Oracle Launches Data-Services Unit

Company Aims to Compete With Salesforce, Microsoft and Others in Race to Connect Data Dots

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Omar Tawakol
Omar Tawakol

Oracle wants to connect all of our digital identifiers -- from our Twitter handles to our email addresses and review logins -- and the mission is core to a new-business unit within the firm. Oracle Data Cloud combines Oracle acquisitions including digital cookie data firm BlueKai with elements of other marketing-services companies purchased in recent years including Responsys, Eloqua and social firms Collective Intellect and Involver.

Its new offerings make BlueKai's third-party ad data, proprietary internal information and social data accessible through a client's technology of choice. The launch signifies Oracle's ongoing aim to popularize the concept of "Data as a Service" or DaaS, a play on the SaaS or Software as a Service acronym.

The idea is for clients to configure and access data sets as needed using the cloud-based applications they already use. The service and related data will be sold by subscription or through a pay-per-use model.

In its ongoing battles with competitors such as Salesforce, Microsoft and newer entries into the marketing services space like Acxiom, Oracle intends for its data services to be used by a variety of groups within a business enterprise. Customer service staff might access social data "and notice there's a trending topic about them for one of their products," then they might "respond and let them know how they use it," said Omar Tawakol, general manager and group VP, Oracle Data Cloud. Mr. Tawakol was previously CEO of BlueKai, which was acquired by Oracle in February.

Another use: Clients might search for and analyze discussion themes bubbling up in internal company chat logs. Or, people on the marketing team might tap BlueKai cookies to help target digital ad campaigns.

The BlueKai cookies are a linchpin for the other disparate data points associated with people, but otherwise disconnected in a variety of databases. Many of those data points enhancing user profiles were derived through social handles obtained by Oracle through social-media acquisitions Collective Intellect and Involver. Now the company is attempting to join all of the information through what it calls "an identity map."

"Building this I.D. map is super interesting and very hard and actually takes years," said Mr. Tawakol. "This is a race that's going to happen for many years."

Following the revelations of National Security Agency surveillance last year, U.S. firms providing cloud-data storage services have experienced backlash from overseas companies concerned that the U.S. government could spy on their data if they use U.S. data services. Mr. Tawakol said the NSA program has had limited impact on Oracle's business.

"I don't see a day-to-day impact; we do see a bit of confusion," he said. "It's a a bit ironic that the government response is…because government is now doing these things we have to now regulate industry."

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