There may be no Oracle Open World this year but Oracle isn't standing still. This year, the company has launched a slew of virtual events for every taste but the one we are looking forward to is today's The Time Is Now. Hosted by Steve Miranda, EVP applications development Oracle, the event promises to showcase some interesting customer stories coming out of the pandemic alongside stories that reference Oracle's latest product announcements.
Earlier, I spoke with Miranda to get a sense of what Oracle has in store. Miranda's on stage discussions with customers rarely disappoint. This time is challenging as neither customers nor viewers will have the benefit of the atmosphere you experience at an in-person event and which help 'keep it real.'
The event will highlight a slew of announcements around financials, HR and supply chain with an emphasis on providing customers with solutions that help them be more efficient, whether that's mundane reconciliations, reducing or eliminating data entry, providing digital assistants that operate through SMS or voice. As an aside, Oracle has understood that it's not an island and is introducing expanded collaboration capabilities with the ability to integrate SMS, Slack and Microsoft Teams. Oracle continues to fill out gaps in vertical markets for advanced capabilities in capital intensive businesses, oil, gas an utilities and professional services. Examples include joint venture management (oil and gas), complex procurement (asset intensive) and flexible resourcing (PS.) Taken together these enhancements are very much in line with the need to hide or eliminate complexity.
Oracle has rolled out its digital assistant technology to its supply chain products so that users and call up parts and other information that assist in tasks like stores requisitions using phone or SMS in much the same way as you might use Alexa or Siri. I asked Miranda what he is seeing among customer since the pandemic has highlighted the fragility of global supply chains.
In the past there was a relatively simple idea, build in the east, ship and sell to the west. The pandemic has highlighted that this is risky so businesses are rethinking. And what they're discovering is that when you factor in robotics then you start to envisage a situation where the overall cost of a good is normalize globally. So what we're hearing is companies wanting to reconfigure their supply chains to reduce those risks and of course that means complexity - at least in the short term.
Data is always close to Oracle's heart. On Unity, Oracle's customer data platform (CDP) offering, Miranda claims that Unity's ability to manage multiple data sources and bring them to bear intelligently into sales scenarios makes it unique:
B2B has really been our sweet spot but as you know brick and mortar businesses have really suffered in the pandemic and so people have had to accelerate knowing their customers, inferring what they need to help take as much friction out of the buying process but at the same time be there for them in the moment. In a brick and mortar world there is a degree of anonymity but in online that goes away. What we're focusing on is both understanding customers and then anticipating their needs based on behaviors so that we can make a suggestion to them that is iniine with what they seem most likely to be interested in. We're doing this ourselves and it is working.
Miranda cited Office Depot as a customer that has traditionally focused on the B2C type of customer who is now making B2B offerings online and using Unity to assist.
As is often the case, there was too little time and too much to cover but a couple of points worth noting. In our conversation Miranda said that he's never seen so many go lives and while there are competing theories as to why this is happening in the midst of the pandemic, he offers it as a proof point that Oracle is coming of age as a cloud player:
OK - so we're in Silicon Valley, we're probably the number one provider for startups and no-one is asking for on-premises; it's all cloud and we're delivering. We don't see signs of slowing down.
The other point he made was around the diversity of requirement, noting that customers are coming in all shapes and sizes, often with complex and unique problems.
I couldn't be happier and truly proud of what our teams are delivering.
You'd expect any senior executive to say that but on the evidence I am seeing, Oracle is justified in tooting its own horn.