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Oracle forms alliance for telecom services software

The database software maker and Lucent plan to offer a customer resource management and billing software suite targeted at communications service providers.

Oracle and Lucent Technologies said today they plan to jointly deliver a customer relationship management and billing software suite targeted at communications service providers.

Oracle, a provider of database and enterprise software, and Lucent, a communications systems company, plan to combine Oracle's E-Business Suite 11i and Lucent's Kenan Arbor/BP billing product. They plan to make a product that provides communications services companies with a view of critical sales, customer and financial information.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software includes applications that automate a company's sales, marketing and customer service needs.

The product is expected to be available in the third quarter.

"Most of the 1980s were spent on enterprise resource planning systems, which in a sense turned companies inside out," said Kenan Sahin, president of Lucent Software Products Group. "Now, businesses are focusing on customer relationship management to turn companies outside in."

Analysts say that with moves like this, Oracle is positioned to grab a hefty portion of the lucrative CRM market, well ahead of rivals SAP, PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards, which have all made moves into the market.

In addition to integrating their products, Oracle and Lucent intend to collaborate on joint sales and marketing opportunities to expand the market for both companies' CRM technologies.

The product "reduces the amount of time it takes to handle processes between the billing system and CRM applications. It is a traditional problem (that) CRM applications and the back-office systems are usually separate," said Peggy Menconi, an analyst at AMR Research.

Lucent's Arbor/BP helps service providers deliver telephone line and wireless, Internet, broadband and energy service charges to consumers on one consolidated bill. Oracle E-Business Suite 11i allows customers to automate the interaction between a business and its customers, like marketing and sales, through order processing and customer service.

The companies intend to design an Oracle and Lucent packaged suite that provides marketing, sales and other services to the telecommunications service industry.

In related news, Lucent Technologies today renamed the business networking unit that it plans to spin off later this year. The company's Enterprise Networks Group will be named Avaya, pronounced, "uhv-eye-uh."

The new company today also announced a partnership with software maker Siebel Systems, a maker of customer relationship management software that helps companies automate marketing, sales and customer call center needs. The two companies also will jointly develop and sell new customer service products, which will begin shipping by the fourth quarter.

News.com's Wylie Wong contributed to this report.