Oracle is one of the largest technology companies in the world. On this episode, we speak with a senior executive to learn about the future of enterprise software.
Steve Miranda is Executive Vice President of Oracle Applications Product Development. He is responsible for leading all aspects of product strategy, product development, and product delivery for Oracle's applications and related cloud services. This includes Oracle Fusion Applications and Oracle's newest products for customer service and support, commerce, and talent management.
Mr. Miranda joined Oracle in 1992 and has held a variety of leadership positions within the development organization. In 2007 he was asked to lead the engineering of Oracle's next-generation suite of software applications, Oracle Fusion Applications. Under Mr. Miranda's leadership, Oracle has continually delivered on its promise to help its applications customers innovate and remain competitive while leveraging their existing IT investments and increasing the value of those investments with new Oracle products and services.
Prior to Oracle, Mr. Miranda worked at GE Aerospace. He holds degrees in mathematics and computational sciences from Stanford University.
Video Transcript: Transformation in Enterprise Software with Steve Miranda, Executive Vice President, Oracle
Welcome to episode number 182 of CXOTalk. I’m Michael Krigsman, and our show today we are speaking with Steve Miranda, who is the Executive Vice President of applications for Oracle. Steve is in the unique position to really be seeing and shaping what’s happening to the enterprise software industry. Steve Miranda, how are you and thank you for taking the time today.
Great Michael my pleasure, thanks for having us.
Steve, please give us a sense of what you do at Oracle, the scope of your responsibilities and where you’re focused.
Okay, so I’ll give you a little bit of background. So I’ve been with Oracle 23 years, almost 24 years now. I today manage the development organization that builds our cloud based applications. So both the organically built user application, as well as our cloud base acquisitions of Gilileo and right now our response is Elfa, as well as our data cloud acquisitions underneath those.
And then here at Oracle we take the development organization as everything from engineering, product management, product strategy, all the assurance and now the cloud base mode of delivery and to some extent the operation of those applications, so that falls under my domain.
In that 23 years I’ve basically always been in development at Oracle. Started really in the financial applications but really in different roles and responsibilities throughout, as we move to the cloud, obviously different roles and responsibilities there.
Prior to that I came from General Electric Aerospace which is no longer and I think that’s probably part of Marietta and bought and sold several times; engineering background there. And prior to that with a math background from Stanford University.
Steve, so your footprint so to speak at Oracle is very broad, can you share with us the product areas that you’re responsible for.
Sure, well we try to summarize kind of the different applications into a few different product pillars. And so just quickly through the product pillars we have obviously our customer experience application or CX, which is really sales, service, marketing, and social. We have our HCM applications which includes core HCM, but also talent management, recruiting, benefits, payroll, and again social.
We have the financial applications. Sometimes people will include procurement in that, sometimes not. But we have financials, GLA, PLR you know procurement apps, management. And then we have our supply chain manufacturing, a more recent entry which is core manufacturing, inventory, order management etc. those types of applications, all of which cloud based applications. All of it really SaaS based applications to be clear not hosted applications.
Underneath that, primarily today, and I know we’ll get into this more, or really exclusively today is our data cloud, which are third party and first party data that we both partner with, acquire and share with our customers, which again is a cloud based data asset that drives either our or potentially a third party marketing platform around data, and we can get into that more in the course of this discussion.
And just to help us with a little bit of further context, very briefly can you describe the “typical Oracle customer” if there is one.
Yeah, I don’t know if there is one, so I would say that let me say there are probably two “typical customers” prior to cloud, which have remained with us in cloud. And then one new emerging typical. I guess if there’s three but can’t be typical. But let me give you the three patterns if you will.
So first off we traditionally serve really the largest enterprises around the world. So you know our cloud customers include people like General Electric. People like UBS. People like HSBC. People like Kaiser in the United States. You know, large enterprises across multiple different industries, both public sector as well as private sector, so that’s kind of your large enterprise space.
