Determined to expand its portfolio of enterprise applications for cloud computing, Oracle has announced plans to acquire BigMachines. The Chicago-based company is best known for its cloud-based Configure, Price and Quote (CPQ) solutions, which provide a logical extension of Oracle’s own cloud services. These include sales and marketing, customer service, social marketing, and commerce.
Oracle says the BigMachines acquisition will result in an end-to-end 'smarter selling' cloud solution. Together, these solutions are intended to help sales personnel be more productive and customers more satisfied, while the businesses themselves become more profitable.
“The fundamental goals of smarter selling are to provide sales teams with the information, access, and insights they need to maximize revenue opportunities and execute on all phases of the sales cycle,” said Thomas Kurian, executive vice president of Oracle Development.
“By adding BigMachines’ CPQ Cloud to the Oracle Cloud, companies will be able to drive more revenue and increase customer satisfaction with a seamlessly integrated process across marketing and sales, pricing and quoting, and fulfillment and service.”
According to Oracle, many companies that use sales automation technology still rely on manual, cumbersome and disconnected processes to convert opportunities into orders. This can create errors, add costs, delay revenue, and ultimately degrade the customer experience.
BigMachines’ CPQ Cloud promises to accelerate the conversion of sales opportunities into revenue by automating the sales order process with guided selling, dynamic pricing, and a workflow approval process that’s accessible anywhere, on any device.
Essentially, the CPQ Cloud solution extends sales automation to include the creation of an optimal quote. That, in turn, enables sales personnel to configure and price complex products, selecting the best options, promotions and deal terms. The application also facilitates upselling and renewals, all using automated workflows.
Competing with Partners?
We turned to Zeus Kerravala, a principal analyst at ZK Research, to get his take on Oracle’s latest buy. He told us Oracle has been working on configure, price and quote functionality for some time. Although the company has a basic CRM (customer relationship management) offering, he said the BigMachines acquisition gives it a much fuller-featured offering.
Kerravala pointed out that, “BigMachines partners with SAP and Microsoft and some of Oracle’s most prime competitors," including Salesforce.com. In fact, Salesforce is one of Big Machines' primary investors.
"It will be interesting to see how the company navigates that," Kerravala added. "If you look at what Oracle has done over the past year with some of its partnerships, we’ve seen a more partner-friendly Oracle. If that continues, those relationships with customers are likely to stay in place. Frankly, I think customers would want that.”
Overall, Kerravala thinks the BigMachines buy is a good one. Given that the acquisition price was not material enough to demand disclosure, the cost probably won’t put a dent in Oracle’s deep pockets.
“I’ve always said companies with resources need to use them in periods of uncertainty, because that’s when you see the best valuations,” Kerravala said. “That’s what Oracle is doing” now, with the BigMachines purchase.
The proposed acquisition is still subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions. Until the transaction closes, each company will continue to operate independently, with business as usual.