Event Report: Day 1 At Oracle Open World 2013: The Quest For Innovation #oow13

Published on September 22, 2013 by R "Ray" Wang

Past Oracle Open Worlds Have Disappointed Customers and Partners

Let’s be frank.  The past five years at Oracle Open World have disappointed even the faithful.   The over emphasis on hardware marketing and revisionist history on cloud adoption bored audiences.  The $1M paid advertorial keynotes had people walking out on the presenters 15 minutes into the speech.  Larry Ellison’s insistence on re-educating the crowd on his points subsumed the announcements on Fusion apps.   Even the cab drivers found the audience tired, the show even more tiring.

Oracle went from hot innovative must attend event to has been while most industry watchers, analysts, and media identified shows such as Box’s BoxWorks, Salesforce.com’s DreamForce, and Exact Target’s Connections as the innovation conferences in the enterprise.  These events such as Constellation’s Connected Enterprise, capture not only the spirit of innovation but also provide customers a vision to work towards.  Hence, most believe Open World could use much needed rejuvenation and a shot of innovation juju (see Figure 1.)

Figure 1. Oracle Open World Lights Up San Francisco From September 22nd to September 27th

“Next Slide Please”: Oracle Enters A Period Of Reinvention At #OOW13

Walking through the event on Saturday (Day 0) and today (Day 1), one will notice a slight change in the spirit of the event. While half the base is die hard Oracle Red Stack customers (i.e. those who grew up from database to middleware to apps), the good news is the other half of the Oracle customers who came in through acquisition (i.e. or some say by accident) are present in larger numbers.  These customers by acquisition sought best of breed, took more risks, and fought in some cases not to be on the Oracle Red Stack.

For Oracle to win the innovation battle, the company must win over the mind share of the Oracle customers by acquisition.  In fact, these customers represent the early adopters representing market leaders and fast followers while the core Oracle Red Stack is more cautious adopters and laggards (see Figure 2).  Market leaders and fast followers have key components required for successful building blocks of corporate IT and often have line of business leaders that push the envelope.  Oracle must tap into that spirit in order to move its base forward towards innovation.

Figure 2. Organizational DNA Determines Pace And Appetite For Disruptive Tech Adoption

Open World 2013 Attempts To Change The Tenor Of Oracle’s Outward Conversation

In the spirit of innovation, attendees can expect six distinct mega themes to emerge from this uber event catering to 60,000 physical attendees and potentially 100,000 online.

  1. Customer experience. While the term CRM is loosely used to define many things.  Leaders realize that CRM is the technology.  Customer experience is the business process and journey maps.  Customer centricity is a state of mind that’s required of management and leaders. While customer experience is the new term du jour, all three elements (i.e. technology, business process, and people leadership) are required for success.  Front office is more descriptive than Tom Siebel’s legacy term of CRM.  Expect Oracle to showcase it’s Right Now and Eloqua acquisitions and make the case for why existing Siebel users and new customers in the CMO office should consider Oracle.  Those attempting to understand the State of Siebel (i.e. SOS), should read the latest form Constellation’s Bruce Daley.  As customer experience moves to the cloud, Elizabeth Herrell’s recent research should provide a good primer on why cloud enables channels in customer service.
  2. Internet of things. Edward Screven, Oracle’s chief corporate architect will deliver the inaugural push on how Oracle plays a growing role in machine to machine communications or what’s been described by GE as the industrial internet or by Cisco as the Internet of Things.  Constellation’s Joseph di A Paoloantonio has a good primer on what IOT is and a lot more on sensor and analytic ecosystems.
  3. Big data. Big data is about making decisions in the future not rehashing the past.  Oracle’s co-president Marc Hurd will deliver the keynote with Thomson Reuters and NYSE Euronext.  Given Oracle’s arsenal of solutions for analytics and real time decisions, attendees may want to think about how to build big data business models.  The path from data to decisions requires a good foundation of business and IT orchestration.  Marketers looking to tell a data driven story should explore the benefits of bigdata as Constellation’s Gavin Heaton points out.
  4. Fusion Apps with an emphasis on HCM. Oracle has not fared well in upgrading PeopleSoft customers or convincing customers to adopt Fusion HCM.  In about 50 end to end HCM deals in the past year, Constellation has seen Workday win about 40 deals, with SAP SuccessFactors with about 7, and Oracle with about 3.  Oracle must get customers on board and provide prospects with an end to end customer reference in order to show traction.  Expect Oracle to highlight those successes at the Sheraton Palace which is HCM/HR Central this year and attempt to convince the industry experts that this shift is happening.   Cloud buyers should also realize that there is more than software required as Constellation’s Frank Scavo notes.
  5. Flagship Oracle database 12c. Larry kicks off the event on Sunday highlighting Oracle Database 12c. Attendees can expect an attack on fake clouds and really confirmation of the end of multi-tenancy as we know it. Oracle’s innovations in pluggable databases have significant implications on the future of cloud delivery and the ability to address many requirements of highly regulated industries who have been hesitant to move to the cloud.  Expect Constellation’s Holger Mueller who covers IaaS and PaaS to dissect the hype from fact in the messaging.
  6. Oracle Social. The big tents in Union Square celebrating Oracle Social return.  Expect Group VP of Cloud Social,  Oracle’s Meg Bear to highlight how one can convert conversations to currency.  The pavillion is the edgiest of the main tents at Oracle Open World and expect Oracle to highlight where Vitrue and other Oracle CX products tie back to enabling social for humans and even in the M2M world.  This shift to purposeful collaboration as Alan Lepofsky talks about touches on not only Future of Work, but also Customer Experience.