Part two is we’ve generally done or historically done pretty well and continue to pretty well in the cloud, on these let’s call them fast growing either pre IPO, or now some which are post IPO companies moving to the cloud. So recent customers, I would say that’s probably been a big sweet spot for us kind of in the Valley here and in California with so many new startup companies. Recently with the cloud, these are customers like Pandora Music. People like The Lending Club, that are now post-acquisitions or pre-IPO, kind of really get on to their first enterprise system as they’re growing at one point of their growth.
Now the new spot that we’re getting now with the cloud is a whole varied entry has gone away. So I would say we’re starting to get into a more common customer, let me say probably not typical yet, is that small and medium business who previously in the on premise world had various entry of data centers, and machines and VBAs, admins etc.
By having a cloud based system we’ve got much much smaller organizations. So these are people like you know, right around the corner here we have the YMCA, and it’s the Silicon Valley branch of the YMCA, so really truly small and medium business, again public sector, private sector or a combination of non-profit like the YMCA is and other companies like that. That is becoming a more common place as people at the smaller end realise they don’t have that large bear to entry anymore and find our solutions appealing.
So you have got coverage across a very broad set of types of companies industries, sizes of companies. One of the buzzwords that we hear these days a lot is this term digital transformation and cloud is central to that. So in your unique position what are you seeing as far as this digital transformation goes, and what does it actual mean from an Oracle perspective.
Yeah, so I know you’ll find out in the course of this conversation, I’m not one really for the marketing terms. So you know, some people say digital transformation, other teams have big data initiatives, other teams really are companies talking about moving that to the cloud. You know a common notion I think just to play on words a lot of companies have 20/20 vision, which is digital transformation. Here’s what we see happening if you try to take away the buzzwords. Really I class them in two broad categories.
One is companies have a higher demand than ever to innovate faster and to react faster to change in dynamics whatever there industry is. I mean a lot gets written about the next Uber or the next Amazon or al these disruptive types of companies and can get into many many industries. And I would say universally across our different sizes of industries and customers, they’re feeling that pressure to innovate and respond and to stay closer and relevant. That’s one big category, and I say that because that spans where you’re talking back office applications of HCM or financials or manufacturing as well as the front office.
Now the digital transformation part we see most of the time it’s a little bit talked about in the front office side, and I would categorize that a little bit as follows. I try to summarize the theme, which is the way you and I and all of your audience, and all of my staff and all of the customers, and all of our customers customers. The way we buy, sell and service our goods and service is much much different today than it ever was before.
You know you can find out information about something you want to buy not from that vendor. You find it out from Yelp, or you find it out for Travel Advisor, or you find it out from online reviews or bulletin board. Your expectation of that customer for service is much much different than it was before. You know you don’t expect to call them and be put on hold. You don’t expect even an email. You expect social interaction, you expect real-time interaction. You expect to transact with them on your mobile device, or connected or phone or in person. You know reasonably seamlessly if not completely seamlessly. So I think the digital experience is really that responding to a modern customer today and servicing a modern customer, and marketing to a modern customer. And I would just put that more of a front office focus of this broad transformation.
I know you had a second part of the question but I want to pause there and see if that captures what you’re hearing as well.
Well it’s very interesting and you emphasized the role of the customer, and the importance of the customer, and the customer expecting interaction. And so as you’re thinking about this portfolio of applications that extends most obviously in this case say customer experience. But even looking at for example ERP, how do you factor in this notion of the customer and the new modern customer as you’re designing and thinking about these applications.
Yeah well you know every app has their customer. So ERP you know, your customer for ERP may not be – and when I say this I say our customer’s customer right. So if we have General Electric, a big user of our cloud ERP. Now their end customer, you as a consumer and GE Healthcare you know don’t really see or hear it, but their internal customers. And in that case it’s still real time reporting, real time predictive intelligence off of the ERP systems and not just static kind of retroactive. You know, able to see it in the multiple different devices around the world and see it in the format you want to see it as you move from phone, to tablet, to laptop etc., able to share it in a collaborative way, it’s a kind of share and work on documents and document sharing in a social way.
So those types of things sort of apply everywhere. They’re manifested differently in the different product pillars, and sometimes theirs different stress point for different industries. You know if I was to bring banking into play in kind of ERP if you will. You know, banking has a kind of regulatory aspect to it that they want to bring forward. So our customer’s customer are different with the different apps, but they all have the same undercurrent of demand that moves through them
So you are thinking in terms of this customer and what we sometimes hear about empowered customer, so their expectations of you as a software developer are also changing dramatically.
Yeah absolutely. You know another buzzword I guess is the consumerization of IT if you will, but we see it to be true, right. I mean our user interface cross the board – when I started in Oracle 23 years ago, step one, and depending where they bought the software was you know, learn the computer system right. You don’t expect anybody to learn the computer system now. You know, people know how they expect to search for things, how they click the buy and sell, how they expect to collaborate. You know they have a common sense for what reporting styles they want to see, all that is common stuff and what you expect to see. You know, recruiting, you know how you’re expect to know how to look for candidates and other you know consumer type applications, how you expect to apply.
So that consumerisation on UI is we think pervasive and across-the-board. Similarly, business intelligence, you know every webpage you go to as a consumer now has analytics and reports, and for more information drill here. If you’re a shopper you have recommendations, I mean that business intelligence drives business intelligence we think is table stakes, it’s the consumerisation of IT.
And then I kind of probably mentioned those first two, but social is sort of blended in. I mean you know you tweeted out this forum beforehand and they’re taking Tweet questions during the broadcast, and going to Tweet out updates during the broadcast. We just expect it as a native way in the way we interact, and the same is true – not necessarily public you know Tweet or Facebook or things like that. But the same concept of sharing of collaboration is again common. So between UX, BI and social it really underpins everything we’re doing.
I want to remind everybody that we are talking with Steve Miranda, who’s the Executive Vice President of applications at Oracle. You can join the tweet chat that’s going on right now and ask Steve questions with the hashtag cxotalk. Now, Steve, you have this broad portfolio, and I know you think a lot about the individual applications, but you also thinking about it as a software suite. So can you tell us about that? So what is a suite and what are the challenges of creating a suite and why is it so important to you?
So, first off what is a suite. A suite really is a collection of applications from what I mentioned at the beginning, HR, financials, supply chain manufacturing, and CX or customer experience. Why we feel it’s important to our customers is that well, in every area you know we have to compete against best of breed players or against players who also offer a suite or a subset of the suite.
So certainly, we don’t feel we can get away with being non-competitive in any big area or the suite trumps that. So we stay very focused in the individual product pillars, and my team stays focused to be very very competitive. That said, what we also find is that for our customers, integration is a cost and it’s not a subscription, or a license cost to us or a partner or anything else. It’s a data cost between the two systems, and it’s a business process cost in terms of how you orchestrate of what goes where.
And in many many cases, while a customer may need a best of breed in a particular area that makes a difference for them. Once they’ve picked that area as far as what’s really differentiated for their business. They will get faster value and time to value by adding the next application in an integrated suite. It’s faster to add, it’s more economic will to them to manage and maintain, and it doesn’t have this integration.
Now just two points if I may to stress that, those points of emphasis differ by industry. So, I just spent touring Asia across a lot of financial services. They were really keen on this digital transformation and looking to get at marketing and service underpinning their social as key touch points was one example.
We have retail customers in the United States, who have a lot of pressure in the HCM area and especially around recruiting. We have other customers who have a talent and management challenge. They really want to have talent management as their differentiator going forward.
We saw some customers who are or maybe call it a public sector customer, who have an issue around their financial model, financial controls and risk there, so that is their differentiated app.
