Learning from past mistakes

By Jim Louderback  |  Posted 2004-01-29 Print this article Print

Ellison went on to detail two major Oracle failings during the 90s: creating a single sales force with one rep per company, and building a huge internal consulting and services organization that competed with the channel. "One of the single worst mistakes Oracle ever made was thinking that the customer wants one person selling everything. I thought that was strange, because the customer doesnt have one person buying everything. I think the one-person sales force model was a tremendous mistake. We separated applications from the database sales force, which we should have done a long time ago.
"We are an infrastructure company. Eighty percent is infrastructure, and 20 percent is applications. But were unlike any other application company in the world. Were the only application company with a huge infrastructure business thats separate. Are customers forcing us into integration? People are talking a lot about doing different types of integration with message passing. That style of integration—passing data from one application to another—has been around for 25 years.
"Were talking about a different way to integrate, around a common data model and database, instead of around a message backbone. Large customers have always had a need to integrate, but Ive always thought that standard message passing technology was enormously expensive to use. I think IBM Global Services would agree with that. Gerstner said that for every dollar in product revenue, they brought in five dollars for services. We think that ratio is way out of line. "Where IBM makes their money is in system integration. If one of the companies that begins with General—Motors, Electric—decides to build a customer data hub [with Oracle], the likelihood of choosing our consultants to do that is very small. General Electric would probably pick Tata Consultancy Services—one of the biggest Indian consulting and outsourcing companies—because they watch every penny. "One of the most interesting things that happened last year, which I learned after the fact: GE Medical implemented our eBusiness suite without me knowing about it. Well who did this? Tata. An awful lot of this work will be done by third-party consultants. I dont see us ever having, nor do we want, the scale of consulting business to do these big projects. Our primary business: We are a software technology company. "Seen over the past few years, Oracles been flat to down. But its our consulting and education business thats down. Software and licensing is a lucrative business. We dont want to compete with system integrators like we did in the 90s. Thats another big mistake we made. The big system integrators were recommending SAP and Seibel because they saw us as a competitor. We dont want to be a competitor." Next page: Executive shakeup

With more than 20 years experience in consulting, technology, computers and media, Jim Louderback has pioneered many significant new innovations.

While building computer systems for Fortune 100 companies in the '80s, Jim developed innovative client-server computing models, implementing some of the first successful LAN-based client-server systems. He also created a highly successful iterative development methodology uniquely suited to this new systems architecture.

As Lab Director at PC Week, Jim developed and refined the product review as an essential news story. He expanded the lab to California, and created significant competitive advantage for the leading IT weekly.

When he became editor-in-chief of Windows Sources in 1995, he inherited a magazine teetering on the brink of failure. In six short months, he turned the publication into a money-maker, by refocusing it entirely on the new Windows 95. Newsstand sales tripled, and his magazine won industry awards for excellence of design and content.

In 1997, Jim launched TechTV's content, creating and nurturing a highly successful mix of help, product information, news and entertainment. He appeared in numerous segments on the network, and hosted the enormously popular Fresh Gear show for three years.

In 1999, he developed the 'Best of CES' awards program in partnership with CEA, the parent company of the CES trade show. This innovative program, where new products were judged directly on the trade show floor, was a resounding success, and continues today.

In 2000, Jim began developing, a daily, live, 8 hour TechTV news program called TechLive. Called 'the CNBC of Technology,' TechLive delivered a daily day-long dose of market news, product information, technology reporting and CEO interviews. After its highly successful launch in April of 2001, Jim managed the entire organization, along with setting editorial direction for the balance of TechTV.

In the summer or 2002, Jim joined Ziff Davis Media to be Editor-In-Chief and Vice President of Media Properties, including ExtremeTech.com, Microsoft Watch, and the websites for PC Magazine, eWeek and ZDM's gaming publications.


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel