James Governor's Monkchips

Why Oracle Collaboration Could Make Inroads

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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. 


  1. James, I would agree completely with the concept of contextual collaboration (the integration and surfacing of collaborative services within the context of an application). The concept has been around since 1999 as I recall (the term is generally credited to Matt Cain, then of Meta, now with Gartner). Back then it took brute force. We’ve at the point where it is much more feasible as you point out. Collaboration platforms are becoming virtualized and services will be delivered in multiple application contexts as well as through a vendor’s traditional product interface. I just posted some thoughts on Microsoft’s Availability Service for Exchange 2007 along these same lines.

    You would think that Oracle, given its broad application portfolio, would aggressively define a collection of collaboration, communication and content service interfaces within that stack and highlight the deeper understanding its OCS solution has in terms of application context (e.g., process) and underlying meta models and meta data.

  2. Awesome thanks for the input Mike. its nice to see someone whose opinion i respect adding to the argument. i am really enjoying your coverage of late…

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