Oracle Combines Two Conferences to Tell Brand Story
Oracle’s Open World conference took on new importance last year, as the software giant had acquired its former rival PeopleSoft, and many of its acquired customers would be among the 32,000 at the long-running annual event.
“We had more stories to tell across both sides of our business,” says Paul Salinger, Oracle’s senior director-event production and creative. “So it was a big challenge to take two separate conferences, combine them into one and tell our entire story in a coherent way to a much larger audience than we had ever gotten before.”
Open World is a massive proprietary event that brings together Oracle customers from more than 120 countries to reinforce relationships and provide an educational forum. Attendees come from almost every level of the org chart, from software developers and IT managers to cios and ceos. The sheer size and scope make it a daunting production. Over five days, the gathering encompasses six venues in San Francisco. The three keynotes are attended by 11,000 people at a time, and more than 1,000 breakout sessions in 80 rooms around the city round out the program.
Because of all those moving parts, it’s particularly important that every Open World touchpoint fits the brand’s overall objectives, Salinger says. “Consistency of message is really important, so we make sure all of our audiences understand what Oracle stands for, and how we’re delivering business value for all of our customers. We definitely met that objective.”
From a logistics standpoint, the event also attempts to break the traditional boundary between presenter and attendee. “We strive to connect presenters to the audience more with stages and layouts,” says Rod Mickels, president of Walnut Creek-based InVision Communications.
Of course, a key goal for 2005 was welcoming former PeopleSoft customers, easing their minds about the transition and, ultimately, retaining their business. So far, so good: Retention is running above 90 percent since the deal.