Friday, August 01, 2008

Oracle's secrecy on Fusion specifics

Oracle apparently is making progress in its Fusion program, to develop best-of-breed applications based on its myriad acquisitions, but it is publicly disclosing very few details of its efforts or its plans for Fusion.

Bill Kutik in HR Executive Online writes:
...there is the continued secrecy around Fusion, the long-awaited next generation of applications built on a single architecture, with the best features and functions of everything Oracle owns. When Oracle executives' only comments on Fusion change from "available in 2008" to "early adaptors by the end of 2008," that's actually significant! And isn't that ridiculous?
He also provides this humorous account of Oracle's secrecy at the Oracle HCM User Group (OHUG) this year: OHUG this year, Oracle held a secret briefing for its customer Strategy Council on Fusion HCM. That and earlier private client meetings resulted in five glowing (but unattributed) quotes for the PowerPoint presentation, including ones from Alcoa and 3M.

After signing a nondisclosure agreement with penalties bordering on giving up her first born or a major limb, analyst Christa Degnan Manning of AMR was asked into the meeting to give an outsider's reaction. Despite an intensive waterboarding session from other analysts afterward, she would say nothing.

Lately, I'd been thinking that, from a marketing point of view, Oracle has been foolish to maintain such secrecy, instead of leaking out details and building widespread enthusiasm. The five blind quotes are headlined "Customers are Engaged and Excited." Sure, maybe some of those who have been briefed are.

But the rest, judging from the OHUG audience, went from intense curiosity last year to utter indifference this year. Remember, with Applications Unlimited, everybody is getting upgrades of every major application.
What does this mean for new and existing customers of Oracle? Kutik references a recent Gartner report that claims Oracle plans to only sell Fusion to new customers and that "migrating the installed base to Fusion is no longer a near-term goal." Furthermore, the 2008 Fusion applications will not include any core ERP products but will be focused on so-called "Fusion Edge" applications, which I take as meaning functionality generally considered as complementary products.

Although such an incremental approach to Fusion does not make for exciting analyst briefings, it does mean stability for new and existing Oracle customers. Nothing is more disruptive to the installed base as a forced march toward a major new product. Oracle ERP prospects can buy Oracle's E-Business Suite, J.D. Edwards, or PeopleSoft applications without much concern that these products will become orphaned in favor of some next generation Fusion applications. This is contrary to what many, including I, feared when Oracle started its acquisition program with PeopleSoft and JDE.

Related posts
More on Oracle's Fusion strategy
Oracle's Fusion strategy: clear as mud
Fusion to build on Oracle's E-Business Suite
Oracle going dark
Oracle's new reseller strategy and speculation on the future of JDE
Is Oracle's Fusion really half complete?
SAP slams Oracle's strategy as, Project Confusion

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