Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Another clue about Oracle's attitude toward Web Content Management

By now most industry analysts have grown skeptical of Oracle's commitment to web content management (WCM). Those analysts that are still in denial are either too focused on the document management side of enterprise content management (ECM) to even care or they are on Oracle's payroll. The writing has been on the wall for a while now. Before Oracle bought it, Stellent had (in my opinion) the best WCM functionality of any of the document-oriented ECM products. They were miles ahead of EMC/Documentum and IBM/FileNet. Stellent was even edging past traditional WCM products like Vignette and Interwoven who were neglecting WCM to concentrate on their ECM offering. The Stellent acquisition happened right before the release of a new version that introduced big WCM improvements. After the acquisition, Stellent got dumped into the "Fusion Middleware" (AKA "Neither Database nor ERP") division which was a clear sign that Oracle didn't want to spend too much time understanding what it bought.

The reason why Oracle bought Stellent is pretty clear. For readers who are not CMS historians, many years ago Stellent bought a company called "Inso" which developed the filters that could convert documents into different formats. Microsoft has Inso to thank for breaking WordPerfect's and Lotus 123's holds on their respective markets. Because of OEM'ed Inso technology, an MS Word user could open a WordPerfect document. Stellent used the acquired Inso technology to lead the market in word-processing-to-web functionality. More than with any other ECM product, a Stellent UCM user could realistically use MS Word to maintain a structured web asset. Oracle's plan for Stellent was to use those filters to help its document repository story. At the time, Oracle was pitching its "ECM-light" vision that positioned its database as a step up from a file system for storing documents. The database could store metadata and provided a search interface that could list documents in different ways. Inso filters helped parse documents for better indexing and also introduced a capability for exporting into different formats. Plus the Stellent user interface was a big improvement over anything that Oracle could cook up (no, knowledge workers do not want to work in SQLPlus).

Wow, that was some rant. But why I am talking about that now? Well, I was just listening to an NPR Environment podcast that was underwritten by Oracle (thanks Oracle, BTW). When reading the Oracle underwriter statement, the presenter instructed listeners to "visit www.oracle.com/ironman2 to learn more." Now we all know that Oracle is a big company and are probably too busy to create marketing landing pages for all of their different advertising campaigns (no matter how easy it is to do). You can make the old "cobbler's son" excuse. But in this era where the premium WCM vendors are selling on "interactive marketing" and "engagement" functionality wouldn't you think that Oracle would make an effort? Wouldn't it be helpful to know whether traffic was coming from an NPR or Iron Man 2 advertising spot? Ironically, I seem to remember A/B testing, marketing landing pages, and reporting functionality were all part of that mid-acquisition Stellent version. Apparently the Oracle marketing team seems not to have discovered it.