Advisor PhotoLyle Ekdahl can be serious when he needs to be as the photo here demonstrates.  He also loves a good sight gag and punch line.  Ekdahl was the obvious choice to oversee Oracle’s JD Edwards franchise when Lenley Hensarling left this summer in terms of experience and knowledge of our market segment.  His selection was also the popular one.  A significant percentage of those who have a strong interest in the JDE product line know him from the many entertaining presentations he has made in recent years.
 
There is not likely to be any radical shift in strategy or product direction under Ekdahl since he played a major role formulating the current game plan.  The biggest change might be one of style – Ekdahl is a more engaging, energetic and entertaining personality than Hensarling.   The wise old master craftsman has moved on leaving room for the talented and fun loving young apprentice to take over.  Fasten your belts and keep arms and legs inside the ride – this should be fun.
 
Lenley and Lyle worked together for six years.  During that time they steered the JDE product line through its most perilous era.  They began working together during the period when PeopleSoft was making something of a mess of the JDE franchise as it fought Oracle’s attempts to take over. After the acquisition took place, there was widespread speculation that Oracle would sell or spin off JDE. Instead, the product line prospered.  The way that Hensarling and Ekdahl leveraged each other’s strengths was a big reason behind the reversal of fortunes.  After a dramatic few years, JDE has settled into a nice niche within the Oracle applications portfolio.
 
Ekdahl does not have a very complicated mandate. His job is to keep the current installed base happy, profitable and inclined to buy more from Oracle. Adding new installations, especially in underserved markets is also a goal as is minimizing defections. The 6,000+ organizations that use JDE applications around the world generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue per year at a nice profit.  Job number one is simply to keep the franchise healthy.
 
There are practical limits on what can be spent enhancing the JDE applications themselves. This is not a serious problem since the product line is mature and has few important missing elements.  As a result, improvements are increasingly focused on the needs of narrow segments of the customer base.  Recently announced features targeted at the fashion industry are a good example.
 
The bulk of the investment in improvement is focused on integration with and leveraging other Oracle products and technologies.  Oracle’s total R&D budget exceeds $3 billion per year.  Ekdahl constantly looks for ways to bring the value of that investment to our community.  This is the big benefit that being part of something much larger brings.
 
Stay tuned for more musings on the next stage in the evolution of JDE that Lyle Ekdahl is now overseeing.  As usual, there is much more to report but I am out of time and space for one posting.

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