Friday, October 24, 2003

Ellison mistakes APICS conference for Oracle user group

Earlier this month, I noticed that the Spectator was getting hits from Google with search terms "Ellison" and "APICS" and sometimes "Las Vegas." Yesterday I found out why. It seems that Oracle's CEO Larry Ellison gave a keynote speech at the APICS International Conference in Las Vegas earlier this month, and people have been trying to find details on what happened. There doesn't seem to be anything in the business press about Ellison's speech. So I checked with two individuals that I knew were in the audience. Their reports to me were consistent with each other.

According to my sources, Ellison appeared "unprepared" and gave a 20 minute "meandering, off-the-cuff," promotion of Oracle's view of a single, centralized, universal database for the entire enterprise. One source said the points were virtually identical to those that Ellison gave to an Oracle user conference in the UK several weeks ago. "People were walking out in the middle of the presentation in droves," he said.

Those that stayed were not much friendlier. During the question period, one audience member, who claimed he had been speaking at APICS international conferences for over 20 years, chided Ellison for turning his keynote presentation into an Oracle sales pitch, something prohibited by APICS rules for speakers. (APICS's position, which is similar to that of other professional societies, is that if you want to make a sales pitch, buy a booth.)

According to one source, the general consensus after Ellison's performance was that--compared to other keynote speakers such as former Burger King CEO Barry Gibbons, Steelcase SVP Mark Baker, and Hilton Hotel's Anthony Nieves--Ellison looked "amateurish."

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