If you're going to kick off a conference these days - that is, when the economy is tanking and people are wondering if the doom-and-gloom is headed for the tech sector - it's probably best to give folks something to buzz about.
At Oracle OpenWorld, company president Charles Phillips introduced Beehive. The built-from-the-ground-up open software is a multi-layered collaboration tool that not only allows users to more easily share documents, audio files, PDFs, emails, IM chats and more. This software is integrated with some of the most common clients and back-end technologies , allowing a Linux user and Windows user or an Outlook user and an Apple Mail user, for example, to seamlessly interact with one another.
But I'm a bit leery about getting excited over Beehive, largely because I just saw a bunch of different Web-based collaboration products showcased at the Office 2.0 conference a few weeks ago. Maybe there are some cool features that I missed or that couldn't be highlighted from a stage in front of thousands of onlookers.
Just last week, Oracle held a relatively upbeat earnings call with analysts, where executives noted that Oracle’s products remain critical to business-as-usual and that businesses - despite the challenges they may face in the aftermath of Wall Street’s problems - must keep doing what they’re doing. That's true - and no where was it more evident than the opening keynote to Oracle OpenWorld, as Phillips highlighted all of the products, as well as a few upgrades, some R&D spending and strategic acquisitions that the company has invested in to enhance their offerings for different business sectors. This week, the company announced tools designed specifically for the insurance and health sciences sectors. That was news - real news - during this keynote. And yet, I've already spent more time highlighting it than Phillips did on stage.
What this opening keynote - but hopefully not the show itself - was lacking was anything to really get excited about. The first 30 minutes or so of the speech focused on what Oracle has done in the past, how it's used its strategy of acquisitions and R&D spending to expand its offerings of enterprise software. It was more like Oracle 101 - for those who have never heard of the company.
I didn't catch anything in the speech that would generate any real excitement. Maybe that's why Phillips welcomed Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps to the stage. It was cool to see the scruffy-faced Phelps but what was he doing there? The only thing he really told us was that he eats, sleeps and swims all day. I kind of already figured that's what his day was like but I didn't expect to have it confirmed at Oracle OpenWorld. Phelps did generate some applause from the audience, though. It's a good thing - this kickoff event needed something for attendees to cheer about.