Cool Consolidation 1: Oracle Acquires Tacit Software

Economic downturns always lead to an uptick in technology mergers and acquisitions.  Small companies struggling to stay afloat as deals begin to dry up suddenly look very attractive to large vendors hoping to add some cool, innovative capabilities to their often moribund suites.

I’ve written before about the need for better internal collaboration tools.  The customer community vendors don’t want to sell to internal communities because they can’t make enough money with their page-view pricing models.  And even if companies have invested in building or buying a good internal collaboration platform, they struggle to identify experts on a topic across a huge global workforce.  The hole in most collaboration platforms has been expertise management:  how to instantly identify who the expert is on any given topic. Once that is accomplished, inviting them to join an online collaboration is easy.

I was very pleased to read earlier this week that Oracle had acquired Tacit Software, the only specialist I’ve run across for expertise management.  Oracle will be incorporating Tacit’s expertise management into their Beehive enterprise collaboration platform.  So how does this work?  Tacit’s ActiveNet analyzes content across the enterprise (project/product documents, discussion forums, email, internal chat/IM, etc.) to create a matrix of who knows what about a concept. When you need an expert on a given subject, not only does it give you a pick list of those in the know, it guides you to *what* they know about the topic so you can pick the right person.

As more and more content sources within an enterprise become indexible and searchable, the accuracy of expertise management will become more granular.  And as worforces become more remote and distributed, tools like this will become critical for all large enterprises.

David Gilmour, founder, president and CEO of Tacit Software,  was also co-founder and senior vice president and chief research officer for Giga Information Group–my former employer.  He is a brilliant man, and I suspect he was strategically ahead of the game when he founded Tacit in 1997.  I’ll be very interested in his next adventure.

I know we are already seeing a lot of acquisition activity, and it will only increase in 2009.  I plan to write about deals that emphasize an existing trend, or seem to indicate an emerging trend.  If you see any cool acquisitions or mergers impacting service and support, add a comment or shoot me an email.  And as always, thanks for reading!

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