Oracle (Finally) Learning and Applying Its Own CRM

Oracle (Finally) Learning and Applying Its Own CRM
P.J. Jakovljevic - July 19, 2000

Event Summary

According to the company's press release in June, Oracle Corporation, a provider of database and software for business applications, announced Oracle Applications World, a premiere applications conference for Oracle E-Business Applications customers, partners and prospects. The first conference will be held from February 20-23, 2001 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Additionally, the first European Oracle Applications World conference will take place in the Spring of 2001.

Oracle Applications World will provide executives and users from customers, prospects, and partner organizations an innovative forum to discuss e-business strategies and how to best leverage the Oracle E-Business Suite to expand markets, strengthen relationships with customers and increase business efficiency. Oracle Applications World is expected to be the largest applications event in the company's history, with attendance likely to reach 12,000.

Oracle Chairman and CEO Lawrence Ellison will headline the conference event which will offer over 250 breakout sessions including product sessions on the E-Business Suite, where executives can learn about product functionality including specifics on customer relationship management, Internet procurement, supply chain, and B2B exchange platform solutions. Future directions for upcoming versions, vertical applications, support, education and partnerships will also be discussed. Industry thought leaders will host sessions addressing vertical industry content, directions and trends. Already more than 250 exhibitors have signed up to participate. Platinum sponsors of the conference are Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and Deloitte Consulting.

Oracle Applications World will also be available online. Broadcast on Oracle's E-Business Network, participants can attend the conference virtually. Select tracks and sessions will be broadcast on the E-Business Network Business channel, and keynotes will be available through streaming video on the Webstyle channel.

"We are extremely excited to be hosting our own world-class applications event," said Mark Jarvis, senior vice president, Oracle Worldwide Marketing. "Oracle Applications World will give the public and our customers a chance to meet with us directly to discuss and share information about our E-Business Suite and implementation experiences. Oracle's own success in reaching the goal to save a billion dollars by using our own e-business software helps us understand what our customers need as they transition into e-businesses."

The agenda for the first Oracle Applications World event is expected to include: keynote presentations from top Oracle Applications executives including, Ron Wohl, executive vice president, Oracle Applications, and Mark Barrenechea, senior vice president, Oracle CRM Products division, other leading industry visionaries; sessions on new Oracle products and a window to the latest e-business trends; education and technical presentations from Oracle experts; a comprehensive customer track providing real world know-how from current Oracle customers; high-value courses presented by Oracle University; over 150 product demonstrations staffed by Oracle and industry experts; and over 200 of Oracle's most strategic partners demonstrating the latest in e-business innovations.

Market Impact

It is amazing how much has changed in Oracle's applications business during the last two years. Oracle is indisputably the most reformed applications vendor, having achieved significant growth in total revenue, license revenue and net income during the above-mentioned period. Oracle has recently been addressing past issues like improvement of relationships with its systems integration and technology partners, some of whom remain wary and at arm's length owing to Oracle's direct competition with them. That the latest Oracle earnings showed only a modest increase in its consulting revenue might be an indication of Oracle's fairer treatment of its consulting partners.

Oracle's strained relationship with its customers and independent user group (OAUG) has also been publicized in the past. Oracle's move to host its own user conference is a logical, evolutionary move. While it initially regarded its applications business only as an ancillary diversification to its main database business, its deals have often been sealed owing to its energetic, testosterone-charged sales force. Many customers have afterwards felt somewhat deceived and left on their own after a 'one-implementation stand' experience. OAUG was formed as a self-protective move by users. Times have drastically changed, and applications are now the driving force of the company's business. At the same time, Oracle has relied significantly less on its direct sales force, since customers can purchase its products through a number of additional channels, including the Internet.

Being an aspirant for the applications market throne without being in control of its users association would be a daunting undertaking. The company that claims to be the leader in the CRM market would be hard pressed to explain how it does not listen more closely to its customers' voices.

User Recommendations

All involved parties seem to be winners in this case. However, those who stand to benefit the most from this announcement are existing Oracle customers. They should now have the opportunity to attend three annual U.S. conferences and at least two European ones. For users, the new conference means more possibilities to gain knowledge about Oracle and its partners' offerings. The OAUG conferences provide invaluable, independent forums for users to discuss issues and share experiences with peers. The Oracle-run conference will give them an additional opportunity to see products, hear company vision, and talk to Oracle partners.

Oracle, on the other hand will be given the opportunity to finally show a strong commitment to its large customer base and form a firm bond with them. Moreover, one should not forget about the opportunity of attracting new, potential users. To that end, online conference proceedings availability may prove to be a very bright and considerate idea. We advise anybody with an interest in Oracle's products and/or in the business applications market in general, to make use of this inexpensive education opportunity.

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