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Enterprise 2.0: Oracle Plans New Business Apps, With A Social Twist

The forthcoming apps from Oracle mirror the look and feel of Web 2.0 social networking services -- including MySpace and Facebook.

Oracle is getting closer to releasing several new business applications that mirror the look and feel of Web 2.0 social networking services that are dominating the consumer world -- including MySpace and Facebook.

Oracle's pitch: "These are all insanely easy to use," said Mark Woollen, the company's VP for CRM product strategy, speaking Wednesday at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston.


Oracle believes there's a big market awaiting vendors that can deliver enterprise applications that are intuitive to use because today's business apps "fall short" on that front compared to their consumer counterparts, Woollen said.

That shortfall is not without a cost. The Gallup organization estimates that the total cost for businesses not engaging their employees through IT is $380 billion in the U.S. alone, according to research that Woollen cited Wednesday.

Another problem with traditional business applications is that they tend to lock users into hierarchical workflows that do little to facilitate collaboration between groups of workers, Woollen said.

Oracle is looking to change that with a new line of apps -- some due in the next several weeks -- that feature a Web 2.0 feel and that integrate with consumer networks such as LinkedIn through Google's OpenSocial API.

"There's a number of opportunities to rethink the game" for enterprise applications said Woollen.

With that in mind, Oracle will soon launch a set of CRM tools called Oracle Sales Prospector, Sales Library, Sales Campaigns, and Deal Manager.

The tools, which run off Oracle's Fusion middleware, let users create their own mashups, among other things. A salesman, for instance, could overlay the physical location of his most important customers over a Google map and then add telephone numbers for key contacts at those accounts.

Equally important, users can publish the mashups, documents, or templates they've created in the apps to their company's intranet. Woollen said the new applications are designed to be "brain dead simple" to use.

Oracle is also creating versions of the applications that are built for mobile devices from the ground up. "Enabling enterprise apps for mobile has typically meant shrinking them down and handing out microscopes," said Woollen.

Sales Prospector will be available later this quarter, with the other applications to follow, Woollen said.

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