Taking Stock – President Ward preaches to the e-converted.

Hardly a day passes without a Staggering New E-business Fact coming to light, and at the English ICA’s e-business conference, the body’s new president, Graham Ward, made certain delegates were told plenty of them. The most staggering of all was delivered by Robert Fleming, a director at Oracle. Apparently, back in the dark days before the e-business revolution took hold, it cost Oracle $150 to process a single expenses claim. Today, an integrated online expenses system means the same process costs the company just $2. This, the conference was told, is all part of a virtual revolution at Oracle, which is being led by the enigmatic Larry Ellison in 145 countries. ‘Larry Ellison one day asked the question, how much did we sell today?’ Fleming said. ‘His minions went away to work on the problem. A lot of phoning, e-mailing and spreadsheet consolidation later and he was told. But it was 10 days later.’ So, it wasn’t long before Oracle had moved from 100 sales databases to one. But Larry wasn’t done. He then asked how many people worked for him. Again, extracting a definitive answer was difficult. And again, Larry effected swift change. Of course, this was exactly the sort of message Ward had wanted communicated at a conference devoted to the subject of e-business. But he may have been wasting his time. On the day, Ward was overheard boasting that around half the 800 bookings for the sold-out conference were made online – so it sounds rather like he was preaching to the e-converted.

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