Oracle OpenWorld 2015: An enigma wrapped in a riddle wrapped in a...Wait! I get it!

Oracle recognizes that it has to align with the 21st century marketplace. But how fast are they really moving? Fast enough? At enough scale? Are they doing it right? The answer to each of these is yes and no. Read on...

This was my last conference of 2015 - and, because its Oracle OpenWorld, one of my most difficult to figure out - my bad, not theirs. I struggle, I come up with one ironclad conclusion and it turns out the iron part is really sponge - and I change my mind.

A couple of years ago, I was convinced that, based on what I saw at Oracle OpenWorld, it was a "machines and database company". Now, while I'm not moving 100 percent away from that, I'm shifting some of the emphasis. More later on that. What makes me constantly have to re-evaluate this company is the range of offerings it has for business. Does it have a range as wide as, say, Microsoft? No. But it doesn't need to - it isn't trying to support a person's "life matrix." (my term), which encompasses work and play. But what it does encompass, it fully embraces.

I'd say that Oracle has the most comprehensive offering in the world when it comes to the enterprise value chain. It's deeper and broader than its one possible competitor - SAP - because of the hardware side. They are mano a mano on applications. I'm not judging the quality of one against the quality of another - just that they both compete in the same areas on software technology. But Oracle has hardware as part of their offering and SAP doesn't.

These are matters of choice for companies. I'm not debating or even interested in stack ranking who's making the better choice. I have little or nothing to say that impacts that. But Oracle handles the enterprise value chain from the first chain link to the last - unlike any other company - for now, with Microsoft on a possible mid-term horizon.

But, of course, I know that you are just skimming the stuff above because you really want to see how Oracle did at their conference. So, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, the one, the only....

CRM Watchlist Oracle OpenWorld 2015 Conference Scorecard

Category Grade Notes
Keynotes (Content) C+ More on this later, but if I was planning the Keynote and defining the content here, I would have started the Sunday night keynote, regardless of who gave it by showing the Oracle mobile app that fully integrates their CX, SCM, ERP and EPM capabilities - with enterprise power on a mobile device - and built everything at this conference around that - regardless of constituencies. Oracle needs to be more electrifying in their narrative because they are doing things that have seriously big business consequences. But year after year, we get an IT, not a business discussion - and, when it boils down to, IT serves business - it doesn't own it. It's a miscue that only hurts them, not helps them - especially given the kick butt quality of several of their recent crop of integrated applications.
Keynotes (Presentation) B Oracle did a better job here with some decent - though not great or funny - videos, well done slide decks and a significant number of NOT boring demos - I'll call them useful and business like - and customer panels to support the keynote. They could have been more experiential in the way that they were handled - and more humanized but all in all good support for the keynotes.
Tracks/General Sessions A- When you are dealing with what are hundreds if not more than a thousand (I never got the number really) of tracks, you're bound to hear a few complaints. This time, the only complaint I heard from my "spies" and some conference attendees was that at times the titles of the tracks weren't quite what the content seemed to be. Also the levels of presenter(s) to audience interaction/engagement were a bit varied - though generally from my direct participation and my conversations with multiple others - the levels of interaction were good enough.
Analyst/Press Relations B+ This was generally very, very good. From a personal standpoint, I was particularly pleased that the crew I hang with - the independent analysts were given badges that said "independent analyst" - a first anywhere that actually recognized the "category" and we were afforded the same access as the institutional analysts, etc. Were there things that could be done better? Sure. There were never enough seats at tables with power in the halls so it was always first come, first serve and a mad scramble to try and get the seats with plugs so that the work could get done. The same held in the analyst press relations area though to the credit of Oracle, they wisely treated the analysts and the press as the same in terms of work place etc. The first time ever independent analyst program, run by Oracle VP of Global Product & Services Public Relations, Letty Ledbetter, was exceptional, with the needs of our often demanding bunch being taken care of almost flawlessly - a huge departure from the past. All-in-all a better than commendable effort by the AR/PR teams at Oracle. Analysts were able, from all discussions, to get stuff done, which is almost all you can ask at the conference.
Food (VIP) C+ This was pretty much as pedestrian as it gets. The actual conversations about food quality started at "terrible" and ended at "tolerable." That's probably all that needs to be said about it.
Food (General Session) B Better results from the attendees which honestly is more important. It's hard to feed 60,000 people and a significant number opted to go to restaurants in the area rather than eat what was provided. But the ones who did were okay with what they got. No complaints really. No great kudos either. One area for improvement: water, coffee, refreshment stations more readily available during breaks and throughout the conference - and in the exhibition halls.
Exhibition Hall A- Very well done this year. They got rid of most of the traffic problems, better layouts. Easier to see who is where though that got a little confusing at times. The CX Exhibition Hall in Moscone West, the smaller of them, was particularly well done. Left room to stand and be social with either the exhibitors or friends. They managed to even hold a CX "experience" in the hall with a group of dancers who had been on America's Got Talent and were of the new genre that used lighting and suits along with contemporary choreography. That could have been better done (they didn't win America's Got Talent for a reason) but it was a radical and significant first step for Oracle - and a novel thing to do in an exhibition area.
Crowd Engagement C- The engagement in the track sessions saved this from being a worse grade to be entirely candid. This was among the most disengaged crowds I've seen this year. They were not enthusiastic; they didn't feel invested in the keynotes or main stage sessions at all. The "vibe" throughout was so low key as to be plain otherworldly quiet at times. That said, when it got to the smaller sessions - i.e. the track sessions, the interaction was there in many of them (according to multiple reports) so at the micro-level there was interest and investment by the attendees.
Ambiance A Almost perfect. The registration process was the easiest and most effective I've seen at any conference the entire year; the traffic flow was impeccably managed. The staff (either Oracle or the varying contractors) were unfailingly competent, polite, and friendly. Perhaps the only thing that detracted at all was a little too much obvious presence of security at times. But even there, when they were working to clear crowds from keynotes, they did a great job of being guides and not pushy. Kudos to Oracle for handling the logistics this well. (Hmmm. For 2016, I'm going to change this category from "Ambiance" to "Logistics")
OVERALL B

