Clearing Lane
Is Oracle's loss of its CEO a sign of the times?

The big surprise for at least some Oracle corporate users about the sudden departure of chief executive Ray Lane was that they first read about it in the national media. It is basic customer service that suppliers provide IT directors with the company line at times of upheaval, to help them fend off the questions from concerned chief executives or boards.

Microsoft, during the twists and turns of its epic anti-trust case, took this to heart providing its corporate users with regular non-disclosure briefings.

But was Lane's departure a big deal? Or Pier Carlo Falotti's departure last month as head of Oracle Europe? Or the senior management exodus in the UK late last year?

In the computer supply industry, as in any industry, those at the top play musical chairs all the time, and their customers have to contend with unsavoury cat fights, takeovers, mergers and alliances. No-one is surprised about anything for very long.

By any measure, Oracle has pulled itself up by its bootstraps over the past few years from being a database and financials supplier to being a one-stop integrated Net-based customer relationship management company, with its technology underpinning many core corporate e-business efforts.

While eccentric chairman Larry Ellison has been waving his hands in the air over the past two or three years about Net terminals and the like, Lane, with mooted successor Gary Bloom, has been getting on with the job of revamping the company. He has taken $1bn in costs out of the infrastructure and centralised decisions previously taken locally. That has enabled the company to consolidate its acquisitions, and become a leading e-business supplier.

The organisational upheaval that Oracle is going through reflects the turmoil all companies will face as they develop their e-business infrastructures and is unlikely to have a major impact on its users in the short term.

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This was first published in July 2000

 

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