Charles Phillips' troubling keynote

Summary:At some 5,500 miles distance, there is always a risk of getting the wrong end of the stick in parsing keynotes. Fortunately, some of my Irregular colleagues had the benefit of a meeting with Oracle president Charles Phillips.

At some 5,500 miles distance, there is always a risk of getting the wrong end of the stick in parsing keynotes. Fortunately, some of my Irregular colleagues had the benefit of a meeting with Oracle president Charles Phillips. Several of them were Twittering the conversation in real time. This allowed others to interpose questions. It also allowed me to 'stand back' and consider some of the things that were left hanging in the wind.

My central problem is that some of Phillips statements are confusing and contradictory. It starts with the expression Phillips coined: 'acquired innovation.' In one of Jeff Nolan's tweets:

What is acquired innovation: term Charles made up to describe what they are doing beyond a financial transaction

Steve Mann counters:

According to a recent McKinsey Quarterly innovation is IN THE CULTURE of the company... how can one acquire Innovation? Isn't it just technology?

Are we talking semantic nuances? I don't think so. Steve discussed this less than two weeks ago:

But companies, which talk the talk around innovation tend not to put in place management and governance structures which enable innovation. According to the survey, companies tend to focus on product and service innovation, NOT breakthrough or institutional innovation.

Vinnie Mirchandani has waged a long running campaign about the lack of innovation in delivery and maintenance models employed by both enterprise software vendors. That seems confirmed by Dan Farber's comments on more of Phillips thinking:

Fundamentally, Oracle and SAP are in a legacy business, and their investments in new generation platforms are decade long efforts, ensuring that they are relevant to customers as new architectural epochs come to fruition. It’s their hedge against extinction and is served both by internal development and strategic acquisitions.

While thousands of customers continue to pay full maintenance on what is in truth old and brittle technology then I cannot see how Phillips' statements make sense. Unless of course you are cynical enough to believe that companies have found a fresh appetite for new expressions (eg social graph for social network). Then it is easy to see 'acquired innovation' as marketing fluff.

I'm sure that as OpenWorld moves on, this and other discussions will take on greater meaning and become clarified.

Topics: Emerging Tech, CXO

About

Dennis Howlett has been providing comment and analysis on enterprise software since 1991 in a variety of European trade and professional journals including CFO Magazine, The Economist and Information Week. Today, apart from being a full time blogger on innovation for professional services organisations, he is a founding member of Enterpri... Full Bio

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