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Oracle pushes front office plans with Geodan buy

Moving forward in its front office strategy, Oracle buys Netherlands-based Geodan, whose products enable businesses to manage the planning, scheduling, and routing of field service engineers.

Moving forward in its front office strategy, Oracle today said it has acquired Netherlands-based Geodan, whose products enable businesses to manage the planning, scheduling, and routing of field service engineers.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Under the deal, Oracle said that the Geodan software, which will be renamed Oracle Scheduler, will enable companies to track the skills and locations of field service engineers. Oracle Scheduler takes into account the expertise, experience, and availability of a company's personnel to ensure that the right engineers are dispatched to a customer site.

The system also uses an Internet-based database providing information about conditions, such as roadblocks, traffic, and road maintenance to better route engineers to customer locations. The systems will help field engineers get to their customer sites quickly and more efficiently, the company said.

With the integration of Geodan's scheduling software with the Oracle Service suite, which already offers integrated software and services for customer care, call centers, field service, depot repair, and contract management, Oracle's offering manages the complete field service cycle--from the initial customer service request to filing the completed job report, the company said.

Oracle continues to look for acquisitions "that don't change its core strategy or core architecture, but rather, fill a very well defined void," said Mark Barrenechea, Oracle's vice president of customer relationship management products. "This acquisition is a good example because we're increasing functionality in a very well defined area. Most companies don't do this, and none of the CRM vendors have this functionality today."

For example, Redwood Shores, California-based Oracle said that when a customer logs a request for service via the Web or a call center, the request is sent to the dispatch manager who can use the Oracle Scheduler to analyze the request, check agent schedules, locations, and skills, and then sets and deploys the appropriate agent to the customer site.

In addition, companies can use Oracle Mobile Field Service, a wireless mobile communications application, so that field engineers receive real-time updates to their schedules and can communicate in real-time with dispatch. With the acquired software from Geodan, whose customer base include Bosch and Hewlett-Packard, the dispatch center can also give agents the best route to the customer based on miles and traffic.

Peggy Menconi, an analyst at AMR Research, said she thinks today's acquisition rounds out Oracle's field service suite nicely, giving the company Geodan's schedule capability based on geography and mathematical optimization.

"Oracle has that tremendous backoffice information availability, so they carry a richness with them that other CRM vendors don't have," she said.

In April, Oracle had announced a similar acquisition in an effort to make headway in the customer relationship management (CRM) space by purchasing Tinoway Nederland, a privately held Dutch field service software firm. As previously reported, Tinoway was Oracle's third front-office acquisition within eight months at that time. The firm had also scooped up call center management software maker Versatility last August and configuration software-maker Concentra in November.

Oracle said that Geodan employees will join Tinoway at its Netherlands operations.

Last quarter, Barrenechea said Oracle signed on 105 CRM customers and reported $44 million in license revenue, which he said is larger than CRM vendors Vantive and Clarify combined.

"We're the second largest CRM vendor today [behind No. 1 Siebel]," he said. "The goal is clearly to be number one."