Wednesday Mar 25, 2015

Collaboration Drives Innovation as China Oracle User Groups and Oracle University Work Together to Change Lives

From time to time, I ask guest contributors to provide posts on timely and important topics. Today, I’m sharing a post by Jim Jiang, who runs our APAC User Groups relationships. Jim shares the story of an innovative program launched collaboratively by the China Oracle User Groups and Oracle University. The new initiative is designed to address the rapidly growing need for skilled and certified IT professionals, while providing participants with a career boost.

As a reminder, Oracle’s user groups are independent. We don’t fund or sponsor these groups, but work with the leaders to provide support for their events, answer questions from their membership and learn from their feedback. We’re committed to fostering strong and independent user groups across the globe. There are more than 900 worldwide, providing dynamic forums for customers to share information, experiences and expertise. Focused on products, technologies, applications and industries, these user groups offer an environment for all customers to network, share information and learn about best practices.

It’s no secret that the more information you can get and a greater sense of community around your work helps promote your overall effectiveness and satisfaction. So, if you’re not a member of an Independent User Group now, take a look at our Oracle User Groups page and sign up for one today. If you’re interested in starting one of your own, we’ve got resources and best practices to share with you too.

Jim shares his important story below about how Oracle User Groups are helping to change lives.


China Oracle User Groups and Oracle University Join Forces for Young Expert Program
by Jim Jiang, User Group Relationship, APAC

When diverse groups of individuals come together and work toward a common goal, good things happen. We saw an excellent example of this during the 4th OTN China User Group Conference Tour meeting in Beijing with China Oracle User Groups. It was a great success, doubling in size from the previous year, with more than 1,000 participants from 600 companies.

One of the highlights of the event was the launch of an innovative and collaborative program targeted at emerging IT professionals – the User Group Young Expert Program.

There is no denying that the need for skilled IT professionals is growing rapidly around the globe, outstripping the ability of many regions and enterprises to keep pace. We all agree that the faster we can get IT professionals online and help them to continue to expand their skills, the better for everyone. Individuals benefit with highly marketable and in-demand skills that open the door to rewarding careers. Enterprises win by fueling their organizations with the skills needed to drive growth and innovation.

With these challenges and intended benefits in mind, China Oracle Users Groups partnered with Oracle University to create the User Group Young Expert Program. Run in conjunction with Oracle University, the initiative helps user group members advance their expertise with Oracle technology and become Oracle Certified. Oracle offers more than 100 certifications spanning applications, database, enterprise management, foundation technology, industries, Java and middleware, virtualization and more. The User Group Young Expert Program allows qualified individuals recommended by user group leadership to take an Oracle Certification exam free of charge.

Qualifying for and passing an Oracle Certification exam, including Oracle Database Certification, is a big achievement for IT professionals in China. The ability to be able to take the exam free of charge if you qualify can literally be a life-changing event for young professionals.

Certification offers three important benefits to individuals:

  • Salary advancement - According to Oracle's 2012 salary survey, more than 80% of Oracle Certified professionals reported a promotion, compensation increase or other career improvements after becoming certified.
  • Opportunity and credibility - Expanded skills and knowledge lead to greater confidence and increased career security and help to unlock new opportunities with employers.
  • Career growth - 97% of Global Fortune 500 companies use Oracle. They also need skilled technologists to implement, develop and administer critical systems. Earning an Oracle certification helps equip individuals with these in-demand skills.

From an employer’s perspective, Oracle Certified professionals bring unmatched working knowledge of critical Oracle solutions and technology to the enterprise — enabling companies to optimize their Oracle investment to drive value.

The User Group Young Expert Program also enables regional user groups to deliver added value to their members, while fostering professional development in their ranks. Program participants are asked to share their knowledge by publishing a blog post or article, posting on Weibo or Wechat about a relevant Oracle Database topic, or leading a database session at a conference or event.

The regional user groups and Oracle University made 60 vouchers available in the inaugural year and look forward to expanding the program in 2015. It’s a winning proposition for everyone involved.

The launch of the User Group Young Expert Program was not the only highlight of the two-day China User Groups program, which featured 45 speakers and 48 educational and user sessions. Throughout the event there was a strong emphasis on Oracle Cloud, as well as sessions led by Oracle and various customers including: Alipay, China Unicom, CNTV, FAW Volkswagen Automobile, Postal Savings Bank of China, TravelSky and Zhejiang Mobile.

The China Oracle Users Groups continue to grow and provide members with valuable opportunities for professional development and best practice sharing. Oracle, through the OTN China User Group Conference Tour and collaborative User Group Young Expert Program, is pleased to support their efforts and help further the careers of young Oracle experts.

Tuesday Mar 10, 2015

Avoiding the Customer Advocacy Trap

We’ve heard “The customer is always right” a million times over. In the complexity of today’s business environment, it’s just not always true − especially in the B2B world.

Make no mistake: we have to listen carefully and continually to what our customers are saying. The danger arises when, in the name of customer advocacy, we act on customer requests and address only symptoms − instead of digging deeper to understand underlying challenges and how the requests fit with the fundamentals of our own business. Doing whatever the customer asks of us is not a business model; bounds us to reactive, tactical responses;

limits innovative ideas; and doesn’t truly serve the customer well.