There were a series of subtexts - marrow in the bones - at OpenWorld that I'm going to dispose of pretty quickly. These are sort of obvious to some and not as obvious to others as I've found out floating them out there.

They are focused on their own customer base - and customer retention is their theme

One thing we know about Oracle. They have a lot of customers - some 420,000 plus who buy one or another of their software and hardware products and their cloud based services and whatever else can be bought in the smorgasbord of their price list. What we can be assured of is that a lot of them have bought a few - more than one - things from Oracle which leaves about a googolplex of other options for them to purchase should the need and desire arise. This is a juicy source of low and mid hanging fruit for the company. So they are concentrating and upselling and cross selling to their customer base as constituted. For a company with that many customers, it ain't a bad strategy.

But, while they may have 420,000 customers, they have a lot of companies who are selling into the same customers as they are and because integration is easier (not easy) than it has been and cloud subscriptions within a reasonable price range and many products are commoditized so the features and functions offered are no longer the selling point, they have to start thinking about what areas that they can target given their current configuration of products and services.

For them, that seems to be the mid-market. The irony of that is that it is really hard to define what the mid-market is - is it 100 employees up to 1000 employees - is it $50 million in revenue up to $1 billion in revenue? Is it in between that? Is it less to start or more to end? What does it actually even mean?

My answer is: I don't know. I just don't. What I do know is that Oracle has an enterprise applications solution that they classify as ready for the mid-market and it is a features turned off version of their enterprise editions. They call it Oracle for Midsize Companies, not a terribly cleverly named applications suite but gets the point across. Which means, that if I am to do some tea leaves reading here (I love Golden Monkey black tea so those are the leaves I'm reading), then the fact that their baseline is a reduced capabilities version of their enterprise applications, then they are going for the upper end of the mid-market - what I call NetSuite territory. NetSuite's sweet spot.

They spent a good deal of time on the applications for the mid-market, did a panel that I moderated with other thought leaders on the mid-market and paraded an inordinate percentage of mid-market customers in their customer mix on stage throughout the various applications discussions. In fact, to add to the attention, they are claiming that 300,000 of their 420,000 customers are these very same mid-sized companies they are interested in.

These are important subtexts because they point out where Oracle is going to put a good deal of their emphasis in the coming months. Not where I thought but at the same time, not a bad move at all since it is an underpenetrated and yet probably lucrative target market.

But, now, let's move on to the text - not the subtext. What is Oracle saying and doing? How right is it? How do they have to move? What is market calling them to do? And whatever else comes to my feverish brain.

The meaty, juicy rack o' ribs

As I mentioned earlier, in order to understand this company, I identified Oracle a couple of years ago as a machines and database company. Given their continually slow adoption of the 21st century business paradigms and the models needed accordingly, I may have been right - but not complete enough in my assessment.

