Keeping Customers Happy

By John Pallatto  |  Posted 2004-12-20 Print this article Print

PeopleSoft customers have a right to expect that Oracle will bend over backwards to keep them happy because Oracle knows that their loyalty is not guaranteed. Thats because looming in the background is the 800-pound gorilla that made the buyout such an imperative for Oracle: SAP. Oracle wants to make sure that it can remain competitive with SAP globally and that SAP does not make deep inroads in the ERP market in the Americas. There are other competitive threats as well, not the least of which are Microsoft, Lawson Software and all of the others that Oracle mentioned in its lawsuit last summer, which overturned the U.S. Department of Justices ruling that the PeopleSoft buyout would violate antitrust law.
Testimony in that trial showed that customers were adept at wringing price cuts and service upgrades from the competing ERP software producers. Customers buying power has been in no way diminished by the buyout. PeopleSoft employees are in a much weaker position. The only truly safe positions are among PeopleSofts corps of developers, application designers or quality-assurance specialists. There are never enough really good software engineers, and Oracle officials have made it clear that they will be the first to be welcomed in the new organization. For several years at least, experienced PeopleSoft developers are going to continue to work on the next versions of the PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards products that Oracle officials have promised to deliver. Click here to read about Oracles efforts to win the confidence of J.D. Edwards ERP software users. Even after these products ship, PeopleSoft developers will be needed to develop the converged Oracle-PeopleSoft product that Ellison promised. Others will be needed to continue working with current PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards customers fixing and upgrading existing installations—work that could actually keep them busy for the next 10 years if thats what they want to do. Oracle co-president Charles Phillips acknowledged that many of the programmers and managers at PeopleSoft had formerly worked at Oracle. Thus, his company had a good idea of the skills and experience of many current PeopleSoft staffers. For those PeopleSoft workers who left Oracle because they were unable or who departed on less than amicable terms, the prospect of a return will be less than appealing. As usual, the people who lose out in any merger are those in administrative positions that are typically duplicated at the parent company. This includes people working in human resources, public relations, marketing communications—anything that isnt directly involved with the production and maintenance of products is vulnerable. All of these people, however, have had plenty of time to strap on a parachute and look for a soft place to land. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.

John Pallatto John Pallatto is's Managing Editor News/West Coast. He directs eWEEK's news coverage in Silicon Valley and throughout the West Coast region. He has more than 35 years of experience as a professional journalist, which began as a report with the Hartford Courant daily newspaper in Connecticut. He was also a member of the founding staff of PC Week in March 1984. Pallatto was PC Week's West Coast bureau chief, a senior editor at Ziff Davis' Internet Computing magazine and the West Coast bureau chief at Internet World magazine.

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