Oracle Gets Social

August 7th, 2007 52 Comments

Here on the AppsLab team we have always been big believers in the power of people as a design point in applications. My personal background is in the portal space, and for years we preached people-centric. In those days, it meant a user had a configurable homepage with all the content they cared about in a single place. It seemed to work well in the consumer space (see MyYahoo), but never quite had a foothold in the enterprise. I am not saying that the homepage wasn’t sold to the enterprise; I am saying it wasn’t used in the enterprise. Most everyone I knew still went to their MyYahoo page. Something was amiss.

Here we are a few years later and it took sites like MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIN and others to show us where we went wrong. The key difference with social sites is that they focus on the connection of people to people. Early portals worried about people connecting to things. People, it seems, are much more interested in other human beings.

In AppsLab we decided to test our belief that there is a real role for social software behind the firewall. Think about it, what are companies if nothing more than the accumulation of talented people?

As we set off on this path we realized that like most of our readers we all had LinkedIN accounts, Facebook profiles, and more. As we began exploring these sites, it became clear that no matter how many people signed up, there were very few who actually used the sites for anything meaningful. In fact, more and more I’d find myself checking my Facebook account just for the ego trip of seeing who “friended” me. After the usual let down (0 friend requests again!), I’d logout and head back home… to my email inbox of course.

So why is it that millions and millions of people can find so much value in these sites, yet for those of us working for the man, we find social sites to be just an interesting experiment rather than an integral part of our daily lives. If you asked the average MySpacer, I can guarantee you that MySpace has become central to them. Their life is on MySpace – you can tell by the fact that the average user stays on the site 27 minutes a day.

So why does this work for MySpace? The simple reason is that they have what their users care about. Behind the firewall however, photos and music don’t go very far. Given our unique position in enterprise software, we like to think we are well poised to provide what business users are actually interested in.

So we set out on this path to understand social networking behind the firewall. Last Friday we launched our first social application. It was a basic directory application with employee names, titles, emails and phone numbers. That’s about it. Rich built it in just a few weeks. The only differentiating feature from our current corporate directory, was that we allowed employees to request other employees to “join their network”.

To “launch” our Alpha, I sent an email to a group of a few hundred people inside Oracle. In the first hour of operation we went from 3 users (Jake, Rich, and I) to over 270 users. After 10hrs we were nearing 2,000 users and today we hit 10,000. Just over 1/7th of the entire company in under 3 business days. No marketing. No master plan. This was an experiment, remember. We were dumbstruck.

I don’t think any of us slept the first night. Our thoughts were racing and they continue to race to this day. Throughout it all, we were wondering if our little app was actually going to hold up. Amazingly, no major issues yet and we are going strong thanks to Rich’s fast hands and Jake diligently answering all those emails from users with shouts of encouragement, feature requests, and the occasional security question.

We’ll have much more information about this project and some lessons learned along the way in the future. For now, back to making social a reality at Oracle.


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52 Responses to “Oracle Gets Social”

  1. Oracle BI Publisher Blog Says:

    A little off subject today and not very technical either … but Im sure you need a break. I was reading the AppsLab blog this morning and Paul’s article spurred me into a very long comment; I then thought hey. 1. Im starting to write an essay here not a comment and 2. I have a blog, where I can make a comment and share it – you may not like it but thats blogging

  2. deal architect Says:

    socks and your middle name starts with Z. I found the guidelines here. I think we need a similar set of guidelines for Oracle and SAP as they share their excitement about the cool and hip stuff they are doing with Web 2.0, Second Life etc. Here’s Oracle’s Paul Pedrazzi on social apps behind the firewall at the vendor “To “launch” our Alpha, I sent an email to a group of a few hundred people inside Oracle. In the first hour of operation we went from 3 users (Jake, Rich, and I) to over 270 users. After 10hrs we

  3. isabel wang's blog Says:

    in the brave new world from those who don’t survive the tempest. Last week I put forth some suggestions for a customer social network. Peer 1’s Ning community got me thinking about how a vendor’s employees fit into the picture. I like the sounds of Oracle’s Connect, where each staff member maintains a profile. In addition, maybe people should have the ability to broadcast their expertise (be it accounts payable or MySQL performance tuning) via “how I can help” tags?