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To their credit and their debit(?), they are in the process of slowly, very slowly, embracing the new paradigms, despite some serious glitches that still remain - all of which I'll explain in due time. OpenWorld 2015 was a perfect little (big) example of all the good and bad that Oracle is.

So to begin, let me state what I now think. Oracle is evolving from being a machines and databases company (or I was flat out wrong) to becoming a 21st century "enterprise value chain" service provider, with cloud delivery at its core.

Before you just poo poo this because Oracle is "really bad" or "too legacy" or "too mercenary" or "too IT focused" (I'm seeing Chris Farley doing "air quotes"), stop for a second. Oracle isn't anything like anything. It is a company. It is made up of people. It has a management style. It has a culture. There are characteristics that drive the company that are driven by its management. But it is not a vanilla company that is template-driven either. It is a $38 billion publicly traded company - one of the largest technology companies in the world and has all the complexities associated with that. Here is their revenue statement from their FY2015 10K:

"For fiscal year 2015, Total Revenues were $38.2 billion, essentially unchanged, but up 4% in constant currency. Software and Cloud Revenues were $29.5 billion, up 1%, and up 5% in constant currency. Cloud SaaS and PaaS revenues were $1.5 billion, up 32%, and up 35% in constant currency. Cloud IaaS revenues were $608 million, up 33%, and up 36% in constant currency. Total Hardware System Revenues were $5.2 billion, down 3%, but up 2% in constant currency."

Meaning there is a lot going on at this company. What it also means is that you have to take the good and the bad - and it's a complicated good and bad - into account when trying to figure out what company is planning; what and how they are doing; your determination, either as a potential customer, or analyst or journalist, or an employee, or just an interested observer, as to whether or not you think they will succeed in the market. Then, if your intention is to help them improve, you have to decide what you need to tell them to give them the love - tough or otherwise - so that they can improve. This is a complex and complicated company run by some complex and often difficult people. But, if (and this is a big if) they recognize that they have to align with the needs of a market undergoing a profound and unique transformation, and customers that are far more demanding than in the past - there is definitely hope for them to continue their success.

Does that mean that I am being an apologist for Oracle? Hell no. They have a lot of cultural issues. Even given their recognition of the market transformations going on, they still have a strong tendency to just go about things the way they feel like rather than pay attention to what the market tells them. They are a stubborn culture and are not quick to change. Their customer facing messaging still leaves a lot to be desired.

But...

They are in the midst of a far reaching realization that the market has transformed and that they do have to do what the market dictates accordingly - despite their desire not to at times. To some extent, they are succeeding as reflected in what I saw at Oracle Open World but also to some extent, they still haven't made a "course correction" which was reflected in what I heard at Open World. Note the clever juxtaposition between "saw" and "heard." Different senses. Get it? But a clear reason, why this is a company in flux, but it's a good flux for a change.

But the one thing that is clear as day is that their appeal is their ability to enable the enterprise value chain at a company that scales to whatever size - from mid-sized to the enterprise.

Before we get to "saw" versus "heard", I want to get into what the enterprise value chain is, briefly. It isn't as complex to understand as it might sound, but successful enablement of the enterprise value chain is a complicated endeavor, indeed.

The enterprise value chain (EVC)

Every company, large or small, has a value chain - an organized amalgamation of entities that drives the company via the constant interaction of those entities. The typical EVC ecosystem are the employees, the partners, the suppliers, the customers, and the external agencies that get tied together that permits the company to function smoothly. Here's a rough diagram that reflects how it looks - in conjunction with the personal value chain each of us has as individuals. Pardon my lack of graphics talent.

enterprise-value-chain.png
The Enterprise Value Chain (EVC) meets the personal value chain

What makes this value chain work effectively is the integration of services, processes, business rules, automation, systems, and people working effectively in conjunction with each other. If you overlay the reality of the 21st century - that none of this value chain works well when it is isolated from another part - and that the oil and the glue are people executing their jobs and tasks at sufficient levels - then you realize that the systems that make it work - the customer relationship management (think in the generic sense of customer-facing operations here - not technology per se), the financial and human resources systems, the logistics, distribution and other parts of the supply chain, and the ability to measure the effectiveness of those systems - have to be able to work together well for the EVC to be what it needs to be. Additionally, the other reality of this century is that there are no processes, systems, etc. that are agnostic. One way or the other, they either (or both) impact the customer or are impacted by the customer - whether they are customer facing or not.

