Oracle buys Collective Intellect for 'social intelligence' tools

The move is just the latest instance of the rivalry between Oracle and Salesforce.com

Oracle announced Tuesday that it has agreed to buy "social intelligence" vendor Collective Intellect, which has technologies that allow companies to track and analyze the conversations their customers are having on social media websites.

Terms of the deal, which is expected to close in the second half of this year, were not disclosed.

Collective Intellect's platform includes a semantic analytics engine that derives insights from "tens of millions of conversations daily, transforming social conversations into actionable intelligence," according to an FAQ document on the acquisition.

The Boulder, Colorado, company was founded in 2005 and counts CNBC, Viacom Media Networks and General Mills among its customers.

This is the second social media-related acquisition for Oracle within the past month, coming shortly after the purchase of Vitrue, a maker of tools for running marketing campaigns through social media. Combined, the Vitrue and Collective Intellect technologies will create the industry's "most advanced and comprehensive social relationship platform," Oracle said in a statement.

Tuesday's announcement is also the latest development in the rivalry between Oracle and cloud-based CRM (customer relationship management) vendor Salesforce.com. The latter company has for some time reoriented its marketing messages and product strategy around social media, both in terms of directly tapping the social Web, and creating user interfaces and tools that reflect the social mindset.

Salesforce.com on Monday announced the purchase of Buddy Media, a Vitrue competitor, in a stock and cash deal worth US$689 million. While that could be seen as a response to Oracle's Vitrue deal, the same could be said of Oracle's decision to buy Collective Intellect, which offers capabilities similar to Radian6, a company Salesforce.com acquired last year.

Both Radian6 and Collective Intellect fall into a software category dubbed "listening platforms." These technologies have rapidly gained currency along with the explosion in social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, providing a means for companies to determine the likes and dislikes of customers as well as to respond quickly to perceived problems and gripes, which can spread like wildfire through social feeds and content-sharing.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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