It’s hard to imagine the kind of challenges someone like Mark Sunday would have in a given week, let alone the last number of years he’s worked for the world’s largest maker of business software. Unfortunately, imagining may be the closest his IT management peers may ever get to learning about what it’s like to be Oracle‘s CIO.

In a series of video clips recently posted to YouTube, Sunday is interviewed about what the company’s communications lead bizarrely refers to as “this emerging role” of the CIO. The topic of digital transformation is certainly relevant, but the results are largely disappointing, with Sunday’s comments packed full of corporate-speak rather than genuine insight.

Of course, you wouldn’t expect Oracle’s CIO to spill any dirty secrets,  but even his observations about conversations with his fellow IT leaders turn into a not-so-thinly-veiled sales pitch.

“Some of the things they deal with I think, are blocking and tackling. In other words, many solutions to the same problem — things with governance, for example, where lines of business functions, geographies are all going off in different directions,” he says.

However cloud computing — which at Oracle, as with any major tech vendor, is an increasingly large source of revenue — is a huge catalyst for transformation, he says, adding, “the enlightened CIOs are taking an opportunity to ride that.” Pity those poor unenlightened CIOs who continue to keep anything on premise!

It’s not so much that these clips are scripted (though you can see Sunday’s notes on his lap) but that they don’t really say much about what it’s like to create a technology strategy for a company that has faced enormous product integration challenges following years of acquisitions, and a belated move into hardware after spending most of its history focusing on software. (Could this be why the clip has gotten little more than 150 views so far?)

It would have been fascinating to hear even a hint of how Sunday and his presumably huge team worked to meet the (no doubt) demanding requirements of a business like Oracle, not to mention working for a CEO as famously mercurial as Larry Ellison. If nothing else, Sunday offers one quote that sums up the kind of priorities that may be ahead of the CIO community:

“We’ve gotten a lot of the benefit from process automation,” he says. “Now how can we provide every employee the insight with what they need to do, the ability to collaborate with their colleagues — spanning not only within the company but beyond that — and then also providing the experience that allows them to be very productive?”

Indeed. How, Mr. Sunday? Here’s hoping Oracle doesn’t stop the cameras rolling and lets him eventually share some of the answers.

  • TenYearTexan

    I fully agree with you. I guess that’s the way the game is often played (say nothing and you cannot screw up), but among the beige, he’s an even lighter shade of beige.

    I worked for Mark for about 4 yrs (well, I was 10 levels down but saw several dozen of his speeches). I don’t know what he’s like behind closed doors, but even inside the company his ‘semi-public’ persona is extremely ‘middle-managment’. Every idea he presents seems to come directly from management books – nothing original – obfuscated through a heavy filter of business-speak jargon.
    I don’t know how he has stayed so long in an organization that is extremely competitive and fast-changing (I heard he was popular at Siebel). I’m not saying that he’s incompetent (he’s not at all dumb. He is well-informed and his strategies are sensible though always devoid of details). I just don’t see what he contributes.

    It’s no wonder to me that he says nothing in interviews and presentations. I don’t think he has any actual ideas of his own – in business terms, all of his ideas seem like “acquisitions”.

    • TenYearTexan

      … maybe since Ellison is SO controlling, being passive is about the logical response. There’s a trail of talented, driven ex-Oracle execs who spun off successful enterprises after disagreeing with Ellison.