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Think of it this way. What if the supply chain success rate at company that delivers wedding dresses to brides-to-be drops from a norm of 99.7 percent to 98.7 percent one year? For many companies that is likely to be an acceptable tolerance level - and one that doesn't need to be a reason to freak out. But for a company that provides wedding dresses to brides? That is a disaster because it means that 1.3 percent of all the brides that are getting married don't have their gowns on their wedding day. A catastrophic customer failure. Not a just a logistics failure. That's the backend - but it impacts customers dramatically.

Those realities, in combination with the fact that as human beings these days, we lead a much more digital life than we have, necessitates new paradigms and new approaches to enterprise-grade technology. The enterprise value chain not only has to be integrated at the level of process, and aligned in goals that are customer-centered (I will go further and say not just customer-centered, but customer-engaged - something you will see me writing about in the not terribly distant future) but also, ideally, have technology that is both integrated and with enterprise power available on the go - a.k.a portably. It needs to be enabling processes and systems that can support a well-oiled machine. Think of it this way with a simple looking B2C example.

You order from Amazon. You are an Amazon Prime member. You get free second day air shipping for whatever you ordered. If things go well, you order it Monday and you get it Wednesday via Federal Express, The U.S. Post Office, UPS or Lasership among other. If they go great, you get it Tuesday - early - expectations exceeded. If they go south, you don't get it by Wednesday at 8pm. You blame Amazon for the problem, even though the problem is likely with the courier because Amazon owns that particular EVC and the parts (services etc.) that it consists of. You contact Amazon about the problem. Resolution begins.

What different systems have been involved here. Well, the ecommerce system for the

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transactions, the inventory management system for the good ordered (most likely), the logistics system for getting it assigned to a courier to pick it up and deliver it, the customer service system if a case has to be opened to track it if it isn't delivered on time, the financial system to record the transaction, the CRM system for recording and storing the order and the outcomes related to that order. I can keep going but I'm already way over what I planned to write (what else is new?) so I'll assume you get the idea. There is a complex, interwoven set of services and processes that are enabled by technology running to make that value chain functional.

It's the same for all businesses of any size at all.

Which brings me back to Oracle....

Oracle is one of the few companies on the planet that can provide this end to end. Or provide the pieces which are as often as not integrated with other systems and technologies to support the enablement of the value chain.

Which is EXACTLY what their message should be - and it's the message I saw but NOT the message I heard.

So for the rest of this post, let's look at the discrepancy between what I SAW and what I HEARD.

What I saw

At the tail end of the keynote by Thomas Kurian, just as it was winding down, and once again, in more detail at the excellent applications discussion by Steve Miranda, the Executive Vice President of Oracle Applications, all of us in the varying audiences were given the opportunity to see a mobile application that integrated CRM, supply chain management, enterprise performance management and Oracle ERP.

Here's a screenshot (Figure 1) that kind of gets across the point (Thank you, Oracle for providing this):

2015-11-24-1.png
Figure 1: Oracle mobile apps integration Oracle Corp

The screenshot shows how this works using their applications, regardless of platform (Other than their ownership of Java, Oracle is NOT providing platforms - they are providing platform-chameleon applications - meaning that they can be placed on a Java or say Microsoft .NET framework)

This integration should have been the metaphorical and actual centerpiece of Oracle OpenWorld because:

Oracle can show an integrated cloud-enabled, mobile enterprise value chain enablement. - It shows that Oracle can provide via not just the cloud, but on a mobile device, an integrated suite of applications that can enable the value chain of larger mid-sized and enterprise companies - something that so far, no one else has done in such a tightly structured and attractive way, and with the power of the enterprise applications intact, despite the small footprint. In fact, in an interview with SiliconANGLE, Steve Miranda, a guy I like a great deal personally as well as professionally, talks about both how well integrated Oracle's suite is and (separately) the need to continually supply a contemporary user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) as the needs evolve in the market. What they've managed to do with this, I'm guessing 70% functionally ready mobile EVC integration is totally aligned with the needs of the market - in the integration and with the attractive user interface and user experience.

It provides their best market differentiator from the others in their space at the level of the Big 4. - Itis a both a metaphor for what Oracle should be focusing on because it is aligned with market needs. It reflects the appropriate, true (at least at this point) differentiator for Oracle, and provides their key message to the market which in my view is "we are able to provide you with what you need to run your business - end to end.

Their overarching message is different from say SAP's or Microsoft's. Here is a convenient little chart to show you the difference.

