Off The Beaten Path—Three Things Growing Midsize Companies are Thankful For

By: Jim Lein, Senior Director, Oracle Accelerate

Last Sunday I went on a walkabout.  That’s when I just step out the door of my Colorado home and hike through the mountains for hours with no predetermined destination. I favor “social trails”, the unmapped routes pioneered by both animal and human explorers.  These tracks  are usually more challenging than established, marked routes and you can’t be 100% sure of where you’re going to end up. But I’ve found the rewards to be much greater.

For awhile, I pondered on how—depending upon your perspective—the current economic situation worldwide could be viewed as either a classic “the glass is half empty” or a “the glass is half full” scenario. Midsize companies buy Oracle to grow and so I’m continually amazed and fascinated by the success stories our customers relate to me.  Oracle’s successful midsize companies are growing via innovation, agility, and opportunity. For them, the glass isn’t half full—it’s overflowing.

Growing Midsize Companies are Thankful for: Innovation

The sun angling through the pine trees reminded me of a conversation with a European customer a year ago May.  You might not recognize the name but, chances are, your local evening weather report relies on this company’s weather observation, monitoring and measurement products.  For decades, the company was recognized in its industry for product innovation, but its recent rapid growth comes from tailoring end to end product and service solutions based on the needs of distinctly different customer groups across industrial, public sector, and defense sectors.  Hours after that phone call I was walking my dog in a local park and came upon a small white plastic box sprouting short antennas and dangling by a nylon cord from a tree branch.  I cut it down. The name of that customer’s company was stamped on the housing. “It’s a radiosonde from a high altitude weather balloon,” he told me the next day. “Keep it as a souvenir.”  It sits on my fireplace mantle and elicits many questions from guests.

Growing Midsize Companies are Thankful for: Agility

In July, I had another interesting discussion with the CFO of an Asia-Pacific company which owns and operates a large portfolio of leisure assets. They are best known for their epic outdoor theme parks. However, their primary growth today is coming from a chain of indoor amusement centers in the USA where billiards, bowling, and laser tag take the place of roller coasters, kiddy rides, and wave pools. With mountains and rivers right out my front door, I’m not much for theme parks, but I’ll take a spirited game of laser tag any day.  This company has grown dramatically since first implementing Oracle ERP more than a decade ago. Their profitable expansion into a completely foreign market is derived from the ability to replicate proven and efficient best business practices across diverse operating environments.  They recently went live on Oracle’s Fusion HCM and Taleo. Their CFO explained to me how, with thousands of employees in three countries, Fusion HCM and Taleo would enable them to remain incredibly agile by acting on trends linking individual employee performance to their management, establishing and maintaining those best practices.

Growing Midsize Companies are Thankful for: Opportunity

I have three GPS apps on my iPhone. I use them mainly to keep track of my stats—distance, time, and vertical gain. However, every once in awhile I need to find the most efficient route back home before dark from my current location (notice I didn’t use the word “lost”). In August I listened in on an interview with the CFO of another European company that designs and delivers telematics solutions—the integrated use of telecommunications and informatics—for managing the mobile workforce. These solutions enable customers to achieve evolutionary step-changes in their performance and service delivery. Forgive the overused metaphor, but this is route optimization on steroids.  The company’s executive team saw an opportunity in this emerging market and went “all in”. Consequently, they are being rewarded with tremendous growth results and market domination by providing the ability for their clients to collect and analyze performance information related to fuel consumption, service workforce safety, and asset productivity.

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for health, family, friends, and a career with an innovative company that helps companies leverage top tier software to drive and manage growth. And I’m thankful to have learned the lesson that good things happen when you get off the beaten path—both when hiking and when forging new routes through a complex world economy.

Halfway through my walkabout on Sunday, after scrambling up a long stretch of scree-covered hill, I crested a ridge with an obstructed view of 14,265 ft Mt Evans just a few miles to the west.  There, nowhere near a house or a trail, someone had placed a wooden lounge chair. Its wood was worn and faded but it was sturdy. I had lunch and a cold drink in my pack. Opportunity knocked and I seized it.

Happy Thanksgiving.



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