Oracle Is Not A Washing Powder


At one time someone wanted help with displaying customer-related data, some of which I had already gathered, such as rejects and complaints, and others which would have to be added manually. Maybe not totally straightforward but not an impossible task either.

Then a few weeks she walked into the office and declared that they were going to use Oracle instead. I could already tell that she’d been talking to one of the finance guys who had come from outside the company and looked despairingly at all the different data systems we were using (to give him his due, that was not without good reason, but not something you could solve by replacing everything with Oracle), and must have advised her that the way forward was to go with Oracle.

To me her statement showed a lack of understanding of what the task involved, and a false equation of data systems with databases. That’s where my statement “Oracle is not a washing powder” came from, meaning that just because you use Oracle to store your data doesn’t mean that you resolved all your problems. In fact I had a suspicion that the feed into the database would follow the time-honoured and labour-intensive and utterly idiotic tool of Excel.

Hence my rather derogatory remark – I felt miffed that someone could change their mind purely on the basis of who they had speaking to last. Anyhow, my reply was met with incomprehension, and another team member in the office had to explain its meaning to her. We never saw her again, no doubt she was feeling utterly fulfilled being the type of busy fool who has to handcraft every report required by senior management by the doing the legwork rather than using her brain.

One of the (many) dangers of the reality distortion field created by Excel (see also Why Excel Should Not Be Used for Business Reporting).

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