You save because the new processes are much cheaper, but there's also a dramatic savings in IT costs. As we put in the Suite, we've cut our own IT costs in half in four years, going from spending $600 million to $300 million annually at Oracle. Agilent, in its first year, before the Suite was even up and running, cut 30 percent off its IT budget. All the best companies lead the way - they're the thought and technology leaders of their industries.

American Way: Your rivals would say they are putting together what they call "best-of-breed" systems - which combine the leading software of each type into one system - while Oracle's software products, while integrated with each other, are not the best
because you're a latecomer to some of these markets.
ELLISON:
Microsoft was a latecomer to word processing, which was dominated by WordPerfect. It was a latecomer to spreadsheets, which was dominated by Lotus. Microsoft was late to graphics, dominated by Harvard Graphics, and late to desktop database, which was pioneered by Ashton-Tate/dBase. So what happened to all these companies? They vanished, because everyone wants all the pieces linked together, and they buy Microsoft Office.

People want you to engineer everything to work together. In fact, SAP was the first ERP company that had all the pieces of the back office put together. We're the first to have the back office, the middle office, and the front office put together effectively, automation extending from suppliers through the legal department and contracting to the customer. History has shown that the more complete the suite is, the more successful you become: It trumps "bastard-breed." The cycle always begins there, but ultimately the specialist companies die out. That's the way evolution works.

American Way: How are you handling the competitive and alliance relationship with your sometime partner SAP?