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Just look at what’s happening at Redwood City, Calif.-based Oracle. Over the past month we have noted the increasing pace of the company’s move to offer its products and services through the cloud along with a bunch of new, or deepened partnerships. We have had, for example, integration of Microsoft Office 365 with Oracle Aconex, we had Oracle and Deloitte Digital partnering to deliver Oracle's Customer Data Platform (CDP) capabilities, while earlier in the summer we had  Microsoft and Oracle announcing a cloud interoperability partnership across Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud. And these are just the announcements we have been watching.

So when Oracle announced at OpenWorld this week it was partnering with Box we thought — well, hey, why not? As long as it makes the digital workplace easier to work in and navigate. And that’s exactly what the new collaboration — which is the way the deal is being described — aims to do. The bottom line is it will allow customers to connect their cloud and on-premises Oracle and third-party applications with Box via Oracle Integration.

If you haven’t come across it before, Oracle Integration is a service that offers a bunch of adapters and automation process examples, powered by machine learning to eliminate barriers between business applications. The result for workers is that they can connect applications together with Box as their unified cloud content management layer to enable secure collaboration and workflows around their most valuable content in the cloud. 

Organizations will now also be able to simplify and standardize line-of-business processes with Oracle and Box.

So what apps are we talking about? According to Oracle, the partnership includes Oracle ERP Cloud, Oracle Engagement Cloud, Oracle Marketing Cloud, Oracle E-Business Suite, Siebel, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards — and many non-Oracle applications, including Salesforce, ServiceNow, and SAP.

There was a lot more at OpenWorld, of course, and we’ll be sifting through it soon, but one other point to note is that three years after Oracle bought NetSuite the SaaS business is moving onto Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). NetSuite was founded in 1998 and provides software and services to manage business finances, operations, and customer relations. Its software and services are tailored for small and medium-sized businesses with modules for ERP, CRM, PSA and e-commerce. Oracle bought it for approximately $9.3 billion in November 2016.

Email Is Thriving As Business Tool

Email and the ongoing debate as to its effectiveness just won’t go away. The fact that email is now over 40-years-old should really answer the critics that say social networks like Slack will ultimately replace it. Research from San Jose, Calif. and Bangalore, India-based Hiver, is just adding fuel to the (sometimes heated) discussion by showing that the predicted steady decline and eventual death of email as an effective business communications tool has been largely exaggerated.

In fact, the State of Email report (registration required) shows that the daily company email influx went up by 13 percent over a one-year period. It also showed that in 2017, employees read 75 percent of the emails they received, but one year later that number was down to 60 percent, suggesting that people are becoming more discerning about the emails they read. Of the 60 percent of emails that employees do read, they only reply to one out of every 10 messages.

The findings are based on data processed from over 300,000 email threads and 4.7 million emails of organizations that use Hiver as a collaboration platform. This data was observed over two time periods: November 1-November 7, 2017 and November 1-November 30, 2018.

However, there are still a number of problems with email. According to the research, it is showing its age and requires significant changes to maintain its position in the market. There are a couple of things that are causing problems — or irritation and impacting on "open" rates:

1. Use of CC and Forward Email Functions

The email practice of copying or cc’ing has become standard in just about every message, for reasons ranging from keeping people updated on specific projects, to accounting for their work with their managers to establish a paper trail should there be future confusion or disagreements.

This practice is increasing the amount of overall email traffic by 10 percent, but when people are cc’d on emails, they reply only to one of every four messages, a drop of 25 percent in 12 months. In addition, the emails that were opened decreased by 10 percent.

2. Forwarding emails

Forwarding is also a common email practice and something that is also causing workers to ignore emails. Employees often use the forward function as a way to share information as well as delegate tasks to team members. However, according to the report, 13 percent of the total emails that employees receive are forwarded to them. Between 2017 and 2018, the number of forwarded emails that people read went down by 11 percent, and employees only responded to one in five of these emails, down by a staggering 31 percent.

Of course if you looked, you would probably find other recent research that predicts the demise of email sooner rather than later as social networks rise. Really, though, is there any point in more research?

Email is not disappearing and social networks — or collaboration hubs — have found their place. What is interesting about this research is not that it predicts the demise of anything, but that it suggests that for better use of email, users need to better understand why, or why not, people are opening what you send them. It also suggests that email needs a makeover, which probably explains why both Google and Microsoft spend a lot of time and effort revamping Gmail and Outlook respectively.

Vid Social Video Platform Turns To Blockchain

Meanwhile, Los Angeles-based Vid, a social video platform scheduled to launch publicly later this year, recently announced a strategic investment from Shanghai-based Ontology, a high-performance public blockchain. As part of the deal, Vid will use Ontology’s blockchain technology to enable app users to monetize their content through the VID token.

In spite of all the Facebook privacy issues, Vid has made recent headlines for addressing privacy breaches and antitrust threats by using blockchain technology.

The video-based social media app will afford users complete control of their data while also allowing them to monetize their memories, earning 100 percent of any advertising they choose to enable.

When asked about the strategic investment, Li Jun, founder of Ontology said: “Vid’s vision, which is giving the ultimate control of data back to its users, fits well with ONT ID, our decentralized identity. With its video application and growing user base, Vid can also help us reach more users.” Ontology made their investment and partnership public following NGC Ventures public investment in Vid just a few weeks ago.

Nuxeo Upgrades Insight Cloud

Elsewhere, one that slipped under the radar during my vacation, New York-based  Nuxeo has added muscle to its recently launched AI service (Nuxeo Insight Cloud) with the additional of three new connectors to third-party tools, including:

  • Adobe Creative Cloud: Enhances browsing by providing full-text search against all asset properties and related objects
  • Aspera Connector: Accelerates file transfers by enabling use of Aspera
  • Nuxeo Sitecore Connector: Provides access to Nuxeo from within the Sitecore web content management environment

If you aren't familiar, Nuxeo Insight Cloud is a self-service AI tool that enables companies to create and train AI models using their own business-specific data — delivering more accurate and relevant results when compared to public AI services that rely on generic data (e.g. Google Vision & Amazon Rekognition).

French State Throws $5.5 Billion at Digital Start-ups

Finally this week, for European tech companies, if you really want to go big you have to go to the US. In France, this has been a major problem for some years now. However, with the election of Emmanuel Macron as president in 2017 and the appointment of a new minister for digital affairs, things started to change. This week, Macron made another major concession to French tech companies.  He announced $5.5 billion of tech investments over the next three years.

The funds, pledged by banks, insurers and other big investors, include two billion euros earmarked for "late stage" projects requiring significant amounts usually out of reach to burgeoning EU firms.

The problem in Europe at the moment is that after getting an idea off the ground, firms often struggle to find the larger amounts of money needed to propel a business into the big leagues.

US laws also make it easier to give employees stock options, an attractive tool for young firms that are ramping up operations.

Macron said of the fund when he announced it that it is his ambition is to see 25 "unicorns" — firms valued at more than $1 billion ahead of expected share offerings — by 2025.