Magazine article CRM Magazine

Sifting through the Rubble: Oracle's Massive Annual Gathering Garners a Lot of Press-Both Good and Bad

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Sifting through the Rubble: Oracle's Massive Annual Gathering Garners a Lot of Press-Both Good and Bad

Article excerpt

What's the point in sponsoring a conference? Conventional wisdom holds that the real value is the exposure and the lasting impact on current and future customers. If so, someone might have mentioned that point to technology giant HP, which parlayed a sponsorship of this year's Oracle OpenWorld conference into an opportunity to address the event's 40,000-plus attendees (and thousands of additional online viewers) during the opening keynote.

HP's presentation ran roughly an hour--but "roughly" could also describe how the audience responded. How bad was it? Ray Wang, principal analyst and chief executive officer at Constellation Research--and one of CRM magazine's Influential Leaders in this year's CRM Market Awards (September 2010)--commented that it was the "worst keynote [he] had seen in 10 years."

Given the reaction in the hall--and, more important, over Twitter--"HP" might just as well have stood for "humdrum presentation." Many felt the HP executives were reading straight from the teleprompters, and the only thing worse than the delivery was the content itself: HP drowned the audience in a sea of marketing messages.

"This HP infomercial is a criminal waste of an opportunity," twittered Carter Lusher, research fellow and chief analyst for the enterprise applications ecosystem at Ovum. Attendees soon adopted the hashtag #keynotetorture, as HP went on--and on--without the slightest acknowledgment of a suffering audience.

Another twitterer, looking for a silver lining, remarked that at least the subsequent address by Oracle cofounder and CEO Larry Ellison was sure to seem stellar by comparison. Oracle's communications team had gone to great lengths to hype Ellison's Sunday-evening keynote--an addition to the Wednesday-afternoon slot he had favored in past years. "There's so much news, Larry has to have two keynotes," they said. Ellison, unfortunately, seemed to fall flat on both occasions. His Sunday keynote--though a step above HP's--did little to undo the damage, perhaps because so many attendees had already left the hall.

Much of the news involved hardware and a new "cloud-computing-in-a-box" offering. Seeking to distinguish Oracle's view of cloud computing from that of software-as-a-service pioneer Salesforce.com, Ellison emphasized Oracle's ability to provide a complete cloud infrastructure in a single offering. Despite accusations from analysts and the media that Ellison was guilty of "cloudwashing," some noted they were just happy to see Oracle finally talking the talk at all in cloud computing. …

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