Oracle Apps strategy gets the nod from Forrester Research

A new research report out of Forrester titled Which Has The Better Apps Strategy: Oracle Or SAP? (subscription required) was recently published.

The last time Forrester published a comprehensive strategic review of the vendors was in 2006 and as noted in the new research report, much has changed since that time.  Back in 2006 they called it a “battle of the architectures” and SAP was given the nod by Forrester.

Since that time however Oracle has closed the gap in terms of enterprise apps revenue (with a 33% compund annual growth rate versus SAP’s 13% ignoring currency fluctuations) and out of eight criteria for success identified by Forrester, Oracle has the advantage in 4 and SAP only 3 (one resulted in a tie).

More importantly, the criteria where Oracle is considered the leader shows that we have the focus on the most important aspects of our customer’s businesses.  For example we lead in Vision, Support for Openness and Standards and the Path to Dynamic Business standards – all of which point to a better future for our customers with Oracle than with SAP.

The traction we’ve gained since 2006 is starting to pay off and the momentum will continue going forward.  I can’t wait to see what Forrester thinks in 2010!

Oracle Buys Primavera

See the full press release here.

 

Oracle Buys Primavera

Creates First, Comprehensive Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solution for Project-Intensive Industries

Redwood Shores, CA – October 8, 2008

News Facts:

Today, Oracle announced it has agreed to acquire Primavera Software, Inc., a leading provider of Project Portfolio Management (PPM) solutions, to accelerate its momentum in delivering mission-critical operational applications.

Primavera’s PPM software helps companies propose, prioritize and select project investments, and plan, manage and control the most complex projects and project portfolios.

Together with Oracle’s applications and infrastructure software, Oracle expects to provide the first comprehensive enterprise project portfolio management solution that helps companies allocate the best resources, reduce costs, meet delivery dates and ultimately make better decisions, all by using real-time data.

Oracle Enterprise PPM will be tailored to project-intensive industries such as engineering and construction, aerospace and defense, utilities, oil and gas, manufacturing, and professional services.

Primavera employees and management are expected to join Oracle to form a global business unit (GBU) focused on Enterprise PPM, and to help ensure a smooth transition for Primavera customers and partners. Primavera’s CEO Joel Koppelman is expected to lead the business unit as Senior Vice President and General Manager.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the second half of 2008. Until the deal closes, each company will continue to operate independently. Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Oracle, the Innovation Company

Fresh on the heels of our very successful OpenWorld in San Francisco last week I wanted to highlight this favorable blog post from Joshua Greenbaum at ZDNet.com. 

In it Joshua highlights a few topics that are also of particular interest for Projects customers.  First of all there was a good presentation of the Fusion apps that impressed the author.  To quote him: “Oracle has made good on its promise to deliver Fusion Apps, and has greatly exceeded my expectations in doing so. A very impressive debut.”

Second, he recognized that our strategy for Apps Unlimited is delivering on our promise to continue to enhance the products already being used by our customers.  E-Business Suite (of which Projects is one application) has been enhanced in many ways and we showed and discussed the roadmap for Projects 12.1 at the conference.  Customers can find out more information on Metalink for all of the details on that release.

Joshua also discusses the enhancements to the Oracle Business Intelligence applications.  We presented a paper at OOW this year about the OBIEE solution coming for Project Analytics.  It was very well received and like our customers we are very excited for it’s release.  It will open up a a whole new level of analytics to our customers and give them even greater insight into their projects.

Finally the author touches on the AIA (Application Integration Architecture) strategy of Oracle.  Rolled out last year AIA is Oracle’s toolset to glue all of the acquired products together.  As Joshua writes:

“This product, which orchestrates all the different processes across the vast, and disparate, Oracle Applications stack, is the place where the vision of Oracle becomes reality: There is no way for Oracle to pull off rationalizing its massive acquisition strategy without AIA making all the interprocess communications between, say, Glog, Siebel, Oracle Financials and PeopleSoft HR (and SAP, while we’re at it) seamless, easy, and fast. Absent a highly performant AIA middleware layer, Oracle’s dream of cross application process functionality becomes a user nightmare.”

For Projects, we are no less interested in leveraging AIA than any other part of the company.  We’re excited to be able to tie our applications in with some of the best of breed products that we’ve acquired such as Agile and Hyperion.  We’d very much like to hear from our customers as to which apps you would find most useful to integrate with and provide input on our AIA roadmap.

 

The insidious effects of Productivity claims

Interesting little tidbit in CIO Insight this week about productivity.  Parallax View – IT Spending – IT: A Bright Spot in an Economic Slowdown.

There’s nothing wrong really with trying to see the silver lining in an economic slowdown (ie. that workers are increasing their productivity while the economy slows), but I think we need to see beyond the short term effects of this productivity surge as they call it.

The writer’s feel that businesses haven’t been investing as heavily as they did in in the 1990’s and I agree with that.  I cut my teeth in the business world during the go-go days when everyone was installing ERP systems to head of the doomsday scenario that Y2K was sure to bring.  I felt fortunate to be in consulting those years because it was lucrative but I really should have been in sales.  I think you just had to sit by your phone for a few years in the late 90’s and fortunes rained down upon you.

Back to today’s reality however, I think the game has changed significantly.  The low hanging fruit is gone.  What major or even medium sized company doesn’t have an ERP system already?  There’s even plentiful solutions for the SMB market.  Where to invest the IT dollars isn’t as much of a no-brainier anymore but I think the returns to be had can be significant if you’re actually aligning your IT projects to your business needs.