Once those customers have the differentiator app they have the Oracle suite, then things like if you implement HR first and you go HR, well, a lot of what you set up in HR you also set up in financials. Your order, structure for approvals, your legal entity structure, and your business unit structure for security or reporting etc. and that is a shared in our suite of applications, so you don’t have to reset that up. And so in some ways when I talk about the cost of adding the next piece, you’ve already done a lot of the work in terms of setup configuration to add your next module going forward. And that’s really what we see is at the beginning when cloud is you know, you can take your pick, whether in the first, second, third, fourth ending of the transformation. You know, certainly the people moving the suite and cloud, we think it just as conception.
You mentioned Steve, this notion of points of competitive differentiation. Can you elaborate on that, because I think this is one of the points of confusion that many enterprise customers have determining or separating what are “Commodity processes” from there really unique differentiating points.
I think it’s fair that particularly now that once you get to a top few of our competitors, and I would put us in that category as well, if you’re just looking at the baseline process of these, I think you are going to have a really difficult time differentiating. What I think you would look at, Oracle in the cloud being uniquely differentiated, one is I think we bring some unique value propositions, history, and security.
Two, I think we bring a tremendous amount of depth in terms of scale and globalization, so for larger enterprises, particularly in regulatory areas like financials and HR, and then anything you want to deal and volume.
Three, I think we bring a uniqueness in terms of data, not just BI embedded in the applications, but added to that predictive capabilities through BI and predictive analytics. Then the underpinning of our data cloud, which we really feel as unique in an enterprise space of combining third-party data with your first party data. Third-party data I mean data that we collect over the internet, to give you better decision making in your application, or better customer targeting even to people you don’t know as a first party to your enterprise.
Now, I can get into differentiators, and financials, and HR and manufacturing and the CX sales area of marketing, but I think broadly if you look at data security or overall security and you look at depth and breadth. Then if you look at data, those would be our three kind of broad differentiators across our suite.
What about customers who are looking at their own operations and trying to separate out what can they use out-of-the-box, what should they use out-of-the-box, and where should they be tailoring because that part of the business really is genuinely unique for them
A little of that gets back to my best of breed. So first off to hopefully repeat, but to clarify we and then again like most of our SaaS vendors and this is why I say SaaS we don’t allow anything that is technically impossible to customize our application SaaS. By customize I mean anything that would preclude our upgrade which happens twice a year or that you would have to reapply after the upgrade.
However, to facilitate that we put a tremendous amount of effort in our new cloud build to have extensibility, and allow you to personalize or tailor, either for your company, either for your country, or for your business practice the way that this system operates.
Even at that constraint, what we try to provide our customers when we work with them is you know, we think we have a lot of preceded out of the box, best practices. We work a lot with our customers, both our cloud customers have the benefit of a lot of on premise customers, to tune that and learn over the years from the mistakes we’ve made and from the mistakes they have made.
So, we really try to steer our customers into that area that matters most for you. So when I went through banks and their marketing and service, and when went through the retailers and recruiting talent management, when I went through public sector and financials. When it really means a lot to you that’s an area that probably makes sense to configure and personalize more. But if it is an area that doesn’t make a difference for your end stake holders, you know, we feel pretty confident that we have a good out of the box product, and we would advise customers to stick with that as much as possible.
So really you to the extent that as you said to the extent possible customers should not be trying to change the basic processes.
It’s interesting, I dealt a lot with customers at the beginning of my career, and then I took a bit of a pause really when I was building our SaaS based applications and come back to it. It was interesting, I think customers, the fact that they can’t customize, the fact that almost psychologically it’s a pay-as-you-go model, and may be increase the business pressure and a lot more geared towards phased projects you know, let’s go live with phase 1, get some value out of it and go forward.
And so I think really customers really just over the years have gotten a lot more disciplined about that aspect as well about even configuring, personalizing or whatever term you want to use, only when it’s going to make a difference and only when it’s needed. But yes, if they need a little help we’ll certainly push that part.
It’s interesting what you said about phased projects because my senses that for many customers that they’re doing everything that they can to avoid the very large style say ERP projects of the past.