Company Message to the Market (Overall, not customer-facing)
Oracle "We provide you with the technology you need (software and hardware) to enable your enterprise value chain"
Microsoft "We provide you with what you need (both software and hardware) to enable your life" (business and consumer, with slightly more weight re: hardware going to consumer)
SAP "We provide you with the software you need to enable your enterprise value chain, no matter what industry you are in."
Salesforce "We provide the connected customer with the platform they need to run their business."

Please remember there are lots of caveats here. I'm giving you raw and comparative

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interpretations of what the messages would be if what the companies show you at conferences, in demos and in the market, was what they had to offer. They are not necessarily the corporate "official" message or even the right focus for the companies in question here. I'm using this in a relative sense to show what each of the companies offers when it comes to businesses - though very broadly. All so you can understand what I think is the real value of what Oracle provides and its differentiator. Though, unfortunately, I'm not sure that Oracle sees it this way.

For what its worth, as far as I'm concerned, Oracle should have made this the centerpiece on the table. They provide the means for a business to run its processes, its systems and its relationships successfully via the integration of the applications and the availability of the hardware needed to enable them. That doesn't mean that everyone needs everything. It simply means that Oracle has this to offer.

This is some of what I saw.

Peripheral Vision: Social Cloud, Customer Journeys, and a little etc.

There were two other notable things that I saw (on the edges of my vision) that I'd like to suss out from the masses of "stuff" that the conference provided - which, while not on point re: the EVC, are indicators of some of the real advances that Oracle is making.

Short and sweet

1. Social Cloud - This is arguably the best social application in the pantheon of scalable social applications. It is not only integrated into other clouds (marketing, service, sales) but can stand alone. What makes this tool (a.k.a. "cloud") better than most is that aside from its industrial scale text, sentiment, and social listening capabilities is that it does all of this in 26 languages. When I say "does all of this" I mean that it isn't only doing the user interface in a language that someone can read, but also doing the text and sentiment analysis in 26 languages. If that isn't clear enough, then let me put it this way. That means that to understand how to interpret social behavior - how someone is digitally "feeling" in all those languages means that you have to be not just cognizant of the cultural differences that can impact the interpretation of the social chatter but the it has to be embedded in the technology so that the technology can do the interpretation and interpolation it has to do in order to give you some idea of how someone from say mainland China is feeling by saying what they are saying or someone from Denmark or someone from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is feeling - possibly, all saying the same phrases.

2. Customer Journeys - Oracle spends a lot of time with their customers mapping their customers' journeys. In fact, they hold workshops both scheduled general attendance (Oracle customer or prospect attendance) workshops, or workshops at the individual customer site. This is something that I don't know that any other vendor does as religiously or systematically as Oracle. Led by VP of Customer Experience Brian Curran (and kudos to him for doing this) these are something that should be imitated - in part because it's smart to do. They not only teach customers how to map the moments of truth (See Denis Pombriant for the best work on this) across an entire customer's journey, but they learn a lot about the customers they are teaching. A win-win. They are lucky that no one is really emulating them at the level they are doing it - and yet, as a person interested in the industry - I want to encourage every technology vendor to do what Oracle is doing in this realm. Sorry Oracle. You're doing it too well to keep it to yourself. J

I was also encouraged by the work I saw in being done in the Service Cloud, being led by another key Oracle dude, Steve Fioretti, the Vice President of Product Management, Oracle Service Cloud- not only a great guy, but someone who actually gets it when it comes to the aligning their well-designed Service Cloud with the 21st century's customer requirements.

So, I am greatly encouraged by what I saw but....

What I heard

Once again, we got to the nitty gritty of the words nitty and gritty. In other words, once again, there was an over focus on parts of the Oracle offering that seemed to be randomly chosen - and once again, this had a negative, obfuscating effect. It buried the more important message.

Why does this matter? Glad I asked me.

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This conference is an annual table setting event - and thus, it is incumbent on the company to set the table - not talk about the details of the dimensions of the table, the wood the table is made of, the style of the table, the number of chairs and.... you get the idea right? Unfortunately, that is exactly what I heard, which was initially provided via a lengthy, mind numbing discussion about security. While there is no doubt that Oracle customers have to have trust and faith in Oracle's ability to protect their data, their applications and their hardware, that could be sufficiently covered in five to ten minutes of verification of the safety and security that Oracle provides, not a 1-hour plus discussion on the 1s and 0s of security.

Again, if this were a conference on cybersecurity, fine. But these conferences are where a picture gets painted of not just what the company provides, but who they are. Some can say that I'm biased to the applications - and the customer-facing ones at that - and there is some truth to that - but that's not what I'm talking about.

