Classic approach to CX technology needs a reboot

March 6, 2023 | 5 minute read
Rob Tarkoff
Executive Vice President and General Manager, Oracle Customer Experience
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In my first blog on the Future of CX, I discussed how the way customers experience products and services and relate to brands has changed for good. Next I talked about how the way businesses deliver value and how enterprise IT teams deliver on CX innovation must also transform.

Now I’d like to discuss with you how we believe the future of CX technology deserves and needs more than the classic approach the industry has been taking to delivering customer experiences.

The ‘classic approach’ to building digital customer experiences has typically involved evaluating, choosing, and implementing a lot of vendors and a lot of different ‘best-of-breed’ solutions. Each CX technology was special and wonderful in its own way, built just to solve that one pesky micro-problem for each CX department: content creation and optimization, video, social listening for marketing; analytics, chatbots, virtual assistants for service; prospecting, audience segmentation, lead optimization for sales … and the list goes on and on. According to Chiefmartec marketing technology alone has grown 6,521% from 2011-2022, from 150 marketing technology companies to now at nearly 10,000. What 6,521% boils down to is that marketing professionals alone have 65 times more technology to choose from, to manage, to integrate, and to find skilled team members to operate. Expand that across all the customer experience departments and the hours (and hours, and hours…) invested in technology evaluation alone are staggering.

While choice sounds great, none of the thousands of single-purpose, ‘best-of-breed’ technologies is designed to deliver what is required for success in 2023 and beyond: connected, end-to-end customer or employee experiences across the enterprise. What we see instead is a great burden on the business of a distributed approach to CX technology. Each application becomes an island with a disconnected view of important customer experience data: customer, product, pricing, and order data. A distributed approach to CX makes it impossible to synchronize customer engagements across touchpoints; hard to bring new offers and services to market in a timely fashion; hard for employees to get a 360-degree view of their customers and what is important to them; and feature rich, but costly, systems are left under-utilized and dragging down the bottom line.

We believe the current pace of single-purpose CX tech is unsustainable. The CX technology landscape has lost the plot, dematerialized into random acts and loosely connected tactics. We believe that today’s distributed CX tech feeds disparate product ecosystems with disposable and purely reactive customer data acquisition moments. As the sheer volume of CX applications has evolved and expanded, it has become unmanageable, full of unnecessary, under-utilized tools that fail to meet expectations.

Data, processes, and operations need to transcend beyond a single department or purpose. The CX roadmap needs to move away from building for the distinct tactics of CX, and move toward an end-to-end set of processes, enabled by a cohesive suite to meet the needs of that end-to-end business with foundational, durable, and reusable flows.

At Oracle, we believe Customer Experience is an enterprise-wide strategy powered by end-to-end flows and processes that connect your customer to your entire business. We’ve come to this realization much like you have. Over the past decade, Oracle invested in the development of groundbreaking tools and services for CX. Those that could not be built internally were acquired. Oracle CX brought together 14 of the best of breed solutions that literally invented the very meaning of customer experience, and these tools built brands and businesses. As with other vendors, these powerful, but separate, tools each focused on department specific CX problems, rather than end-to-end challenges. Along with the broader industry, the sheer volume of Oracle CX applications expanded and became full of feature-rich yet separate and over-specialized, under-utilized tools.

And, so, we listened to our customers and analyzed product utilization to identify the key tools customers relied on most. That became the roadmap for our forward modernization.  We started where customers were already telling us they needed to grow. Instead of thinking about the tactics of CX, we looked at CX as an end-to-end process then modernized the suite to meet the needs of that end-to-end business with foundational, durable, and reusable flows.  We exploited only the best ingredients to create something new, something ready for the future of business, not just the applications of today.  And we have aligned that development path to Oracle’s overall strategy for applications and infrastructure across the enterprise, to ensure operational integrity and enterprise data hygiene for the future of real life and real work customer experience. 

We believe the data, process, flows and operations of customer experience transcend beyond a single department – from traditional sales, marketing and service departments to finance, supply, IT and even HR. The role of CX professionals is rapidly becoming one of enterprise conductor guiding a symphony of enterprise data and process to accelerate the meaningful outcomes that drive business. Oracle’s CX product direction intends to cut through the hype and bloated promises of massive and disparate CX platforms by delivering the best of breed features into a single, unified, and streamlined suite of applications.

This is the vision for Oracle CX: To harness the power of the full enterprise with a best-of-suite application model to release new growth and liberate customer experiences professionals to flee into their future.

Oracle CX Fusion is future-forward with a foundation that can scale and expand as industries, business models and monetization strategies evolve. By not thinking about the functional toolset and instead looking at the functional process Oracle CX (Fusion Sales, Marketing, and Service) focuses on bringing the infrastructure, data, flows and deployment engines into a shared business service. Our focus turned to unifying and aligning the features, functions, and applications modern CX expects, and future business models will require.

You may have heard about Oracle’s Fusion vision for some time now. It started with Larry Ellison and his vision around suites and the vision for One Oracle. Larry used the Fusion charter to challenge Oracle product teams to reimagine all our applications – CX, ERP, HCM – as a unified suite with the best features and functions needed to support the enterprise of the future, not a collection of siloed tools each optimized for a separate part of the market. Oracle Fusion has evolved on a constant train of innovation, starting with a few core systems while we incrementally connected CX initiatives with back-office systems. Over time, as we built out our common infrastructure, we aggressively removed operational overhead, gained best-in-class performance and security, and learned how to enable seamless upgrades all the way from ERP system through to CX. We augmented legacy and acquired applications with modern industry-first services to meet customer expectation – while targeting key business problems for our customers. Our development teams were chartered with building extensible APIs and leveraging composable-development with common, enterprise-grade tools.

Today, we have arrived at a One Oracle vision that is the most modern technological, functional, operational foundation on the market for all our leading cloud applications. The Fusion platform supports Industry-centric end-to-end flows and native cloud services that drive next-generation automation and CX excellence and maximum business and technical agility.

The One Oracle vision gives enormous competitive advantage to our CX customers in three ways. In my next blog, I’ll tell you about our three key investment areas for Oracle CX to deliver on this vision.

Rob Tarkoff

Executive Vice President and General Manager, Oracle Customer Experience

Rob Tarkoff joined Oracle in 2018 to lead Oracle Customer Experience (CX) Cloud product and strategy across marketing, sales, commerce, and service. His goal is to build products that help companies succeed in the Experience Economy.

Tarkoff spent the last 15 years focused on the customer experience, developing products for both large and early-stage companies. Most recently, as president and CEO of Lithium Technologies, he created the leading software in online communities. Prior to that, Tarkoff ran the Digital Enterprise business for Adobe.

Tarkoff holds a BA in political economy from Amherst College and a JD from Harvard Law School.

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