Oracle SRM gets an update - but integrated marketing cloud still a work-in-progress

One of the vendors evaluated in our Digital Marketing Technology research stream, Oracle, recently announced a product update for what it calls "Oracle Social Cloud."

These updates focus on Oracle’s Social Relationship Management (SRM) suite, and include a redesign of certain parts of the UI, some drag-and-drop functionality and additional metrics for social media analysis. These updates are not ground breaking enhancements and many competing products we evaluate already offer such functionality.

More interesting is that this news represents one of the few digital marketing product enhancement announcements from Oracle in a long while. Usually, you only hear about Oracle acquiring other digital marketing technology companies rather than organically building or updating them. If you’ve been watching this space, you know that in recent years Oracle has been gobbling up digital and social media marketing vendors at a frenetic pace.

As we note in our evaluation of Oracle SRM, that suite actually consists of several acquired products under the hood: Vitrue, Involver and Collective Intellect. For instance, Social Marketing functionality is offered through the Vitrue toolkit while Social Engagement and Monitoring services are based on Involver and Collective Intellect. Yet some services (e.g., “Listen and Analyze”) employ components drawn from all these three products. On top of that, if you're looking for marketing automation services, then you'd turn to Eloqua (another Oracle acquisition, of course).

Integrating these disparate products -- each with it's own approach to architectures, workflows, technical guts, UX philosophy -- is a complex endeavor, even for the likes of behemoths like Oracle. You could of course, access these products with a single login and use a single umbrella UI, but deeper integration remains a work in progress. Recent enhancements are a small step in that direction but there are many miles to go before customers see full integration -- if ever.

Let me also note that this situation is not unique to Oracle. As digital marketing technology budgets have been increasing in recent years, almost all the vendors have scrambled to try to assemble broad (i.e., end-to-end) marketing clouds. Be it Adobe,, or IBM – all of them have acquired multiple marketing tech companies. So, as an enterprise customer you’re likely to see a fully integrated offering only in the sales pitches; under the hood you'll find several acquired components of varying provenances and maturities, with differing degrees of integration.

Don’t make expensive investments in marketing technology before getting the full picture.

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