Busy Oracle leaves many questions unanswered

Door closes quietly on expo

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Oracle OpenWorld is drawing to a close in San Francisco, and some big questions are being left unanswered. Namely, one wonders what Oracle might look like at the OpenWorld event one year from now.

The company is maturing and beginning to open out and extend its products. Project Fusion is the major challenge as the company melds its disparate CRM offerings. Competitors believe and hope that it is impossible to evolve a single species of CRM from around eight products. Oracle says it can do it by breaking them all down into services and bolting them together again.

The Siebel acquisition will probably go ahead after an initial period of wrangling by the shareholders. This is a sideshow and a distraction from the main challenges Oracle is facing. In addition, progress is likely to be hindered by the addition of Siebel’s products because they are quite different to Oracle’s current array.

Siebel specialises in fairly inflexible vertical market products, while Oracle has an array of customisable horizontal CRM systems. Something has got to give way, and those customers affected by a shift will not be pleased.

Oracle executives here pumped their speeches full of promises, talk of alliances and sabre-rattling clarion calls. In reality, however, Oracle is in stasis and will not begin to move again until its Fusion project bears real fruit.

Its strength is the maturity of its database and applications, but Microsoft and SAP continue to chip away at these foundations. At every conference, Oracle boasts that it has never left any customers behind, but the current question is whether it can keep up with them. ®

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