The pinnacle achievement of any software business is becoming a platform, to become so vital and widely adopted that other developers flock to develop on top of your system. The network effects, “free, outsourced” innovation and economic benefits that result are well known. The classic examples are Microsoft’s Windows, Apple’s AppStore, but even in the cloud companies like Facebook and Salesforce.com have had great success as platforms.
However becoming a platform requires an openness that does not come naturally to every business. It requires an investment in creating API’s and an embrace of external developers.
Thus once Oracle acquired Eloqua I wondered: how open will Eloqua be? Will Eloqua under Oracle actually embrace the open platform strategy that Steve Woods and Joe Payne had long advocated?
Well the answer came last week at Eloqua Experience and it came loud and clear. I was overwhelmingly impressed by Eloqua’s commitment to their open platform. In fact it was abundantly clear that they are significantly increasing their commitment to an open cloud architecture.
They had an entire session track dedicated to application partners. In addition to Eloqua’s famous Markie awards for customers, they gave awards to App Partners (see photo of Steve Woods and me accepting Kapost’s Runner-Up for App Partner of the Year award). John Stetic, Eloqua’s new CTO, emphasized the importance of the platform again and again in his keynote.
But more impressive than the outwards signs was the real action that they’re taking. They had a special session for App Partners in which they discussed their Platform roadmap, including a whole set of new powerful functionality for their upcoming Winter release. And some of Eloqua’s best technical talent–including Egan Cheung, TJ Fields Umair Akeel, and Jeff Porter (well, Jeff isn’t er, um . . . isn’t so technical but he’s leading the business side of their Platform)–is moving into a new group dedicated solely to supporting external developers and building out their Platform API.
So far from my earlier skepticism, it is clear to me that Eloqua’s single biggest technology bet now is on being an open platform. To other marketing technology providers I would say: pay attention! We have had great success working with the Eloqua technical team historically and they are now more dedicated than ever to serving external developers. This is a great opportunity that all of us should take advantage of by developing upon their open architecture.
And to Eloqua and Oracle I say: Bravo! This is not what I necessarily expected, but it is certainly a great move for your success. As I said, becoming a platform is the most lucrative position a software company can occupy. And with your new, strong emphasis on your open platform, you’ve taken a great leap forward.