Jacqueline Woods Biography
As vice president for global marketing and pricing at software giant Oracle, Jacqueline Woods has been responsible for guiding the company through a rapidly changing market for database sales and licensing. Database licensing is considered by IT industry executives to be one of the most complex and challenging areas because it involves responding to changes in the way companies hire staff, and to technological advances, both of which undermine previous licensing policies and affect the software provider's bottom line. Woods arrived at Oracle from Ameritech where she was a director of product management overseeing a $600 million portfolio. In 2002 she was named by Fortune magazine as one of the top 50 most powerful black executives.
Jacqueline Woods holds a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Davis, and an M.B.A. from the University of Southern California, where she focused on marketing and venture management. After graduation she worked in the marketing division of GTE, the telecommunications company that merged with Bell Atlantic to form Verizon Communications. Her interest in sales and marketing strategies emerged at GTE where she held responsibility for managing some of the company's largest accounts. Woods moved to Ameritech where she developed and implemented pricing and licensing strategies for the company's customer premise equipment business. She joined Oracle at director level in the worldwide strategic marketing division and later became a senior director.
Woods became vice president for global marketing and pricing at Oracle just at a time when licensing issues were becoming a hot topic in the IT business. In 2002 outsourcing was beginning to make licenses based on the number of "seats" in a company much more difficult to manage, while new multi-core processing chips meant that licenses based on the number of processors owned by a company also changed. On the latter topic Woods made it quite clear that, for example, dual core chips would be regarded as two central processing units (CPUs) for licensing purposes. Under Woods's direction in January 2004 Oracle responded to the problem of outsourcing by introducing user-based licensing alongside its per-processor licensing. This enabled the company to charge per named user (rather than per computer terminal), or per processor where the number of users was not easy to calculate. It is believed that by 2010 this "subscription-based" model will be adopted across the industry. Woods has strongly rejected the licensing model in which users pay only when they are using the software, known as a "lights on-lights off" model, on the basis that it elevates costs.
Oracle Corporation's business was in decline from the late 1990s and by 2002 radical changes were required to ensure the company's survival. As part of her strategy Woods oversaw a revision in the way Oracle applied its pricing, including the production of a 40-page guide that marked a shift away from the piecemeal approach to deal making typical of the industry. But while such a document might have been seen as an inflexible rule book, Woods understood that existing customers would not want to suffer an increase in cost simply because Oracle had established a new policy. In particular many feared that along with IBM, Oracle was exploiting the new multi-core processors to increase the number of licenses they could sell. When existing customers complained about rising costs and accused the company of profiteering Woods responded by grandfathering their license deals; she allowed their existing deals to run their course under the old structures.
Further evidence of Woods' flexibility and pragmatism can be found in her attitude to licensing infringements. Oracle claims 200,000 mostly corporate customers around the world but is able to audit only 300-400 companies per year. This means that many of Oracle's customers are using Oracle databases on systems for which they are not licensed. Rather than cracking down on licensing violations, Woods is realistic about how and why corporate customers use unlicensed software, understanding that the majority do so because business needs change faster than license deals. She told Linux-world : "Some have been inadvertent users of software, some are cheaters. You can't do anything about people who cheat because those are people who cheat and we're not going to sniff those people out." Woods's answer to the problem of businesses being out of compliance with their software licenses is to simplify the licensing in the first place. Her aim is to make sure companies have systems in place for monitoring and updating their software licenses, but she has told several interviewers that "switching off" the software used by non-compliant companies is not part of her plan. Allowing a proportion of customers to run unlicensed software has long been used by software companies to maintain and extend market share.
Woods's revisions to Oracle's licensing strategy since 2002 have sometimes been controversial, but she has shown clear vision and a willingness to defend her position in the face of an industry under heavy pressure to cut costs. In 2005 Oracle's position in the market was being challenged on several fronts, but the company remains a significant force and Woods holds an influential position within it. She is arguably even more influential than in 2002 when she was named one of Fortune magazine's top 50 most powerful black executives.
Associated Press, August 29, 2002.
Fortune, July 22, 2002.
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"Jacqueline Woods," Oracle Corporation, www.oracle.com/corporate/pressroom/html/jwoods.html (March 7, 2005).
"Interview with Jacqueline Woods," Oracle Corporation, www.oracle.com/corporate/pressroom/jwoods_multicore.html (March 7, 2005).
"Software Licensing Issues Debated," Linuxworld. com Australia, www.linuxworld.com.au/index.php?id=1366175332 (March 7, 2005).
"An Answer to the Software Licensing Maze," ZDNet Australia, www.zdnet.com.au/insight/toolkit/itmanagement/asset/0,39023878,39143580,00.htm (March 7, 2005).
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