Oracle shakes out on the eve of Oracle8

Oracle shakes out on the eve of Oracle8

Oracle shakes out on the eve of Oracle8

SYDNEY - In what has been described as a poor public relations exercise, Oracle Australia has fired its marketing communications manager days before the launch of its long-awaited Oracle8 relational database and just weeks after it said it was beefing up its channels strategy.

The company's spokesperson went with several other employees in what Oracle described as an internal reorganisation as part of a move towards maximising customer service and profitability.

Don't think the marketing communications manager, David Sanday, was not doing his job. He had been with the company for more than five years.

"The company made a decision and I'm no longer with them," was all Sanday would say.

In the time he was at Oracle, Sanday saw it grow from a database company with a reputation for hiring hotshot sales people to a company that now handles applications and database tools as well as the core relational database management system.

It has also outgrown the problems it had with Oracle6, now long-forgotten with the launch of hugely successful Oracle7.

But Oracle7 was launched back in 1992. Since then Oracle's other database competitors, notably Sybase and Informix, have launched updated versions of their products but have also been beset with poor recent financial results.

The company is looking to the major new features in Oracle8 to fuel its future growth.

Certainly, Oracle has been enjoying record worldwide revenues - it looks set for a $US2 billion quarter - but there are two flat spots in its universe.

The European market has been soft for most vendors and resellers for some time.

Oracle's other flat spot is right here in Australia.

Sources close to the company suggest its Australian revenues from licence sales are down 35 per cent this year compared with last year.

They suggest others may follow Sanday in a major shake-out in the local operation.

In the statement Oracle made about its "displaced people", it was also stated that new roles would be created in sales and channels management and the duplication would be eliminated.

With the announcement of its new channels strategy last month (ARN, 11 June, p 21), Oracle is certain to be looking to the channel for a greater share of its revenues.

Oracle is also one of the leading exponents of the network computer. But it is having a tough time with its applications products, Oracle Financials.

It faces a formidable range of competitors including SAP, Baan and QAD.

Moving in Oracle's favour is the competitors in the applications market that favour Oracle's database engine and the underlying data management system.

It should mean continuing good revenue for Oracle from database licence sales.

"But that's not the market they want," said Mike Mansbach, director of technology alliances at QAD.

QAD is an applications software vendor specialising in the manufacturing sector.

In Australia to talk to its local hardware vendors alliances, Mansbach said Oracle needed more than database revenues. "It needs apps revenues and that also means consulting revenues," he said.

"Otherwise it's just another database vendor."

But with a very good database and with the launch of Oracle8, it is probably an even better one.

It's a pity the company couldn't have held on to its senior PR person to help tell us about it.

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