While at the event, attendees should also test drive the new Oracle user experience. The new UI/UX puts a significant refresh to the legacy Oracle Swan UI/UX.  Expect a mobile first orientation and a platform for developers to take advantage of.  Oracle’s new investments in mobile and on the platform will soon pay off for customers and developers.

The Bottom Line: Oracle’s Attempting To Amp Up Its Mindshare And Time Will Tell

Attendees seek a vision from one of the great Sun Tzu Art of War masters.  Larry Ellison has effectively maneuvered Oracle through 30+ years of technology changes and mastered the mergers and acquisitions game.  Oracle has accomplished much by bringing down the cost of ownership for a stack of technologies for customers and serving as a stable and competent technology partner.  However, the market has changed. the business models have evolved, the buying power has shifted, and the innovation leaders now come from the startups.  Oracle can no longer just rely on maintenance revenues and acquisitions for growth.  For Oracle to remain relevant as an innovation thought leader, customers  and prospects need to know what Oracle’s vision is for the future and how their businesses can benefit.   If Oracle can successfully tell this story over the next 12 to 18 months and execute over the next 3 to 5 years, the company has a shot at remaining relevant in this emerging convergence of enterprise and consumer technology.  Should Oracle fail, it will go the way of Computer Associates and remain relevant among cautious adopters and laggards but fail to capture the spark and innovation Oracle once was known for.  Look forward to seeing you at the event.

Your POV.

What’s your plan to invest with Oracle?  Do you see Oracle being innovative or more a laggard.  What’s the future of statups and cloud in your overall technology strategy? Is Oracle still relevant? Add your comments to the blog or reach me via email: R (at) ConstellationR (dot) com or R (at) SoftwareInsider (dot) com.

Join my colleagues Bruce Daley, Holger Mueller, and Frank Scavo at this year’s Oracle Open World.  Just ping us and lets’ catch up!

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  • You’re right, Oracle is trying to amp up mindshare. In a mindless way.

    Oracle is a technology-first focused company whose marketing and sales methods target the ‘curious adopters’ through geek speak and ‘laggards’ through ‘magic quadrant marketing.’ They’re good at established markets and categories.

    Many companies acquires by Oracle focused on early markets. These markets require a more holistic outcome-oriented marketing focus. More customer-centric and a deep knowledge of a vertical or horizontal domain. Oracle has to make fundamental changes to cross-sell to these acquires customers.

    This is also a problem of incremental vs, disruptive innovation. In-memory databases and engineered systems, for example, are nothing new. Difficult technically to package. The important thing to realize is that much of the technology going into these systems was acquired. Some of it from open source.

    Oracle has missed out on open source, big data, cloud and enterprise social innovations. They’ve, for the most part, had to acquire companies to catch up. These billions spent on primarily incremental innovation and trying to keep legacy technologies relevant shows how they’ve lost economies of scale,

    And, investments into disruptive innovation seem destined to wallow away in the Oracle corporate jungle. I dare say that early adopters thinking that Oracle is where innovation goes to die.

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