There are not many people who understand Oracle, and its presence in NZ, as well as Robert Gosling does. With over 22 years at Oracle under his belt, the current MD of Oracle NZ took over the role for the second time over roughly 10 months ago. In this interview he discusses Oracle's move into new solution areas, such as mobile, and what this means for customers and partners.
Q: What are the major changes in Oracle A/NZ that has happened in the last couple of years? What do these changes mean for end-users in the region?
Robert Gosling: There have been a number of changes in the Oracle A/NZ business over the last couple of years.
For a start, you may have heard our President, Mark Hurd talking about our recent earnings announcement. He described Oracle as now being the second largest Cloud SaaS company in the world and outlined our goal of becoming number one in both the SaaS and the PaaS businesses. This is quite a big statement if you consider how we have come from nowhere to second in the industry in quite a short space of time.
Oracle has a comprehensive set of solutions in the Cloud to meet pretty much all of an organisation’s business, IT infrastructure and development needs – no one else in the industry can match the breadth and depth of our cloud portfolio in the industry. Our cloud applications support all areas of the business: sales, marketing, HR, finance and operations and are intrinsically flexible, offering customers a choice of cloud platforms - public, private and hybrid - to suit their specific business challenges. Our public Oracle Cloud solutions can integrate with existing applications, allowing businesses to maximize ROI and migrate to the cloud at a pace that suits them.
We are also expanding into new areas: mobile, for example. This not an area a lot of people would traditionally associate with Oracle. We now have a mobile platform that enables companies to do quick and easy cross-OS application development (which is essential in an era where everyone wants to use their own device), and importantly, security and integration in to their backend systems. This is really challenging for companies. According to Gartner, 85 per cent of the cost and time enterprises spend deploying mobile solutions is on the integration of the application back into the back end of the business and with security.
We are also seeing record growth in our engineered systems business and are set to be the premier Systems business across the tech sector by the end of the year. This shows our strategy and the transition of our hardware business from commodity product with low IP to engineered systems is paying off as customers seek to simplify their IT, and reduce the complexity in their data centres.
What do these changes mean to customers?
What we are hearing from our customers is that they want to focus on their core business and their customers. They want to shift more of the day to day to the Cloud, and what they consider essential and want to run themselves, they want to make simpler. For them the Cloud is easy. For them engineered systems are easy. They want to see more of this type of simplicity. Customers are really buying into our ability to help them with all of their IT needs.
Q: A brief on the Oracle partner network in A/NZ. How is this likely to change/be added onto in the next couple of years?
RG: The channel makes a vast contribution to Oracle and our customers. Our partner community is essential to us; the channel extends our reach, well beyond the boundaries of those that we can physically connect to with Oracle’s own sales force. On top of that, many of our channel partners are differentiated in a particular way, and so are able to add great value to customers by being experts in a particular solution set or industry.
Therefore we want to work closely with them, to help them develop and to grow the ecosystem. For example, through the Oracle Academy we are training more and more OPN partners, so that they are better equipped to grow and profit, and contribute more to the overall wealth of the country.
We want our channel partners to be able to quickly jump on new technology trends, be it social, mobile, big data or others, to help their customers adopt them and become successful as quickly as possible.
So, for example, we are extending the partner opportunity around Oracle Cloud, by working with our VADs to identify and enable partners best-suited to deliver customer value in cloud implementation and managed services. We are also extending the Oracle engineered systems programme to include the Oracle big data appliance, and importantly for New Zealand, the Oracle database appliance.
Oracle database appliance is perfect for this market and is simple, reliable and affordable. It is a purpose-built, solution-in-a-box, purpose built to run both Oracle Database and Fusion Middleware enabling it to support Oracle applications within a single box using Oracle virtualisation. Basically, it's a complete package of software, server, storage, virtualisation and networking that's engineered for simplicity; saving time and money by simplifying deployment, maintenance, and support of database and application workloads.
We’re also enhancing the way in which our OPN Incentive Program pays partners rebates. The program, which offers partners rebates on select Oracle technologies and rewards them for investing in areas strategic to Oracle, is moving from quarterly to monthly payments and significantly shortening the cycle time it takes to process payments. And we’ve unveiled a new mobile-enabled OPN Solutions Catalog, to make it even easier for customers to search for our OPN partners anytime, and from anywhere.
Q: What are the three biggest trends that you see affecting ICT investment in the region? (This could include everything from technology to purchasing behaviour and changing perceptions) What are the trends that are likely to have a disruptive effect in the A/NZ region in the next couple of years?
RG: I’ve already touched on that to some extent. The three biggest trends would have to be the drive by customers to simplify their IT infrastructures and cut costs, Cloud, and then it is probably a toss up between mobile and Big Data. All this is going to have a disruptive effect over the next few years as companies seek how they can harness these technologies cost effectively for their business and tie them in to their existing infrastructures.
Big Data especially offers an amazing opportunity to companies who can use it wisely to give them a far better insight into customers and their business operations. In addition, New Zealand is an acknowledged hotbed for innovation. So disruption will not only come from how companies are deploying these new solutions for their own advantage, but also from innovations that come out of our universities and innovation hubs.
Q: How is Oracle likely to change, both globally and locally, in order to ride these trends better and remain relevant to enterprises and SMEs alike?
RG: Oracle is evolving rather than doing something different. What this means is that over the years we've taken our product portfolio and moved it on, first for the age of the Internet, then the Cloud and now for the connected world/Internet of things.
We are doing this by bringing new products to market that can really help customers make a difference in their business, whether that is around more cloud solutions at both the front and back end of their business, or innovations around our database product, such as in-memory to help them become a real time enterprise. So rather than change, you will see us doing more of what we are already doing, which is being more focused on the customer, helping them more to drive out complexity and cost from their IT systems, so they can transform and innovate.