Yeah, again it was interesting. I sort of paused there in terms of deep customer engagement when we were doing much of the build, and I guess it was very very common for us and competitors in the on premise world. You have a scope, but inevitably something will change in your business problem while you had this long implementation project. So, you would change the scope.
And I think because of the delivery model where people looked at it and said I’m going to get this delivery from you know, Oracle or whoever once every couple of years. And I’m going to upgrade once maybe every five years that you know, I’ve got to get this in. And I think in there SaaS model with the more frequent delivery, customers lends itself to much more of that phasing. And you know, we like to describe it in our development as the trains leaving the station, right. It’s a very regular cadence and the whole thing is on time training. But anyway, leave that aside.
These train is leaving the station and it’s much more regular cadence, and so what we found I think that has helped customers really break it down. And it’s also helped you know, both of us and our customers because they get that value of the initial go live right. And you in some ways have that as a proof point; you’ll learn from that and change. So I think a lot of things are fed into it, and I think the SaaS model is one big piece that has led customers for that base approach.
You must deal with IT folks, CIOs and IT leaders all the time, so what are some of the implications of this on the CIO, on IT and on the relationship that IT has with the business that you’re observing with your customers.
I think it’s changed over the years, and I think it depends on where you are geographically and where you are in the suite. You know certainly the CX, the customer experience has been much more accustomed to the SaaS base model early. I think you are starting to see that in HCM as well, that is a pretty common place at this stage. I think we are just at the beginning, with ERP.
I think that at the beginning of the transition phase either the skepticism and the pushback if you will is there is efficiency gain from IT and IT you know being changed. Where we are providing you know, the services, DBA, the hosting etc. But IT still has a big role in terms of change management. You know, introducing the new features, helping it roll out. In terms of interaction with other parts of the ecosystem because even if the customer applied on our suite, the chances are they have a lot of other applications either on premise or on separate cloud.
So I don’t view it as there is some replacements of IT, but it is very much a refocus where IT can really add value. And in fact the Chief Information Officers is a kind of an interesting title, which I think is still very relevant to what IT departments can do. Hopefully, we are unable them through the SaaS based products of not doing you know let’s call it commoditized task or certainly nonbusiness value of task, just keeping the lights on, running the system etc. But to be much more of that, you know what the title implies. Chief Information Officer, driving the business and helping the business consume, not just the commodities or technology, but the information that comes after that. You know, using that information to make decisions and the change business process. I think that transformation, once you get past what I’ll call the initial pushback sometimes, it is really what we are starting to see happen now.
That’s an enormous positive impact for the CIO and for IT where they don’t have to focus on these commoditized tasks so to speak, and they can focus on higher value activities. But it also forces a significant change inside IT as well.
Yeah, I think you know even with our own development engineers and in our industry, look, I said at the beginning the industries what you call it move to SaaS or digitization is all about you know avoiding this disruption and moving more quickly. I think with the IT role is just a second of this shift that’s happening across our industry and that’s how they have to change. But I truly believe there is a lot of opportunity. It’s frankly more interesting work. I mean I can tell you, we within my development team one part of it implement our software here at Oracle. And it’s a much much more interesting discussion when we get the influence, our business practice and how we do things here at Oracle, and why, and understand and work with the business than it is you know like the old days of let’s get the upgrade done from version X to version Y. It’s a much more engaging activity and much more value activity.
So it’s interesting to hear that inside your development organization the shift to cloud has driven quite a lot of change as well. Maybe you can elaborate a little bit more on that. I think that’s quite fascinating actually.
Yeah, well I think I probably talk about the two broad brush strokes. One is that the speed and the train leaving the station model has got us to a more of a single code line incremental development work. So even training ourselves towards you know, product managers and engineering, “Oh, this features got to get in, got to get a in.” I mean I would love it if more features got in, and I would love it if we develop faster. But frankly it with the more frequent cadence we are very much more of the train leaving the station model and it’s got us a bit more incremental. That is probably one big positive change.
