Oracle is hoping to differentiate its cloud CRM (customer relationship management) software from that sold by rivals such as Salesforce.com with a new set of industry-specific capabilities.
Oracle CRM On Demand Release 20, which was announced Tuesday, adds features for life sciences, financial services, insurance and automotive companies.
But the core product has gotten plenty of upgrades as well, said Anthony Lye, senior vice president of cloud applications strategy.
"This is a very well-balanced release," Lye said. "We've done a number of enhancements in things like account planning, assessment, basic customer model and the way we manage customers," as well as marketing functions, he added.
All of the new features are available in every customer's instance of CRM on Demand, with the tools for specific industries turned on during the configuration process, Lye said. Customers who may want to use features that haven't been switched on just need to go into the management console and enable them, he said.
Life sciences companies now have capabilities for tracking product samples left at customer sites, helping them "adhere to often complex and mandatory industry rules and regulations," Oracle said in a statement.
Improvements for automotive and financial services companies include improved analytics. For example, auto companies can now define a vehicle as an object, allowing them to run "detailed reporting on all aspects of a vehicle, including ownership and transactions, in one place," Oracle said.
Upgrades applicable to all industries include territory realignment, address-sharing between contacts and accounts, tweaks to the user interface and better support for iPads, iPhones and BlackBerry devices.
Oracle's work on industry features gives it an advantage over Salesforce.com, since all the features are in one application, versus integrated via-third-party products, Lye asserted.
While Oracle recently rolled out its next-generation Fusion CRM application, there's no end in sight for CRM on Demand, Lye said. "We're making a strong commitment to those customers. This is a big release. After Release 20, we will do Release 21."
However, new Oracle customers are being encouraged to look at Fusion CRM versus CRM on Demand, according to Lye.
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com