In true form, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison used his keynote address at the DCI Customer Relationship Management (CRM) show in Chicago yesterday to make a series of sideswipes at his competitors and reinstate his company’s intention to become the number one front office applications vendor. We’re determined to become the number one supplier, Ellison told the audience during the second day of the conference, We have more people working in our front office applications division than any other company. We have 600 developers, helping people sell more, identify customers, service their customers. I don’t know how much more definite I can be. Although Ellison was expected to make an announcement during the speech, none was forthcoming and a spokesperson later confirmed the news would be released next week. Instead, the CEO used the keynote to underline the benefits customers could gain by implementing Oracle’s internet-enabled CRM application over equivalent software from its competitors. He said having the software reside on just one server meant that salespeople could access the database from anywhere in the world, at any time. That’s how you should run CRM, he said, We distribute the software by emailing the URL, that’s a global roll-out! Compare that to the client-server approach. Speaking during a press conference later, Ellison drew comparisons between its software suite and that of its main competitor, Siebel Systems Inc. We have a more comprehensive suite, he said, Their client-server systems are over the hill and based on the wrong technology….we’re going head to head with them. Several times, Ellison claimed that the database giant’s CRM software was the only suite in the world that could monitor the sales and marketing process from the initial sales prospect to ordering the goods. He said this was particularly beneficial to customers, as it would enable them to judge whether or not a certain campaign had been successful or not. At least you’ll find out, for better or worse, how your campaign is doing, he said, It should lower your costs and enable you to replicate those marketing campaigns that really work. But John Barlett, Siebel’s senior director of product marketing and himself an ex-Oracle employee, disputed Ellison’s claims. We can go from the initial prospecting through to the final order and we can and track how effective your marketing campaigns have been for the whole process, including individual sales analysis and looking at the organization as a whole. He denied that Siebel’s software was over the hill saying that the company could implement the suite in either client-server or web server mode. Referring to Oracle’s CRM offerings he added, We haven’t seen anything new that would lead us to believe they have anything viable in the market. And even if they do, where will that product be relative to where we are? We’re on version five of our software. Perhaps we’d be worried if they’d started to focus on this space about 3 to 4 years ago. He added: Oracle may have 600 people in its front office applications division but we have 15,000 in our company and front office is all we do.