CraigleclairBy Craig LeClair

On June 24, 2008, Oracle announced its intent to purchase Skywire Software. This potential acquisition has three very strong positives:

Skywire enhances Oracle's ECM offering. Skywire Software has a document output management arsenal that includes Whitehill Technologies (InSystems) and Docucorp International, both of which the company acquired in 2007. Skywire's customer communication solution fills gaps and creates opportunities in Oracle's overall ECM suite. Universal Content Manager and Imaging and Process Manager can now provide complete structured solutions — built for statements and bills for the print channel, and interactive output management — creating direct marketing material, or collaboration and workflow for creating enrollment kits. In addition, pain points in customer communication can be addressed more broadly when Skywire's DOM solution is combined with Oracle's web content management products to provide a more complete multi-channel solution.

The acquisition enhances Oracle's reach into the insurance vertical. Oracle continues to expand its insurance industry assets. Insurance has always been a bit IBM-heavy on the software side — perhaps reflecting thier conservative disposition — so Oracle's collection of insurance assets makes perfect sense. Most of Skywire Software's DOM customers (1,400 of 2,000) are in insurance, and most others are in financial services. So even before any synergy with Oracle's Global Insurance business unit, Skywire provides document automation for more than 60 policy and administrative systems. The Whitehill product provides strength in Group Health and Life insurance, while the products acquired from Docucorp offer strong Property and Casualty solutions.

When Skywire is viewed in the context of Oracle's Global Insurance assets — incuding AdminServer, a licensed software suite for policy and administration — the combination will be a formidable competitor to other DOM solutions in one of the strongest verticals. Over time, we expect Oracle to provide process integration packs within their Application Integration Architecture, leveraging Fusion Middleware and BPEL Process Manager — a compelling solution for the insurance industry.

This makes sense for Oracle as a good defensive move. We have seen HP purchase Exstream Software and EMC purchase Document Sciences, so I will go out on the analyst limb and declare the ECM/DOM consolidation trend valid. Oracle picked up the strongest remaining DOM provider. Good move.

Other nice things include Skywire's Tracker insurance-compliance product that merges rating data with underwriting document production. The DOM products provide good coverage in insurance.

The acquisition is a real boost to Skywire as well. Oracle's R&D budget and experience in unifying software application will be a plus, as their diverse platforms will create road map and unification challenges. And any worries of having needed ECM support are now gone, as the suite can leverage UCM. This acquisition is all good news for Oracle and Skywire.