Oracle's deal to buy Vitrue gives it a strong foothold in community management. The execs who brokered it intend for the acquisition to be the foundation of a social platform strategy that will encompass not only to social marketing, CRM and lead generation, but eventually hiring and HR functions too.
AdExchanger asked a handful of senior sources for their take. All agree it's a sign of things to come, both for Oracle and the enterprise software space in general.
- Nathaniel Perez, global head of social experience, Sapient
- Rob Leathern, CEO, Optimal
- Tim Fogarty, senior social media strategist, M80
In its most obvious form, the acquisition is a strategic attempt to grow Oracle's credibility in a world where social has become a critically vital part of every CRM and sales strategy. The acquisition only symbolically tries to play catch-up with the wildly successful Salesforce (who acquired Radian6 last year). In reality, Oracle has an entire legacy to transform, and this is obviously one of many moves they need to make in order to live up to a social promise. Cloud and social are two areas that many companies are realizing they need to get into. Oracle has the vision and willingness to make it all happen by putting together a compelling and integrated offering, as well as changing its own ways, towards becoming a socially connected organization.
Vitrue isn't in the ads space - they've chosen to partner vs. play directly in the Facebook Ads ecosystem, focusing primarily on the pages and applications there and on other social platforms. So I don't see this as a buy by Oracle into the "advertising" space (yet) but into the social CRM/marketing software area. Advertising is very complementary to Vitrue's services, and will be a requirement since Facebook will give preference to firms that drive revenue to them more directly. As such I'd expect Oracle to consider further investments in the advertising side of social media, and it also puts Buddy Media firmly in the crosshairs of other enterprise software companies.
The acquisition of Vitrue by Oracle this week marks yet another big move involving a social media technology company. As in many other sectors of the tech space, the largest players are seeking to offer all-inclusive toolsets to their customers, vertically integrating services and consolidating revenue streams.
This move is squarely in the face of large tech firms like Adobe (who snapped up Vitrue competitor Context Optional in late 2011) and SAP (who announced the acquisition of the collaboration software maker Ariba earlier this week), and surely a sign of things still to come in the category.
The lesson from these acquisitions for small social media technology providers is clear - join or die. As the largest business technology companies purchase tools or develop their own to be integrated into a larger toolkit, standalone social media management technologies simultaneously bring less value and greater costs to brands.
While Oracle has indicated that the companies will operate separately, it is hard to imagine that the offerings will remain separate for long. Between an injection of new social media talent and a shiny new object for their sales team, Oracle has every reason to bring Vitrue closely into the fold. Brands should expect the phone calls to begin soon, peddling social solutions integrated with Oracle's broad portfolio of business applications.