Ladies and gentlemen, we officially have an arms race.
Oracle announced June 5 that it would acquire Collective Intellect, a purveyor of cloud-based social intelligence software, for an undisclosed sum. Collective Intellect allows businesses to monitor and respond to conversations on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Oracle apparently plans on integrating Collective Intellect’s assets with its software-as-a-service (SaaS) and social-data products. In theory, Oracle clients will use the combined offering to more quickly respond to customer feedback on social media.
Oracle and its competitors are clearly on a buying spree for startups that specialize in social networking and marketing. In May, Oracle entered into an agreement to acquire Vitrue, described as a “cloud-based social marketing and engagement platform,” for a rumored $300 million. On June 4, Salesforce announced it would acquire Buddy Media, which allows companies to create and manage customized content on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, for approximately $689 million in cash and stock.
Not to be outdone, Google plans on purchasing Meebo, another vendor of social-networking tools for consumers and advertisers, with an eye toward boosting engagement on its Google Plus social network.
According to one analyst, there’s a method behind all this acquisition madness. “As the thousands of social startups can attest, building social tools can be easy, but building successful social technologies is very, very difficult,” Zach Hofer-Shall, an analyst with Forrester, wrote in a June 5 blog posting. “None of these acquisitions pick up wildly profitable companies; they pick up unique technologies that will help the tech giants meet future market demands.”
The Oracle and Salesforce acquisitions allow both companies to accelerate their respective social CRM programs, he wrote: “They’re now tasked with building the connectors between disparate platforms, but they at least have the pieces they need.”
Nor is this the end of the arms race. “Expect more acquisitions and partnership announcements from CRM competitors,” Hofer-Shall added, “but also from BI, ERP, and any other business technology acronym out there, because these acquisitions are a turning point for social media.”
On top of all that, Oracle is planning a social network of its own, as part of its gestating Public Cloud initiative. In contrast to consumer-centric social offerings such as Facebook and Twitter, Oracle’s Social Network will let enterprise workers collaborate via real-time conversations, share expertise to others in an organization, and build internal networks—something that competes with Salesforce’s social-business offerings.
In other words, the war continues on multiple fronts.