Thursday, 25 May 2006

Despite garden, Oracle isn't mellowing

According to Berkeley's heartthrob analyst, "The hottest rumor in recent weeks among analysts was that Oracle’s head of analyst relations had lost her head in a power struggle".

Josh's article explains that vice-president Peggy O'Neill was thought to have been ousted because of growing frustration with Oracle's highly controlled analyst relations.

We are scratching our heads at that idea. Here on the ARmadgeddon campus, there's general agreement that agressive management of AR is more likely to be rewarded at Oracle than punished. Remember, it's hard-nosed Oracle that bought the PeopleSoft hippies, not the other way around.

If Oracle didn't intent to play to win, then they had the opportunity to change course in 2003. The evidence suggests to us that Peggy's tactics are fair, but people still asked Oracle to mellow and cut analysts more slack. They have not, and we don't see a growing demand inside Oracle for the firm to loosen up, even if Larry's main interest is his Japanese garden.

Mind you, the very idea of Peggy leaving Oracle is interesting. If she was to switch career, what would she be well suited to? Answers on a postcard, please.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Peggy controlled all comms for the Seibel acquistion too - very highly regarded by Oracle and analysts. Is she tough? Yes. But also very fair.
Some weak kneed men are intimidated by her - but frankly she is probably the best in the business, and has built an outstanding AR team.
If this were to be true (highly unlikely) Oracle would be making a huge mistake.

Phil Payne said...

I understand Oracle are recruiting AR people.

Dennis Howlett said...

Have you met Josh? I'm not sure 'heart throb' is an expression that comes to my mind.

theARpro said...

Dennis, he's not your type, but he certainly has a following!

Anonymous said...

I have been a reader of ARmadgeddon for some time. This is actually my first response to any posted ‘story.’

This entry (about Oracle AR) is particularly interesting to me for a number of reasons. I have been in the IT industry for the past 11 years and have spent a good amount of that time successfully building and managing analyst relationships at a handful of vendor companies (large and small) in the silicon valley. As a player in the industry, it has been fascinating to see the evolution of the AR profession and the relative importance it has received at many IT vendor companies. In many cases the high-level of importance is obvious for reasons associated with the influence that analysts have in the market (with end users, media, investors, partners, etc.) and role that analysts play in supporting vendors through major shifts in the market (such as the shift that the business application and technology infrastructure market is going through now).

I have seen the role of AR evolve and in some cases devolve in various companies. Both ends tend to be the result of senior management understanding/buy-in of the role that analysts play (or can play) in their markets and whether they consider the function to be an enabler of the company and its business strategy (strategic) or just something that ‘has to be done or supported’ because analysts are out there (tactical).

The strategic view of AR tends to come with great sponsorship (human and financial) supported by AR having a seat at the table in business planning and strategy. The tactical tends to be linked to communications and is an after thought of the plan that is merely ‘communicated’ as part of mass market roll-out. In some cases, depending on the company and relative strength of position in the market, AR does not need to be strategic. This said, in major market shifts such as the one unfolding today (in business application and technology infrastructure) no company is immune by size or presence when it comes to influencing the direction of the future of the market. The role of AR must be strategic!

I have witnessed and paid special attention to how different vendor AR programs operate and have studied the success and best practices of a handful. I can candidly say that Ms. O'Neill's program at Oracale represents the best case of 'what not to do' for AR practitioners at ‘normal’ companies that want to be strategic in their markets.

Soon after I read Josh Greenbaum's article I conducted some research on the internet to understand more about Oracle's AR program and their AR tactics. I found many examples of their program which I consider to be very offensive to the AR profession. Here is a link to one example that I found and feel important to share. It is a presentation that was delivered by Oracle Senior Director of AR, Jane Boland, at a UK Product Marketing Forum (UKPMF) event in June of 2004. (http://www.ukpmf.org.uk/Downloads/June-2004-PM-Interacting-with-Industry-Analysts.ppt)

If you download the presentation you will essentially see Oracle's AR strategy. Although times have changed since 2004 and the tiering structure of their program is out of date due to analyst/research firm consolidation, the fundamental philosophy and values of Oracle AR still hold true and is frightening – as an industry best practice.

Slide three of the presentation details the charter of the AR program at Oracle.

The first principle of the charter is to: Extend and defend Oracle’s image with the analyst community. I agree that this is an admirable point. However, if you read further you will see that they will defend their position by a combination of: Negotiation, cajoling, and threatening.

This is perhaps the most offensive and worst representation of values for the AR profession that I have seen! There is nothing admirable about the negative confrontational tone of this charter.

This charter creates a defensive and adversarial level of interaction with analysts (from the outset) that will only lead to conflict and stress of any healthy relationship with analysts. In speaking with many analysts who work with Oracle, they agree that this tone very much represents the nature of their relationship with Oracle AR, today. It is not an advantage for anyone other that Oracle’s competitors.

Don’t get me wrong, as AR professionals we must at times play the role of bad cop in an effort to ensure that our companies are represented appropriately in the market and that truth and integrity hold strong in all research that published.

I do not agree with the tone that is represented by Oracle’s program. Again, if this works for Oracle (based on their live or let die mentality) then so be it...I wish Peggy and team many happy years at Oracle. I just hope that other professionals in the industry do not take homage in this position as admirable or a best practice. If they do, then perhaps they belong in another profession, or maybe I do. This is not a value that I would see fitting for a healthy strategic program (of any level) to bring economies of scale in enabling the business the lead in any market.

Anonymous said...

I have no respect for Peggy O'Neill... she would fit in very well in China and their controlled media system.

As far as where she could work? Let's see... no where in the IT industry, because I haven't met an analyst, partner or competitor (pretty obvious) that thinks well of her.

In short, she is a dishonest, power hungry little blob of a being...

I don't know who wrote the above, but firing Peggy O'Neill would be a great first step in Oracle becoming a more reputable, honest company. Say what you want, but if you take a look at SAP, they are a very honest company when it comes to communications, and look who's #1 in enterprise app's?