In short, declaring yourself to be a customer advocate suggests that you will basically do whatever your customers ask. This approach ultimately results in tactics that probably don’t mesh with strategy.

Instead of customer advocacy, we propose that customer success should be the new mantra. To us, customer success means implementing a closed-loop process where corporate strategy drives customer engagement that thoughtfully supports the customer’s desired business outcomes, which in turn drives customer feedback, which then allows us to adjust our strategy.

At Oracle, we have spent the last 10 years on transforming our business into a customer success-focused enterprise with an emphasis on:

  • Expanding customer feedback and engagement
  • Developing a deep understanding of our customers’ business
  • Making it easier to do business with us
  • Executing an R&D strategy rooted in customer needs
  • Enhancing employee engagement with our customers
  • Building on customer successes with loyalty

Listening to our customers is fundamental to our focus on customer success at Oracle. We leverage myriad ways to gain a holistic view of the customer’s experience and perspective. This includes relationship surveys tied to three-year account strategies; continuous and ad hoc customer advisory panels; transactional surveys for point-in-time feedback across lines of business; executive advisory boards and focus groups; input from account teams and executive sponsors; social media harnessing unstructured and topical input; as well as user experience labs where customers help to define next-generation solutions.

By analyzing this input with a particular eye toward what we need to do to assure customer success, we can identify root causes and trends that enable us to make changes and drive innovation to have the greatest possible impact on our customer base. Our Top Ten Program is designed to address company-wide and cross-line-of-business initiatives that have the largest impact to our customers as well as our business. We derive the programs’ list from feedback collected across multiple sources, as well as emerging trends highlighted by our most strategic customers. Key steps include identifying customer priorities, conducting business impact analysis, implementing corrective action, monitoring feedback channels, and communicating results and actions back to the company and customers.

By limiting their focus to customer advocacy, enterprises curtail their potential for innovation. I’m reminded of the development of the Wii gaming system. Genyo Takeda spearheaded the team at Nintendo. Instead of simply looking to improve incrementally on gaming consoles by addressing specific customer demands for faster systems with more sophisticated graphics, Takeda and his team re-imagined the concept of a gaming system from the ground up, including how users interact with it. The team looked beyond what gamers said they wanted, digging deeper into how users interacted with games and what was holding back adoption in some segments. This way of looking at the problem put the customer’s experience at the center and examined what the customer really needed rather than what they simply said they wanted.

An organization driven by a deeper understanding of the customer and long-term customer success, rather than more superficial customer advocacy, demands that enterprises stay (at least) one step ahead of their customers − applying market expertise and insight, analyzing customer input to identify issues and root causes, and thinking creatively to proactively identify needs, in some instances, even before the customer recognizes them.

This is very much the approach that we take at Oracle. Incorporating customer feedback within the framework of our business strategy is critical in helping us to define new product direction and understand emerging needs – with a goal of getting ahead of the curve. Our Engineered Systems are a case in point. These innovative solutions – which include our Oracle Exadata, Oracle Exalogic and Oracle Exalytics solutions − combine hardware and software that are engineered and optimized to work together out of the box. They deliver extreme performance and install rapidly to accelerate return on investment, reduce IT complexity and cut total cost of ownership. This concept was entirely new and many customers looked askance until we convincingly demonstrated the benefits. Today, demand for these systems is strong, and we have developed a large, committed, engaged and enthusiastic user community.

A strategy that puts a focus on customer success, allows this type of innovation. A customer success view, with customer feedback placed in the proper context and a deep understanding of what customers really need enables nuanced strategy, which has collaboration and innovation at its core.

We are successful if and only if our customers are successful.

Tuesday Feb 24, 2015

Amidst Change, Centralized Data Remains the Foundation

IT is a cyclical business. While there’s no equivalent of Moore’s Law to describe it, experience tells us that commercial IT has moved between centralized and decentralized on a regular basis, from mainframes to mini-computers, from client server to the Internet. While the latter in fact provided the perfect infrastructure for globally centralized systems, it has also given us the Cloud – today’s biggest driver of decentralization – and, remarkably, standardization.

Now we’re in another cycle, and we can predict exactly how it will go. Today, Software as a Service (SaaS) is the new vehicle for decentralization. A department can independently choose to subscribe to a service that satisfies its individual needs. It’s OPEX rather than CAPEX. There’s no gigantic bill to contend with and there’s no need to involve a large number of people in the decision - so long as there is some level of governance and an overarching IT, data, and security strategy.

If there is anything we have learned over the past 15 years, it’s that businesses run best on a single informational foundation: a single, centralized set of data that defines customers, employees, products, and every other aspect of the business. In practice this means that efficient operations require SaaS offerings to be complete and to run in seamless concert with other SaaS offerings and on-premise software. Multiple, customized, un-integrated offerings divided by differing data architectures and platforms are not the future. Corporations are now realizing that they need agreed upon but centralized cloud strategies architected by the CIO, which incorporate the needs of every line of business, allowing SaaS decisions to be inclusive and additive rather than exclusive and divisive.

Industry leaders BT and Solairus Aviation are doing this already: creating hybrid SaaS and on-premise systems as stepping-stones or moving directly to integrated portfolios of cloud offerings.  They combine the benefits of the new world with the wisdom of the old. Those still making individual and disconnected departmental SaaS decisions are in danger of building a new era of complex legacy systems and data fragmentation to fix and then replace.  Who wants to go through that all over again?

