Chief information officers (CIOs) are dedicating more of their budgets to what we call “systems of engagement” (technologies that help win, serve, and retain customers) rather than “systems of record” (back-office technologies). According to research here at Forrester, new business investment in the former will be eight times that of the latter in 2014. All of which means CIOs are re-examining their back-office legacy spend to see what savings can be made to fund new front-office innovations.
But releasing back-office spend is not easy. For many companies, most of the ‘easy’ savings have already been achieved - so squeezing even more savings has become a tougher game. For example, you can only try to re-negotiate legacy support costs a few times before the vendors say ‘enough is enough’. While such comments may have discouraged negotiators in past, the advent of third party software support in the last five years has, for Oracle and SAP users at least, kicked the cost savings door back open and given fresh impetus to procurement people seeking to reduce software support costs.
I am sure that many of you have read some of my previous comments on the emergence of the third party software support market over the past number of years. Companies like Rimini Street, Spinnaker Support and Alui have saved some Oracle and SAP clients a lot of money. For companies who have moved to third party support, or who have simply used the threat of moving to third party support in order to drive the vendor’s costs lower, the savings they are enjoying have freed up cash to spend on new innovations and front-office client engaging stuff.
Oracle has missed revenue expectations for three quarters in a row now as its Q3 results fell short of market expectations. The company blamed currency fluctuations and the strength of the US dollar for this latest miss.
The company reported third quarter earnings of $2.6 billion on revenue of $9.3 billion. Wall Street expected to Oracle to report fiscal third quarter revenue of $9.36 billion.
To be fair, Oracle did deliver some good data points. For instance, hardware system product revenue for the third quarter was $725 million, up 8 percent from a year ago. Software license and support revenue was up 5 percent to $4.6 billion and new software licenses and cloud subscriptions were up 4 percent from a year ago to $2.4 billion. Oracle says its outlook for the fourth quarter was solid. Safra Catz, Oracle co-president, said revenue growth in the fourth quarter will be between 3 percent and 7 percent.
Oracle won’t want to miss Quarterly earnings expectations again and will expect their sales teams to outperform in the next couple of months. All of which bodes well for an exciting run up to Oracle’s fiscal year end on May 31st.
Here are three quick tips to bear in mind as you prepare to negotiate with Oracle:
1. If you have an Oracle contract up for negotiation this quarter, then you should leverage the pressure Oracle sales are under to hit market expectations by squeezing an extra point or two of discount in return for a signed contract.
2. If you have a support renewal coming up, remember you have a choice now and third parties like Rimini Street, Spinnaker Support and Alui can give you real leverage at the negotiating table.
I've just published a Quick Take report that explains why the Nevada District Court’s recent decision on some of the issues in the four-year-old Oracle versus Rimini Street case has significant implications for sourcing professionals — and, indeed, the entire technology services industry — beyond its impact on the growing third-party support (3SP) market.
It’s been a long wait, about four years if memory serves me well, since Intel introduced the Xeon E7, a high-end server CPU targeted at the highest performance per-socket x86, from high-end two socket servers to 8-socket servers with tons of memory and lots of I/O. In the ensuing four years (an eternity in a world where annual product cycles are considered the norm), subsequent generations of lesser Xeons, most recently culminating in the latest generation 22 nm Xeon E5 V2 Ivy Bridge server CPUs, have somewhat diluted the value proposition of the original E7.
So what is the poor high-end server user with really demanding single-image workloads to do? The answer was to wait for the Xeon E7 V2, and at first glance, it appears that the wait was worth it. High-end CPUs take longer to develop than lower-end products, and in my opinion Intel made the right decision to skip the previous generation 22nm Sandy Bridge architecture and go to Ivy Bridge, it’s architectural successor in the Intel “Tick-Tock” cycle of new process, then new architecture.
What was announced?
The announcement was the formal unveiling of the Xeon E7 V2 CPU, available in multiple performance bins with anywhere from 8 to 15 cores per socket. Critical specifications include:
Up to 15 cores per socket
24 DIMM slots, allowing up to 1.5 TB of memory with 64 GB DIMMs
Approximately 4X I/O bandwidth improvement
New RAS features, including low-level memory controller modes optimized for either high-availability or performance mode (BIOS option), enhanced error recovery and soft-error reporting
With the employer mandate delays being the latest setback to U.S. president Obama's push for national healthcare, it's worth looking at how other countries are successfully tackling the same problem. The United Kingdom has had nationalized healthcare for years, and one of the things that makes this effort so successful is its approach to data collaboration — something Forrester calls Adaptive Intelligence.
While the UK hasn't successfully moved into fully electronic health records, it has in place today a health records sharing system that lets its over 27,000 member organizations string together patient care information across providers, hospitals, and ministries, creating a more full and accurate picture of each patient, which results in better care. At the heart of this exchange is a central data sharing system called Spine. It's through Spine that all the National Health Service (NHS) member organizations connect their data sets for integration and analysis. The data-sharing model Spine creates has been integral in the creation of summary care records across providers, an electronic prescription service, and highly detailed patient care quality analysis. As we discussed in the Forrester report "Introducing Adaptive Intelligence," no one company can alone create an accurate picture of its customers or its business without collaborating on the data and analysis with other organizations who have complementary views that flesh out the picture.
