January 10, 2011, 12:27 PM

Oracle looks to the future after the close of the ATG deal

The merger will enable retailers to better serve consumers across channels, company executives say.

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Oracle Corp. last week announced it had completed its acquisition of Art Technology Group Inc. The nearly $1 billion cash deal means Oracle adds ATG’s expertise in e-commerce services with Oracle’s strength in back-end retail services like customer relationship management, order management and supply chain management.  In a webcast presentation last week, Oracle and ATG executives said the combined services will help retailers streamline operations and better serve consumers across channels.

“The reason Oracle acquired ATG is very simple,” said Thomas Kurian, executive vice president of product development at Oracle, said during the presentation. “We believe that every business is going to provide all their customers a cross-channel CRM and commerce experience. Oracle and ATG together offer the best-of-breed products to satisfy this vision. We have a crystal-clear roadmap that will bring these products together and deliver on this vision,” he said.

Kurian said the combined services will help streamline operations because all business areas will be able to work within one system, instead of each function having its own systems. “Silos increase expenses from an information technology point of view and make it difficult to roll out new programs,” he said. “Every time you want to implement a process you have to duplicate it in every system. It impedes the ability for the I.T. function to be responsive in a way that is responsive to how customer behavior is changing.”

He says customers are increasingly shopping across channels, such as in bricks-and-mortar stores and online, and are frustrated when a retailer‘s offerings are inconsistent, such as when a price in a retail store doesn’t match the price on the retailer’s e-commerce site.  “Frustrated customers lead to loss of wallet share, and loss of wallet leads to loss of market share,” Kurian said.

Ken Volpe, senior vice president of products and technology at ATG, described how ATG’s latest product release, ATG Commerce 10, serves to integrate these systems. He said the product, which began shipping in December, includes offline management capabilities and the ability to manage merchandising and promotions across channels. “It really does demonstrate that ATG and Oracle share the goal of cross-channel commerce and demonstrates in a very visible way,” he said.

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