CTO survey, some panels with Tim Bray of XML fame and others, Oracle's $1 billion "savings"
InfoWorld CTO Forum 2001 | home
Barbara Ruffner, VP of InfoWorld Audience Development, showed some slides from surveys about CTOs in general. What we want from companies, how much we're paid, etc. The main thing was comparing us to CIOs (they also have CIO Magazine). CTOs have more over 40 people (you could see from the audience) and very few women. The conference actually had a good representation of female CTOs considering that 100% are supposed to be men...
A slide showing survey results done by InfoWorld
The first session was on managing through mergers and acquisitions. The panel included Debra Domeyer, CTO of Carsdirect.com, Ameet Patel, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Gene Rogers, Boeing Space Systems, and was moderated by Chad Dickerson of InfoWorld. It was followed by a session on "Stratagies for Corporate Transformation in B-to-B Environments with Michael Vizard moderating panelists Tim Bray of Antarcti.ca (a father of XML), Phyllis Michaelides, director of technology of Textron (a big diverse company), and Anthony Scott, of General Motors.
Two panels: Chad Dickerson, Debra Domeyer, Ameet Patel, and Gene Rogers; Michael Vizard, Tim Bray, Phyllis Michaelides, and Anthony Scott
I actually took a few notes during this talk. I scribbled them on paper, which doesn't do a very good job. From Tim Bray: "What you build today will be with us a long time...In major league baseball you make millions of dollars if you get things right one third of the time...some things we do will fail, we'll make mistakes, so take small steps...You must be able to get data out [e.g., make it available through XML or something]...protect ourselves from our own goofs." Phyllis talked about how a lot of old systems will never be upgraded. You must figure out ways to make diverse systems work together. "Integration is the key," she said. Another point, I thing from Tim, was not to expect too much from XML.
Mike Vizard, Tim Bray, Phyllis Michaelides, Tim again
The next speaker was Jeffrey Henley, Executive VP & CFO (not CTO) of Oracle. Oracle was a major sponsor of the conference. Sponsors got various speaking opportunities at breakout sessions. As a major supplier to our industry, with Microsoft having a major speaker, it was appropriate to have Oracle have one, too. Unfortunately, Oracle had a conference of their own at the same time overseas, so we had to make do with non-CTO but very high in the company Mr. Henley.
The talk set out Oracle's message. I took pictures of some slides. Notice this early one telling you to "Spend to Save":
Oracle's Henley, the top of one of his slides
He made several points, such as telling you to put in a global system instead of lots of local ones, buy an integrated suite from them instead of individual stuff from others, buy a standard configuration from them instead of customizing too much, etc. To back up their pitch, they talk about Oracle saving $1 billion a year. He explained how they figured that out: They'd increase their margin on sales (the difference between sales and direct costs). (To the non-MBAs reading this: There are several ways to increase margin, such as raising prices, cutting costs, allocating the costs through accounting to other things like R&D that aren't part of the cost of sales, etc.) His slides and explanation showed that most of the savings comes (or will come) from making the cost of customer relations lower through using the Internet. Just a bit comes from making their internal operations more efficient.
A couple more of Oracle's slides
On the Q&A he was asked what Oracle charged itself for its software. He said they didn't charge anything, so the cost of software wasn't in his savings calculations... Well, at least now I understand what they are saying about $1 billion savings. His "switch to an integrated everything suite" didn't follow what the previous panel said would happen. But at least I now understand their points and why they need to make them.