SAN DIEGO—Customers attending Oracle AppsWorld here this week said they want to see evidence that Oracle Corp. has a coherent long-term vision for enhancing its own products regardless of whether it ever succeeds in buying out enterprise application software rival PeopleSoft Inc.
Customers said they have seen little evidence that Oracle has been distracted in any way by its long-stymied hostile takeover of PeopleSoft. They also said they werent really concerned about whether Oracle would ever get a chance to add PeopleSoft applications to its product line.
“Oracle seems to be moving in so many directions these days” that it is hard to follow its plans for the various application modules, said Sanandan Swaminathan, an Oracle applications manager for a graphics technology company in Californias Silicon Valley. “I want to know what the vision is going to be for Oracle applications,” he said.
“Im not seeing a clear path for where they are going with the applications,” particularly the Oracle manufacturing and human resources applications that his company uses, he said.
Swaminathan said he is far more interested in Oracles native technology than in whatever potential effect a PeopleSoft acquisition might have in the future. “I would like to learn what will be Oracles end game” for development and upgrade of these products, he said.
There has been little evidence that Oracles applications sales and support teams have been distracted by the prolonged effort to buy out PeopleSoft, said Chuck Abell, an information technology manager with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif.
“I dont believe they have been going off message” about the long-term future of Oracle applications in advance of a PeopleSoft acquisition, Abell said. Oracle is continuing to focus on developing its own products in areas that are of greatest interest to customers, he said.
Abell said he expects to hear the usual calls for new features and fixes in Oracle applications. During user conferences “there is always a good deal of sniping” from users about problems that havent been fixed, Abell said. But he doesnt expect that “there would be anything out of the ordinary.”
But one Oracle customer said he is disappointed that Oracle hasnt been able to carry out the hostile takeover and feels it is increasingly unlikely that the company will be able to pull it off.
John Godfrey, a project manager with SITA, a global cooperative that provides information and telecommunications technology for the airline industry, said he believes the takeover of PeopleSoft is important for the future development of Oracles application lineup.
He noted that Oracle slipped from second to third place in the business applications software market when PeopleSoft merged with J.D. Edwards, which was in fourth place.
“Someone once said that second place isnt bad. But third place just doesnt augur well for the future,” said Godfrey, who is based in London. “Im concerned that there could be an erosion of their marketplace” unless Oracle finds a way to continue expanding its customer and technology base, he said. The PeopleSoft acquisition would have provided the means to achieve that, he said.
“At the end of the day, there has to be new customers so they can continue the investment in products and product enhancements,” Godfrey said. “Customers lose if they dont get the steady investments in product development that they need.”
Godfrey, who is chairman of the Oracle Customer Relationship Management SIG and deputy chairman of the manufacturing SIG, said Oracle has made significant progress over the past 10 years in its responsiveness to customer concerns. “They have cleaned up their software a lot over the past five years,” Godfrey.
However, “there is still a degree of arrogance” in Oracles relations with customers. “But they have done a lot to recognize and support our requirements,” he said.