By David A. Kelly
Job title: Vice president for IT and CIO
Company: Mobile TeleSystems
Location: Moscow, Russia
Award: Oracle Excellence Award for CIO of the Year, Europe, Middle East, and Africa, 2011
Staying ahead of the competition requires speed and agility, especially in the communications field. That’s why Moscow, Russia–based US$11 billion-a-year Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) recently signed an unlimited license agreement (ULA) with Oracle covering a range of Oracle solutions that can be deployed as quickly as necessary, in response to business needs.
“Technology is just a means to an end,” says Frederic Vanoosthuyze, vice president for information technology and CIO at MTS. “With the ULA, we have the tools to deploy very fast. We can skip the procurement processes that can take a substantial amount of time, such as six or nine months. It allows us to generate savings for the company faster. The payback for MTS is huge.”
MTS is the leading telecommunications group in Russia and eastern Europe and one of the largest in Europe, providing both mobile and fixed voice, broadband, TV, and content services to more than 100 million mobile subscribers and close to 10 million households. To give the company a competitive and consistent platform for future growth, Vanoosthuyze—winner of the Oracle Excellence Award for CIO of the Year, Europe, Middle East, and Africa—has helped define and implement a software consolidation strategy. An important part of that strategy has been MTS’s 2010 signing of a three-year ULA with Oracle—an agreement that includes Oracle applications, middleware, and database products already used by MTS, as well as solutions Vanoosthuyze foresees deploying in the future.
“Oracle is a strategic partner for MTS,” says Vanoosthuyze. “We calculated the net present value [NPV] of our investment in an Oracle ULA, the value of the project, and the savings that we’d achieve with it, and we ended up with a multimillion-dollar positive NPV.” MTS has looked to Oracle for its technology solutions for years, including a large deployment of Oracle’s Siebel applications for customer interactions and an Oracle E-Business Suite application for accounting, which allows the company to run dual (U.S. and Russian) accounting standards simultaneously.
Although he doesn’t claim to be able to predict the future, Vanoosthuyze does know what it takes to support future business requirements. “The role of a good CIO is to be able to understand the business, speak its language, and predict what will be needed tomorrow or a year from now,” he says. “At the end of the day, it’s up to the business to tell us what they expect from IT, rather than IT telling the business what they have to do.”
CIO sees people as key asset as she works to transform IT into a “driving force of the business.”
Job title: CIO
Company: Telefónica Brasil
Location: São Paulo, Brazil
Award: Oracle Excellence Award for CIO of the Year, Latin America, 2011
In the past, technical expertise was the primary requirement for a CIO. Nowadays, CIOs need more-comprehensive and flexible skill sets in order to fully understand corporate issues, provide effective solutions, and establish business-minded IT leadership.
“I believe a CIO has to maintain a close relationship with business managers in order to broadly understand the business context and needs and to anticipate what will be required from IT,” says Christiane Almeida Edington, CIO of Telefónica Brasil and winner of the Oracle Excellence Award for CIO of the Year, Latin America. “To do that, I have to keep up to date with all new technologies in order to create solutions with the best cost-benefit for the company. It is demanding, but satisfying to see how IT can promote a constant evolution by using state-of-the-art solutions.”
Telefónica Brasil, part of the €60-plus billion Telefónica Group, is a leading provider of communications and integrated services in Brazil. As head of IT operations, Edington focuses mainly on helping to transform IT into a driving force of the business, reducing time to market and seeking continuous improvement in IT quality.
Taking on an IT transformation is no small task. Telefónica Brasil has a lot of systems and applications in its mobile and fixed operations that are responsible for providing telecommunications services for more than 79 million customers. To provide a platform for dynamic growth, Telefónica Brasil has created a SOA approach built on Oracle components to integrate disparate systems and enable IT capabilities to align more closely with changing business needs. The company uses a wide range of Oracle solutions, including Oracle SOA Suite, Siebel Customer Relationship Management, Oracle Identity Management, and Oracle Universal Content Management.
For Telefónica Brasil, the choice to standardize on Oracle technologies was clear. “Oracle has a comprehensive product portfolio with end-to-end solutions that addresses all the requirements of our mission-critical applications, such as high availability, scalability, open standards, a well-defined roadmap, and easy integration,” says Edington.
Edington adds that by standardizing on Oracle solutions, Telefónica Brasil has reduced operating expenses and application deployment time. “We’ve seen time-to-market reduction through SOA benefits like reusability, flexibility, new-development agility, and cost reduction,” she says.
But to Edington, being a good CIO takes more than simply selecting the right technologies. “I strongly believe that a company’s main asset is its people, so first and foremost, the CIO has to be ingenious in order to transform a large group of people into an integrated team with aligned objectives,” she says. “One way we can stand out from our competition is our team, so we always need to take care of people and support their ongoing professional development.”
AT&T CIO responds to business evolution with IT innovation.
