Oracle aims to lead by example

Oracle is about halfway through a restructuring project that promises to centralise and streamline its operations and move about 2000 employees from data-centre management to customer support.

Users are keeping a close eye on the company, viewing it as an example of how to make a transition to the Internet-based economy using Oracle products.

An Oracle executive said the company is about halfway to its goal of reducing 2500 information technology staff members to just 500, redeploying the freed-up employees to customer support and reducing the number of data centres and independent sales teams. Oracle president Ray Lane said that as a result, the company has achieved a $US200 million saving so far in operating costs.

"When you have multiple data centres, you're spending a lot of money," said Ron Wohl, Oracle's executive vice president for applications development, adding that the complexity of the original system also slowed down the corporation. "How do you optimise a deployment of personnel if your HR skill information is fragmented across 30 or 40 different instances?" Wohl asked.

Mark Adam, a consultant who just finished installing Oracle's new HR Payroll application for a client, said: "I like to see them applying the product to their own organisation [and] cutting out the mundane parts."

The goal, Wohl said, is to move to a self-service, fully automated approach in which all the details of Oracle's relationships with its customers are tracked. Although the full eBusinessSuite that Oracle is deploying in-house won't ship until the end of this month, some Oracle customers have already begun integrating their operations, using early release versions of the software, earlier versions or a combination of the two. For example, 20 customers are using the hosted version of eBusinessSuite 11i, Wohl said.

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