Oracle Acquires Thinking Machines

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Oracle Corp., Redwood Shores, CA, stepped into data mining with the announcement June 7 that it has acquired the assets of Thinking Machines Corp., Waltham, MA, a small-sized provider of advanced data mining software for predicting customer behavior. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.


Oracle will now have access to Darwin, Thinking Machines' flagship software, which analyzes large amounts of data on customer transaction and demographics, and enables financial services and telecommunications companies to target customers more accurately.


The acquisition will extend Oracle's data warehouse platform and business intelligence solution to include enterprise reporting, ad hoc query, advanced analysis and data mining software based on a common Internet platform. Darwin also will become a feature of Oracle's new customer relationship management offerings that were first introduced in April, which will facilitate the implementation of e-business solutions developed by Oracle customers. In addition, Oracle will receive rights to the domain names think.com and thinkingmachines.com.


"With the explosion of information on the Net, especially when it comes to targeted ads and the way you want to get information about customers, data-mining is essential," said Michael Howard, vice president of Oracle's data-warehousing business. "Darwin uses current information to predict customer behavior on your site and to understand what they are likely to do or not do."


Oracle will begin selling Darwin as a stand-alone product immediately and will integrate it into its products in coming quarters.


Last year, Paragren Technologies, Vienna, VA, a leading relationship marketing vendor, announced that Darwin would be included in the company's flagship One By One suite of marketing applications. While the partnership does not exist anymore, Paragren is pleased about the Oracle announcement because "most of our implementations are done on Oracle databases, and since the Thinking Machines' technology is going to be more tightly integrated with Oracle, it will serve our customers well," said Suzanne Porter-Kuchay, Paragren's director of marketing.


Oracle's announcement comes on the heels of software rival Microsoft Corp.'s announcement May 24 that it was planning to extend its OLE DB data access interfaces, providing software vendors with an open interface to integrate data mining tools and applications.


According to Microsoft, this shared data access interface will enable diverse data mining products to more easily exchange data and results, thereby making applications like campaign management and one-to-one marketing more easily accessible.


Oracle, however, is not concerned about Microsoft's announcement or it's entrance into the database marketing industry.


Howard said that while the Thinking Machines acquisition was announced last week, "we've been working with Thinking Machines in terms of what the future holds for data mining and collaboration with a database built on open standards for over a year," he said. "Microsoft was becoming very worried in terms of how far we were going, how fast we were moving into CRM, database marketing, and one-to-one marketing activities. It's more of a defensive posture on their part."
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