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Mark Hurd: Oracle’s only objective is to help customers

Anh Nguyen | May 2, 2012
Oracle president Mark Hurd has pledged to “make it easier” for customers to do business with the company.

Oracle president Mark Hurd has pledged to "make it easier" for customers to do business with the company.

The pledge came in response to disquiet among customers, some of which was aired at the company's Collaborate 12 user groups' conference in the US.

Complaints included the complexity of contract negotiations when trying to buy Oracle products and the demands for complex, wide-ranging license negotiations when users simply wanted to add more licenses to their existing investments.

Customer relations is a major concern for Oracle, which has gone to considerable efforts to reassure customers it acquired through acquisitions - from Siebel and Retek to Hyperion and Sun - that their interests would be preserved.

Acknowledging the issue, Hurd told Computerworld UK: "We want to eliminate every barrier we can to making it hard for customers to do business with us. We have no objective other than to help our customers. So that's what we're trying to do."

Hurd said the company also wanted to make it "simple and easy as possible" for users to update their software, without feeling pressured to do so. But he admitted that not all customers were happy with Oracle's upgrade policy.

"We don't want them [customers] to feel locked in. They have choices," said Hurd.

"We try to be flexible within our upgrade windows. At the same time we try to keep customers on the most current versions of the software possible.

"We don't think it's good for either us or our customer to be four versions back in terms of their software. It's very hard to support the technology, it's very hard for us to keep current skills to very old versions of software. So we try to find ways to make it as painless as possible to get customers up to the most current version as possible."

"It doesn't mean every customer likes it," he added.

Acquisition strategy

Oracle has been on an acquisition drive for the best part of a decade and Hurd saw no reason to let up. While much merger and acquisition activity in the economy is driven by the need to acquire customers, Hurd explained Oracle's strategy in terms of intellectual property and product sets.

"We are working to get out of the things that don't have IP," he said. "Inside the hardware business, business that came over with Sun [Microsystems] that were OEM-d [that is, white-labelled] from third parties, had no IP from Sun and no IP from Oracle, those products we [began to] phase out - storage products for example."

As for future acquisitions, Oracle will focus on buying in solutions that it does not already have in R&D, said Hurd.


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