More On Oracle and Innovation from the Enterprise Irregulars

In addition to my post on Oracle and Innovation from yesterday, my colleague Dennis Howlett has also weighed in on this issue, first by citing Vinnie’s post and then adding his own perspective as well. Meanwhile, as a backdrop to the public debate we’re waging, the Enterprise Irregulars have been batting around this issue amongst themselves with some interesting points to be made. One EI, Jason Corsello, opined that innovation is in the eye of the beholder, and that for many organizations, innovation is less important that stability and the “one throat to choke” that comes with sticking with a single vendor.

Microsoft’s ability to innovate also entered the discussion, with Dennis Howlett suggesting that MSFT was good at innovation and providing customer satisfaction. I replied with the following:

NAV, and in fact most of Dynamics, isn’t what I would call a hotbed of
innovation. The model doesn’t allow for it: most of the innovation in
MSFT ERP products come from small regional partners, and said partners
and MSFT have done a lousy job globalizing that innovation to make it
available to all their customers. So, in light of the relative lack of
innovation, Dynamics customers’ high level of satisfaction (or low
levels of bitching, which are absolutely NOT the same thing) say a
fair amount about the value of innovation and customer sat — and may
support Karen Tillman’s contention, and Jason’s, that high customer
sat can exist in the absence of innovation. I guarantee you that
MSFT’s customer sat levels plummeted with Vista — having just spent
three days figuring out how to run chkdsk on my wife’s Vista machine,
something that would have taken two seconds with any of the 10
previous incarnations of the MSFT OS.

Also, we cannot know what MSFT spends on innovation, or anything else,
relating to its ERP products, as they stopped breaking out those
numbers years ago. And, as we have seen all too often over the years,
if a company is being secretive, there’s usually a good (or actually
bad) reason. So, it’s not a fair comparison to make.

I don’t think the issue is settled here, and hopefully we’ll see some more discussion in the coming months. It’s clearly an important topic, all the more so because innovation is one of the key reasons for spending in today’s economy, and the burden of proof is on vendors to prove the value of the innovation they provide…..


3 Responses

  1. @josh – I dropped out at the point when you added the above comment. The remark I consistently make to Microsoft is that it doesn’t know what it has in its customer base. The last Convergence, I unearthed some truly amazing stuff yet when it’s mentioned to MSFT execs, the eyes sort of glaze over. I tell them: ‘Hey this video I shot has been viewed X times’ in excited tones and they kinda go ‘So what?’

    Jason’s ‘eye of the beholder’ remark is certainly on point – which provides a justification to Oracle on its terms but then as long as I’m defining my terms in a reasonable manner, I can decide who is or is not providing the kinds of innovation I need. Ergo, I’d argue that while you are right to draw the cust sat and innovation distinction, I’d equally argue there is at least a partial correlation.

    It’s difficult to add meaningful remarks on the spend patterns at MSFT because again – and I’m probably being kind – they spent a lot of time and money sorting out the code bases. Hardly innovation per se but absolutely vital to making the business apps line something of worth. Keeping that spend out of the limelight was a good call cuz then it avoids the distraction of justifying every cent in the different buckets we’d like to see them put it.

  2. […] a nice back and forth about the topic among Dennis Howlett, Vinnie Mirchandani, Paul Greenberg, Josh Greenbaum and Bob Warfield. Oracle spokeswoman Karen Tillman has also chimed in a good bit (guess where she […]

  3. […] for $75 billion taken from customers that Oracle’s delivery has been anemic (homer to detractors) Josh believes my comparison with Microsoft is flabby (1st base hit to Oracle) Paul likes Social CRM but […]

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