Talking vertical markets with Oracle’s Primavera

One of my main gripes is that too many software vendor reps we get to meet have little clue about vertical markets or what knowledge they do possess is limited to surface material. So it was with some pleasure that I sat down with Mike Sicilia, SVP and GM Primavera GBU, to talk about project portfolio management or PPM for short.

Primavera is one of those  companies that seems to have been around forever – in this case 31 years, quietly doing its thing in an area that some might view as less exciting than whatever buzzword is on people’s lips today. However, in discussing PPPM with Sicilia, two things became very apparent:

  1. The leakage of industry specific skills through natural wastage and non-replacement in engineering and construction for example has created a skills gap and, longer term, a skills shortage that is very difficult to overcome. That’s where PPM has a place.
  2. In other areas like oil and gas, governance has taken on fresh meaning and especially in the wake of recent high profile disasters.

Implementing PPM has now become a necessary step towards solving those problems but as should be obvious, these examples are two very different industries.

Having a great solution is only part of the battle. Buyers care that vendors demonstrate a strong understanding of their business and problem. That can only come from spending time in the field, learning from industry practitioners to develop subject matter expertise (SME).

Sicilia’s grasp of different industries was certainly impressive which I can vouch for, having spent some years in a couple of the industries we discussed and having been through my own learning curve and language acquisition.

Some analysts say there is a danger in becoming too vertically focused because it puts the vendor at risk of being perceived as a niche player. While I understand that argument to some extent I believe that with horizontal application markets like ERP and HR maturing to the point of commodity status, it make sense to consider how those same vendors can expand across verticals. Ergo the need for SMEs.

If the industries I have mentioned matter to you then the above video should prove informative.

Disclosure: Oracle is a partner at time of writing

Image credit: © buranatrakul –

Den Howlett
Following 20+ years in finance and IT related roles, Den Howlett became a freelance writer/analyst/commenter specialising in enterprise IT. He has been calling the vendors to account ever since.
Den Howlett


Disruptor, enterprise applications drama critic, BS cleaner, buyer champion and foodie trying to suck less every day.
Den Howlett