Oracle finds SAP a tough nut to crack

update Oracle Australia kicked off a major sales exercise this week to woo customers from rival SAP but less than 30 organisations responded.The Oracle Fusion For SAP (OFFSAP) campaign, which began five months ago, is aimed at converting SAP R/3 platform customers to Oracle.

update Oracle Australia kicked off a major sales exercise this week to woo customers from rival SAP but less than 30 organisations responded.

The Oracle Fusion For SAP (OFFSAP) campaign, which began five months ago, is aimed at converting SAP R/3 platform customers to Oracle. It plays on concerns about the looming end to R/3's lifecycle and migration to the mySAP platform.

Ian White, Oracle Australia

The program gives customers prepared to migrate to Oracle credit for any licensing fees already paid to SAP. There is also a deferred payment period of two years. In total, the vendor contacted 1,000 SAP clients across the Asia-Pacific region, said Ian White, Oracle Australia managing director (right).

On Tuesday, Oracle representatives contacted 202 SAP customers in Australia but only 14 percent agreed to a meeting, but White claimed he was "quite happy with 28 meetings".

Oracle had been unable to contact all intended targets, but White was sure "that [28] figure will go up".

"While we're very happy with the results there will be more after we speak to the people we haven't been able to contact yet.

"Others have asked for some more information too," White said.

Competition between the two companies has intensified this year with Oracle broadening its scope, most notably with the proposed acquisition of customer relationship management vendor Siebel.

SAP has also tried to pinch customers from its competitor -- its Safe Harbor and Safe Passage programs used to target Oracle's PeopleSoft and JD Edwards customers.

The result of Oracle's OFFSAP campaign in Australia this week didn't impress John Brand, research director at analyst firm Hydrasight.

"Going round to somebody's house and being invited in the door doesn't really say much," he said.

"It is very difficult now [to migrate customers] with the exit costs for these applications.

"The churn rate for enterprise applications has been extremely low. And with all the acquisitions they've made, it's made them a fairly unattractive player. They have too many bits and pieces that make them look complicated," Brand said.

Oracle's efforts to woo SAP customers has a low likelihood of success, according to Brand.

"If you look at it from the perspective of what's the likely chance of influencing them ... you'd have to say that in turns of increasing investment or churn from SAP, your chances are pretty low," he added.

There was a perception, right or wrong, that SAP was expensive, according to Brand, but the vendor had done a good job of painting a "rosy picture" of the future.

"If this was a political campaign that was being run, SAP has sold the vision more effectively.

"A lot of IT managers gain significant advantage from running Oracle, but they haven't done as good a job on communicating what Oracle will look like in future," Brand said.

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