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Oracle Open World 2009, Day One

It’s Tuesday, thus time for Monday’s bloggery. I pretty much failed to liveblog Oracle Open World’s keynote, but at least it wasn’t through my incompetence; spotty WiFi and simultaneous Twitter overloads and outages conspired to keep me mostly silent, and the rest of the day had me on the move too much to post for you.

So many things happened Monday at oracle open world, though to be honest I think the day needed to accelerate before it got really good. The morning keynote led by Charles Phillips and Safra Catz was fairly sedate, as it felt like there was no binding force between the many segments. To be fair, I missed the Sunday night keynote due to personal burnout, so it’s entirely possible that Larry Ellison–a man I’ve never heard speak in person–really did the setting of tone last night and Monday was the start of the “business” part of the conference. Esteban Kolsky pointed out that there was an undercurrent of unrest in the room (something you never want when there are more than 10,000 people), and his tweets really captured the flow of the morning. He had much beter WiFi connectivity than I did, and seemed less affected by the problems experienced by Twitter, so I recommend checking out @ekolsky to see all the stuff I wanted to liveblog. Props to Esteban.

There were two stand-out segments, though. One was with Anthony Lye, which (and whom) I’ll come back to in a moment. The other dealt with retail, particularly “fast fashion” as implemented by H&M.

I have no use for the store or its brand, but I must say that the way H&M is using Oracle technology to change the way the apparel industry works. Any apparel business can (and should) use CRM and ERP technologies to make their purchases more efficient, but that still uses the antique method of basing inventory decisions solely on the debut of fashion “seasons” that might be nine months ahead of actual time. Fast fashion is a step beyond. Presenter Duncan Angove and an associate whose name I missed explained how H&M uses it to spot current trends and new products and act on them every month, perhaps even sooner. Combined with dashboards linked to regional maps, this means H&M can put what items will be most likely to sell well in each individual store, change out stock efficiently, and entice customers with promotions as needed to keep sales coming. Smart business and satisfied customers.

Now to Anthony Lye, who gets the other allotment of props for Monday. His part of the keynote delivered what the entire session should have done: a real tactical and strategic sense of how enterprise apps (like CRM) fit into a company’s efforts to increase efficiency and profitability, but without ever forgetting that it’s all about the customers and what you can do to make them not just content to do business with you, but happy enough from doing so that they encourage others to do the same. He didn’t stop there, either; he led two sessions later in the day that drilled even deeper into modern customer engagement strategy, and both were spot-on. His first had him and his team demonstrating how the Siebel CRM family is helping Oracle customers find their way in social CRM via cross-channel, experience-driven business practices. Very sharp. Then he put two powerhouses–Paul Greenberg and Denis Pombriant–together to discuss social CRM and cloud computing. A session with either Denis or Paul is always worth the time; both of them plus Anthony is more than most can hope for. The conversation was lively, though Anthony’s questions did seem (understandably) to support Oracle’s mostly-on-premises model. Regardless, Anthony Lye is everything Oracle needs in a CRM exec: he’s sharp, relatable, works well with the rest of his team, knows the industry, never forgets the customer, and is a pleasure to speak with. This man needs a raise.

More to come after today’s happenings, and I’ll try to post my thoughts in a more timely maner. No promises though; I still owe you my impressions of a great social CRM dinner I attended with Tealeaf last week revealing its latest customer experience survey results. Great stuff, and I want to do it justice, but I feel funny about the time delay.