  4. Tuxedo Live Says:

    Граф) может быть более подходящим, чем таксономия “Semantic Web”. социальная сеть OpenSocial, HTML+JavaScript IM interopability for XMPP, AIM, MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning,Oracle, orkut, etc.. собрать ГГГ через XFN && FOAF, используя разметку на сайтах <link rel=”meta” type=”application/rdf+xml” title=”foaf”> XFN, hCard, OpenID

  5. Radiant Core: Dynamic Web Design and Development, Toronto Says:

    which means developers will have one fewer thing to learn. The platform is launching with a bunch of partners in place, including Orkut (owned by Google), Salesforce, LinkedIn, Ning, Hi5, Plaxo, Friendster (apparently they still exist), Viadeo andOracle(not well known for social networking, but they’ve got an impressive sounding internal app). They’ve also worked with some of the bigger Facebook developers to get them on the new platform, including

  6. TechMacro :: Syndication of Daily Technology, Design and SEO News Says:

    on Facebook, but for our co-workers on the terrible ‘knowledge management’ system the company installed? Not so much. But the space is hotting up. BEA Systems launched a social network for enterprise platform recently and Oracle’s AppsLabis working on a social networkinternally. But much of the intelligence in the system requires employees to so the heavy lifting, which is boring. (more…)

  7. VCsAndAngels Says:

    on Facebook, but for our co-workers on the terrible ‘knowledge management’ system the company installed? Not so much. But the space is hotting up. BEA Systems launched a social network for enterprise platform recently and Oracle’s AppsLabis working on a social networkinternally. But much of the intelligence in the system requires employees to so the heavy lifting, which is boring. So at Web 2 Expo this week, Trampoline Systems, the privately funded UK-based enterprise startup, launched its new Sonar Dashboard

  8. Torrent Search, Movie Torrents, Software Torrents, Game Torrents, Torrent Search, Torrent Downloads, Technology News, Technology - DistrictSource.com Says:

    on Facebook, but for our co-workers on the terrible ‘knowledge management’ system the company installed? Not so much. But the space is hotting up. BEA Systems launched a social network for enterprise platform recently and Oracle’s AppsLabis working on a social networkinternally. But much of the intelligence in the system requires employees to so the heavy lifting, which is boring. So at Web 2 Expo this week, Trampoline Systems, the privately funded UK-based enterprise startup, launched its new Sonar Dashboard

  9. Business News Research Says:

    ‘knowledge management’ system the company installed? Not so much. But the space is hotting up. BEA Systems launched a social network for enterprise platform recently and Oracle’s AppsLabis working on a social networkinternally. But much of the intelligence in the system requires employees to so the heavy lifting, which is boring. So at Web 2 Expo this week, Trampoline Systems, the UK-based enterprise startup, launched its new Sonar Dashboard tool

  10. The Ethos Challenge Says:

    on Facebook, but for our co-workers on the terrible ‘knowledge management’ system the company installed? Not so much. But the space is hotting up. BEA Systems launched a social network for enterprise platform recently and Oracle’s AppsLabis working on a social networkinternally. But much of the intelligence in the system requires employees to so the heavy lifting, which is boring. So at Web 2 Expo this week, Trampoline Systems, the privately funded UK-based enterprise startup, launched its new Sonar Dashboard

  11. Meg Says:

    Congratulations! We are all very excited to see your project succeed. Please be sure to post information about how you are collecting enhancement suggestions when you get that worked out.

  12. Meg Says:

    Congratulations! We are all very excited to see your project succeed. Please be sure to post information about how you are collecting enhancement suggestions when you get that worked out.

  13. Tim Says:

    Hey Paul
    I started a comment but it was turing into an essay so I blogged it instead – http://blogs.oracle.com/xmlpublisher/2007/08/08#a430
    Tim

  14. Tim Says:

    Hey Paul
    I started a comment but it was turing into an essay so I blogged it instead – http://blogs.oracle.com/xmlpublisher/2007/08/08#a430
    Tim

  15. Jake Says:

    Tim: Commented in your blog, dunno if it committed, grrr. So, your list and ours are very close. Keep checking back b/c we’re rolling new features every day, e.g. picture upload went live today. Rich did that before he went hacking.
    Jake

  16. Jake Says:

    Tim: Commented in your blog, dunno if it committed, grrr. So, your list and ours are very close. Keep checking back b/c we’re rolling new features every day, e.g. picture upload went live today. Rich did that before he went hacking.
    Jake

  17. » The social network penny drops at Oracle | Irregular Enterprise | ZDNet.com Says:

    […] they are building something behind the firewall from scratch. It launched on August 2nd. From Paul Pedrazzi’s blog entry of August 7th: Last Friday we launched our first social application. It was a basic directory application with […]

  18. » Show me the Web 2.0 money | Irregular Enterprise | ZDNet.com Says:

    […] Vinnie Mirchandani went off on one of his periodical rants at SAP and Oracle, implying that recent examples of Web 2.0 services are little more than sops: You really think Oracle is ready to become […]

  19. r. lakshaman Says:

    help
    I have 4 sevice apartments in Jayanagar , Bangalore.
    Will the company rent them?!

  20. r. lakshaman Says:

    help
    I have 4 sevice apartments in Jayanagar , Bangalore.
    Will the company rent them?!

