I recently sat through a demonstration of the new Oracle11i Time and Labor application and was quite disappointed with the presentation.
The sales professionals and technical sales consultant were certified and seemed well-qualified but were limited to what they could show us as a result of a new restriction from Redwood Shores that requires sales consultants to demo Oracle applications via a WebEx interface over the Internet from a "shared application and database instance" located on the West Coast. I was told that this came down from Larry Ellison and is an attempt to lower Oracles pre-sales costs.
Fine. I applaud a well-thought-out strategy to minimize costs while attempting to increase revenue. But this new method of demonstrating software is just plain ineffective.
My complaint is with the shared application and database instance for Oracles demonstrations. A shared and locked-down infrastructure simply offers less opportunity to customize and demonstrate a clients requirements.
In earlier years, Oracle sales consultants carried high-end laptops fully loaded with applications, Web servers, database instances and development tools. They could show how their software worked on the spot and could drill into configurations or tables to show how the application worked in more detail. Those days are apparently gone. Unfortunately, that will hurt future Oracle application sales.
Oracles implementation of WebEx promotes the promise that its applications run effectively over the Internet. Unfortunately, only Oracle11i Time and Labors pure thin-client HTML applications run well over the Internet. Many of Oracles Java-based applications and administration utilities that require the Jinitiator client application perform poorly over slow digital and dial-up Internet connections and can take a considerable amount of time to load.
As a result of the initial demo, Ive requested an on-site visit with an Oracle11i Time and Labor customer or a private configurable demo of Oracles product at our site. Who knows—I may actually get to see the capabilities of the companys application.
Gregory Smith is vice president and CIO of the World Wildlife Fund, in Washington, and an adjunct faculty member at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore. He can be reached at [email protected]