Oracle v. Peoplesoft: the joke is on...
Cash from chaos
Opinion I thought it was a joke when Oracle first announced that it was going to try to buy PeopleSoft; or, at best, a spoiling tactic over PeopleSoft's acquisition of JD Edwards. It turns out that I was wrong. I was also wrong to suppose that the anti-trust case brought by the US Department of Justice would be upheld - unless the DoJ appeals or the EU does something about it then it now looks very much as if this hostile takeover may go ahead.
This mooted acquisition has now been around long enough that everyone is entitled to an opinion, so here's mine: this takeover will be bad for everyone except SAP, Microsoft, data movement vendors (for people migrating away from PeopleSoft and Oracle environments), the lawyers and investments bankers. Here's why.
Imagine that the takeover is successful: what will happen next? The first thing that the newly enlarged Oracle will have to do is to figure out how it is going to provide a return on all of those billions of dollars it has just forked out. It can do that by increasing profits or reducing costs or both. But imagine the scenario: there is a huge amount of ill-will left over from the hostility of the acquisition and competitors are casting large quantities of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) over everything that Oracle does and says. The result is that the new company cannot expect substantial improvements in sales in the short-term and maybe not even in the medium-term.
What does that mean? It means that Oracle will be obliged to cut costs, which in turn means that Oracle will shed jobs. However, it can't simply get rid of PeopleSoft staff: if it did that it would not only lose even more customers than it will anyway but it would also put the whole merger strategy in doubt. No, it will need to cut people from both existing companies and, if it errs on one side or the other, it will do so by cutting more Oracle jobs (because that doesn't rock the boat) rather than those from PeopleSoft.
So, if this is not good for employees, is it good for customers? I don't see it. If the company was to come out and say that it was going to have two parallel product streams for the foreseeable future, and if it meant it, and if it really devoted sufficient resource to each stream: then OK. But it won't. Doing that would be contrary to its whole consolidation strategy.
However, it is this whole global consolidation, single data model approach that is going to be a big problem. Let's be clear about this: I have my doubts about consolidation but I have no such qualms about a single data model, master reference data, and so on. However, if this is Oracle's strategy, then all of PeopleSoft's applications (except any that will be discontinued) have to be migrated to that model. So it is not just a question of providing best-of-breed functions and features across the two product sets (and that, God knows, will take long enough) but also of migrating the applications so that they share a common infrastructure. This will take a long time and many customers will get fed up with waiting or be persuaded to move elsewhere.
The bottom line is that while there may be long-term benefits, in the sort and medium-term I think that this will be bad for almost everyone involved on either the PeopleSoft or Oracle side. I don't often cheer the EU on, but in this case I hope they put a stop to what I think is a bad move.
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