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Oracle Buys Collective Intellect in Cloudy Social CRM Play

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Posted June 5, 2012 By Pedro Hernandez     Feedback

Oracle makes social CRM waves of its own a day after the blockbuster Salesforce-Buddy Media deal.

Oracle revealed today that it is acquiring Boulder, Colo.-based Collective Intellect, a cloud-based provider of social intelligence services, for an undisclosed amount. It's a sure-fire sign that the social CRM market is hot and getting hotter as businesses seek solutions that help them incorporate social media into their marketing outreach, customer service and sales activities.

The deal's timing also underscores the competitive maneuvering among software and services providers that's gripping the social CRM scene. In just the past few months, companies like Jive and Zoho have beefed up their offerings with social media features.

Yesterday, the buzz hit fever pitch when Salesforce.com announced that it is acquiring Buddy Media for $689 million. During a conference call, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said that in snapping up the social media marketing specialist, "We're doubling down on the Salesforce marketing cloud."

Social CRM is becoming a opportunity that's increasingly hard to ignore, with companies like Salesforce willing to pay big to stay -- or get-- in the game. "We absolutely believe that Buddy Media coupled with our incredible acquisition last year of Radian6 will help us capture more of this fast growing market and accelerate our growth," Benioff said.

Today, by announcing a social CRM deal of its own, Oracle adds fuel to the sometimes contentious cloud rivalry it shares with Salesforce.

Silencing Social CRM Noise with Collective Intellect

A key component of Collective Intellect's social CRM platform is CI-Insight, a real-time semantic and text mining technology that powers the firm's cloud-based social media analytics capabilities. To date, the firm has attracted a number of big-name brands across a diverse range of industries, including Verizon Wireless, Walmart, Unilever and Lucasfilm.

Highlighting the growing importance of Big Data analytics, Collective Intellect says that its technology is capable of processing large volumes of unstructured data, including social media feeds from Facebook and Twitter, customer surveys and kinds of text-based content, to glean insightful information and help steer business and marketing decisions in profitable directions. According to the company, its proprietary analytics engine “instantaneously sifts through and analyzes millions of consumer conversations occurring online every day."

Collective Intellect credits a form of statistical language modeling called Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) for its take on social intelligence gathering. The approach generates more accurate and context-aware insights than keyword search alternatives that are prone to noisy results, says the company.

It's this "clean signal," along with the company's CI:View visualization and CI:Learn research and reporting offerings, that drew Oracle's attention and funds. In a letter to customers and partners, Thomas Kurian, executive vice president of Oracle Development, listed the benefits of bringing Collective Intellect's platform into his company's cloud services ecosystem.

"By integrating Collective Intellect with Oracle's Software-as-a-Service products and Social Platform, Oracle will enable marketing organizations to create more targeted marketing campaigns; help customer service teams respond quickly to customer feedback on social media; generate targeted leads and opportunities for sales teams; and strengthen how companies build more effective brands using the Internet and social media," he wrote.

The companies expect the deal to close during the second half of the year. Both will operate independently until that day arrives, according to Oracle.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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