What we've learned is that no matter the access points or computing models, the key is still centralized data.

Tuesday Feb 10, 2015

Our Customers’ Success Is Our Success

As Oracle’s Chief Customer Officer, I am constantly looking for new and innovative ways to reach out to our customer community. To that end, I am collaborating with my friend and colleague, Amir Hartman of Mainstay Partners, this time on a series of six blogs focused on Customer Success for the OracleVoice channel on Through this series we’re touching upon various topics from sales to marketing, and everything in between.
Companies today need to understand that alignment of their own goals to their customers’ goals is key to building loyalty and mutually beneficial partnerships. If the quest for helping your customers achieve their goals and success is built into your company’s DNA, your sales teams will be far more likely to meet their objectives. Ensuring that your sales teams have the right tools and skills to engage with customers in this way is critical.

The first three blogs of our series have been published on Forbes. I have included links to each below. Take a moment to visit the site and take a quick read. Never have we felt a stronger need to put the customer’s success at the center of everything. Their success is our success.

Check out the posts:

Also, we are running a short survey on customer success. If you have a quick moment, please click here. We would be honored to have your input.

Keep an eye on the OracleVoice channel on for my upcoming blogs and check back here for a recap once they have been posted.  I look forward to your feedback and thoughts on these and all my other blogs.


Tuesday Jan 27, 2015

Enabling the Next Generation

Over the years, we have seen an increase in the ways technology has interwoven itself into our everyday lives. Everyone is hyper-connected through mobile and various other devices, and our devices must communicate to one another. With technology changing so quickly and in the hands of every millennial and future worker, we are committed to helping enable this next generation. To highlight some of the interesting projects that Oracle is involved in, I will be inviting folks from around the company to contribute an occasional post to give you a glimpse of what we’re doing to further technology for our next generation of enterprise workers and technology innovators.

I've asked Tom Scheirsen, who's been working with an organization called Devoxx4Kids an offshoot of Devoxx, which is the largest Java conference in Europe, to share their story.

Devoxx4Kids Empowering the New Technology Producers
By Tom Scheirsen, User Group Relationship, EMEA

Over the past few years, Oracle has invested funding and effort (in the form of support through Oracle Academy) to further the efforts of an organization that is of great importance to us called Devoxx4Kids (an offshoot of the Devoxx, which is the largest java conf in Europe). Their focus is to get Gen Y and Z involved in user groups and Technology, targeting kids between 8-14 years of age, before they make their career choices and teach them, in a fun way, to play with technology and influence them at a young age. The goal is to teach, engage and inspire kids about computer programming while they are having fun. Devoxx4Kids has been very successful in working with children through workshops around the world, introducing them to:

  • Simple Software Programming concepts
  • Object Oriented Programming concepts using the Java Programming Language
  • Robotics
  • Electronics

Devoxx4Kids was started in 2012 in Belgium. Since then, Devoxx4Kids has shared its curriculum with Java user groups and other organizations around the world. Today, over 3000 children (36% girls, 64% boys) have attended 108 workshops in more than 80 countries around the world averaging 50-100 kids per session. Ensuring technology learning opportunities are available to children is very important to Devoxx4Kids; in addition, this program also focuses on gender equality, encouraging girls to attend their sessions. Thus far the entire program has seen great success.

At Oracle OpenWorld this past October, special Devoxx4Kids sessions were held as part of JavaOne 2014.  150 kids, aged 10-18 had an opportunity to get hands-on to learn programming, robotics and engineering.  Specifics are covered in this Java Magazine article and blog entry.  Interesting and informative video testimonials from the children are also available there. If you're interested in finding a workshop for the your future programming wizard in your life in a city near you, be sure to check the events page.  Check out their website for more information, follow them on Twitter @Devoxx4Kids, and like them on Facebook.

Monday Jan 12, 2015

A Word From Our Customer, John Matelski

With the focus on customer's success at the center of everything we do, incorporating customer feedback into every facet of our operations is one of my top priorities.  Below is a blog post from John Matelski, a long time customer and fervent user group member and leader, who has been very engaged in giving us feedback and working collaboratively with Oracle to help us move forward on some tough issues.  His original post lives on his blog.

Blog Title: Being An Engaged Customer to Help Improve YOUR Customer Experience

John, Matelski, Oracle Customer and Member of the IOUG Board of Directors

As an Oracle customer and member of the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG), I was extremely surprised and dismayed to learn that there are still those in the customer community that would suggest that their relationship with Oracle is predominantly hostile and filled with deep-rooted mistrust, particularly when it comes to licensing and audits.

As we all know, Oracle is a huge multinational corporation that is expanding in size and portfolio through strategic mergers and acquisitions. As these mergers and acquisitions occur, it takes time to integrate business practices and incorporate licensing models.

As an active Oracle customer and member of the IOUG, I have had the opportunity to work with Oracle since 1997 in various capacities.  I am pleased to convey that as a function of an active and participative customer relationship, enhanced user group collaborations - I have had extensive interactions with many facets and levels of Oracle, including discussions with Oracle Co-CEOs Mark Hurd and Safra Catz.  You may be asking yourself - really, you had discussions all the way to the top of your solutions provider? ABSOLUTELY! Oracle is not JUST a solutions provider, but rather they are a partner in helping promote the success (or failure) of every organization they do business with ---- and for me --- failure is not an option!

