I read that article too, and even more interesting was the 80 page presentation by Paul Senatori at the 2001 SCIP Annual Conference. They thoroughly go after the competition and it is definitely cut throat in the technology business. I recall viewing similar presentations by other technology companies like HP and Cisco where they go after specific competitors just about every way you can: sales, ads, website, products etc. In some ways they have to be this way with the technology cycle time becoming shorter all the time, and the gap between competitors shrinking.
What is scary is that Oracle is still in the competitor buyout mode: look at the the competitors they have bought since that presentation: Peoplesoft and SUN since then to name a couple of the bigger ones.
Well, first I think the noted Mr. Enderle has posted an article that he is going to deeply regret, because it is so ridiculously foolish and flawed on so many levels. Frankly, putting out this kind of drivel, I would think Mr.Enderle might want to reconsider calling himself an analyst, as it appears he is simply a media pundit looking for an attention grabbing headline about a subject he clearly knows nothing about; namely CI.
1. First, the title itself reflects a foregone conclusion with no comparison & contrast to the CI activities of Oracle's comeptitors circa 2001 to warrant Enderle labeling them the" Scariest Company in Tech." With that in mind, I worked in Strategic CI at a certain Oracle competitor then, you both know which one. Frankly, there is nothing in the Oracle deck that the company I worked for, and I personally, wasn't doing in 2001.
2. Enderle's article is being published in 2010, and Senatori's presentation that prompted it is a full 9 years old; which brings up yet another issue. How ludicrous is it to use dated, decade old material to make a claim about the state of affairs today-ie that Oracle even if they were the scariest in 2001 which Enderle doesn't prove, that they would remain the scariest tech firm in 2010? Puhleeze, he just might want to look into Asus for example.
3. CIA like unit? Oh shoot, I am really laughing now; howling and rolling on the floor actually, maybe just maybe before Enderle talks out his rearend -he might want to know something about the typical ops the CIA runs and how they differ very materially from what Senatori lays out in his presentation that Oracle was doing.
4.Effective at monitoring HP's board? Oh that is precious too. My God they have been such a stumbling bunch of buffoons whose every mis-step has resulted in very public lawsuits how hard could it be?
5. Enderle says,"Oracle can spell strategy and may be the most intelligence focused and strategic company in the segment."Oh man, where to start with this one.
a. Oracle can spell strategy, well uh so can your average kindergartner so uh whats the point with that statement?
b. Also, which segment is Enderle talking about ? Relational DBs? CRM? ERP? BI? Servers? Storage? Middleware?
c. Most intelligence focused? Again where's any benchmark vs comeptitors then, none the less today to make such a claim?
d. Strategic? They are getting spanked in two of the hottest areas going -SaaS and ODS for example.So uh how strategic is that?
6. Enderle talks about Oracle's "Ability to focus on the detailed weaknesses of their competitors-IBM,SAP"...yeah that's because they had benchmarking labs ! Uh so did/do HP and IBM, has Enderle seen their past or present sales tools? Sheesh then Enderle talks about military precision, please its just good benchmarking done by a technical intel team .
7.Enderle says " Oracle is playing at a level unmatched in the industry."
Again, which industry? See pretty much all of the above about the unmatched part.
I thought the article was interesting. What makes a company scary isn't the intelligence they do or do not gather. It's what they do WITH the intelligence. It's not about the intelligence, but about the way the company plays the game. Some companies gather the information and use it to brief their executive cadre. Other companies use it aggressively to the disadvantage of their competitors.
After years in CI looking for silver bullets, I realize most companies don't really know what to do with the silver bullet if they find one.
A CI consultant once visited the firm I was working for. The consultant was just prospecting for business, and we didn't wind up hiring them. The consultant had sat next to a product manager for our largest competitor when he flew into town. The product manager had his product launch plan laid open in the cramped workspace of a coach airplane seat, and the consultant gave us a tidbit: ON OR ABOUT THE 9TH OF JUNE, YOUR COMPETITOR WILL LAUNCH XXX NEW PRODUCT.
The CI professional gathers this information, passes it through the organization and hands it to the person who manages the affected product.
"THAT'S INTERESTING" our product manager replied.
A McKinsey survey in May, 2008 indicated most companies learn about competitor product or price innovation on time or early, but typically react late or not at all, typically use executive "gut" feel with the most obvious reaction if they react at all, seldom rely on deep analysis, and would do it the same way the next time. "HOW COMPANIES RESPOND TO COMPETITORS"
What's scary isn't the "CIA LIKE INTELLIGENCE OPERATION" but whether the company is willing and able to do something with the information.
Most intelligence is actionable, if the recipient is ACTION ORIENTED, and willing to do something with it.
Does the company take the threat seriously?
Do they have a portfolio of counteractions they are prepared to take?
There's a story (perhaps even true) that Kodak held more digital photography patents than any other company in its industry. In 1990 they released PHOTO CD. But they did it to complement their film business rather than to embrace a revolutionary new direction. It's not about the intelligence. It's about the strategic DECISION and whether a company is ready, willing, and able to execute on that decision.
Oracle's advantage isn't their "CIA-LIKE INTELLIGENCE OPERATION". Oracle's advantage is that they execute and they play hardball.
I'm kinda surprised "CIA-like" is somehow a positive adjective for an industrial analytical team. Does this mean that they missed the fall of the Soviet Union and overthrew South American governments. I mean, did Oracle play a role in getting the Shah reinstated in Iran or something?
Also: can we finally cut it out with all of overly-macho Sun Tzu nonsense? Larry Ellison started as a great coder and became a great businessman. This is not the same thing as killing rogue Mongol generals. Enough testosterone, already.