  21. Comments on: SAP gets Community –what’s up with Oracle? Says:

    […] might be interested in the Connect project we’re running right now. The initial post: http://theappslab.com/2007/08/07/oracle-gets-social/ And more after that. Dennis, Michael and Larry at ZDNet covered it, as did […]

  22. Dan Clamage Says:

    So what’s your social app called? How can us developers see it from the other side of the firewall? Can you see any reason why we should NOT be able to use it?

    A decade ago I had an interesting conversation with one of your engineers regarding making Designer available for download, to “jumpstart” the number of Designer-fluent developers. Then lo and behold, it magically appeared on OTN (if just for a couple of weeks). Now Oracle routinely makes all of it software free for the download. So you see, freely sharing ideas works.

    You get your best ideas from your customers. So let us inside your organization just a little bit. Make your employees visible to us as they are to each other.

  23. Dan Clamage Says:

    So what’s your social app called? How can us developers see it from the other side of the firewall? Can you see any reason why we should NOT be able to use it?

    A decade ago I had an interesting conversation with one of your engineers regarding making Designer available for download, to “jumpstart” the number of Designer-fluent developers. Then lo and behold, it magically appeared on OTN (if just for a couple of weeks). Now Oracle routinely makes all of it software free for the download. So you see, freely sharing ideas works.

    You get your best ideas from your customers. So let us inside your organization just a little bit. Make your employees visible to us as they are to each other.

  24. Paul Pedrazzi Says:

    Hi Dan,

    The sharing of ideas between customers and employees is hugely valuable and we do it today via many, many avenues (focus groups, online forums, customer support calls, etc).

    Now, are these systems as collaborative as I’d like? Of course not, but we know its required and it’s on our radar, so stay tuned.

    The truth is that sharing ideas does not require a completely open social directory. In fact, there are lots of reasons (legal, competitive, IT security, etc) not to put an employee directory on the web. I can’t name a single large (or small frankly) enterprise that does that today: GE, IBM, Bechtel, MSFT, ORCL, JP Morgan, etc, etc.

    It’s an interesting idea for sure, but given where the world is with the adoption of “2.0” I think the opening of everyone’s corporate hierarchy is a ways off.

    Thanks for the comments and pushing the envelope.

    Paul

  25. Paul Pedrazzi Says:

    Hi Dan,

    The sharing of ideas between customers and employees is hugely valuable and we do it today via many, many avenues (focus groups, online forums, customer support calls, etc).

    Now, are these systems as collaborative as I’d like? Of course not, but we know its required and it’s on our radar, so stay tuned.

    The truth is that sharing ideas does not require a completely open social directory. In fact, there are lots of reasons (legal, competitive, IT security, etc) not to put an employee directory on the web. I can’t name a single large (or small frankly) enterprise that does that today: GE, IBM, Bechtel, MSFT, ORCL, JP Morgan, etc, etc.

    It’s an interesting idea for sure, but given where the world is with the adoption of “2.0” I think the opening of everyone’s corporate hierarchy is a ways off.

    Thanks for the comments and pushing the envelope.

    Paul

  26. Solutions used in companies - Team Wormz Says:

    […] user will have an updatable homepage which they can be reached trough. Oracle (appslab subgroub) http://theappslab.com/2007/08/07/oracle-gets-social/ http://news.zdnet.com/2422-13568_22-163688.html Contains some thoughts around social networking in […]

  27. Venkatramana Reddy Says:

    Hey..Its great Idea !! Please go ahead!.

  28. Venkatramana Reddy Says:

    Hey..Its great Idea !! Please go ahead!.

  29. social web designer Says:

    oracle gets social. some intresting things are going on. I wonder the direction things are going to go if murdoch makes the talked about deal with yahoo for myspace.

  30. social web designer Says:

    oracle gets social. some intresting things are going on. I wonder the direction things are going to go if murdoch makes the talked about deal with yahoo for myspace.

  31. The Google Platform Launches Thursday? Nope! - The Unofficial Facebook Blog Says:

    […] Nick: Oracle does in fact have an internal social network, called Connect built by AppsLab. We first talked about it here: http://theappslab.com/2007/08/07/oracle-gets-social/ […]

  32. TechCrunch UK » Blog Archive » Trampoline’s Dashboard cracks the enterprise social network nut Says:

    […] BEA Systems launched a social network for enterprise platform recently and Oracle’s AppsLab is working on a social network internally. But much of the intelligence in the system requires users to tag things […]

  33. The Enterprise Social Network, Auto-Generated And Visually Mapped Says:

    […] BEA Systems launched a social network for enterprise platform recently and Oracle’s AppsLab is working on a social network internally. But much of the intelligence in the system requires employees to so the heavy lifting, […]

