My prediction for 2004 is that Oracle acquires an ECM vendor. I'm not the first to say this, nor do I have any information that others don't. It just seems like the right thing for them to do. What is most commonly associated with the Oracle brand? Yep, data. What is the focal point of ECM? Yep, data. Its not the same class of data and Oracle has not exactly made a name in managing unstructured data. So there are some significant hurdles. Nevertheless, spending in this segment of the IT market is slated to surpase spending on relational databases sometime in the next 3-5 years, and as of today Oracle has no play. Will they stand by and watch it pass? That doesn't seem likely. Here are some supporting extracts from an Ovum research article: In many ways, a move by Oracle to bolster its unstructured data management business makes more sense than acquiring PeopleSoft/JD Edwards. Data management is the core competency for Oracle. 80% of data is unstructured, and by definition it represents a huge, if complex and difficult, opportunity for IT vendors. ... In this current economic climate, opportunities are thin on the ground. But a quick look at Microsoft’s incredible success with Sharepoint Portal Server (almost a million seats a month shipped in the past 18 months) in the same space, and the opportunity is clear and proven. What is also clear is that for ECM to rise from its current niche status into the mainstream it will take a major infrastructure player to take it there. Microsoft’s entry into the market is the start of that move, but the opportunity is only just being tapped. ... Oracle lacks weight and credibility in the unstructured data market. Our advice to them would be to either invest heavily in a marketing campaign to bolster their presence in CM/DM or acquire instant status – something that makes a great deal of sense to us at Ovum. Whether this is something Oracle will contemplate is purely a matter for speculation, but it’s a move that could work well for them. ... An added consideration is that Oracle actually has much of the technology needed for ECM already in place and would be best advised to look at acquiring domain expertise, a solid brand with real credibility in the CM space and a sales force who truly ‘get’s unstructured data management. With those things in mind the net opens even wider and could include the likes of FileNET or Hummingbird. Read.