The furious pace of construction going on today in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is a physical manifestation of the region’s excitement as it looks forward to hosting a World Expo in 2020.
Oracle has a construction project of its own going on in the region: a state-of-the-art data center, located in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, reflecting Oracle’s excitement about the business potential of the Middle East. Oracle CEO Mark Hurd announced plans for the new facility earlier this year. “This is a big deal for us, big decision for us, big investment for us,” Hurd said at the announcement. It’s “really emblematic of our commitment to the region,” he said.
The UAE technology community greeted news of the new data center with enthusiasm. “We welcome it, and most of the CIOs in the region are excited about it,” says Sajeesh Nambiar, general manager and CIO of Bukhatir Group, a diversified conglomerate headquartered in Sharjah.
Companies in the Middle East are “hungry for new technology,” says Abdul Rahman Al Thehaiban, senior vice president of Oracle Middle East, Central Asia, North and South Africa. Cloud computing, in particular, is very appealing because it provides businesses with access to cutting-edge IT capabilities without investing in costly infrastructure. “It comes at a time when there’s high pressure on budget cuts along with high demand for matching head-to-head with organizations across the world,” he says.
The investment also reflects growing business momentum for Oracle, particularly in adoption of cloud computing. “It’s one of the regions leading our movement to the cloud,” Hurd said.
Another, less obvious, reason for Oracle’s current momentum is longevity—“because we’ve been here for more than 20 years,” Al Thehaiban says. Word-of-mouth is a significant factor in the Middle East. “Customers buy from other customers,” he says. Oracle has engendered good relations, along with creating a wide and deep “ecosystem and skill set,” through its continuing work with governments and universities in the area. “That investment has been paying back,” Al Thehaiban says.
Bukhatir Group, for example, was founded in 1977 and has a long-term technology partnership with Oracle. The company has interests in construction, education, oil and gas, healthcare, real estate, retail, sports, and IT services. Bukhatir runs its back-office enterprise resource planning functions on Oracle E-Business Suite, and has almost completed upgrading all of its business units to release R12. Bukhatir also uses Oracle Hyperion Financial Management for financial consolidation and reporting.
Bukhatir is also an Oracle Cloud customer. Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service was made available to about 80 business users across Bukhatir Group last October. Within a short period, key business users had employed the cloud application to complete 2016 budgeting, as well as financial planning for 2017 to 2020.
Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud service replaced a spreadsheet-based process that took too long to compile and provided too few necessary insights in the context of modern business. The cloud service, on the other hand, gives business users “one with which they can do financial planning through the various models and dimensions that drive the business centralized tool growth,” Nambiar says.
Having completed phase one of the cloud project, the Bukhatir team is looking at a potential phase two, in the hopes that the system will provide executives with advanced financial analysis and performance monitoring, Nambiar says.
Oracle’s recent momentum in the Middle East, and the UAE specifically, can also be attributed to the doubling of its workforce there during the last three years. Building on that strategy, Oracle is adding 250 new cloud sales personnel to its current roster in the region. Oracle will open new offices this year in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, as well as Amman, Jordan, and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Oracle’s Middle East investment equation is relatively simple and straightforward. “Our success in the region is another reason to keep investing in the region,” Hurd said.