The four blog postings below provide additional context and background to the recent webcast on the Oracle and BEA E2.0 strategy moving forward that I posted about earlier. What I find interesting (and mildly confusing) is that the face-to-face conversation that the bloggers/analysts below had with Charles Phillips actually reveal more “completeness of thought” in terms of E2.0 than what was delivered during the recent webcast. Concepts related to emergence for instance are better articulated as are thoughts related to communities and social networks.
There remains however some noticeable gaps in terms of Oracle’s understanding of Enterprise 2.0. Overall, Oracle’s message within these posts keeps falling back to a basic position that equates E2.0 as a framework that covers all forms of collaboration. It also tends to view E2.0 primarily through the lens of applications and processes. Such positions are “ok” but inhibits Oracle from being perceived as a solution provider capable of addressing the organizational dynamics related to communities and social networking.
Additionally, the sales force chartered to push Oracle’s message of E2.0 appears to be a program designed to leverage cross-functional / cross-product synergies without the expertise needed to pitch solutions anchored by social applications, communities and social networking (reinforcing my point above that it’s mostly about the applications and WebCenter). Since communities and social networks are likely to be a core part of anyone’s planning effort related to E2.0, it leaves one wondering if Oracle is thinking beyond structured processes and supporting middleware. Just rolling out tools is not really the point – to catalyze some of the social dynamics Charles outlines below – you need more than technologists selling infrastructure.
More to come I’m sure, the journey to map out Oracle’s E2.0 strategy continues…
IIan Yip's Security and Identity Thought Stream: Roundtable with Oracle President Charles Phillips
In trying to help us understand how Oracle views Enterprise 2.0, Charles gave the following examples:
- Finding the right expert internally within an organisation to help with something you are doing - Charles talked about how Oracle encourages their employees to tag themselves as being "experts" in certain areas. In addition to this, others get to vote on whether you are really an expert in the areas you claim. It's the whole notion of reputation...very Identity 2.0. …..
- ….. Oracle wants to move this informal information sharing into the CRM system to facilitate more collaborative interaction between the sales teams and help identify useful material using things such as tagging and voting so they can more easily find materials and not have to re-invent the wheel. Doing this also gives management more visibility with regards to what is working, what is useful and how to potentially improve things.
Oracle readies dedicated 2.0 sales force — Too much information
Duplicated across Oracle’s regions and reporting to the regional head, the Enterprise 2.0 sales team lead with the WebCenter platform for composite applications, as well as more traditional software products such as Oracle Portal and what was formerly Stellent content management software. Oracle’s Beehive next-generation collaboration platform will also be in the mix, although Charles was less forthcoming about the details of the new enterprise collaboration product.
What he did say is that the Enterprise 2.0 sales force will be made up of both BEA and Oracle sales and consulting experts and will make use of the Oracle Insight Program consulting service to analyze customers’ business processes to identify opportunities for the deployment of internal and external collaborative applications \.
The sales force will engage with both business and IT managers and will have an eye on enabling enterprise-wide strategic adoption of collaborative software, although most of the obvious opportunities are likely to be departmental or focused on specific applications - such as CRM and SCM.
Macehiter Ward-Dutton: Blog on IT-business alignment and related things
- Oracle is relaunching its collaboration offering. The new Oracle Beehive technology is being developed to sit alongside Oracle's existing technology stack as outlined above, and it's not escaped Oracle's attention that if it can make market inroads with an Enterprise 2.0 story, it has a potential follow-on opportunity to displace some of the (very large chunk of) enterprise spending that goes on "heritage" collaboration software product upgrades. The company's Collaboration Suite hardly set the world on fire back in 2002-05: this shows that Oracle is revving up to have another go. But avoiding taking the incumbents on head-on this time.
- As well as building out a standalone proposition, Oracle is folding the technology into its other offerings and processes. Phillips talked about work going on to integrate the collaboration platform capabilities in Beehive together with its Fusion applications and its BPM technology offering. But it's also taking much of the technology and using that internally within Oracle - and as it learns about what works, it's infusing a number of its own business processes with an Enterprise 2.0 flavour.
Oracle president Charles Phillips: Evangelising Enterprise 2.0
So what's the pitch that CEOs need to be hearing about Enterprise 2.0? According to Philips, its one about communication and being open to hearing ideas from all parts of the organisation. “What I tell CEOs is 'Do you think that there are good ideas at the lower echelons of the business that you want to know about?' If not, then they shouldn't be doing Enteprise 2.0. But really you should never be afraid of more information. Enterprise 2.0 is self-organising, so good ideas tend to bubble to the top, but bad ideas don't get much currency. Ideas get embedded through peer pressure. Now, either you believe the wisdom of the crowd is useful or you don't. Most of the CEOs I talk to get it, but it can be uncomfortable according to what your organisation is like.
A two way 'conversation' is essential. “It's vital for us to get customer feedback constantly,” noted Phillips.
The organisations that get this message most easily are often those who also recognise the huge opportunity that interaction with their customers represents. “It's the concept of the long tail,” explained Phillips. “There is great technology in Enterprise 2.0 to reach out to micro-markets. You can get to small, focused groups that are interested in certain subjects. Netflix is good example in that it started out with all the mainstream titles but ran into competition with Blockbusters so they started to do the more genre, more niche titles. That's now 70% of its business. That's good to be able to find new pockets of demand. It's also something dangerous for any business to ignore.
People now tag themselves in collaborative environments according to what their expertise is. We all need to find people who are experts so they tag themselves.
With Enteprise 2.0, you can bring everyone into the same community and make them feel closer to the core.