Making Waves in the Analysts’ Community
By Kathryn Perry on May 09, 2013
A guest post by Natalia Rachelson, Senior Director, Outbound Product Management, Oracle Applications
It was with a mixture of excitement and anxiety that I boarded a plane at Chicago’s O’Hare bound for San Francisco last week — excitement because it had been a while since I’d been to Oracle Headquarters and I was craving to see familiar faces and places, and anxiety because this wasn’t just any business trip. I was traveling to attend and assist with Oracle Analyst World (OAW).
OAW is an annual gathering of leading industry analysts and influencers from firms such as Gartner, Forrester, and IDC, who arguably help shape the future of our industry. Analysts and influencers can be somewhat fickle and tend to favor the “flavour du jour” rather than a well-established incumbent in any given space. In fact, when it comes to convincing the influencers and creating buzz, I would venture to say that incumbents in the enterprise space have to work twice or even three times as hard compared to new entrants. Think Helen Mirren vs. Jennifer Lawrence.
Hence, my uneasiness about OAW running smoothly and hitting all the right notes with our challenging audience. But, who doesn’t love a good challenge?
Let The Conference (And The Tweeting) Begin
Oracle’s Chief Communications Officer Bob Evans kicked off Day 1 by talking about simplifying IT, the power of innovation, and our strategic initiatives. The 100+ analysts and influencers tweeted conscientiously and consistently throughout the conference. Here are some sample tweets: Darren Bibby from IDC, Alan Lepofsky from Constellation Research, Michael Krisgsman from Asuret, and me.
Next up, Executive Vice President John Fowler discussed Oracle’s Engineered Systems. And Thomas Kurian gave our influencers an update on Oracle’s software strategy. Bob Evans, an IDC analyst, and I tweeted the news.
Then Oracle President Mark Hurd took the stage for an open Q & A session. He talked about how Oracle is focused on customer outcomes and how we do not, as a company, set out to be hard to work with. (Smile) Oracle’s Chief Customer Officer Jeb Dasteel discussed Oracle’s customer satisfaction programs.
Tracks and Takeaways
After lunch, the analysts chose one of six tracks to go deeper in their area of focus: 1) Cloud Computing, 2) Next-Generation Business Processes, 3) Business Analytics, 4) Information Management, 5) Business Applications, and 6) Data Center Modernization. Here are my takeaways from the Cloud and Apps sessions I attended.
- Oracle clearly sees that Cloud Computing will be propelling our industry forward for the foreseeable future. It is a shift in the industry and Cloud Computing is here to stay.
- Oracle, unlike anybody else, is poised to be a winner across all Cloud components, including PaaS, IaaS, and SaaS
- When it comes to business applications, we are taking a customer-centric approach and supporting our customers on whatever Oracle platform they happen to be. At the same time, we are also actively educating our customer base about our complete suite of Applications Cloud Services and having conversations with our customers about why they should start looking at introducing Cloud solutions from Oracle within their organizations.
- Both Steve Miranda and Thomas Kurian explained how Oracle amassed the most comprehensive set of Applications Cloud Services in the industry. We started in the Cloud with our 100+ modules of organically grown Fusion applications and enhanced our organic suite through acquisitions with the following industry leading solutions:
- Eloqua for Oracle Marketing Cloud
- RightNow and Inquira for Oracle Service Cloud
- ATG and Endeca for Oracle Commerce Cloud
- Taleo for Oracle Talent Management Cloud
- Vitrue, Involver, and Collective Intellect for Oracle Social Relationship Management Cloud
Customers Help Tell Our Story
The customer panel on Day 2 was one of the most anticipated parts of the conference. Customers representing our entire technology stack spoke to analysts about their experiences with Oracle. The most memorable quote of the day came from Segar Annamalai, CEO at American Career College, whose company is running our HCM Cloud service powered by Fusion.
Segar said that today he is dealing with a different Oracle than he did in the past. He stated that he used to hear from Oracle once a year when his support contract was up for renewal, and maybe one other time when sales reps came knocking on the door for an obligatory cross-sell/up-sell conversation. Things have changed dramatically since then. Segar now has a relationship with Oracle. He talks to Development on a frequent basis, and overall, feels that he is getting the right level of service. According to Segar, Oracle has become a service-oriented company and not just a seller of widgets — and that is what is required of a cloud service provider.
After the panel concluded, analysts got a chance to speak with our customers and executives in a one-on-one setting for deeper insight. Then Chief Corporate Architect Edward Screven talked to the audience about Oracle infrastructure, and Oracle’s Corporate Development and Strategic Planning SVP Doug Kehring talked about our merger and acquisition strategy. Here are a couple of the tweets flying out of the Conference Center from Kehring’s session.
Note: To see a compilation of the tweets from OAW, blogger Holger Mueller published a play-by-play Twitter feed for #Oracle_AR.
Up Close and Personal: The Influencer Roundtable
We ended the three-day conference with a handful of leading influencers meeting with Steve Miranda in a more intimate, friendly setting. The select few included (below from left to right): Vinnie Mirchandani from Deal Architect. Brent Leary from CRM Essentials, Denis Pombriant from Beagle Research Group, and Brian Vellmure from Initium LLC / Innovantage
Miranda confidently spoke to them about Oracle’s most comprehensive Cloud offering for applications, including Oracle Sales Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Social Cloud, ERP Cloud, HCM Cloud, and Talent Management Cloud. He talked about our progress with Fusion stating that we added 150 more customers since the last publicly disclosed figure of 400 from Oracle OpenWorld 2012.
More facts from Steve that he discussed with the group: About 85 percent of our Fusion customers are going with a SaaS deployment option. We’re switching to a three-times-a-year release schedule for Fusion as a best practice. Customers have about 60 days to take an upgrade, including some weekends for convenience.
When the influencers asked about a “mobile first” design philosophy, Steve explained that we take a triad approach to mobile: ADF for Mobile, task-specific apps, and Oracle Tap for the Cloud, which is now available for Fusion, RightNow, and Taleo apps. Oracle will only invest in those task-specific apps that take advantage of the mobile form factor and features. He used Fusion Expenses as an example. It takes advantage of phone calendar, voice, camera, and contact information. Another example is a time entry app, which takes advantage of a phone’s alarm clock.
Future investments in the Cloud? Steve articulated that Oracle is focused on:
- Vertical capabilities in CRM
- More manufacturing capabilities and SaaS in SCM
- More localizations, third party integrations, and public sector capabilities in ERP
Only time will tell if we met the challenge of hitting all the right notes with the analysts and influencers. However, we are confident that we impressed this tough audience with substance, vision, and candor. Every one of the attendees had an opportunity to gain an appreciation of the breadth and depth of our business and better understand why customers put their trust in Oracle to help them with their most critical business challenges. They also couldn’t miss the fact that Oracle is playing to win.
And speaking of winning, Brian Sommer of ZDNet wrote in his blog post following the conference, ”Oracle is definitely innovating.” He enthusiastically declared, ”Cloud applications are going to be the future. Oracle’s got a lot going for it here.” We do have a lot going for us – and even more for our customers as they move to the cloud.