Corporate battlegrounds take all kinds of forms. Something we rarely think about in the developed world, though, is the battle for market share in developing countries. China and India are of particular interest—both have strong economies and are frequently accused of stealing business from developed countries through outsourcing and taking advantage of cheap labor sources.
Oracle has been targeting Indian companies as the new object of their corporate affections. With a highly educated workforce that’s relatively fluent in English and a huge population of eager workers willing to work for a fraction of what a North American or European employee would accept (and I’m not kidding when I say “huge population”- we’re talking 1,241,491,960 people), India can be considered a tech entrepreneur’s dream. Many multi-national tech firms, including Microsoft, IBM and Oracle have offices in India, and there are many successful tech firms with headquarters in India, like Wipro, Infosys and Mahindra Satyam. Other than the IT and business process outsourcing industries, India also holds a competitive place in many other sectors, including textiles, chemicals, food processing, steel, mining and pharmaceuticals.
For a company like Oracle, the question generated by this situation is not “how will this benefit the people of India?” nor “will this hurt the American economy?” The question that comes to mind is, “how do we profit from this?”
Currently, Oracle’s rival SAP controls much of the Indian market. Oracle needs to figure out how to wrestle that away from them. The old logic that SAP is good for ERP, Oracle for databases and everything else is a tossup has died a bit harder in India than in other countries. A strong advertising campaign is the first step- A current Oracle ad in India proclaims that “Oracle surrounds SAP,” noting that 96% of SAP customers also run Oracle applications.
Will Oracle be successful in its Indian adventure? Can Larry Ellison prevail where even Alexander the Great failed—the total domination of the Indian subcontinent? Maybe, although the jury is still out. Oracle’s areas of expertise line up almost perfectly with India’s strongest industries. My advice to SAP – If you want to hang on to the Indian market, you need to remain competitive in the realms of CRM, hardware and pharmaceutical software. If you can’t do that, you’re a goner.