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2/9/2011
06:58 PM
Bob Evans
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Global CIO: Oracle's Mark Hurd Calls Out Deadly IT Strategies

Hurd outlined several world-shaking trends while speaking with some of Oracle's largest financial-services customers and prospects.

In a wide-ranging conversation with Oracle's financial-services customers and prospects yesterday, president Mark Hurd stressed that the next decade or two will bring profound changes in where wealth is created around the globe and in the ways technology can help—or hinder—companies seeking to exploit that opportunity.

Pointing to Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey as among the next wave of high-growth countries, Hurd predicted that those lands will lead the next great wave of wealth creation created by innovative companies whose products and services and ideas are consumed around the world.

"There's a big change in where wealth is going to be created," Hurd said. "If you were hanging around high income countries like this one for the past 20 to 25 years, you're probably in a good place. But in the future, if you want to be somewhere interesting, try" some of the emerging markets he highlighted.

Success in those rapidly evolving markets will require different skills, different outlooks, and different technological capabilities than those that underpinned the American century (my term, not his), Hurd said, and winners and losers will be determined in large part by how they view and deploy IT in ways that lets them keep pace with customers.

Hurd touted Oracle's belief that competitive advantage will accrue to those companies that can liberate increasing percentages of their IT spending from internal integrations and maintenance, and then plow those funds into innovation and growth-oriented opportunities. And Hurd predicted that companies unable or unwilling to climb out of the eternal-integration rut "will lose."

Those stuck-in-the-past enterprises will first lose their ability to keep up with and delight customers, Hurd said, and then they'll lose those customers, and then they'll lose in the marketplace because they simply can't move at the speed that a massively urbanized and mobilized economy will demand.

How mobilized? Exactly one year from now, Hurd said, the planet Earth will be populated by more mobile phones than people.

It was a fascinating exchange as Hurd, who spoke for about 15 minutes and then took questions from the audience, was making a case that must have seemed downright radical—if not heretical—to executives from some of the country's largest banks, insurance companies, and capital-markets firms.

Because, at the heart of his remarks, Hurd was suggesting to that very high-level audience that they need to begin stepping away from the vendor-arbitrage strategy that has been a mainstay of corporate IT buying for the past 20 or 30 years.

Those big financial-services companies have spent those last few decades assembling the Noah's Ark of technology:

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