Completely Connected: How Oracle’s new social technologies will change the way we work together
by Kate Pavao
Disruptive technologies, especially those that change the way we communicate with each other, can dramatically alter business processes and productivity, says Abhay Parasnis, senior vice president, product development, at Oracle. “Social is one of those big shifts,” he says. “Customers increasingly are choosing to engage with companies using these new ways of communication—whether they need service or want to engage with brand campaigns. This means business processes need to evolve to support social.”
This summer, Oracle acquired three social technology companies to help customers do just that: Involver, Collective Intellect, and Vitrue. Here, Parasnis explains these acquisitions to Profit and discusses how they strengthen Oracle’s offerings—and will change the way business leaders connect with customers, build teams, and get their jobs done.
Profit: What is unique about Oracle’s approach to social technology?
Parasnis: For Oracle, social technology is about embracing the next generation of breakthrough capabilities—including social, mobile, and rich enterprise content—and completely integrating them across our full application stack. Right now, as social goes from consumer to enterprise technology, it is mostly a point solution market. There are vendors who do social media monitoring, social marketing, or social network, but nobody has really stepped up to establish a broader social platform with an end-to-end view of this market. So Oracle’s big strategic bet is to bring together some of the best-of-breed capabilities into a single, unified social relationship platform.
Profit: How do Oracle’s recent acquisitions work with this strategy?
Parasnis: We picked three core areas to focus on. One was creating a customer-facing social relationship management platform—and Vitrue has the best-of-breed product for that—with a cloud-based platform marketers can use to create, publish, and measure campaigns.
Social infrastructure will be integrated throughout our entire application portfolio, the same way Web and e-mail are today.
Next, from a customer service point of view, we wanted to provide social media monitoring, insight, and analytics so our customers would know what kind of conversations are happening on social media and what their customers are saying about their products and services. Collective Intellect had the best capability for listening and understanding sentiment, and Involver had an outstanding capability for engaging with the community conversations. The two together are creating the best social engagement and monitoring product in the market.
Finally, we needed a cloud-based platform for developers who want to build custom IT applications that integrate social capabilities within their business processes. Involver gave us the best-of-breed social developer platform and tools that enable customers to extend our core SaaS [software as a service] experiences and build custom social applications.
Profit: How do these solutions fit with Oracle’s existing applications?
Parasnis: While these solutions are interesting, we believe they become much more powerful when integrated into a social system of record, which means all the touchpoints for social—whether customer-facing or employee-facing—are standardized into one platform. Literally, social has the potential to intersect across all of our applications, including CRM [customer relationship management], customer service, HR, talent management, collaboration, and recruiting.
For example, with the addition of Vitrue, Oracle is able to seamlessly integrate social infrastructure capabilities inside our CRM SaaS offerings. Today, if you are an Oracle Fusion Customer Relationship Management customer, you can launch marketing campaigns on traditional channels, such as print, Web, and e-mail. With Vitrue, you can now build social marketing and brand campaigns directly within your CRM experience and launch them across a full range of social media, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.
number of hours each week knowledge workers spend writing e-mails, searching for information, and collaborating internally (Source: McKinsey & Company)
Also, these acquisitions support our overall cloud strategy, the first part of which is to be the most comprehensive provider across both the platform—meaning our database and middleware technology—as well as the applications.
Profit: How do you see Oracle’s investments changing the way we work?
Parasnis: We expect to dramatically re-envision a lot of the core application experiences that we have today, including CRM, talent management, and more. With social at the core, we can fundamentally reinvent the collaborative aspects of those applications, making relationships between people and organizations a lot more pervasive and pronounced inside our applications.
For example, it will be far easier for employees closing on a sales opportunity to find the right resources and information within their company so they can collaborate in a friction-free environment and make their sale.
Right now, most customers think of social media as a distinct add-on to their enterprise applications and experiences. As we look ahead to bringing these products together, social infrastructure will be integrated throughout our entire application portfolio, the same way Web and e-mail are today.
Kate Pavao is a regular contributor to Profit.