The signs were there all week at Oracle OpenWorld. Just before Larry Ellison delivered his keynote, Bob Wynne of Oracle PR told me "Don't expect any big announcements". The day before ,Chuck Rozwot, EVP, danced around a question from the media about details about Fusion applications. Something about "we have briefed analysts under NDA". (BTW - No self-respecting analyst firm signs an NDA for more than a couple of days). He then invoked conservative "revenue recognition" practices as reason Oracle could not disclose more details. On Monday, in his meeting with the Enterprise Irregulars, President Charles Phillips said "don't expect thousands of Fusion applications" any time soon.
Thousands? In the end Larry Ellison showcased 3 "applications" aimed at sales forces. Oh, they reflect glimpses of business process innovation as they facilitate more collaboration across sales teams and leverage social networking to build prospect lists. And, of course they reflect technology currency - as Larry said multiple times, they use SOA principles and leverage industry standard middleware. But after 3 years of Fusion announcements, just 3 applications? He then proceeded to dance around questions about financial, hr, other applications likely to be released. And there were repeated references to being conservative and glances at his CFO, Safra Catz with a questioning “am I in trouble?” look.
Cute, but over 30 years Larry has made so many product announcements at his events - some way ahead of their time, some outrageous. Suddenly now, he feels the need to be conservative?
Oracle had an opportunity to showcase applications which leverage its growing middleware market share. What better proof point to show its prospects for the middleware? What better way to get its database customers to also push for its applications? In a conference with innovation as a central theme, it could have shown off so much more innovation with home cooking.
It was a 30 year birthday celebration for Oracle and there were plenty of thank yous all the way around during the conference. But if I was an Oracle, PeopleSoft, JDE or Siebel application customer I would feel underwhelmed, even slighted. In the 3 years since Fusion has been announced they have paid Oracle over $ 10 billion in maintenance. Surely, 5 to 10% of that should have gone towards Fusion applications. Where are the results?
During the Q&A, someone from the audience tried to ask Larry about Oracle’s charitable initiatives. He made the mistake of invoking Microsoft and the Gates foundation. Larry cut him off and honed in on what the Gates foundation does or does not do. Never got around to discussing Oracle’s own charities.
I felt the same thing about Larry’s keynote. Oracle, so eager to jump on its competitors sometimes neglects to showcase all the good stuff it is capable of. When it comes to Fusion applications, it blew a major opportunity at this conference.