Oracle plans to distribute its products exclusively over the Internet within a year.
Moreover, CEO Larry Ellison told analysts and journalists at the iDevelop conference in the US last week, Oracle would enable all transactions with it to be undertaken via the Net.
"We will be a complete Ebusiness," Ellison said, adding that the move would enable Oracle to slash its annual costs by $500 million (£311 million) and pump more money into product development and sales.
Oracle's vice president for server marketing, Jeremy Burton, told PC Week that Ellison's message means all customer and reseller orders could be placed via the Internet.
"Customers will have a choice of Internet or physical distribution," he explained. "Customers can agree to a licence (deal) online if they want.
"What we're trying to do is make the buying process less difficult," said Burton, who added that Oracle had no plans to reduce its direct-sales force.
Companies that failed to take the same steps as Oracle would find themselves left behind by competitors with leaner operational models, Ellison said.
"If you don't think your industry is going to be 'Ebusinessed' or 'Delled', then you're mistaken."
Robin Bloor, of analyst firm Bloor Research, said the move to Ebusiness was simply a logical step for Oracle that should not signify a future cut in salespeople.
"(Oracle has) probably been encouraging its customers to (buy) their software off the Web for a long time," Bloor said. "It's not going to sack its salespeople, because it's face-to-face sales that sell high-ticket items."
Bloor questioned whether the final saving would be as large as Ellison predicted, but said there was little doubt that the move would greatly reduce Oracle's costs as the Web is the cheapest distribution medium.
But Burton argured that Ellison's estimate is realistic, because Oracle has yearly revenues of $10 billion (£6.2 billion), but just $2 billion (£1.24 billion) in profit a year after overheads.
"Larry's point was that we can introduce efficiencies to make us easier to deal with, and that represents great savings for us," Burton said.
Butler Research senior analyst Gary Cooper questioned whether Oracle could get all of its customers to buy over the Web.
"The people Oracle tends to deal with are large organisations with their own purchasing systems and rules and regulations," Cooper said.
The sales director of one Oracle dealer in the UK said the move could prove beneficial to Oracle's resellers.
"It doesn't eliminate the need for added-value services, but it eases our overhead and burden," he said. "There is a lot of overhead attached to shipping media.
"The complexity of Oracle's products means that companies like ourselves become more service providers than product providers."
All applications software is likely to be sold this way within a couple of years, said the source, who did not want to be named. "It's just another distribution medium."
Ellison also announced a major change in direction for Oracle's consultancy arm, which will result in the division working more closely with third-party consultants and systems integration firms.
Ellison said it made no sense for Oracle to go head-to-head with the big systems integrators. "We've been doing that and that's been the mistake," he said.
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