Through the many interactions I have had, Oracle has acknowledged that they have some challenges to overcome related to making it easier for customers to understand the diversity of licensing options across the plethora of technology solutions that they have to offer.  with this acknowledgement, Oracle has been working with the global user group communities, CIO Advisory Group, Customer Advisory Boards and other avenues to obtain input and feedback - and work to enhance the customer experience.  I know that this issue remains as one of their key priority focus areas, and they continue to work across the facets of Oracle to improve products, services and customer interactions, with an emphasis on making it easier to understand licensing options and associated costs.

Back a couple of years ago, the International Oracle User Group Community (IOUC), with is comprised of all the 450+ Oracle user groups from across the globe, formed a Business and Licensing Council - to be an advocate for all customers, and facilitate input into these issues.  In fact, I was honored to Chair this group, as we work to provide candid feedback into Oracle, and to be a channel of information back out to the global Oracle customer community.  After two years of focused efforts, it was determined that this Council was no longer required, because Oracle had moved this initiative to the forefront of their priority list, and had created a number of avenues to solicit input and feedback --- which expanded well beyond the reach of user groups.  Oracle continues to focus on this priority today, as it strives to enhance the customer experience.

What are other ways Oracle is working to enhance the customer experience?  Oracle has an organization called License Management Services (LMS) which promotes the management, governance and awareness of the proper use and distribution for Oracle systems.  I have personally engaged this team to help gain a better understanding of my organization's licensing and ownership rights, and leveraged their expertise to help reduce the long term costs of our Oracle investments.  As the CIO for a large County that is funded by tax revenues from over 800,000 citizens, I have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that the County is proactively managing all of its assets and investments, which includes hardware, software and database solutions which help facilitate the cost effect and efficient delivery of government services.  Engaging the LMS team helped ensure legal compliance, and optimized use of all Oracle related licenses.  Another program which i have leveraged, to help gain a better understanding of what we own, and how best to leverage our investment is the Oracle Insight Program.  This program is a comprehensive business strategy development program in which customers work closely with Oracle business and IT strategy experts to identify the critical objectives and challenges for their unique business needs and understand how technology can help address those needs.  These are two programs which many customers may not be familiar with --- but add great value to customers who want to better understand what they own, and how best to leverage their investment.

And last, but certainly not least ---- if you want help navigating Oracle, and to be able to work with others that have common interests, products, industries or challenges --- then I would encourage you to join a user group! If you are a DBA, functional user, CIO or other technology professional - than the IOUG may be a great fit for you.  The IOUG and all the other user groups are independent or Oracle - but work collaboratively with them to provide mutual benefit.  Want to check out the IOUG?  Head on over to  and take a look.  Want to see what other group might be a good fit for you and your organization?  Please visit

Tuesday Dec 16, 2014

Oracle’s Journey to Customer Centricity

Oracle got deadly serious about customer-centricity in 2004. Back then we were famous for our database products, were just wrapping up the acquisition of PeopleSoft and quickly expanding our applications business. Our approach since has been two-pronged, consisting of acquiring new technologies through many further acquisitions and expanding internal R&D efforts to broaden the company’s “solution footprint.”

The aggressive pace of acquisitions, starting with PeopleSoft, meant that we really had to look at putting very specific customer retention measures in place, with an eye toward pleasing customers who were accustomed to a different sort of relationship with their technology provider. Our goal was - and still is - to incorporate customer feedback into every facet of our operations. We created (and acquired) better tools to help us listen to our customers in a more comprehensive and consistent fashion, capturing both structured and unstructured input through a variety of methods, including:

  • Web surveys,
  • Focus groups,
  • Executive advisory boards,
  • Individual customer interactions, and Marketplace studies

With the voice of the customer as our foundation, we have built a closed-loop ecosystem that systematically takes feedback and then analyzes, prioritizes, and propagates that feedback across the company. That then drives actions to address the feedback from its root causes, communicates back to customers what we’re doing, and ultimately asks customers if what we have done helps them to be more successful. In the end, if our customers are more successful in implementing technology to improve their business, then we retain those customers – hopefully delight them – and drive more business for Oracle.

If you’d like to find out more about Oracle’s journey toward customer-centricity check out the chapter from a recently published book I had the pleasure to be a part of, called Ruthless Execution by Amir Hartman.

With the holiday season and the end of the year right around the corner, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank our customers.  I hope this conversation helps you understand how Oracle's focus on your satisfaction drives our efforts.  Your success is our success.

Tuesday Dec 02, 2014

Socializing Customer Feedback

I left off last week talking about our approach to capturing a complete picture of our customers’ experiences and the importance of communicating customer feedback back to our organizational groups and employees. By sharing feedback received from customer surveys, advisory panels, and account strategy review sessions with employees across the organization, employees are better able to understand customer issues and concerns, ensuring their commitment to better our customers’ experiences.

To do this, we use a two-pronged approach when socializing feedback throughout the company. 

