Oracle just released its latest update of Oracle Sales Cloud, which is part of Oracle Applications Cloud Release 10.

The update comes with industry-specific support for four industries -- the first time Oracle Sales Cloud has added such functionality to its roster of features.

Specifically, there is a version for consumer goods manufacturers, emphasizing retail execution processes.

Another version focuses on retail banking solutions in the financial services industry.

The third is aimed at high-tech and manufacturing companies, with a focus on partner relationship management.

The fourth is a communications play, with an emphasis on B2B users.

Back to the Future

The features and process follow the same concept of the vertical-based applications of yesteryear, Group VP of Product Strategy Aaron Shidler told CMSWire.

Concepts, terms, work flows have been built from the ground up to reflect that particular industry, he explained.

Companies have been asking for more out-of-the-box personalization, he said, explaining one of the reasons why Oracle headed in this direction.

"Oracle is committed to helping organizations rethink the sales process by providing sales professionals with a modern cloud solution that fits the specific needs of their business."

'A Significant Release'

Like all cloud providers, Oracle updates its Software-as-a-Service offerings on a regular basis. This version, though, stands out, its executives claim.

"This is an extremely significant release for us," Scott Creighton, Vice President of Oracle Sales Cloud told CMSWire. "I would say it is the biggest leap forward over the last year for us."

But is adding industry-specific functionality such an achievement for a cloud vendor? It is, after all, fairly easy for a cloud provider to make and roll out an upgrade, and with little disruption to the end user to boot. Industry-specific functionality is — or should be — no different.

Au contraire, Oracle argues –- assuming, that is, you are talking about verticals that are complex, robust and deep enough to support those companies that adopted the industry-specific applications of Siebel and other old-school CRM providers a generation ago.

Yes, they're still out there, supported by whatever parent company acquired the vendor. In Siebel's case, that would be Oracle. "You haven't really seen Siebel's customers go full bore to the cloud like other companies have, Creighton said.

Evolving and Adapting

Creighton says that this is changing, in part because the cloud is now established enough for these users and in part because too few cloud-based applications have been robust enough to support these veteran users' needs.

"No one has been able to match what Siebel used to offer for verticals back in the day," he said.

As a result of these trends, Siebel manufacturing and high-tech users have been shifting some of their operations to the cloud, he said. 

Furthermore, he believes the latest release of Oracle Sales Cloud will facilitate that trend.

A lot of companies that use Siebel for marketing and sales are taking a two-track approach to their software, he explained: They are keeping their traditional marketing/sales operations on the client-server based Siebel system and moving more recent features -- such as social media or mobile marketing -- to the cloud.

Shiny New Social, Mobile, Analytics Features

This is where Sales Cloud has the chops to take on these users.

Besides the vertical functionality, the app has been upgraded with new features in social and mobile, as well as analytics and partner relationship management.

The dashboard comes with new pre-built reports and improved visualizations to support real time analysis.

The Mobile App Designer tool is another new feature; users tap it to create reports and dashboards for smartphones and tablets. Security has been enhanced in the Oracle Social Network and new reporting capabilities have been added to Oracle Sales Cloud partner relationship management capabilities, again, with an eye to improving real-time analysis.

The upgrades lets, for example, sales managers rank sales team member performance and share such metrics as actuals to quotas.

Jay Krishnamurthy, VP and Global CIO of Wilsonar, likes this feature. They support "a culture where information is made available in real time so adjustments and/or actions are taken to avoid surprises," he said.