Integration is tough mostly because of technical constraints.
“We don’t want to redo every product for every app,” he said. “If there’s a new product or optimization, now we can push that out to the entire fleet.”
Integrating tech from different vendors is a sizable project. It’s like overhauling a train station without affecting everyday transit, said Ron Corbisier, CEO of the tech and data services shop Relationship One, one of the rare Oracle partners that works across the entire marketing cloud.
Functionally, seamless integration benefits clients, partners and Oracle itself. But it does lead to some occasionally annoying side effects – like more aggressive upselling. (“We’re approaching this with the view that marketers moving forward will buy as much as they can from as few providers as they can,” Hurd said.)
The insurance provider Prudential Financial recently started working with Eloqua, Oracle’s core B2B service, and the web and app personalization product Maxymiser, which Oracle acquired last year. That’s plenty to digest for the time being, said Dan Freeman, a strategist with Prudential’s marketing and automation group, but it’s already clear Oracle’s intentions are to get his team to test – and adopt – other components of its cloud.
For partners, Oracle’s constant bolting-on of new functionality requires a greater commitment as well.
For instance, the performance marketing and automation firm LookBookHQ, an Oracle partner, now regularly shares detail on its internal product road map with Oracle.
“I don’t want to build something if Oracle is going to introduce a use case solution themselves in the next quarter, and I want to make sure the products I do build will be complementary to theirs,” said LookBookHQ co-founder and CMO Nick Edouard.
There’s also a question of how Oracle – and other marketing clouds – values its tech partners. A lot of the partners that fill in Oracle’s partner ecosystem aren’t so much revenue generators as they are elements that add functionality.
The startup Directly, which sources customer service tech, has apps that plug into both Oracle and Salesforce, but the revenue it generates for Oracle is a big goose egg, and is fractional to the point of meaninglessness at Salesforce (which takes a small cut of third-party partner revenue).
“What these clouds want is to curate service variety and fill in any use case gaps, which makes it functionally impossible to leave,” said Directly CEO Antony Brydon.
He compared the approach to how a bank will try to diversify customers across checking accounts, employer deposits, finance apps, savings and investment accounts, with the goal not of drawing significant revenue from each, but of making the bank inextricable for the user.
Of course, marketing tech is just one facet of Oracle, which drives more revenue from its businesses providing ERP and CRM solutions. Oracle’s goal – like its archrival Salesforce – is to combine the stacks that service different disciplines within a large company.
When it comes to uniting these different stacks, there is still work to do, as customers, partners and Oracle product leaders all point toward an ongoing need for integration within Oracle’s clouds.
But Hurd is optimistic about the prospects of cross-cloud collaboration. “We used to be different platforms, built on different code, but now having a core code and the ability to immediately integrate is crucial.”