Here I am at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco. This conference is huge. I can’t believe they closed off the whole of Howard between Moscone North and South to accommodate people. Is this is a precedent?
Anyway, I have a few thoughts based on the keynote this morning by Chuck Rozwat, EVP Oracle Server Technology.
Chuck showed off some nice tooling around do-it-yourself applications, talked about a map as a UI (nice way of putting it, I am not sure the Google maps crowd puts it like that).
But what really struck me was that some of the things Chuck showed off aren’t necessarily new, but may now have a new context that will make them successful.
In particular I am talking about Oracle collaboration and records management functionality, integrated with Microsoft productivity applications. Allowing you to create, for example, a formal record, just by saving to an “O:drive”, and then create triggers, for example, if the document subsequently changes, which automatically email a named group of end-users. Sadly Chuck didn’t show off an RSS version, but you can’t have everything…
Oracle has been pitching the basic idea for a very long time- it used to pitch the Oracle Internet File System (IFS). But the firm was considered an also ran in collaboration, certainly in comparison to IBM and Microsoft.
But that was before Oracle owned the applications. When you own the apps, and the business user relationships, suddenly the whole nature of technology platform mandates changes. If you’re a Siebel or Peoplesoft or Oracle apps classic customers, then chances are you will look at Oracle collaboration tools in a fresh light, especially given that Oracle will probably let you use them for free.
I argued recently that collaboration is in many cases becoming a feature, not a product. Applications that don’t enable rich collaboration are far less useful because successful business is by nature social. If this is true, then Oracle could begin to punch some holes through its competitors’ armour. I will be watching this space a little more closely now. The Microsoft IBM shootout we’re about to see, based on both collaboration tools vendors going through major product upheavals in the Exchange/LCS and Notes/Workplace/Sametime space, will create opportunities for competitors. Major technology changes always do.
Oracle has been waiting a long time to make it collaboration story pay off. Owning the application stack, while competitors fight it out over collaboration technology, is a great opportunity. I am thinking in Gladwell terms- tipping points require contexts, and the context has undoubtedly changed since Oracle made this pitch in the late 90s/early 00s.
disclaimer: Oracle is not a client, but it paid my travel and expenses. IBM is a client, Microsoft is occasionally.