Oracle's Social Web Debut

16 Comments

Oracle logoOracle made its official debut on the social web party scene this week at the Oracle OpenWorld 2007 conference in San Francisco. Previously a Web 2.0 wallflower, the database and business applications company has joined the scene with gusto, launching social networking for its customers and employees, deploying a customer wiki with WetPaint — even issuing press passes to bloggers.

Though bloggers have undoubtedly attended the conference in other capacities in the past, this is the first time Oracle (ORCL) has invited bloggers as press to OpenWorld. About 20 bloggers took the company up on its offer; scheduled activities included meeting with the Oracle President Charles Phillips.

Oracle is by no means the first big software company to invite bloggers. SAP (SAP) holds a blogger’s corner at their TechEd and Sapphire conferences, and Microsoft (MSFT) has invited bloggers to its MIX web technology conference. Adobe (ADBE) hosted bloggers, developers and others in web technology at a small event in February.

Beyond the blogger relations program, Oracle has been rolling out social web capabilities to employees and customers. With help from wiki platform WetPaint, Oracle launched The Official Oracle Wiki last week. It currently features content about OpenWorld, including session proposals for the OpenWorld unconference.

In a post announcing the launch of the wiki, Justin Kestelyn, editor-in-chief of Oracle’s Technology Network, wrote:

Although members of the Oracle community have long had the ability to directly interact/collaborate with employees as well as each other, it’s always been in a one/off manner: you ask a question, and I answer it….With the wiki, the community can now collaboratively create and share content (as well as rate and comment on it).

The wiki may overlap somewhat with another social web tool rollout from the company: Oracle Mix, a social networking site for customers with idea voting, groups, user profiles, and Q&A. According to Oracle Apps Lab blogger Paul Pedrazzi, Mix was built in six weeks with the help of ThoughtWorks.

Oracle Mix screenshot

Oracle’s been experimenting with internal social networking too, in the form of their Connect tool, a sort of Facebook for the enterprise. Oracle’s Jake Kuramoto, a product strategy director working on Connect and Mix, told me they’re getting 20,000 to 50,000 visits to Connect each week.

For now, Mix and Connect are two separate online communities. But Kuramoto told me by email, “Our plans are to build momentum with Mix and eventually join the two systems, longer term. This has been our vision from the beginning, i.e. a network of work contacts seamlessly joined to collaborate.”

While it’s too soon to tell how these various social web efforts might change Oracle’s way of of working, it’s nevertheless exciting to see the diffusion of Web 2.0 ideas into the enterprise.

16 Comments

Jake

JIC it wasn’t clear, you can contact me over at oracleappslab.com via the contact form. I don’t see a website listed for you.

I’m interested to know your feedback and specific criticisms.

Jake

Actually, I was referring to Anne’s post as an attempt to encourage innovation. So, I guess I’m putting words in her mouth.

We’re not moderating the ideas and questions on Mix. We believe the community will self-correct. Maybe naive, we’ll see.

The entire app is built on Oracle, Enterprise Linux, database, application server, jRuby, so no license fees. We worked with ThoughtWorks for the development, but Rich did a very heavy amount of the build.

Check it out and feel free to share your feedback there or with me directly.

John

Hey Jake,

I didn’t say there is anything wrong with encouraging innovation. What’s up with putting words in my mouth?

We’ll see how useful it is compared to non-company moderated message boards if any disgruntled topics emerge. By the way is oracle used for the backend? Probably costing you a fortune for the license fees and consulting fees to customize it.

Jake

Sure perusing, but to participate in Digg you need to register. As for me-too, sure, Dell and sfdc have idea sites, but no enterprise company I know of has a social network based around its products.

What’s wrong with encouraging innovation?

John

Actually digg allows the user to peruse the site without registration so my question is it for Privacy or Control?

I’m all for improving your product and my original beef was with the way the entry was written…a shallow and glowing review of a big company releasing a group of me-to features that sounded like a reused press release (or maybe a by-product of that new Oracle blogger outreach program).

Andy C

Oracle seem to be damned if they don’t.

‘Oracle just doesn’t get Web 2.0 and don’t invite us round for beer and pizza.’

…and damned if they do

‘Oh it just marketing PR, marketing fluff, bribery and vapourware and the pizza was cold.’

when clearly it isn’t. I am a traditional, ‘old school’ Luddite (monitor ORCL stock price closer than Connect) and have a healthy scepticism about Web 2.0 and social networking.

However, I am still recovering after seeing Ed Abbo’s keynote where I thought I saw CRM OnDemand gadgets embedded in iGoogle.

[Full disclosure: I work for Oracle Corp but not in AppsLab]

Jake

John: Mix is both idea site and social network. Last I checked Digg and Facebook both forced registration too. Something about privacy.

I understand the skepticism, stay tuned if you care to see any change. We blog at oracleappslab.com, if you want more information or want to engage in more discussion.

John

Geez, didn’t think I would raise the feathers of Team Oracle today. Me thinks this is more PR stunt than embracing the community. The forced registration on Oracle Mix highlights their old school logic to community. If they’re going to clone Yahoo Answers and Digg then at least be as open as these websites are.

If I’m wrong, then please forgive me. Maybe we’ll start seeing some of those recommendations submitted by your customers actually implemented. That’s when there will be something worth writing/blogging about.

Anne Zelenka

There was no press release. I was invited to Oracle OpenWorld but did not attend. It’s noteworthy that Oracle and other big companies are figuring out how to engage with bloggers and how to use Web 2.0 tools, and I won’t hide my enthusiasm for that. It’s a good thing for customers and employees.

Justin Kestelyn

Anne – thanks for the writeup!

John – How is this “making something out of a press release”? The apps and programs referred to here all exist, right now, today. What else do you need?

Jake

Anne did not attend OpenWorld, although we would have enjoyed her presence.

A couple noteworthy items:
1) We opened the blogger attendance to pretty much anyone who blogs about Oracle, Enterprise/Web 2.0, enterprise apps, etc. There wasn’t a whitelist of invitees.
2) None of what is listed was announced via press release.

Thanks Anne.

John

This is a horrible example of someone taking a press release and trying to make something of it. Where is the “gusto”? By any chance were you one of the bloggers who got a free pass?

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