The second biggest positive change is look, we get feedback on our software now immediately and broadly and very precise. So we used to do you know, the best job that we could in product management and decision making, but that was we would go to user groups, and we would visit customers and we would say things. But, you know, the old model was we had, we would release a product once every couple of years. Maybe a customer was running at you know, two years after we released it. So we would be well on to the next release before we had any feedback whatsoever. And then that feedback, all of our customers they could customize, different versions and it was anecdotal.
Today, you know I find ourselves more and more every day asking our product managers, you know, we have this go left, go right decision on how you design the software, what’s being used, and what features. It’s like, well we could survey the fleet. Meaning we run it here. We are not looking at anybody’s data, but we are looking at things like how many people are using this feature, how many people are not using this feature. You know, what is the speed of certain features, you know, how many features are in common. Is it a certain profile of customer that uses one thing over the other, so maybe we can tune the application better that way. So product management by fact is immediately a dramatic shift, and it might seem simple and it’s culturally been an interesting exercise, just to change the way we think.
So all of that I assume has made the development of the organization, all the engineers, everybody associated with it much more say attuned to what the customers need because they’re seeing the data in front of them.
Well there’s no question I put it broadly. We were a product company and we are a service company, or we are quickly becoming a service company and there’s no doubt about it. I used to say we want to be an extension of our customers IT organization, and we did the best and I hope we haven’t changed and we’ve been very customer service first and focus on the customer. But again frankly, we did that within some limits right. If you are releasing a software when a customer starts using it, three, four, five years later, it’s just difficult to stay as responsive and to stay as real time, you know, giving them what they need. Oftentimes by the time they had got it we had moved on. Now we are just much closer to the customer in many many many respects.
This role of data which you’ve spoke about quite a bit is very central, do oyu want to talk a little about the data product that you mentioned earlier, and just your view of data in this digital transformation world.
Well so for a recap for people, our data cloud is really a combination of acquisitions, we’ve made from companies like LookHi, Data Logics, and Advis. And what the data cloud is, is it provides us what we call third-party data. So data that Michael, you and I produce either from website traffic, so via cookies, from mobile ID, data we collect from mobile partners, from credit card information. We have some credit card providers, and from some let’s call it first party people. So we have a partnership with Pulp, so we have data on like automobile buying and selling within the United States.
What’s heavily deployed today and you’ll probably see it is within our and sometimes in third party marketing cloud. So I’m sure if you clicked on, let me pick one of our customers, so it’s accurate to use our data cloud. If you click on Dell dot com, and you are searching for a computer I’m sure very shortly there afterwards you would start to see advertised events, you know, maybe on your Facebook page or on any website you went to, Yahoo News or what have you, or maybe on your Twitter stream for computers, and Dell and that is used for targeted marketing.
And that used with a collection of not only do we have the data, what activity you may or may not have been doing and in an anonymized way. But we have a reasonable chance of matching in what we call an ID graph. And the ID graph is this anonymous person on this browser is likely this person’s Twitter account, is likely this person’s Facebook account, is likely this person’s mobile ID, so it’s like a marketer doing multichannel.
So if you think about the way marketing was done before, there used to be marketing segmentations and maybe they would market to you. Maybe they know where you live and maybe your income level, or credit rating and maybe some form of interest. But more than likely your interest would be you know, based on where you are from and your gender, and your age, and your economic status. And I would say those types of people are interested in cars or phones, or what have you. That used to be called “targeted marketing.”
Today, targeted marketing is still those anonymous levels, but it’s somebody who you know has shown a genuine interest based on activity on this goods and service, and they’ve shown it today. So you can get much more precise on the audience. You can get much more precise on the delivery mechanism, meaning through web or through social, or through email if you happen to be like a loyalty member of this company etc. and it could be much more precise in terms of the time that somebody is interested in it. So, if you think about it, what marketing has done is it’s gone. By using external data combined maybe with internal data, like if you were a loyalty customer. It’s gotten much more real time, much more precise and much more multichannel.