A top-down approach starts with distributing a customer feedback and response bulletin to the Board of Directors, Executive Committee and top 300 executives in the company. This includes a breakdown of customer experience input across geographies, products, services and customer segments that align with the strategic direction of the company. A series of 100+ integrated readouts then follow with regional, development and line of business leaders, with role-based dashboards using Oracle Business Intelligence technology to enable them to drill into additional detail in their areas. These readouts and dashboards corroborate input from various touch points to provide a holistic view into the areas most actionable for them. Based on stakeholder focus areas, our survey and panel mechanisms are adjusted to ensure they remain aligned with business priorities.

Additionally, we employ a bottom-up approach, where we provide front-line account-team members and customer program managers with immediate access into survey results, issues, escalations and other input surrounding their customers. This is driven through automated alert mechanisms, online reports and dashboards, and integrated into CRM and BI systems to provide role-based views.

An example of how we have worked to put this in place is through the key accounts program. Account teams and customers work together to capture feedback on Oracle’s performance through a structured survey sponsored by a customer’s executive sponsor. That input is shared with both the Oracle account teams and customer, with results incorporated into 3-year strategic account plans to ensure alignment between Oracle and customer business objectives. Top performing teams are recognized internally through the CEO’s Cup awards program, promoting the dedication of the individuals and account teams who maintain sustained high customer satisfaction within their accounts. This year’s awards focused on a particular customer satisfaction-related theme: excellence in account management, and we examined four key behaviors: collaborative account planning, an emphasis on measuring and enabling customer success, a trusted advisor partnership, and account team leadership and coordination.

Hopefully this has given you an idea of our overall approach to customer-centricity and how we use customer feedback as the backbone of our programs.  A case study into our program and that of many others is available in the Temkin report entitled: Raising Customer Centricity Across the B2B Enterprise.  If you have case studies to share as well, please feel free to comment below.  Happy reading!

Wednesday Nov 19, 2014

Continuous Customer Feedback

 Oracle’s goal has long been to become more customer focused, with the overall objective of remaining connected with our customers to understand what is important to them so that we can continually deliver against those expectations. The Temkin Group recently published a report entitled: Raising Customer Centricity Across the B2B Enterprise, featuring a number of customer experience initiatives in place at Ciena, Crowe Horwarth Fiserv, Genworth and Oracle. I’ve included a summary of Oracle’s efforts below and encourage you to access the full best practices report here.
At Oracle we capture a complete picture of customer experience through a combination of sources that enable us to receive continuous feedback from our customers across the multiple interactions, touch points and channels throughout their customer experience journey. We do this through a variety of methods, including executive-to-executive engagement, surveys, customer advisory panels, communities and independent user groups, as well as various communication channels.

To drive action across systemic customer and company issues, a Top 10 Program is in place to identify and remedy key issues having the largest impact on customer experience. To ensure consistent execution of these customer programs across each region, a core group of Customer Program Managers (CPMs) are in place to help execute against corporate strategy under a common framework globally. To reinforce accountability and resolve issues in a timely and consistent manner, alerts are in place to notify relevant employees with standard practices in place to engage business leaders and customers. And finally, to prioritize improvement initiatives and help sales teams better understand customer experiences from their perspectives, customer journey mapping is used to identify those key moments of truth that deliver value to customers.

We feel it is imperative that employees feel connected to customer feedback to assure they are part of the solution. By sharing feedback received from surveys, advisory panels, and account strategy review sessions with employees across the organization, employees are better able to understand customer issues and concerns, ensuring their commitment to better our customers’ experiences.

In my next post, I'll provide an overview of the two-pronged approach we feel works best when socializing feedback into our large organization.  In the meantime, check out the Temkin report to see what we and other top companies are doing to raise customer centricity across B2B enterprises.

Wednesday Oct 29, 2014

Transformation: Learning from Leaders

During his OpenWorld keynote this year, Oracle CEO Mark Hurd asked CIOs from eight different customers to join him on stage and talk about their challenges and concerns. While these organizations ranged from GE to Walgreens, from P&G to Intel, I was struck by the similarities of their stories. Each company is in a constant state of IT evolution, adopting new technologies to address modern issues in the context of an ever changing global economy. As Oracle's Chief Customer Officer I have the privilege of working with many of these companies every day, and we are able to learn from them. That puts us in a unique position to watch how they face these challenges across different countries and industries, study the commonalities, and synthesize the elements of success.

Transformation to some means moving to new concepts like Engineered Systems, the Internet of Things, and Cloud. For others, it's still about capitalizing on the promises of centralization, standardization, virtualization, and simplification. And to even more it means simply moving away from legacy systems and properly automating the business as an integrated whole. Whichever stage your organization is in, whichever industry you below to, or IT platform you operate on, you can be sure that somewhere out there others already have similar experiences - who may have started on this journey before you. That puts you in the enviable position of having both the transformation potential in front of you, and the experiences of others to help guide you to your transformation.

One thing we like to do is collect those customer experiences and make them available to study. To that end I've included a small list of customers who have been kind enough to take time out from their busy schedules and share their transformational journeys with us:

Please take a moment to view these short studies. You'll get a sense of the excitement and energy these successful corporate transformations engender in everyone involved, from C-Level employes on down and how it impacts their customers. Change, they say, is the only constant. While the definition of transformation may vary across industries and geographies, the drive to adapt to the changing world varies very little.