Oracle has competitors who are both formidable and progressive thinkers - regardless of the crap they say about each other. Oracle has to show, not just their customer base, but the market, the industry, in fact, given its status, the world, what makes them special. What I saw (see above) is what makes them special. Not their secure apps, data and machines. Not their ability to work in the cloud. Hell, all their main competitors can claim some or all parts of both - and be right.

But what differentiates this company is its ability to appeal to the entire enterprise value chain with offerings that - if I can be not literal, but less than metaphorical - can, if dropped into an empty room - provide an enterprise with the technology it needs to run. It starts and stops at the level of the enterprise - meaning there is NOTHING consumer-like about Oracle other than some of its interfaces - so it doesn't have the range that say, Microsoft has. But for what it does, it does it well - though still expensively. That's applications, databases, analytics, hardware and delivery systems that are made to scale and, at this point in Oracle's genesis, to their great credit, cloud-ready.

The sad part is that this is repeated over and over again, year after year. I'm like a Mobius strip here and will continue to loop infinitely until I see Oracle finally say what I see.

There is one more thing....

CX must go

For a long time, I've been saying that there is no such thing as customer experience technology - you can't enable feelings - in the moment or over time. Most of the so-called customer experience tech companies have either shifted away from CEM as a technological descriptor or they've shifted toward customer engagement - which can and does have systems and is by far a better definition for the technology in question.

But not Oracle. For whatever reason - and we are back to my Mobius strip looping infinitely - they are retaining what is actually an artifact left over from the RightNow acquisition and making it the overarching umbrella name for their customer facing technologies - their CX offering.

I'm going to tell you the story of CX and RightNow - which was so long ago that I'm thinking that most Oracle employees have no idea where it came from.

Back in 2010, for reasons unbeknownst to anyone but senior management at RightNow, they decided that, like others before them, CRM is dead. Which for them, was biting the hand that fed them. There is a longer story that has to do with me and industry analysts kicking their butts publicly but rather than repeat that here, read the 2010 entry in this LiveEnterprise article on RightNow, which I think sums up the lunacy of the effort really well. Let's just say, the justification that was given by RightNow included some outright falsehoods.

In any case, CX was the substitute for what RightNow decided it was going to be providing and when Oracle acquired it in 2011, Oracle kept it as the hallmark for their customer facing applications - not realizing that it was based on a series of bad claims and was pretty much a mercenary effort to be an alpha company - not a market reality.

In the ensuing years, there has been distance between the events that led to CX as a name and the use of CX as the overarching descriptor of Oracle's customer facing applications. Unfortunately, for Oracle it doesn't describe what they actually have. What they can claim is CRM or even on the broader side of the offering, customer engagement applications. (Please read the linked article above on the definitions of CRM, customer engagement and CXM for an explanation of this). It would suit Oracle well to make the move, but due to whatever reason, for the last several years they don't and maybe, won't - and they are wearing me out on this one. I'm going to keep trying and they will or won't but I'm not going to crusade over it. But it's what I still hear every time I attend a conference of theirs.

To be fair, that doesn't undercut the quality of their customer facing applications which despite naysayers, are quite good. Nor does it undercut the growth of the practice or the talent of the teams running each of the customer facing clouds. It's just a lost opportunity that gets further away from being an opportunity of any kind the more that they hang onto it.

And now....in closing.... I bring you......

This is a company that is beginning to move the ship in the direction it has to go. The rate of movement is different in different parts of the company - the mission of the company is getting clearer with their cloud focused message - the technologies that they are developing have some that are excellent and in some cases likely to be market leading. But they still need to beat the poor public image they have as a company that does whatever it wants and says whatever it wants and they need to end the skewed positioning they keep promoting. Their possibilities, given the quality of technology they are providing, are exciting and they are showing that they understand that they have to align with the changes in the market. More so than ever before and that's a good thing. But there is still a gap between understanding and action - and that gap needs to be overcome for them to have the impact and growth I know they are looking for. They have been a successful company for many years. They recognize you can't live off your prior success anymore and that's a good thing. But an even better thing would be to close the other gap - between the great things I saw - and the not so great things I heard.

For other opinions, check out these posts/articles on OpenWorld 2015:

Denis Pombriant: Open World Analysis

Brent Leary: At Oracle Openworld, Oracle Marketing Strategy Gets Filled Out (podcast)

Denis Howlett on changed Oracle culture re: customers in the cloud