ATG could push out Oracle

Oracle Corp.’s decision to acquire Art Technology Group (ATG) Inc. will likely mean the newer e-commerce technology will take priority over Oracle’s older Siebele-commerce offering, which will eventually “quietly disappear”, according to an analyst.

Oracle already has an e-commerce offering, Siebel E-Commerce 8.1.1. Hearn expects the older Siebel technology to eventually take a back seat to the “fresher” ATG before quietly disappearing. “(ATG) will end up at the top of the pile and it will take precedence over anything that is Siebel related,” said Randy Hearn, senior research analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group Ltd.

“I don’t think the Siebel bit is really going to be any kind of player. It’s not going to stand in the way, that’s for sure,” he said.

Giving Siebel the ax is not a bad idea and, besides, customers shouldn’t be alarmed because Oracle will likely ensure that all systems are backward compatible, said Hearn. “Anybody sitting on that older Siebel will automatically be transitioned to the new world. And they’ll be better for it,” he said.

The Redwood Shores, Calif.-based company announced the $1-billion purchase on Tuesday. Oracle justified the purchase by citing the need for a unified technology platform given the increasing convergence of Web and traditional commerce channels. ATG’s technology platform, called Adaptive Scenario Engine, is all about providing a personalized customer experience throughout the entire buying process.

Oracle’s purchase places it in an even playing field with Microsoft Corp. and IBM Corp. now that it has the ability to offer systems that perform real-time transactions along a fully connected front to back end, said one analyst.

“Up till now, you could build all kinds of front ends but you’d never have that real-time transaction when somebody updated product information in the backend,” said Hearn.

“So it definitely gives that more personalized flavour to their systems.”

In the same arena, in May, Armonk, New York-based IBM said it would buy Sterling Commerce, a vendor of B2B e-commerce integration platforms, for $1.4 billion. (ATG’s focus has been largely business-to-consumer transactions.) Hearn said his first thought, after hearing Oracle bought ATG, was that it puts the three big players in an even playing field.

“Microsoft always had a lockdown in the unified world,” said Hearn. “They’ve got all the components in place. Whereas the other players haven’t had a complete solution from back end to front end.”

Some in the industry are expecting that the Oracle/ATG purchase will be a bumpy road given both companies’ different focuses. Oracle tends to target the IT organization whereas ATG’s focus is the business side. But Hearn disagrees, saying that besides the normal “bumps and bruises” of any integration, the customer’s needs will take priority over any cultural differences.

The plan is for the Cambridge, Mass.-based company’s employees to become part of Oracle, who said it will issue more information to customers about ATG’s product road map.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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