Oracle announced today that it will be acquiring ATG for US$6.00 a share, or about $1B. This has been long rumored, as many in the industry saw this as a highly likely pairing. Not only are the solution sets very complementary, but this also allows each to address gaps in their solution portfolios. Oracle has had a significant hole in terms of eCommerce capability needed by its ERP, CRM, and supply chain clients. ATG has lacked enterprise order management and CRM capabilities required by its more sophisticated clients. Together these offerings will make a compelling pairing, though productization and packaging of the offering may remain a challenge for the near future.
Some additional thoughts:
Commerce is converging and client needs will span channels and capability. The trend of “dropping the e from eCommerce” is something we have been talking about for some time, as eCommerce solutions are leveraged not only on the Web but also in the call center, to drive mobile commerce, and increasingly in the store or branch. This is now becoming something our clients at Forrester are looking for in their next generation of commerce solutions. For Oracle this trend was beginning to present a threat as it lacked a capable B2C-oriented eCommerce platform. For ATG this represents a response to the moves IBM and GSI have made to develop cross-channel enterprise commerce solutions.
Don't worry that ATG will get buried in a bone yard. I expect ATG’s products to gain additional wind at their back while also focusing on their core differentiators of merchandising tools, commerce content capability, and driving relevance at the customer touchpoints. Oracle's acquisition can also clarify the answers to ATG's questions related to order management and supply chain requirements.
In customer service, we talk about “delighting” customers, providing an experience that is personalized to an individual's preferences and needs. The quest to delight goal is the goal of CRM and one-to-one marketing strategies. It is not easy to achieve and can have compelling results for a business.
But it makes me wonder — do your customers want to be delighted in customer service, or do they just want a hassle-free resolution?
Recently, my suitcase handle broke. I pride myself on my Ryan Bingham-like airport efficiency. Struggling with the broken handle forced me to slow every queue from security to boarding in a recurring tug-of-war with an uncooperative roller bag.
I contacted the company on the telephone and had a strikingly unmemorable conversation with the only meaningful takeaway being that I needed to go to the Web site to complete a warranty form. The form did not offer me the option to print before submitting nor send an acknowledgement email, raising my suspicions that this could require following up.
I was mistaken. A mere eight days later, a new suitcase arrived at my door.
It would have been nice if there was a note accompanying the new roller bag: something to acknowledge my inconvenience, to express regret that the product didn’t perform, to at least address me by name. I didn’t receive any of these — just an anonymous box containing a new suitcase. And I was delighted.