As we head into the 8th inning of the ongoing 'does Oracle innovate?' debate Eric Kimberling slams a homer in his analysis of ERP tier one/two implementation cost and value, making the score between Vinnie Mirchandani, Josh Greebaum, Paul Greenburg, Bob Warfield, Larry Dignan and myself 2-0 with Oracle getting an RBI. To recap:
Vinnie thinks that for $75 billion taken from customers that Oracle's delivery has been anemic (homer to detractors especially after shout out from Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com on earnings call)
Josh believes my comparison with Microsoft is flabby (1st base hit to Oracle)
Paul likes Social CRM but concedes on the general tenor of innovation (2nd base hit to Oracle though umpire is concerned whether Bob's sure which side he's batting for)
Bob nicely parses the maintenance cost issue as a way of subtly flogging the saas story (3rd base hit to Oracle for a smooth slide to the base)
Larry thinks that Oracle's roll up strategy represents a justifiable form of IT industry innovation (RBI to Oracle though he nearly forgot where he was going and ended up in the dugout)
Yours Truly struggles to find enough merit in Josh, Bob's or Larry's argument to sway my opinion. (out on weight of arguments and foul shot!)
Eric makes a base hit for the detractors with a recent report on ERP implementation costs, benefits and satisfaction levels. The report shows that out of SAP, Oracle, Microsoft and the Tier II players, Oracle comes in last in two categories with a 'satisfaction composite' of 62% and employee satisfaction and 58% benefits satisfaction. In other analysis it is the second most expensive behind SAP and represents a 'medium risk' investment to its customers
During a webinar which just ended, Eric said he thinks the high executive rating is because Oracle is strong in BI, functionality with which execs are most likely to be familiar. On employee satisfaction, he believes the patchwork of applications Oracle has acquired like JD Edwards and Peoplesoft makes for usability problems. However, he also noted that the Oracle data presents contradictions that require further analysis. Given there is no sign of Fusion and that end users will likely continue to experience issues that was enough for me to score Eric a (stumbling) base hit.
More seriously, this re-raises Vinnie's original question that having taken some $75 billion from customers over the last 5 years, where is the innovation? It also reinforces my contention that having a net capitalized cost of $12.4 billion on its last reported balance sheet for acquistion related expenditure, Oracle has done very little to help customers adapt. That said, Oracle can innovate all it likes on the financial front, but customers are not awarding them credit. And that's what matters.
Next batter please.
(With apologies to my US colleagues if I've munged some of the baseball terms)