Oracle Acquires InQuira


Big Fish Eats Small FishOracle continues its quiet acquisition of technologies that it already has in other parts of their stack.  KM World reported yesterday and the PRs hit the webs just before the weekend that Oracle is acquiring knowledge management vendor InQuira.

This is a very interesting move for several reasons.

First: While InQuira has good KM and Semantic indexing of content, it looks like it is the Oracle CRM group that is the purchasing party – not the Fusion Middleware WebCenter group.

Second: The Fusion CRM team is talking about the InQuira technology being the “centerpiece” of FusionCRM and baked into Siebel CRM.  This is odd since the WebCenter team was talking about WebCenter Content, Connect, Sites and Portal in very similar terms.  They’ve even built it to work that way.  There are adapters on the price list to connect Siebel and ECM in such a way that there is a technological foundation for vertical specific application (like CRM). You have to wonder if the right hand knows what the left is doing here.

Third: Oracle touts its ability to (relatively) quickly bake acquired technology into its stack and thereby make enhancements available through out the stack.  They did this well with the ECM acquisition of Stellent and Captovation, the Portal acquisition of BEA and we expect the same with the Fatwire capabilities.  But here the SVP of CRM (including fusion CRM) is talking about needing to acquire technology for the products that have been in the works for many years (over six?).  So Oracle has overlapping tech in house and a CRM stack that has been in R&D for a lifetime (in application terms) but they still need that one piece – that has been around since 2002 – to make it competitive with Salesforce.com?  That is an odd approach and one that suggests the CRM Product team needs some better brainstorming and trend spotting sessions.

Here’s the supporting quote (via KM World)

Says Anthony Lye, SVP of Oracle CRM, “The acquisition of InQuira provides Oracle with a complete knowledge management suite, integrated with self-service support, online customer forums and agent-assisted CRM. We expect InQuira to be the centerpiece for Oracle Fusion CRM Service.”

On a side note, I think InQuira does a good job of end-user focused knowledge management and self service.  Their user experience is pretty good.  However, the overlap in technology.  It all exists already in the Oracle stack:

  • Content and Knowledge management lives in Oracle WebCenter.
  • Semantic Indexing of unstructured content lives in the “Semantic indexing for documents” capability of the Oracle Spatial database. (including the ability to chain together NLP with sentiment analyzers, focused RDF annotators and general purpose semantic entity identifiers)
  • Social forums and engagement live in WebCenter Portal.

I remember social CRM demos at Oracle Open World back in 2008 that had these integrations demonstrable and working, at least as demoware.

All this makes me wonder about the acquisition and if it was done for more than technology reasons.  (Here is the official Oracle page.)

Stay tuned…

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2 Responses to “Oracle Acquires InQuira”

  1. Overlapping technology stacks? Shouldn’t be surprising for a company with two presidents… ;-)

    Seriously, tho… this raises an interesting point about competition. Let’s say you’re a huge company, like Oracle. You exist in a competitive market space, but your internal workings aren’t necessarily the same market-for-ideas. Yes, top-down control of the system would be more efficient, as long as you’re going in the right direction. In contrast, two competing products would force each other to innovate, much like the external free market.

    It’s an idea I’ve toyed with a bit… at what point is a company so big that innovation happens better if there’s INTERNAL competition between product lines?

    • It is a good point and I think that, to some degree, things like this happen already. The competition for limited budget is fierce because, as big as Oracle is, all that profit is quickly diluted down by all the products and teams they have. The challenge is that, with the internal model, the trajectory is set from the top down which means that viable products or services don’t get a chance because they don’t conform to the core value and direction of the company. The open market has no such restriction. So things like box.net and dropbox can spring up while oracle ecm continues to lumber forward with half answers to lightweight colleague-to-colleague document sharing that those other services own in spades.

      What I have seen that seems to work well are the intentional ideation labs inside large companies. Trajectory set. Cool. Now brainstorm on how to do it better, faster, and in more interesting ways with this set [XYZ] of givens. The AppsLab is (in my mind) an example of where Oracle did this well.

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