Present Perfect

Di Ianni is the vice-president for field marketing at Oracle Corp,
responsible for guiding marketing resources and
investments. He is also responsible for driving Oracle’s transformation into
an e-marketing organization. Since he quit Digital Equipment and joined Oracle
in March 1997, Di Ianni has saved his company millions, and achieved oodles more

You have transformed Oracle into an e-marketing firm…

The marketing setup at Oracle was earlier quite spread out. There were too
many isolated groups, leading to inefficiency and overlaps. There was a crying
need for consolidation. Every country office had its own HR and corporate
system. Everyone worked off separate servers, and we would get to know a week
later as to what was actually happening there. It wasn’t the type of
applications that were a problem, it was all Oracle, but it was the
configuration that was really creating a problem. There were different kingdoms
and too many kings.

"Ushering in uniform standards was tough, as we had many kingdoms and too many

To mend this we decided to concentrate on centralizing the whole network and
connecting everything to a central hub. Self-service is what we follow now and
that has really helped in cutting costs. CRM has been another huge development.
Today, we follow the principle of Web First in everything that we do.

The principle of WebFirst…

The terminology is self explanatory. Today everything that Oracle does on the
marketing front is designed for the Web first. For example, earlier each of our
marketing groups used to focus on creating publicity materials like
advertisements and brochures separately just to meet the demands of their needs.
The lead time for designing and printing them was such that they usually ended
up flooding the office space and were rendered obsolete literally as soon as
they were printed. However, things have changed dramatically since we adopted
Web First or the online model. What this means is that instead of going for the
usual publicity stuff in paper we put it up on-line. This also helps us avoid
huge inventory of unwanted material. Also, changing it whenever the product or
the specs or the brand-name changes is a much simpler and cost effective task–so
much so that Oracle has been able to make a straight saving on $50 million
through this model.

In fact, our cost reduction drive has been primarily responsible for the
company’s $500-million profits in the first quarter. Internet-based business
processes has actually helped us greatly in staying profitable. And as a
corollary, our stock has not been hit much.

The key focus areas for Oracle in coming times…

"We have a great story to tell the world… In difficult times, we have improved our margins tremendously, by 33%… that’s a great number"

Being a software company our business is really reliant on software. Our
consulting business is not too big, it is related to our products, and we are
not pushing that either. We use consulting firms as partners, as against, say an
IBM model, which is a services-oriented company. We are hinging our future
prospects on software, which is where our core competence lies, and not in
services or consulting. Our mainstream is licenses.

We are the #1 CRM vendor in India, and we expect that to continue. We also
came out a few months back with new apps, notable the 9iAs, and that should help
us stay on top. We see a very high growth in that area. We have seen a huge
increase in the number of free downloads from our website for 9i. We are
supporting this product line.

Future plans…

The Internet is a kind of event that happens once every ten years, not
something that comes and goes. eBiz adoption and business is still a very early
story, and we are just scratching the surface. eBiz and the Internet are where
the future is. There’s also wireless, 3G, portals and connectivity and some
other segments, all of them aspects of the Internet.

In the last four years, we have made tremendous improvements in our product
lines, gaining both marketshare and mindshare worldwide. What we need now is to
get the numbers. We already have 2 million people around the world using our
technologies, and that bodes well for our future marketshare. After the US,
India is the second-largest base for us.

On opportunities in India…

Oracle India, with its commitment to success, is uniquely positioned to
participate in the country’s exciting process of infrastructure development.
Today we are working in close partnership with leading players from all key
areas–telecommunications, banking, insurance and manufacturing both in the
government and private sectors. India is strategically important for us, not
only because it has huge potential but also because the country has the right
talent. Thats precisely the reason why we have established two of our three
international research development centers and even a product engineering center
here. Our Indian operation has achieved a CAGR of about 40% since its inception
in 1993. The company now enjoys a 50% marketshare in the RDBMS segment.

Rajeev Narayan and Shubhendu
in New Delhi

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