Users Reject Oracle Proposal for Single Conference

PHILADELPHIA (04/25/2000) - The Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG) yesterday notified Oracle Corp. that its members had overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to fold the user group's conferences into a single conference run by the software vendor.

According to OAUG officials, 87% of the users who responded to a survey this month said they were opposed to holding a single Oracle-sponsored event each year instead of the two conferences now run by the user group. About three quarters of the OAUG's 2,000 corporate members responded to the survey.

The proposal by Oracle's corporate marketing department would have fundamentally changed how the two North American conferences are run, said Don Payne, executive vice president of the OAUG's board of directors and director of electronic business at InFocus in Wilsonville, Oregon.

But now, although the OAUG will continue to maintain a close relationship with Oracle, Payne and other user group officials said the conferences will become even more independent than they have been.

For example, Jim Collins, executive director of the Atlanta-based user group said Oracle has traditionally managed press relations at the OAUG's conferences.

Oracle will still be free to invite reporters to the conferences, Collins said.

But he added that the OAUG will also now handle media relations and hopes to see more balanced coverage, with increased opportunities for users to get multiple perspectives on issues related to Oracle's applications.

On Monday, the OAUG sent Oracle a letter detailing the results of the survey, in advance of the organization's spring conference, which is being held here this week.

The survey included Oracle's proposal, along with a statement from the OAUG's board of directors that focused on the user group's dual missions of education and advocacy.

"We are very pleased with the overwhelming support for independence," said OAUG President Jeremy Young, who is a finance business process manager at DHL Worldwide Network NV in Belgium.

"The most important thing for the board is that we are an independent organization, and we should remain an independent organization for the future," Young added.

Oracle had proposed that the OAUG's conferences be folded into the vendor's own Oracle OpenWorld event, which takes place each fall. In addition to rejecting that idea, OAUG members also voted in favor of continuing to hold both the spring and fall conferences that are now held by the user group in North America.

The OAUG, which represents users of Oracle's enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management applications, also holds annual conferences in Europe and in Asia.

Oracle officials declined to comment on the OAUG's vote. "Oracle and the OAUG are negotiating about how to run conferences, and there's nothing to announce on the Oracle side yet," an Oracle spokeswoman said.

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