American Way: What have been the biggest technological lessons in implementing this?
ELLISON:
We've developed the eBusiness Suite, a complete set of integrated software to run your entire business: marketing, sales, service, accounting, human resources, supply chain automation, 75 major modules. The challenge isn't that the software is so difficult to work, but to move from what you have today to the eBusiness Suite.

We had 97 separate e-mail systems, 130 customer support systems, 130 accounting systems, and so forth, and we had to convert to a single, unified, global system. The way we did it was to take a portion of our business, Latin America, and hive it off from the rest of Oracle, as a laboratory to test the technology.

But before we could automate anything, we had to standardize the new processes we would need. It meant simplifying and modernizing every procedure, rethinking how we buy, sell, and support, defining everything precisely. We engaged senior management inside the company, which was another challenge. People ask the wrong question when they automate a company: Will this bunch of software allow us to purchase things the way we buy them today? The right question is, Will this allow us to purchase things the way we should be? The re-engineered process combined with the automation software is what yields the benefit.

American Way: If the benefits are so great, why are so few companies today far advanced in integrating and automating their entire extended enterprise, including vendor and customer relationships?
ELLISON:
If you look at the very best companies, like General Electric, they've completely standardized on Oracle. GE Medical has done exactly what I've described, running the whole division on the eBusiness Suite. GE Power Systems is in the process of implementing this. Whenever GE across the system buys anything, they use Oracle iProcurement. I could name a long list of industry thought and technology leaders who are going this way.