  34. The Enterprise Social Network, Auto-Generated And Visually Mapped « Tecno Week Says:

    […] up. BEA Systems launched a social network for enterprise platform recently and Oracle’s AppsLab is working on a social network internally. But much of the intelligence in the system requires employees to so the heavy lifting, […]

  35. TechCrunch Japanese アーカイブ » 企業向けSNSのTrampoline―ソーシャル・グラフ生成などサポート機能盛りだくさん Says:

    […] しかしこの分野も最近活気づいてきた。BEA Systemsはエンタープライズ向けSNSのプラットフォームをリリースしたし、OracleのAppsLabは部内向けSNSを開発している。しかしこういったシステムはたいていユーザーに過重な負担を強いるものが多く、うんざりさせられるのが常だった。。 […]

  36. Discover From Your Favorite Topic or Web Page: networking Says:

    […] From This Topic & Page:  [Discover] Oracle AppsLab » Oracle Gets Social http://theappslab.com/2007/08/07/oracle-gets-social/  [Discover] Trampoline Systems – Home […]

  37. The Pundit: » The Enterprise Social Network, Auto-Generated And Visually Mapped Says:

    […] BEA Systems launched a social network for enterprise platform recently and Oracle’s AppsLab is working on a social network internally. But much of the intelligence in the system requires employees to so the heavy lifting, […]

  38. www.ubraniaroxy.pl » Blog Archive » The Enterprise Social Network, Auto-Generated And Visually Mapped Says:

    […] BEA Systems launched a social network for enterprise platform recently and Oracle’s AppsLab is working on a social network internally. But much of the intelligence in the system requires employees to so the heavy lifting, […]

  39. MySpace Design Says:

    That's really funny… people just friggen love adding people to their “network”. The action has become an online carrot.

  40. Jake Says:

    Agreed, collecting friends/contacts is a big piece of the fun in any social network, for work or play.

  41. Social Network Web Design Says:

    More companies should look into the idea of hosting their own local social network, especially larger companies. Sitting in a cubicle all day doesn't promote human interaction, providing a place to meet people you already work with is a great concept. From a business perspective, it also allows for it to be moderated and controlled, which some users may not care for however.

  42. Jake Says:

    Agreed 100%, which is why we started this network and continue to improve it.

  43. Rick Sauter Says:

    Nice to have found this site and see what you all are doing in this area. Would be very interested in hearing more since the original post was a year and half ago. My company is actually planning a March webinar on “Building Employee Branding And Engagement With Internal Social Networks” Currently participating is the Mayo Clinic and EMC Corporation. Wondering if you might be interested in being involved and sharing your experiences and insight. Let me know via email and we can discuss. Thanks!!

  44. Jake Says:

    Hi there. Yeah, we've been working on Connect for a while now. I did a short history-nostalgic post when we launched our most recent redesign if you want more background. Will drop you an email.

  45. Adrea Says:

    Hi, what is the name of your company? I am interested in letting my boss know about this webinar… we are currently doing research on internal social networking. Thanks!
    adrea@ufl.edu

  46. Jake Says:

    Hi Adrea. I think you're looking for Communitelligence. They're having a webinar tomorrow that will cover what we (Oracle AppsLab) have done internally with social networking.

    I think you're looking for Rick Sauter over at Communitelligence.

  47. wollongong web design Says:

    I'm also interested with webinar, specially meeting up with persons like Lee Aase, Polly Pearson and other staffs of webinar, I'll keep an eye on this one.. thanks for the info..

  48. Cheryl H Says:

    Great article, very interesting read! Our business had found that by having an internal social network and an external custom social network both the employees and the business are benefitting. It has fostered a true sense of teamwork and collaboration and has increased productivity. From the companywide virtual bulletin boards to our private work groups sharing ideas and information had never been easier. Misplaced files and lost notes that could potentially hold up progress have now mostly been avoided. Our clients enjoy the custom social networking as well, it has improved customer retention and loyalty and greated increased response times to inquiries.

  49. Jake Says:

    Thanks. We're seeing the same wins from Connect and Mix. It's funny to look back to when this post was written and see how far social has come since then.

  50. Web Development Company Says:

    Great article, very interesting read! Our business had found that by having an internal social network and an external custom social network both the employees and the business are benefitting. It has fostered a true sense of teamwork and collaboration and has increased productivity. From the companywide virtual bulletin boards to our private work groups sharing ideas and information had never been easier. Misplaced files and lost notes that could potentially hold up progress have now mostly been avoided. Our clients enjoy the custom social networking as well, it has improved customer retention and loyalty and greated increased response times to inquiries.

  51. Jake Says:

    Thanks. We're seeing the same wins from Connect and Mix. It's funny to look back to when this post was written and see how far social has come since then.

  52. wordpress design Says:

    this is a great idea

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