exemplary Vendor in the 2023 Customer Experience Management Value Index, largely on the strength of its back-office integrations and ability to centralize customer data across applications. Buyers across CX teams, especially in IT departments and contact center service organizations, will find that Oracle’s Fusion Service is a powerful, integrated platform that should be considered when expanding or implementing multi-departmental applications.