Oracle making new push into social services software

It's hoping to steal market share from rivals like SAP

Oracle has its heart set on dominating the social services software market, in which its rival SAP has historically had a strong hand.

An Oracle webcast showcasing an upcoming social services application is scheduled for March 3. In a sign of the new product's strategic significance, Oracle President Charles Phillips will be presenting along with Anthony Lye, senior vice president of CRM (customer relationship management).

Social services software falls under the rubric of "case management" applications, which help agencies administer programs such as worker's compensation, food stamps, children's services and unemployment benefits.

"Case management is a big market," said Ray Wang, partner with the analyst firm Altimeter Group, via e-mail. "Oracle's going after the best-of-breed vendors such as Cúram, who's made good inroads in North America. Cúram has typically partnered with IBM and SAP." Oracle and Hewlett-Packard are also listed as Cúram partners.

"There's a lot of opportunity for state and local governments to invest in these solutions," Wang added. "While fraud prevention is a main factor, the other one is being more efficient with government spending and delivery of key social programs."

Oracle's upcoming product launch is just its latest attempt at dominating the market, as it has sold case management suites since at least 2004.

It has bolstered its portfolio through acquisitions as well. In 2008, Oracle purchased Haley, maker of software that social services agencies and other industries can use to embed legislation and policies as automated rules within applications.

Oracle also made a deal in January with consulting firm Accenture that will see the companies work on specialized case management packages, such as one Accenture has developed for child welfare agencies.

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