We think that data cloud is just at the beginning to be able to offer people more applications, let’s start in CX to extend the service. So when you call for a service request you have that information. To accept with the e-commerce, you have the next best offer. Not just next best offer if you bought something from me, but next best offer if we know that you’ve been interested in other things out on the internet, which is kind of commonplace.
And our view is that we are just at the beginning. If you take even in areas like our supply chain area you know, we feel we have a very strong supply chain planning product today, but it’s mostly your internal data, right. How much did I sell last year, how much am I going to sell this year, or what does my supply chain look like etc. there is a bunch of external data. And when you hear things like machine learning, and more decisions, and predictive analytics you know we think data is at the heart of that. And if you have this you know a unique or even near unique, certainly differentiated data asset and we can now use it to deploy it to make our apps better and smarter. And you’re already seeing that today in marketing.
Can you elaborate on the role of data, this kind of new role in data in kind of areas like ERP and HCM. It’s pretty clear in customer experience but what about these other areas.
Well the first thing I’d say, especially HCM, you know, hopefully I mentioned anonymous a couple of times during the talk and privacy. So, we are very conscious of making sure the data is anonymous and stays private. There are evolving regulations, and unfortunately for us, those are evolving different parts of the world. But the big underline that we are cognizant of all that, but the way I think it will evolve I gave you the supply chain example. If you look at financials there’s different things you can do on whether or not you want to offer discount, or a supplier. If you want to take an early repayment, discount or not this time in real time external currency data, based on real-time data about that particular supplier. Or based on perhaps commodity prices of that goods or services that you are buying. So I external data which Influence that decision to have – I don’t really like the term machine learning, but let’s just say I usually think it’s oversold. But let’s just say more you know programmatic analytics around that.
In HCM you know, the recruiting example I think is a very good one right. We are recruiting to some extent, it’s about finding the right candidate, but you also marketing to potential people you want to hire. And so I would classify recruiting today, very similar to the way marketing was in my old new example before where people go to job fairs, and people look for certain profiles and go to certain job boards that have specialty areas. You know job boards has this kind of high-tech people, and this group has this kind of people. But you can find out a lot more information about individuals now either first party or third party to help you better target candidates.
Again that is just another example of where we see it evolving to have external data, respecting the anonymity of it, and respecting the privacy regulations, which are evolving. But one way or the other you know external data that’s going to drive the processes. And in the kind of manufacturing world or in other parts you know, this Internet of Things. It’s the same thing. Collect as much data as you can, use that data to make better product, and that’s where we think it’s going to go in SaaS.
So you’re spending it sounds like quite a lot of focus time on this role of data in the various enterprise applications that you’re developing. New uses of data, not just data as in on premises.
Absolutely yeah, absolutely. I think first and foremost, again we’re growing but relative to Oracle at the beginning you have to spend a ton of time making sure customers are successful with what we have today. And number two is obviously we’re expanding those in ways you’d expect us to span as our products grow and mature. And then kind of the forward looking you know we really feel strong in data and how it’s going. And you see it really again in our CX where it started in. And I would say it’s a reasonably common place in marketing today in how to get supplied either from us or with somebody else. Either internal or with the external data. I mean most companies are trying in some flavor of what I described.
Steve we have just about five minutes left and I thought it would be interesting if you can offer advice for customers how to be and this will sound strange, on how to be a good software customer because the relationship works both way with customer and supplier and I know many companies in a relationship with any software vendor is sometimes fraught. So what advise do you have for customers having a good working relationship with a software vendor or with Oracle?
So I hope this answers your question. Two things may be repeat, so I apologize. One is pick the area that is really differentiated for you and going to make a difference to your stakeholders. And make sure there is a good fit, or the product is flexible enough to personalize to your needs. The second to that would be if you find yourself in an area where that is not it, then you shouldn’t be pushing uphill against the software in a non-differential area. Again, we think we have built these products for a while and you know, we have many customers big and small, and we have the capability of support, what would be best practice. So if it’s a non-differential it in area and you’re fighting uphill against your software, I mean maybe it makes sense but really take a hard look at it.
