Oracle's Social Web Debut

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.

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