Is Oracle playing a losing game against its customers

Every organisation says that it is customerfocused. That the customer is always right. And that it operates in the best interests of the customers. But is this always the case? Think about some of your IT suppliers. Do any regularly frustrate you? Certainly, when we speak to our customers, one thing becomes clear: customer happiness and success is not at the forefront of Oracle and SAP’s focus.

The truth is that both Oracle and SAP are playing a long game against each other (and the whole ERP industry) and their unfortunate customers are the pawns.

This is obvious when you look at their policies, talk to their customers, or look at some of their public announcements. Oracle, in particular, is never one to shy away from the public eye. It is impossible to see any story about Oracle where the vendor isn’t undermining Amazon Cloud (AWS) or emphasising developments into Autonomous Databases or Cloud.

Oracle likes to boast about what it can do or how it compares to the competition. When we can’t see the evidence behind these claims, Oracle simply keeps on talking.

Oracle by name, but by nature?

But recently, we witnessed Oracle failing to meet one of its public promises. In early 2020, Larry Ellison – founder of Oracle – made a public announcement. By March 2020, a number of SAP’s largest ERP customers would (supposedly) move from SAP to Oracle.

When March 2020 arrived, Ellison reiterated his belief. On public record, no less. SAP’s customers were (allegedly) switching to Oracle. But cracks were already showing. Ellison added that it was merely a “matter of time.”

Fast-forward to June 2020. Oracle’s Q4 earning reports were released. We saw the usual figures: sales and customer onboarding, etc. But the sudden influx of ex-SAP customers was nowhere to be seen. Despite what was promised, the numbers revealed the truth. Oracle’s usual swagger became a light step back into the shadows.

We haven’t seen any more announcements of stolen customers since…

Are you just a number to your vendor?

While this was undoubtedly an embarrassing moment for Oracle, the multi-billion-dollar organisation can probably shrug off a faux pas like this. But these actions have had a lasting effect. The behaviour has raised some concerns regarding how Oracle really sees its customers.

Are Oracle’s customers respected, and valued members of the organisation’s community? Or are all of Oracle’s customers merely points on a scorecard? Rather than providing a balanced vendor-customer relationship, it seems Oracle is eager for more customers to show dominance over competitors.

The question is: when Oracle made these big public claims, was it acting in the customers’ best interests?

Oracle is an expert at this game

We’d like to think that when any organisation plans to steal its competitor’s customers, it is doing so for the benefit of those customers. Perhaps it can offer a better price, or a better service.

But before giving Oracle the benefit of the doubt, it’s difficult to ignore that this “one-upmanship” fits neatly into Oracle’s existing behaviours. Stealing customers and scoring “points.” It’s all too familiar with the way the vendor tries to push customers towards Cloud products.

Oracle first tries to move customers to its Cloud products through typical, pushy sales tactics. If that doesn’t work, Oracle has been known to audit its customers, then offer to waive audit fines if they buy a heavily discounted Cloud product instead.

The how or the why of organisations moving to the Cloud isn’t important to Oracle. As long as the numbers go in the right direction. The vendor’s main priority is its sales figures ahead of the next quarterly results. By theft or by force, the targets still need to be met.

We’ve seen Oracle planning to publicly “steal” customers from rivals. We’ve seen the vendor forcing organisations towards upgrades and new license agreements that aren’t in their best interests at that time. In both cases, it’s unlikely that Oracle factors in whether it’s a good decision for the organisations involved.

Mark Smith, CEO of Support Revolution

Oracle customers are fighting back

Oracle’s customers are (understandably) growing tired. They’re tired of being treated like a number, rather than a respected customer. And they’re tired of having to pay excessive amounts in support fees for the privilege. Many are looking for ways to change the game and beat Oracle.

Not too long ago, organisations didn’t have much of a choice and had to put up with their broken vendor relationship. But since the mid-2000s, there’s been an outbreak in the ERP industry of third-party support providers. These are individual organisations separate from Oracle and SAP, like Support Revolution, who can provide the same level of support and service as the vendor but for substantially less money.

This means that Oracle and SAP customers can continue using their products, but change who provides the support for those products. They can also save large amounts on annual support costs (often between 50-90% of their usual fees).

Since the creation of third-party support, major brands, key industry players and even government bodies have joined the third-party support revolution. This support alternative has developed so much and so quickly, that Gartner released this statistic in 2019:

The third-party support market is expected to “grow from US$351 million in 2019 to US$1.05 billion by 2023 – a 200% increase.”

– A quote from Gartner

Oracle and SAP spend their time stealing from one another.

Their customers are making the strategic decision to take their pieces off the board.

Switch to a trustworthy support partner

Third-party support has been growing. Organisations from a wide variety of industries have joined the revolution and reaped the benefits for themselves.

A well-known organisation in the utilities and services industry has already made the strategic move to third-party support. An Oracle audit had forced the organisation to increase the number of licences it held, leaving it overpaying for shelfware and support.

These costs came at a time when the organisation was restructuring. It needed to reduce Oracle expenses, not lose even more budget to the vendor.

Gartner recommended third-party support to the organisation, but it still had some concerns in the practicalities of replacing Oracle, and how a new vendor’s support team would combine with existing support partners.

We worked closely with the organisation to match our support and consultancy services to what it needed and aligned our processes to its support partners – helping the organisation make considerable savings.

How to beat Oracle’s game

With third-party support, organisations have the opportunity to step away from Oracle’s grand claims, the race to the Cloud, and its competitive rivalries – and instead focus on their own business and IT development, such as exploring alternative options in the age of Cloud.

Leave Oracle and SAP to their games. Sometimes the winning move is not to play. 

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