Complete customer interactions go beyond CRM applications to other systems, such as finance, and the data is scattered in multiple places through the enterprise.
"One thing we focused on is reducing the cost of the implementation and trying to make it predictable [so we can] tell you before we begin how much it will cost to run it every day," Ellison said.
Brad Snook, vice-president of client relationship management at United Assets Coverage, says moving to a hosted version of 11i CRM call centre, finance and other applications saved his company more than $3m (£1.8m) in efficiency increases over the course of a year.
UAC previously ran a hodgepodge of applications, including business applications from Microsoft Great Plains. The company moved to 11i in August 2001, a single integrated contracts, billing and CRM platform, which boosted the efficiency of call centre workers and enabled them to handle more calls.
"Providing complete total cost of ownership [numbers] for all new deals will be hard to do, but it's doable," said Joshua Greenbaum, an analyst at Enterprise Applications Consulting.
"I think it's going to be an important competitive advantage that will force the other vendors into promoting better understanding of the lifetime costs of their software."