SAN FRANCISCO -- The tech pundits here are happy to focus on the soap opera of management shifts including new roles for Oracle founder and chairman — former CEO and current CTO — Larry Ellison and Oracle co-CEOs Mark Hurd and Safra Catz.
But the real story at Oracle OpenWorld here this week is much deeper. Beneath the surface, Oracle has orchestrated a broad and complicated integration of dozens of cloud, web and customer experience technologies.
Get into My Cloud
Over the past decade Oracle has acquired billions of dollars worth of companies -- more than 50 companies since 2008 alone. Its already acquired seven companies this year, following six acquisitions last year.
But unlike many acquisition binges, Oracle has worked through a coordinated integration strategy, which culminated this week in the integration of many acquired technologies as part of the Oracle Cloud Platform.
Ellison said that embedding new functionality such as social, mobile and analytics across every product suite was part of the company's strategic plan. Oracle applications now embrace the biggest trends in tech: multi-channel, mobile, social, big data and analytics, among others.
But Oracle has gone further. It has also embraced many of the enabling cloud communications technologies, protocols and open technology such as OpenStack. Its goal in recent years has been to provide more than a new set of business applications: It wanted to build the infrastructure to offer all applications in the cloud.
"We are the only cloud company that builds Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications with the powerful standards based platform and then makes the same platform available to you to make extensions," said Ellison. "Most companies do not sell SaaS platform services together."
It's the Glue
In a sense, Ellison is trying to provide the platform glue to any kind of SaaS application that you may want, with all of the features that you possibly want. And Oracle has gone out and acquired quite a few of those.
Here's a list of some of the key building blocks that Oracle has bought over the last few years that demonstrate this trends: BlueKai (big data), Responsys (email marketing), Nimbula (Infrastructure-as-a-Service), Compendium (cloud marketing), Eloqua (marketing automation), SelectMinds (cloud human resources software), Collective Intellect (social business), Taleo (human resources software), RightNow Technologies (customer relationship management and customer experience), Endeca (e-commerce and business intelligence), and FatWire (web content and customer experience).
And that's less than half of them.
The CX Implication
What does this mean for those in the customer experience (CX) world? Oracle hopes customers will upgrade existing platforms like Oracle's WebCenter and Business Process Management (BPM) product lines to the mobile, social and analytics world. Oracle Vice President Gangadhar Konduri laid out the strategy of taking these products cloud-based and mobile.
According to Konduri, the biggest challenge for IT managers and software companies is making business software as intuitive and accessible as today's consumer apps. "They expect enterprise software to be as easy to use as Amazon or Facebook," he said.
They other challenge? Everything must be accessible on mobile devices. "It's imperative that they work on multiple channels," he added.
Look what Oracle has done with Eloqua, which has been absorbed and plugged into several product lines, including Webcenter. Konduri noted how Eloqua's email features are now connected to WebCenter, enabling the customization of content based on the email recipients preferences.
Nobody should be shocked but any of these developments, of course. Mobile, social and cloud have been wide-ranging trends for a long time now.
But Oracle's broad and coordinated attack sends a message to anybody working to develop future customer-facing applications. If your software or service doesn't have mobile, social and analytics angles, it's probably not going to pass muster in today's dynamic and consumerized IT world.