Job title: CIO
Location: Dallas, Texas
Award: Oracle Excellence Award for CIO of the Year, North America, 2011
For Thaddeus Arroyo, CIO of AT&T and winner of the Oracle Excellence Award for CIO of the Year, North America, the goal of technology goes beyond simply supporting business operations at the US$124 billion telecommunications giant.
“Our role is to apply technology in ways that transform business processes and market offerings in a manner that ultimately creates business value and has a positive impact on our customers,” says Arroyo, who is responsible for all of AT&T’s information technology. “I like to view that role as one of a progressive innovator.”
Since 2007, Arroyo has been leading a number of innovative changes at AT&T, particularly technology changes related to its merger with BellSouth, which also resulted in full ownership of Cingular Wireless. He is most proud of being able to support AT&T’s business evolution across all its markets while concurrently transforming and integrating a massive IT organization composed of roughly 27,000 IT professionals. “We’ve increased the velocity with which AT&T can bring products to market and successfully scale and commercialize those products,” he says.
To do that, Arroyo has consistently focused on building an agile IT infrastructure that can scale to unprecedented levels. As part of this strategy, AT&T uses a wide range of Oracle software supporting a myriad of business processes and enterprise integration capabilities across multiple business segments and functions.
“Oracle plays a key role both in supporting our migration and rationalization of base applications as well as supporting new technologies,” explains Arroyo. “Oracle is an important provider of technologies used to support business and operational systems as well as supporting new capabilities.”
By integrating and rationalizing systems, AT&T has reduced its number of deployed applications by more than 40 percent. At the same time the company is rationalizing its infrastructure, it’s also virtualizing portions of it.
“As we drive to a virtualized environment, Oracle supports us both on the application side and on the infrastructure side,” says Arroyo. “We’re transforming the way we deliver services and evolving our complete application development process in such a way that we’ll have a model that is linked from idea inception all the way through delivery.”
While AT&T’s consolidation and transformation strategy is paying off for customers and the business, it’s also extremely satisfying to Arroyo personally.
“I enjoy solving complex problems and ultimately proving that in fact, even at this scale, you can be nimble and you can have world-leading time to market,” he says. “The most interesting part of what I do is solving complex business problems and ultimately exploiting the art of the possible.”
An aggressive approach to deploying new technologies yields impressive results.
Job title: Executive vice president, director, and chief information security officer
Company: SoftBank Mobile Corporation
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Award: Oracle Excellence Award for CIO of the Year, Japan, 2011
Great IT performance can make people happy,” says Shinichi Ata, executive vice president, director, and chief information security officer of Japan’s SoftBank Mobile Corporation. Ata ought to know: performance is especially important for an organization such as SoftBank, which handles more than 1 billion call records and 4 billion data records each day. And, through the use of Oracle technologies, Ata has found a way to meet the company’s goal of IT-inspired happiness.
Over the years, Ata, winner of the Oracle Excellence Award for CIO of the Year, Japan, has been aggressive in deploying new technologies at SoftBank, including managing the company’s replacement of its Teradata data warehouse with an Oracle Exadata system. He’s also been instrumental in the deployment of an Oracle Exadata–based private cloud solution for SoftBank and in the development of future public cloud services in Japan, based on Oracle Exadata and Oracle Exalogic.
By deploying an Oracle Exadata Database Machine, SoftBank has been able to create a data warehouse that is eight times larger than its previous Teradata warehouse, while at the same time reducing overall operational costs by 50 percent. Oracle Exadata also allows SoftBank to analyze call records and customer logs in 7 hours rather than the 25 hours it was previously taking. Implementation of the new solution took only three months and was completed in May 2010.
“It’s an amazing technology. We were very impressed with Oracle Exadata,” says Ata. “We were using 36 racks of Teradata but were able to replace that with only 3 racks of Oracle Exadata,” he explains. “The performance of those 3 Oracle Exadata racks was eight times faster than 36 Teradata racks. It was amazing.”
SoftBank is also making a big investment in cloud computing with its White Cloud services for enterprises, which are based on Oracle technologies. It’s already selling virtual desktop services, which not only help to save electricity but also enable corporate employees to work securely from outside the office—an important consideration in post-earthquake Japan.
In addition, the company is planning to deploy Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud to handle Web services requests from more than 6,000 nationwide SoftBank sales stores, which collectively manage more than 50,000 customer visits each day.
“We’re expecting Oracle Exalogic to take the place of thousands of Web servers that we use today,” says Ata. “The combination of Oracle Exalogic and Oracle Exadata will be fantastic for not only us but also our White Cloud customers. It makes it very quick and easy to test and deploy new applications.”
Australian CIO takes pride in “creating an environment where people can accomplish and deliver outstanding business outcomes.”
