"What world is HE living in?"
That sums up Australian IT and business reaction to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's pronouncement that large central IT shops are rapidly becoming obsolete.
"The fact of the matter for Oracle applications is that we want to sell to business people as opposed to IT people," Ellison told a recent press conference.
Oracle's chief also dismissed those who believe business people can't understand the technology claiming that hiring an army of experts in technospeak is "kind of the old way of doing things.
"The business people are the ones who should understand what we are selling and the ones who should make the decision to buy or not buy."
The implication of Ellison's message -- that vendors are now making software that requires minimal professional hand-holding -- met with reactions ranging from disbelief to weary amusement from Australian IT managers.
"It would be very nice to be made obsolete, I could go and have a rest somewhere," said Ian Goch, general manager IT development for Coles Myer.
"But if what he says is true, why am I paying my Oracle database administrators so much?
"I'm not sure what magic he's delivered but whatever it is, I haven't seen it here yet, Goch said.
AAMI's IT manager, Robert Huisman, described the insurance company's technology purchases as "very much a partnership between IT and business.
"Business people don't have enough technical perspective to tackle issues such as support and interfacing new systems with other parts of the operation."
If Ellison's vision for industrial strength software is correct, asked Huisman, "then why do I need all those specialists in there to look after it?"
A simple way for Ellison to demonstrate Oracle packages no longer needed IT departments to maintain them would be to offer the software with free support, he suggested.
Craig Clifford, managing director of boatbuilder Incat Tasmania, labelled Ellison's message an oversimplification and said: "It sounds as if he is talking about an ideal world." His company valued its IT staff and did not foresee their disappearance, Clifford said.