Investment in improvement is one of the biggest casualties of the now year old economic crisis.  The mantra of too many decision makers has become “if it costs money, stop doing it”.  In more prosperous times IT departments had funding to invest in projects to carry out improvements that would pay off over time through cost reduction, revenue growth, risk avoidance or other worthwhile benefits. 

Among the organizations my company calls on, funding for non-essential improvement projects has largely dried up.  This is scary since such investments are the source of the productivity gains that underlie most economic growth. 

Ironically, the cutback in IT driven innovation has come at a time when a new source of dramatic improvement has just become ready for mass deployment.  Oracle calls this new capability “Business Performance Optimization”. IBM uses the term “Business Analytics Optimization” to describe the same phenomenon.  Unfortunately, neither of these giants (or the other major IT vendors) has yet done enough to help ordinary businesses understand what this is, how it can be applied, and why investing in optimization is one of the best ways to manage your way through tough times.  Once I have fully covered the news coming out of OpenWorld, I will turn my attention to reporting on this major development in our industry and how it impacts the JDE community. 

My September 23 posting described Oracle’s minimalist approach to advertising and market education.  Letting the market figure out on its own what it is selling has not prevented Oracle from becoming highly successful.  In the case of business optimization, Oracle is wasting a great opportunity to provide thought leadership.  Oracle is doing little that is visible to educate and inspire organizations to invest in optimization projects. 

Oracle executives have bragged that their company invests heavily during market downturns to improve its own internal environment.  This time, we have been told, much of that investment is centered around optimization using its own BI technologies as a foundation.  If this is true, lots of us would like to hear more.  We could all use more ammunition when confronting the spending police to help make the case for undertaking improvement projects. 

I am cautiously optimistic that Oracle will use OpenWorld next week to help us understand what business performance optimization is all about and what can be done to use it to get IT innovation projects moving again.

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