COMMENT: In The Field
Integration: It’s Coming TogetherBy Ian Abramson
Mergers, acquisitions, and growth present opportunities for user groups.
Mergers and acquisitions are very complicated proceedings, entailing the integration of organizations, processes, data, and personnel. Even organic corporate growth has integration pitfalls.
Some organizations acquire—or even develop—multiple business units or systems that do not communicate with each other. These units may first have been run as independent businesses, and they continue to operate as if that were still true.
Integration Improves Business
But not integrating more closely is a serious mistake. In the integrated world, business processes become more efficient, complexity is reduced, and activities are streamlined. Such process enhancements have the direct benefits of saving time and reducing costs.
Moreover, data integration—and the comprehensive business intelligence it offers—provides organizations with a more complete vision of themselves and allows those same organizations to market to their customers by cross-selling products and services across previously untapped avenues.
For example, using business integration and analysis allows some communications organizations to market internet services to current magazine or cell phone subscribers. Leveraging integrated data, these companies can then determine the best offers to entice their customers with additional products, ultimately increasing revenues and providing more-complete services.
In today’s fiercely competitive business environment, getting the business and technology integration done right is more important than ever—whether new business units are created or acquired.
Consider Oracle. By my count, in the past 44 months, Oracle has acquired more than 44 companies. In 2005, Oracle acquired 13 companies, including PeopleSoft. In 2006, there were 13 more acquisitions, of which Siebel and Stellent probably got the most press coverage. The 2007 acquisitions embraced another 11 companies, including Hyperion.
So far, 2008 has seen at least 7 acquisition announcements already, including BEA. The results of the acquisitions, and the integration of their products and technologies, enhance the overall Oracle product stack.
Because of these acquisitions, Oracle user groups also need to integrate—in this case, the user communities. Integrating new and existing communities combines existing cultures as well as technologies and can be challenging.
User Groups Thrive
Even so, the Oracle user communities continue to thrive and grow—Oracle’s new acquisitions mean that more people need a place where they can learn about Oracle within a network of similarly minded professionals, and the user communities provide that place.
For example, the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG) was successful in integrating the Stellent content management user group—which is now IOUG’s Stellent special interest group (SIG). This group had previously existed only as part of a Stellent-run event and infrastructure, but as part of the IOUG, the Stellent SIG has an environment that will encourage its users to grow and will provide them with a complete technical experience.
Just as Oracle has been integrating Stellent products and making them an important and valuable component of Oracle Fusion Middleware, the Stellent SIG is benefiting from its integration with the IOUG.
The IOUG is now building on this success to integrate the growing Oracle Essbase (formerly Hyperion Essbase) and BEA communities as well. The IOUG has welcomed Oracle Essbase users and established the Essbase SIG and now welcomes BEA users to the general membership. These communities can now be part of the larger Oracle community but still retain their own identity and focus.
Integration is a reality that we all need to embrace to ensure that we continue to grow and maintain our leadership roles for tomorrow. Of course, integration does not come without cost. Organizations need to invest time and money in any integration effort to enjoy substantial returns.
The effort might be huge—but it’s worth it.
Ian Abramson (firstname.lastname@example.org) lives in Toronto and is president of the IOUG.