And the third one is just you know, the speed and the phasing I talked about. I mean, more often than not, and this kind of bothers especially people in financial, but speed over accuracy is what’s important. I don’t mean get things wrong, I mean too often we find projects that stall out or go late. And I can sort of tell now through experience early in the project. When you have just got a long time making configurations, decisions, making what goes first and what go second decisions. How you will handle nuances.
I mean, the speed and having an infrastructure for faster and faster decision-making, because both the phasing model, and frankly you’re going to crack along the way. And more than likely your business problems are going to change faster anyway. So you know there is no right or wrong decision. Now, there is a few in each interval area that make a big difference to you. But then there is hundreds in each individual area that are just, let’s make a decision and let’s move forward. If we’ve got it slightly wrong, we can change that later. The speed, because I’ll feel like you will discover it, you work with the software and the analysis is probably our biggest component of words like hmm., you know, we have really got to coach the customer in how to work with us through this.
I meant to that as far as phasing of the projects. So what advice to have then for somebody who is in this situation where their organization is just looking at a complex nightmare kind of project and they can’t get people listen. How can somebody in that situation sell the right thing, so doing the right thing inside the company so that it turns out the way that everybody wants it to turn out.
Again, number one is the repeat which is try to break it down into different phases, so you can get actual use and you can get actual value. It lessens the angst I guess and shows you hopefully some real return on it. The second thing, I think too often people confuse inactivity as being the less risky path. And into the haze of the environment, and many many industries and many many companies, you know this disruptive forces or just the pressure from our customers customers to you know, better response to their needs. You know, we need to move more quickly, you know ourselves and our customers.
I think too often that folks who are well this is really too much and it’s going to be too risky, and do this and that. You know, in our mind a lot of the time what gets underestimated is this risk of lack of speed of decision-making or at risk of going, because that’s what leads you into this route like you know, the mess isn’t going to get any smaller.
And of course with the cloud it’s much easier to do these phase projects as you’re describing and really that’s the right way to go about it.
Absolutely, I mean we’re going to give you a frequent update, you’re going to have feature frequent updates. And even if you have everything you need today, there’s’ not reason in many cases that you can’t get there incrementally. I’ll just be repeating myself, but it’s better value, get people used to it etc.
And in our last minute or two, any thought specifically on ERP implementations or basically that’s the advice you’ve just been giving us.
Yeah, that’s the advice. I think with ERP what’s happening. You know in some of the other areas we have the lets’ call it the benefit of other competitors out in front or talking about the transformative need and change, I would say ERP you know we’ve been able to draft if you will to use a cycling or running term right of all the lessons learned of everybody else in the cloud. So in ERP we tend to get more questions around security, privacy and you know the robustness of the software.
You know we are extremely confident. We are there now with some of our large customers that’s converted over, that we are ready for this transformation. We are extremely confident of all the benefits that customers have seen, and the speed of innovation can be seen there for ERP. So I just think I guess by its nature probably got a little more a conservative crowd, kind of a little bit more higher bar to cross. But you know I would give the same advice and just echo that yu know there’s a reason why we give it even for ERP.
So the point of acceptance of ERP among large customers is thee, getting there?
I would classify as getting there. Either getting there and they’re waiting for that you know, what is going to be our change that starts this process. If we’ve just done upgrade, you know a year ago it probably doesn’t make sense though they’re probably getting there. So it’s somewhere in between. Let’s say in North America it’s there, let’s say in the rest of the world it’s getting there.
Steve Miranda, thank you so much for taking time to speak with us today.
Thanks for having me Michael, my pleasure.
We have been talking with Steve Miranda, who is the Executive Vice President of applications at Oracle. And you have been watching episode 182 of CXOTalk. We have several shows next week, so check out the website cxo.com/episodes and come visit us. Thanks so much, bye bye everybody.
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