Anyway, I started out talking about productivity and what’s left unsaid behind the numbers.  I tend to think that productivity is going to go up during recessions because companies force less people to do the same work that was done by more.  Whether companies actively reduce their headcount or let it happen by attrition it’s natural that the ones left behind will be obliged to pick up the slack.  You know they want to do it because the alternative is looking for a new job when there are plenty of others doing the same and businesses aren’t hiring.  I think this is, at best, a very short term solution.  I say we should look for productivity to increase going into the downturn but start to lag just like everything else.  Despite fearing for their jobs, people still get burnt out.  They will start to spend more time complaining about the way things are versus how they used to be.  They might still stay at work until 9pm and come in at 7am but the output during those hours just is not going to be sustainable over time.

One of my favorite sites, iTulip, posted this great article on the insidious unseen effects of Inflation.  Although the topic of the article is inflation, I think you can draw a great parallel between that and what happens during an economic slowdown.  In the iTulip article they used a restaurant as the business to illustrate how inflation changes the way they operate.  You can read between the lines though and see that all companies could react the same way – all businesses have people and they have inputs to their end product.   A restaurant or company cutting back can cut their fixed expenses by reducing the number of people, or they can try to lower unit costs by substituting cheaper products or providing less quantity for the price.  While having less shrimp in your pad Thai is a bad thing, I’m more focused here on what the effect is on the employees left to hold it together.

The quote from the article hits it right on the head:

Management tries to lower fixed expenses (versus per plate of food unit costs) by reducing staff. Customers experience this as slowness and crankiness among the remaining overburdened wait staff.  If your wait person is cranky and unresponsive, count how many tables they are covering before passing judgment. These days it’s probably too many.

The morale of their article is that well run, properly capitalized businesses that have a lot of cash can use these recessions to steal the customers from their weaker competitor’s.  The key is to not do the things that are forcing your competitor’s to go out of business.  Don’t raise your prices as much, don’t begin to skimp on the quality of the products you offer and most importantly, don’t let the service you provide slip because you’ve decided to rest all the work of many on the shoulders of less.

Bad things can happen when you push people to the point of breaking…

Are your projects failing? How to avoid the Pitfalls

In a recently published article entitled Why Projects Fail (And How to Avoid the Pitfalls) published by Enterprise Systems, Senior Director of Strategy for Oracle Projects Colleen Baumbach outlines many of the common mistakes that lead to project failure.

I think one of the best points Ms. Baumbach makes is at the end where she says the accumulated years of project failures almost creates a mindset from the start that a project is doomed.  As she notes, there are countless studies that have been prepared showing how dismal project success rates are.

How are companies addressing this?  According to a Forrester study published in early 2007, twenty-six percent of IT leaders planned to hire project managers and 59 percent planned to train their current staff in project management in 2007.  They noted that those numbers changed very little from 2002.

Further reasoning behind the rush to acquire or train more qualified project managers: 

“The reason for the continued emphasis on project management skills is because IT’s value to business remains contingent on it’s ability to deliver projects which meet business requirements both on time and on budget. IT staff accustomed to more technical roles struggle to transition to project management, CIO’s argue, and complain that educational institutions are not putting adequate focus on these skills through coursework.”

It should be a good time to be a project manager as long as you know how to avoid the pitfalls.

CFO’s rate Data Integrity a Critical Issue

In a recent article from Baseline titled, One in Nine CFOs See High Return Benefits from IT, they report that of the 629 CFO’s surveyed, close to half of them rate improving data quality in their enterprise as a critical issue.

Here in Oracle Projects one of our greatest assets has always been to promote our tight integration with the rest of the E-Business Suite, such as Financial’s and HR.  When products are built from the ground up to be integrated together, you eliminate many of the problems that occur from having disparate 3rd party systems all trying to share data.

Even if you must use special best-of-breed or niche products to help manage your business, then CFO’s and CIO’s should at least look into our AIA strategy to help them build tighter integration and hence improve their data integrity.

PMXPO – Final Thoughts

I guess I didn’t get back to my thoughts on this cool virtual conference that day but wanted to get it done before I forget!

What did I like:

  • No travel to a conference!
  • Ability to pop in and out of sessions as I liked
  • Easily browse the vendor offerings and chat if you’d like
  • Could continue to work while listening
  • Their briefcase feature made grabbing vendor and presentation information extremely easy – no having to leave to someone’s website to get materials
  • One click entry of contests (where is my Xbox 360 bundle or iPod Touch??)  Since you’re logged in I liked the fact they didn’t make you have to re-enter any information or fill out a contact card
  • Reminders for presentations that come in your email so you don’t miss a session
  • All presentations and materials are available later if you missed a session

What I wasn’t so hot on:

  • You could easily tune out because you’re continuing to work – next thing you know you missed 5-10 minutes of what the speaker said or have no context of the slide you’re looking at
  • The content was pretty much focused on new Project Managers – both myself and a couple of colleagues that attended didn’t find many sessions all that riveting
  • The networking is very difficult to do – you basically know a name and company (sometimes!) of a person and most people didn’t even put a picture on their avatar.  I can’t imagine you’d ever really meet someone new on this format unless you want to pester someone with a message.

Those are my top of the head thoughts.  Overall I thought it looked fantastic – they did a great job making it look clean and professional.  I would definitely attend next year although I hope the topics presented get a little bit more out of the box for more experienced PM’s.  Maybe they can offer more than one session at a time to be able to cover more ground in the day and let people choose what interests them.