Job title: CIO
Company: NBN Co
Location: Sydney, Australia
Award: Oracle Excellence Award for CIO of the Year, Asia Pacific, 2011
It’s not easy to cover a country as large as Australia with a state-of-the-art broadband network, but NBN Co is up to the task. NBN Co was created in 2009, and its purpose is to deliver Australia’s first national wholesale-only, open-access broadband network to all Australians. The company’s goal is to connect 93 percent of homes, schools, and workplaces with optical fibre (fibre to the premises, or FTTP), providing high-speed broadband services to Australians in urban centers and regional towns. The remaining 7 percent will be connected to the national broadband network via a combination of fixed wireless and satellite technologies.
“Oracle is critical to our business strategy,” says Claire Rawlins, CIO of NBN Co and winner of the Oracle Excellence Award for CIO of the Year, Asia Pacific. “As a low-cost wholesale broadband provider that needs to quickly deploy a complete set of integrated applications, NBN Co is highly reliant on the broad suite of products delivered by Oracle. Its solutions align with our ‘Best of Suite’ product strategy and support our goal.”
NBN Co has implemented a complete portfolio of Oracle applications that run the company, from enterprise resource planning solutions to those for billing, supply chain management, and more. “Oracle plays a major part across much of our application portfolio,” says Rawlins. “Oracle E-Business Suite is the heart of our business and commercial systems, with Oracle Communications Billing and Revenue Management providing our billing platform. And we’re finding that the cloud-based Oracle CRM On Demand solution provides us with the necessary flexibility and speed of implementation to meet our changing business needs.” Rawlins adds that in terms of total cost of ownership, Oracle is a strong fit for NBN Co for a number of reasons, including “the preintegrated nature of the solutions, their scalability, and the broad availability of people with experience in the products—both people from Oracle and from its partners.”
NBN Co’s choice of and success with Oracle solutions reflects Rawlins’ strong belief in “simplifying” the technology. Rawlins also reinforces the importance of end-to-end process alignment, underpinned by clear metrics management as a best practice. “Constantly measure results, in real time when possible,” she advises fellow CIOs, “as meaningful business intelligence and analytics are invaluable.” Partnering is also high on the agenda at NBN Co, where retail service providers play an important role. “I passionately believe in win-win solutions; anything else is unsustainable,” Rawlins says.
That belief seemingly extends to her view of what makes a great CIO.
“Successful CIOs should have a high emotional intelligence quotient, a degree in behavioral economics, and perhaps a few stiff drinks,” says Rawlins. Humor aside, it isn’t purely the technical challenges that drive her. “Actually, the most satisfying part of being a CIO is creating an environment where people can accomplish and deliver outstanding business outcomes.”
Global Business Unit
Biopharma CIO sees IT as “the heart and the future” of the company.
Job title: Vice president, IT
Company: Merck Research Laboratories
Location: Whitehouse Station, New Jersey
Award: Oracle Excellence Award for CIO of the Year, Global Business Unit, 2011
For Merck, the second-largest biopharmaceutical company in the world, strategic competitive advantage comes from being able to operate at scale. That’s especially important when you spend, as Merck does, US$8 billion a year on research and development and have a user base of more than 12,000 internal and 100,000 external users. That’s why Clark Golestani, vice president of IT at Merck Research Laboratories and winner of the Oracle Excellence Award for CIO of the Year, Global Business Unit, likes Oracle solutions.
“We went with Oracle because of the architecture, strategy, and vision that it brings forward,” says Golestani. “In our testing of Oracle’s technology layer as well as its application layer, we’ve found that Oracle delivers.”
Golestani notes that Oracle’s life sciences product set is the foundation for Merck’s integrated development platform (IDP), a solution in which “information is captured in the clinic and managed all the way through to when the product goes to market.” From a scope and scale perspective, that end-to-end process involves clinical investigators conducting trials in more than 50 countries. By the end of 2012, Merck hopes to be integrated on a single instance of its IDP across all key components, from electronic data capture to clinical trial management.
Merck is also leveraging Oracle technology to gain new insight into the science of biopharmacology. Golestani notes that Merck currently runs one of the largest integrated single chemical repositories in the world on Oracle Exadata—with more than 5,000 concurrent users. “Now, people are able to leverage our chemical repository not just for patent purposes but for research,” he says. “They can visualize and mine all the information in it effectively and efficiently.”
When Merck finishes deploying its Oracle-based IDP, the combination of that IDP and the Oracle Exadata chemical repository will provide even more value. “We’ll have a single repository of all clinical and pharmacovigilance information. Then we’ll have the ability to mine that information in complex ways, because we made the decision to standardize all our clinical information on Oracle solutions.”
In Golestani’s view, the Oracle-based product development infrastructure will help Merck deliver on its core mission: to discover, develop, and provide innovative products and services that save and improve lives.
“We’ve given our researchers arguably some of the best tools in the industry for being able to hopefully find greater scientific insight,” he says. “We believe that will lead to new innovation.”
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Photography by Luana Azevedo, Unsplash