Tuesday Oct 14, 2014

Oracle OpenWorld 2014 – Our Biggest Customer Engagement Event of the Year!

Oracle OpenWorld

As we lower the curtain on Oracle OpenWorld 2014, we look back on the most memorable moments from the week. Larry Ellison, our Executive Chairman and Chief Technology Officer, kicked off the event Sunday night with the welcome keynote, announcing a myriad of new cloud-related products. Customers were buzzing about all three layers of Oracle's cloud strategy applications, platform and infrastructure.

We were especially thrilled to have top executives from Archer Daniels Midland, dunnhumby, FedEx, General Electric, Intel, Procter & Gamble, Pearson, Telefonica, Walgreens, and Xerox join Oracle CEOs, Mark Hurd and Safra Catz on stage and by video throughout the week to discuss industry trends and how Oracle is helping them create efficiencies and innovate. A key theme from all was the importance of cloud and mobile. Moving forward, IT and

business leaders in all organizations will need to partner to bring customers the ability to react to business across channels, when and how they want.

There were too many highlights of the conference to name. You, our customers, were on stage with us for every keynote and throughout a majority of sessions of the conference, so if you missed anything, there are highlights reels and full keynotes available on-demand. Whether folks attended the specific, general, or breakout sessions, User Group sessions, various industry summits, CIO or SFO Summits, CX or HCM Central sessions, or our exclusive Executive Perspectives – great conversations were started and are continuing through our social networks and within our customer communities.

Oracle OpenWorld also presents a terrific opportunity for us to hear from you. We heard quite a bit of feedback during the show this year customers telling us that they have seen a change in how Oracle views its customers. Welcome news, as we know Oracle's scale and complexity can sometimes make it hard for a customer to navigate and feel that his/her voice is heard.

We're doing a lot of work to change that, allowing customers to have more visibility into Oracle's development process and enabling you to provide feedback for product updates and enhancements through our Oracle Customer Advisory Panel program. We also work closely with the more than 900 independent Oracle User Groups to connect our customers with the appropriate Oracle resources to answer questions and get the latest on new product directions and product enhancements.

Last week, we had great feedback from two of our largest User Groups, the OAUG Oracle Applications Users Group and the IOUG Independent Oracle Users group, on our approach and the changes they've seen in Oracle. Take a read and see what they're saying on Oracle User Groups Testify to Company's Change for the Better.  We hope you're feeling the same way. As always, we want to hear from you, so please take advantage of all our feedback channels. No need to wait for OpenWorld 2015 join a Customer Advisory Panel, engage your sales rep or success manager, send an email to  or leave a comment to this blog and we'll engage.

Next year Oracle OpenWorld is set in San Francisco again so mark your calendars for October 25 29, 2015!

See you there,


Tuesday Sep 23, 2014

The Final Countdown to Oracle OpenWorld

The countdown to Oracle OpenWorld and Java One has reached a fevered pitch with only a few days remaining before all of you arrive in San Francisco and we start our biggest event of the year.

The  conference is always changing and this year, we're taking a new and decidedly modern approach to our keynotes.  It's all about you, our customers, and engaging you in meaningful conversations. Some will be on a mass scale, starting onstage and continuing throughout Oracle Plaza on Howard Street, spilling into various public spaces, and on social; and still others will take place in smaller, intimate meetings where you'll have access to top Oracle executives and other like and peer colleagues to share experiences.  Whether you're at OPN Central, Oracle Users Forum, Oracle Leaders Circle, 

Executive Perspectives, CX Central, HCM Central, OTN's Techfest or any of our numerous industry and role-based summits you're bound to come away with new and valuable insights, ideas, and connections.

As you’ve come to expect – Oracle OpenWorld is always the platform for our biggest product announcements and new technology unveilings.  This year should be no different. We’ll have a big focus on Cloud, Big Data, Engineered Systems and Mobile, so expect to hear those themes resonate throughout the week

If you still haven’t registered, what are you waiting for? There’s still time, it’s not too late. I look forward to seeing you all in San Francisco next week-make sure you’re rested and ready to engage. It’s going to be a busy week!

Tuesday Jul 22, 2014

Become Your Own Best Customer Success Story

Every four years, the World Cup generates millions of new soccer fans around the world. As people watched these matches, more casual observers became fans of the sport and its incredible athletes like Messi, Neymar, and Ronaldo.

More soccer fans mean more ticket sales, more jersey sales, and more participation by kids at all levels, ensuring a bright future for the sport. Soccer is a brand, and nothing promotes that brand like its players performing at a high level in the World Cup – arguably the most famous sporting event on the globe.

The same applies to other brands and other industries. Like World Cup soccer players promoting their sport, no one can promote your company and brand like you can. We take this to heart at Oracle and believe that the best way to achieve this goal is by using our products to support and drive our business at all levels.

It demonstrates our faith in our technology.

It makes our products even better.

It shows the world that we have pride in our brand.

And it makes us the best customer reference we have.

I’m proud that we can point to countless examples throughout Oracle where we are using our products −including engineered systems and big data, cloud, and customer experience applications and technologies − to drive transformation across our enterprise and model best practices for our customers. In short, Oracle runs on Oracle.

