Oracle AppsWorld Eyes New Opps for DBAs, Devs

Oracle AppsWorld Eyes New Opps for DBAs, Devs

Tags: Oracle, Business, DBAs, Oracle AppsWorld, Partners, Customers, Messaging,

We spoke with Oracle's VP for E-Business marketing Fred Studer,. Studer also is in charge of Oracle's ERP Marketing and in charge of marketing and messaging at Oracle AppsWorld.

IDN: What are messages to the DBA and senior database/app developer for Oracle AppsWorld?

Studer: We need to expand Oracle's presence and footprint in the ERP sector as a provider of finished apps and not just as a database engine. So, we'll be going up against SAP, PeopleSoft, Siebel and the like. Many of our target customers already use Oracle, of course, but they also have ERP from these other companies. So, we want exhibitors and partners to talk to other exhibitors and partners and tell them this is a good event, and that Oracle is a company they should invest with if they're in the ERP or e-business (web-to-legacy) market. Also, we want DBAs to talk to other DBAs and tell them the training is great for them for knowing how databases work with higher-level apps. We want customers-to-customer word of mouth too. It will be a long-term strategy, but so long as we can break-even, along with partner investments, we can keep this up a long, long time.

IDN: Oracle seems to have evolved its messages to the Oracle users/developer groups over the past few years. Could you put that messaging in some perspective? And, what's your latest thinking on the opps for DBAs and developers?

Studer Yes, there has been an evolution of our approach over the last 3 shows (2001, 2002, and 2003).

Over the last three (3) years, AppsWorld has had three different flavors, as Oracle tries to figure out how to work with OAUG, as well as how to improve participation (from attendees, exhibitors and partners).

  • In 2001, (the first year of Oracle/OAUG partnership), the focus was products, products, products. We wanted to get away from a strictly high-end user event, and talk a lot more about selling and new products to all sorts of audiences. We improved our exhibitor participation, and this was mainly through a huge increase in sales/marketing assistance for the show from Oracle. But, we had a very uneven result on the attendance side. Numbers went up, but it didn't seem that the message was really hitting the target. Part of that could have been marketing and part could have been that two years ago Oracle just didn't have enough vertical higher-end products.

  • In 2002, Oracle decided we needed to talk more about "solutions" and soft-sell the products side. So, last year AppsWorld message was something like this: "It's not about the products -- it's about the customers." So, all of our content and messaging was more out-facing to the customers. Lots of training. Lots of Case Studies. Lots of How-Tos, and that kind of stuff. We really also wanted to broaden the base, so we spent a lot on marketing the show to all three core audiences -- End users and managers/It and CIO types/and our core DBAs. I think the tenor of the show was much better, and showed that Oracle wasn't just about "putting fish in a barrel" at the show to sell people stuff they might not want. But, at the same time, I think we didn't really leverage the show as well as we should have. At the end, people felt good. But, we didn't leave them with a "call to action." Because we weren't selling product, it was tough to tell what we were telling them to do, except maybe, "Have fun, and, oh, by the way, stick with Oracle." Well, that doesn't put bread on the table either, for us or for our partners. So, we needed a stronger story to get people to come.

  • So, this year, in 2003, we decided we needed a broad but strong theme that would resonate with our target audiences, on both the technology side and the business side. So, we decided to blend training and How Tos with product information and technical training. We also wanted to develop a program for our exhibitor partners, and not simply host a breakfast and give them a crack at meeting customers in their booth.

  • IDN: What would you say are the main areas of interest for Oracle in putting together Oracle AppsWorld insofar as the type of attendees? Are you looking for the IT technical professional, the business analyst or a bit of both?

    Studer: We were targeting the 4 main areas of those that manage the "life cycle" of our customers. (1) C-level execs, (2) Line of Business Managers; (3) real business users; (4) Technical staff (IT, database administrators). Our goal was to have high level events for the first two days of the conference, and the more technical level sessions at the end of the conference. It didn't quite work out that way with so many areas to cover, but that was the general idea.

    The other emphasis was on vertical and major horizontals. So, we did lots of things around key sectors for our customers, including retail, health care, manufacturing and supply chain. We also found that made it easier for us to attract certain key partners that have focused their business on those sectors -- mostly services firms, of course. We also got a bit more traction from vertical publications, with some new media sponsors and press registrants.

    How would you say that approach has worked? Any lessons learned, so to speak, for next year?

    Studer: If there's one lesson is that we will focus even more on Line of Business content and marketing for next year.

    This year, our upgrade from Oracle 10.7 (to Oracle 11) was a key concern for exhibitors, and so we had program highlights for that issue. But, as I see attendance, it looks as though our LOB tracks are doing every well, and my presenters tell me there is lots of interest in our upgraded features for those products on manufacturing, warehousing and the like. But, not enough time to flesh out all the details. So, I'm pleased to see that we have strong LOB interest, and that our product line is maturing enough that we'll have lots to say there. By next year, this won't be your Dad's AppsWorld, (laughs).