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KPMG, Oracle step into front office together

KPMG says the company will work with Oracle to develop, market, build, and implement front office products and services for their shared clients.

Oracle and KPMG are stepping into the front office together.

KPMG's ICE (Information, Communications and Entertainment) division today said the company will work with Oracle to develop, market, build, and implement front office products and services for their shared clients.

Business software maker Oracle and systems integrator KPMG are already global partners, a relationship the two firms are extending with this front office deal.

Front office applications include sales force automation systems, customer relationship management software, and financial analysis applications that can be used separately or be connected to a company's ERP (enterprise resource planning) system.

Redwood Shores, California-based Oracle first announced plans last October to roll out a full suite of front office management applications. The company benefits by partnering with systems integrators to ensure that customers get these applications up-and-running quickly.

"There's no doubt [Oracle] is making a big push into that segment and KPMG has used this market as one of the most promising consulting service lines," said Bill Martorelli, analyst at Hurwitz Group, a Framingham, Massachusetts-based consultancy.

Most of the enterprise resource planning vendors, including SAP, PeopleSoft, and Baan, are expanding their products beyond the back office, where the software handles mostly transactional functions and manages internal business processes.

SAP is stepping up work on its New Dimension line for the front office that will handle marketing management, sales force automation, and customer service applications. Meanwhile, Baan, through its purchase of Aurum, is selling that company's front office product with its enterprise resource planning system and as a standalone product.

That leaves standalone front-office application vendors, including Siebel and Clarify, with some pretty tough competition, analysts say.

Through today's alliance, KPMG and Oracle plan to target front office sales to high-technology, communications, and media-related businesses, where they already have many shared customers.