Working in the Cloud

Like many of our customers, we are on a journey to migrate from on-premise core business systems to cloud-based solutions to benefit from greater agility and cost efficiencies. We currently use a blend of Oracle E-Business Suite on-premise applications and Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud (Oracle HCM Cloud) solutions, with the goal of completing our migration to the cloud in 2015. Oracle HCM Cloud solutions enable us to proactively manage HR operations while optimizing talent recruitment and development across our global enterprise. Our use of Oracle HCM Cloud also sends a powerful message to large enterprises considering moving to the cloud about scalability and the flexibility that the platform provides organizations that need to pursue an iterative migration.

Understanding Our Customers and Serving them Better

Focusing on the customer experience is one of the wisest investments a company can make. Even modest improvements in the customer experience can yield hundreds of millions in additional revenue each year and strengthen customer loyalty.

Our customer programs are built on the tripod of listening to customers, responding to customers, and collaborating with customers, and are fueled by Oracle’s CX solutions and engineered systems.  By adding this dimension of technology, we, have a much greater understanding of our customers, their behaviors, and their needs.  A specific example is Oracle's Customer Experience Database (CxD).  We use Engineered Systems (Oracle Exadata Database Machine and Oracle Exalytics In-Memory Machine), as well as Oracle Endeca and Oracle RightNow solutions, to combine customer profiles and behaviors from with social media interactions to provide a more complete view of customer interactions and experiences. 

CxD combines traditional structured data profiles with online behavioral data, including live social media interactions, web behavior, sales chat, forum exchanges, and digital body language.  A master database of CX data, CxD enables us to better target marketing resources and customer services and more predictive support customers at each stage in the CX lifecycle.  When combined with the Oracle Business Intelligence instance that stores customer survey results across relationship, transactional, targeted and panel surveys, a full view of attitudinal and behavioral data emerges.

Transforming our Supply Chain

When Oracle purchased Sun Microsystems, we entered a new business area – manufacturing – with different supply chain, inventory, and service paradigms. Since that time, we have transformed our forward and reverse supply chain operations using Oracle Value Chain Planning applications on Oracle Exadata and Oracle Exalytics.

The results have been extremely favorable and visible. For our hardware operations, we reduced work-in-process inventory for hardware by $100 million, cut finished goods inventory by 10%, and achieved nearly 100% on-time shipment of servers and storage systems. In addition, we enabled closed-loop monitoring of plan health, allowing our hardware group to monitor plans daily and take decisive action to ensure stability.

As important, we have improved efficiency of reverse supply chain operations, including part returns and replacements, and boosted our ability to have the right parts at the right place at the right time across a network of more than 300 warehouses globally containing 30,000 distinct parts. Further, we cut parts inventory from $800 million to $400 million upon going live, reduced safety stock by $20 million, and cut logistics costs by $1 million annually as a result of consolidation and simplification.

Using Big Data to Make Measurable Improvements

Oracle is also using big data technology and concepts to significantly improve the effectiveness of our support operations, starting with our hardware support group. Although it’s new, the initiative has already delivered several valuable benefits. Our hardware support group recently began to look at automation to improve support quality and accelerate service request (SR) resolution. Its goal is to use predictive analytics to automate SR resolution within 80%-95% accuracy.

The support group gathers a tremendous amount of data. Each month, it logs 35,000 new SRs and receives nearly 6 TB of telemetry data via automated service requests (ASRs), but it had a siloed view of this data, which hindered analysis.

The team knew it had to walk before it could run. It started by taking information from approximately 10 silos – feeds from SRs and ASRs, parts databases, and customer experience systems – and migrating it to an Oracle Endeca Information Discovery environment. On the very first day of going live with the solution, the team identified between 200 and 400 additional automation opportunities for a specific domain, a number that accounts for approximately 4% of new SRs coming in on a monthly basis.

We then focused on gaining insight in near real time, leveraging the parallel processing of Hadoop to automatically feed Oracle Endeca Information Discovery and improve data velocity. Our first initiative with this new environment looked at Oracle Solaris SRs. By aggregating all of the data in near real-time, we rapidly identified ways to increase automated SR resolution from less than 1% to approximately 5% of Solaris-related SR—which will enable us to provide faster support to customers while reducing costs. s.

Oracle plans to leverage its big data environment to optimize time to resolution for SRs, track average time to resolution for a specific issue, identify which help desk engineers are especially adept at solving that issue, and route SRs to the engineers who are most effective and efficient in specific areas.

These are powerful success stories we can share with customers. They need to know we put our products and solutions to work at Oracle every day, where they are delivering proven results in a large-scale global enterprise.

Just like the athletes who were promoting soccer during the World Cup, no one can promote our brand like we can.  And the beauty of self-promotion in this way is that it's quite possibly the most customer-centric thing you can do.  There is really no better way for us to walk in our customers' shoes than to run our business with the exact same products we deliver to those customers.

Tuesday Jul 08, 2014

Investing in Relationships Can Help Foster Great Customer Experiences

We buy homeowner’s insurance, but hope we never need it.

Sometimes we fork over extra money for a product warranty, just in case.

There are a lot of examples of how we try to guard against future problems and invest in insurance or try to fill our “goodwill” pots so we have something to draw from in the future.

