Standalone Knowledge Management Is Dead With Oracle's Announcement To Acquire InQuira

Its exciting news to see Oracle announce its intention to acquire InQuira. We have been waiting for this news for a long time. The reasons are multifold:

  • Today’s contact center ecosystem is complex, and comprised of multiple vendors who provide the critical software components. Read my blog post on what these critical software components are. Customers are looking for a simpler technology ecosystem to manage from both a systems perspective and a contractual perspective.
  • Suite solutions, available from unified communications (UC), CRM, and workforce optimization (WFO) vendors, are evolving and include comprehensive feature sets. These vendors have either built these capabilities out or acquired them via M&A activity. And we expect more M&A to happen.

Now to focus on knowledge:

  • Knowledge, accessible via web self-service or agent UIs, is a critical customer service component for industries fielding repetitive questions about policies, procedures, products, and solutions.
  • However, knowledge is most powerful when it’s delivered in a personalized, proactive way, contextualized to the customer’s persona and the issue at hand. This means that knowledge management solutions are much more powerful when deeply integrated with CRM systems.
  • CRM vendors understand the power of good knowledge, given the number of acquisitions (for example, + Instranet, KNOVA being folded into Consona, Kaidera + Servigistics) in this space and the lack of standalone knowledge management vendors.
  • InQuira was the last remaining enterprise-grade KM-only vendor left. InQuira has had partnerships with CRM vendors Oracle and SAP and UC vendor Genesys. It was only a matter of time before InQuira was picked up by one of these players.

What Oracle's plans are:

  • Oracle and InQuira already have out-of-the-box connectors for the following product combinations: Siebel-Inquira, Oracle CRM OnDemand-InQuira. They have plans to build out connectors to Fusion.
  • InQuira will continue to be developed and sold as a standalone product for customers only wishing to purchase a knowledgebase.
  • SAP and Genesys customers who have purchased InQuira will be fully supported. In the future, InQuira will standardize APIs to make connection to CRM solutions non-vendor specific, allowing the continuation of InQuira/SAP and InQuira/Genesys product combinations.
  • InQuira will work on an "InQuira-lite" solution targeted for the mid-market.

These plans give Oracle a competitive edge in the knowledge management space against Microsoft Dynamics, SalesForce and RightNow. However, InQuira is a best-in-breed knowledge management solution - which means that it is very flexible but is very heavy to implement and maintain. Not all customers want  or need this type or complexity of knowledge. The challenge will be to streamline their solution without losing functionality to better fit the mid-market and enterprise customers having simple knowledge needs. We are excited about this acquisition and hope that Oracle is able to quickly integrate their CRM and knowledge management capabilities in a timeframe that supports customer expectations.


Fatwire and Inquira

Oracle recently acquired Fatwire as well. While Inquira is good with procedures Alerts and FAQs, it does not play well with Dynamic WCM engines such as Fatwire. Also missing is the XML authoring/Management combined with the dynamic assembly of Manual type documents which Inquira needs to index or may be needed within Inquira as well as Fatwire.
Does Oracle plan to address these deficiencies and complete the integrated product set?

Standalone Knowledge Management is Alive and Well

I think the title of "Standalone Knowledge Management is Dead" misses the mark and really understates much of the exciting proven Knowledge Management products and ideas that are out in the market. I would say that Old Style Knowledge Management is what you are talking about. New approaches in Knowledge Management (i.e. new automated knowledge creation and maintenance paradigms, new search paradigms, new mobile knowledge automation, etc) are invigorating this space. In some ways acquisitions that you are referring to stifle any sort of innovation as products turn inwards to support their own CRM stacks. Knowledge Management will always be important and there is a constant energy in the Knowledge Management community to push this envelope. Forrester is on the pulse of these ideas and products and I am sure this will be reflected in future blogs and future analysis.