Oracle's model for e-commerce: Keep it simple, 'drink the Kool-Aid'

Oracle's model for e-commerce: Keep it simple, 'drink the Kool-Aid'

By Susan M. Menke

GCN Staff

APRIL 18'Information technology is the least of the challenges facing a large organization that wants to put its mission online, Oracle Corp. executive vice president Jeff Henly told an audience of federal and corporate officials in Washington today.

Oracle decided several years ago to 'self-service' 100 percent of its business activities over the Internet, Henly said. All 50 of its enterprise applications now reside in a single data center'with a backup center in Colorado because of California's power blackouts'and are accessed by both employees and customers via Web browser. Even e-mail, Henly said, consists of browser views of an Oracle database.

The consolidation of IT activities is saving the company an estimated $50 million a year, he said. Oracle runs only a single instance of each enterprise app and permits almost no customization for different countries or activities. That means simpler software, fewer hardware components, less data duplication and smaller IT staffs.

Such massive changes are difficult for an organization that wants to do business electronically, but even harder is overcoming internal opposition'what he called a cultural bias against change. Every employee must begin to perform work tasks in the same way with the same equipment. It helps to have 'a strong dictator' like Oracle chairman Larry Ellison, he said, to force others to 'drink the Kool-Aid.'

If top managers will not work actively to make the changes happen, he said, 'Chill out. You can go incremental' by starting with electronic procurement.

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