The same thinking can and should apply to investing in customer relationships. When we go the extra mile to help a customer out of a rough patch (even when we might not be the cause of the issue), we make a deposit of goodwill that will almost certainly be needed in the future. Why? Because, we are human, our business is complex, and despite our best efforts, we are likely to cause unintended grief for that customer at some point in time.

A thin line separates success and failure when it comes customer experience. Time and time again, we see that a single moment or encounter can change the long-term course of a business relationship, for better or worse. In such an instance, the goodwill created can make the difference between a solid relationship and a severed one. It’s an investment with a very high rate of return – especially for top accounts.

There are great examples of companies in all industries that have invested in the extra mile and their investments paid off exponentially. Last year I read about one company that went above and beyond for a consumer:

“Recently, our three-year-old Cuisinart coffee maker started making noises akin to a strangled parrot, and then ended its life with a theatrical puff of smoke, like a magician’s finale. When contacted about this, Cuisinart — which is owned by the Conair Corporation — immediately shipped us a newer and better machine, even though ours was long out of warranty. The company also provided a box to ship the old one back, presumably for an autopsy.

The whole process took less than five days. Well done, Conair. You have a customer for life.”

New York Times, April 28, 2013, “When Companies Get It Right”

“You have a customer for life.” That’s what every company wants to hear. Not only did Conair engender great loyalty, the anecdote was printed in a newspaper with more than 1.2 million daily readers and lives on via the Web.

Good news like the story above doesn't travel fast.  Sometimes it never travels.  But bad news certainly does.  And with more than 4.5 billion social users connected on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other networks and almost 170 million smartphone subscribers in the U.S., a company's failures can become widely known in a matter of hours.

As such, good intentions are not good enough. Taking action aggressively is essential when it comes to proactive customer service. Sometimes you just have to jump, without a clue about how and where you’ll land.

We experienced exactly this very recently at Oracle. A pharmaceutical manufacturer that has a sizeable Oracle Database environment was experiencing an issue in its global information system (GIS) that was, in essence, paralyzing its supply chain and shipment of products. Signs were pointing to a database corruption issue, so the customer called Oracle Support, which took the leap, with two possible solutions – both of which were complicated endeavors.

Oracle garnered the global resources needed for immediate action − staying online with the customer throughout the night while skilled development teams worked behind the scenes and around the globe and clock to develop and deliver a solution in hours. Once the system became operational, Oracle Support continued to analyze the root problem, and determined that the issue first began to reveal its self a few days earlier following a disaster recovery exercise and update of an unrelated non-Oracle system. While the problem ultimately emanated from a different system, Oracle sprinted the extra mile to help the get customer up and running as quickly as possible and then helped to determine the root cause. Our efforts didn’t go unnoticed or unrecognized. The customer team, including the CIO, was extremely grateful. There was little question that we needed to jump when the customer called. But we could have shut down our efforts as soon as it was becoming clear that the issue was not ours. We saw it to the end, demonstrating commitment to the customer’s business and the spirit of partnership. The customer’s supply chain restarted and goodwill was generated.

The well-known “service paradox theory” purports that customers will come back even after they have experienced a problem with a company, provided the company takes appropriate action – makes amends with an apology, provides a refund, or takes some steps to acknowledge and rectify a service issue. Forrester found in a 2010 study that 81% of consumers who encountered problems but got great service recovery were very likely to continue doing business with the company in question.

The short- and long-term value of building a reserve of goodwill that can be tapped in the event that it is needed.  In essence, goodwill becomes the currency for future opportunity, affording a chance to address and fully resolve an issue and, ultimately, strengthen a customer relationship.  That's a very sound investment, indeed.


Tuesday Jun 03, 2014

Impacting the Future through Collaboration at Alliance 14

We’re hearing good things about the Alliance 14 conference held in Las Vegas by the Higher Education Users Group (HEUG) back in March. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Alliance 14 conferences, they are global events dedicated to enhancing and educating its members and the world on how higher educational institutions can utilize Oracle applications to change how they do business. The HEUG is an all-volunteer organization made up of individuals who collaborate with Oracle as part of the evolving higher education industry. Conference participants network with peers from other institutions (regionally and globally) to share the challenges; discuss solutions and ideas, and collaborate on HEUG strategic initiatives. The HEUG enables each institution to be a part of the ever-changing Oracle landscape.

Watch the video below and hear directly from the attendees about their experience with Oracle and how being part of the HEUG has allowed them to  collaborate with one of their most importance resources... and with each other.

Oracle is committed to fostering a strong and independent network of user groups worldwide. Currently over 900+ groups provide dynamic forums for customers to share information, experiences and expertise. If you’re interested in more information or joining an Oracle User Group, click and become part of a vibrant network of engaged users finding the best ways to get the most value from their Oracle investment and collaborating to provide a unified feedback voice to Oracle.

Catch you next time,



Welcome to the Customers in the Know Blog. My name is Jeb Dasteel, I am Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer at Oracle. I am responsible for driving customer-focus into all aspects of the Oracle business. I advocate and work within Oracle to develop and deliver customer programs that increase customer retention, value delivered, satisfaction, and loyalty. This blog was designed to enhance our engagement and interaction with our customers, by providing them exclusive Oracle executive insights, ensuring they have the most up-to-date trends and news directly from Oracle, as well as guest blog submissions by some of our customers.



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