Sourcing professionals already understand the importance of monitoring financial performance to assess risk in their key suppliers’ ability to deliver commitments. Sometimes sourcing professionals can also find valuable negotiation leverage in the financial results of their key suppliers, as is the case with Oracle’s Q4 2013 numbers . In my opinion, the revealing aspects that you can use to increase your bargaining power over the next couple of quarters, include:
"Logan: That's the way things are. The way things have always been."
In Redwood City this week, the answer I heard from Oracle was an emphatic yes. At Oracle's Industry Analyst World, the company stressed its cloud bonafides against Salesforce, IBM, and SAP with its new Customer Experience (CX) Suite. The CX Suite is a horizontal offering, assembled primarily from acquisitions, newly rechristened as Oracle Marketing (Eloqua), Oracle Commerce (ATG, Endeca), Oracle Sales (Oracle CRM On Demand), Oracle Service (RightNow), Oracle Social (Collective Intellect, Vitrue, Involver), and Oracle Content (Fatwire).
The Software as a Service (SaaS) suite promises to deliver a lower total cost of ownership, easier integration, and faster time to value for a business looking to streamline its enterprise software providers. While Oracle's approach is to lead with SaaS, it also promotes an Enhance, Augment, Migrate strategy, enabling existing customers to extend an on-premises deployment --- think Siebel Loyalty --- with one or more CX products, say Eloqua's email delivery capabilities.
You Can Outrun Your Past
So what does it mean for Eloqua? Marketers using or considering Eloqua should recognize that Oracle:
To publish this post, I must first discredit myself. I'm 42, and while I love what I do for a living, Michael Dell is 47 and his company was already doing $1 million a day in business by the time he was 31. I look at guys like that and think: "What the h*** have I been doing with my time?!?" Nevertheless, Dell is a company I've followed more closely than any other but Apple since the mid-2000s, and in the past two years I've had the opportunity to meet with several Dell executives and employees - from Montpellier, France to Austin, Texas.
Because I cover both PC hardware as well as client virtualization here at Forrester, it puts me in regular contact with Dell customers who will inevitably ask what we as a firm think about Dell's latest announcements to go private, just as they have for HP these past several quarters since the circus started over there with Mr. Apotheker. Hopefully what follows here is information and analysis that you as an I&O leader can rely on to develop your own perspective on Dell with more clarity.
Complexity is Dell's enemy
The complexity of Dell as an organization right now is enormous. They have been on a "Quest" to re-invent themselves and go from PC and server vendor, to an end-to-end solutions vendor with the hope that their chief differentiator could be unique software to drive more repeatable solutions delivery, and in turn lower solutions cost. I say the word 'hope' deliberately because to do that means focusing most of their efforts around a handful of solutions that no other vendor could provide. It's a massive undertaking because as a public company, they have to do this while keeping cash-flow going in their lines of business from each acquisition and growing those while they develop the focused solutions. So far, they haven't.
When I returned to Forrester in mid-2010, one of the first blog posts I wrote was about Oracle’s new roadmap for SPARC and Solaris, catalyzed by numerous client inquiries and other interactions in which Oracle’s real level of commitment to future SPARC hardware was the topic of discussion. In most cases I could describe the customer mood as skeptical at best, and panicked and committed to migration off of SPARC and Solaris at worst. Nonetheless, after some time spent with Oracle management, I expressed my improved confidence in the new hardware team that Oracle had assembled and their new roadmap for SPARC processors after the successive debacles of the UltraSPARC-5 and Rock processors under Sun’s stewardship.
Two and a half years later, it is obvious that Oracle has delivered on its commitments regarding SPARC and is continuing its investments in SPARC CPU and system design as well as its Solaris OS technology. The latest evolution of SPARC technology, the SPARC T5 and the soon-to-be-announced M5, continue the evolution and design practices set forth by Oracle’s Rick Hetherington in 2010 — incremental evolution of a common set of SPARC cores, differentiation by variation of core count, threads and cache as opposed to fundamental architecture, and a reliable multi-year performance progression of cores and system scalability.
HP seems to be on a tear, bouncing from litigation with one of its historically strongest partners to multiple CEOs in the last few years, continued layoffs, and a recent massive write-down of its EDS purchase. And, as we learned last week, the circus has not left town. The latest “oops” is an $8.8 billion write-down for its purchase of Autonomy, under the brief and ill-fated leadership of Léo Apotheker, combined with allegations of serious fraud on the part of Autonomy during the acquisition process.
The eventual outcome of this latest fiasco will be fun to watch, with many interesting sideshows along the way, including:
Whose fault is it? Can they blame it on Léo, or will it spill over onto Meg Whitman, who was on the board and approved it?
Was there really fraud involved?
If so, how did HP miss it? What about all the internal and external people involved in due diligence of this acquisition? I’ve been on the inside of attempted acquisitions at HP, and there were always many more people around with the power to say “no” than there were people who were trying to move the company forward with innovative acquisitions, and the most persistent and compulsive of the group were the various finance groups involved. It’s really hard to see how they could have missed a little $5 billion discrepancy in revenues, but that’s just my opinion — I was usually the one trying to get around the finance guys. :)