July 28, 2011
Its exciting news to see Oracle announce its intention to acquire InQuira. We have been waiting for this news for a long time. The reasons are multifold:
- Today’s contact center ecosystem is complex, and comprised of multiple vendors who provide the critical software components. Read my blog post on what these critical software components are. Customers are looking for a simpler technology ecosystem to manage from both a systems perspective and a contractual perspective.
- Suite solutions, available from unified communications (UC), CRM, and workforce optimization (WFO) vendors, are evolving and include comprehensive feature sets. These vendors have either built these capabilities out or acquired them via M&A activity. And we expect more M&A to happen.
Now to focus on knowledge:
- Knowledge, accessible via web self-service or agent UIs, is a critical customer service component for industries fielding repetitive questions about policies, procedures, products, and solutions.
- However, knowledge is most powerful when it’s delivered in a personalized, proactive way, contextualized to the customer’s persona and the issue at hand. This means that knowledge management solutions are much more powerful when deeply integrated with CRM systems.
- CRM vendors understand the power of good knowledge, given the number of acquisitions (for example, salesforce.com + Instranet, KNOVA being folded into Consona, Kaidera + Servigistics) in this space and the lack of standalone knowledge management vendors.
- InQuira was the last remaining enterprise-grade KM-only vendor left. InQuira has had partnerships with CRM vendors Oracle and SAP and UC vendor Genesys. It was only a matter of time before InQuira was picked up by one of these players.
What Oracle's plans are:
- Oracle and InQuira already have out-of-the-box connectors for the following product combinations: Siebel-Inquira, Oracle CRM OnDemand-InQuira. They have plans to build out connectors to Fusion.
- InQuira will continue to be developed and sold as a standalone product for customers only wishing to purchase a knowledgebase.
- SAP and Genesys customers who have purchased InQuira will be fully supported. In the future, InQuira will standardize APIs to make connection to CRM solutions non-vendor specific, allowing the continuation of InQuira/SAP and InQuira/Genesys product combinations.
- InQuira will work on an "InQuira-lite" solution targeted for the mid-market.
These plans give Oracle a competitive edge in the knowledge management space against Microsoft Dynamics, SalesForce and RightNow. However, InQuira is a best-in-breed knowledge management solution – which means that it is very flexible but is very heavy to implement and maintain. Not all customers want or need this type or complexity of knowledge. The challenge will be to streamline their solution without losing functionality to better fit the mid-market and enterprise customers having simple knowledge needs. We are excited about this acquisition and hope that Oracle is able to quickly integrate their CRM and knowledge management capabilities in a timeframe that supports customer expectations.