Oracle’s Amit Suxena Discusses How Oracle’s Approach to Its Own Business Prioritisation Has Meant The Company Has Entered the Digital Age Ready For Business
In an age of disruptive and agile businesses that leverage data to drive by-the-second decisions, setting long-term strategies almost seems incompatible with modern business demands. However, we caught up with Oracle’s Amit Suxena, VP and Head of Apps for ASEAN and SAGE, who explained to us how from the CEO level down, Oracle not only helps companies set long-term strategies that facilitate agile business models, but also spoke about how Oracle is its own best-case study.
Amit said that Oracle has boiled down the most critical business priorities to three areas of focus: Strategy, Operations and People. Amit explained to us how setting long-term plans in these three areas has been instrumental in enabling Oracle to adapt and be better placed to perform in a world of constant change that demands start-up-like agility from the biggest, most established players.
“Shiny new strategies every year or so are an oxymoron. By definition, strategy has to provide long-term direction.”
Looking at strategy, Amit pointed to Oracle’s decision about a decade ago to go “all-in” on cloud. The decision was expensive, which entailed R&D spending from about $3.7 billion a year to close to $6 billion at its peak, and in the short term, it cut into Oracle’s earnings. Over the long term, the strategy has played out in Oracle’s favour, and Oracle has now moved ahead with cloud products that are more modern, easier to manage and update, and more cost-efficient.
Amit highlighted that at the time it was implemented, the strategy was not popular with everyone. Moreover, in the ASEAN region a decade ago, cloud adoption was much further behind the US, so more people were sceptical whether the strategy was really taking Oracle in the right direction. In situations like this, communication is key. The role of Oracle locally was to help people understand that that wave of cloud adoption would eventually sweep across ASEAN just like it did in the States.
“Non-stop digital innovation means that operations need to be constantly evaluated.”
If strategy has to be long-term, operations need to be continuously assessed, refined and improved. Amit highlighted an operational change that Oracle recently made to the sales structure in the US. Previously, they had organised cloud application salespeople by geographic territory. This was re-evaluated and a new structure was put in place where territories became competitor-oriented. By doing this, it enabled those sales teams to understand the shortcomings of that competitive offering and. and the needs and challenges of its customers as they consider moving to the cloud.
Amit pointed out that these kinds of operational reviews are even more relevant in a diverse region such as ASEAN. Here, factors like language, logistics, accessibility and even a host of homegrown localised competitors mean that operational considerations based on the demands of the diverse ASEAN landscape are arguably more critical than anywhere else in the world.
“It’s time to stop relying on poaching talent from other companies.”
Amit relayed how Oracle believes that investing in people is critical to the company’s success. However, finding and retaining great talent is tough to do. In the US, the challenge is finding enough graduates that have studied in the specific fields that are of interest to Oracle. To add to the dilemma, the days of poaching staff from competitors are long gone with almost all companies working hard to retain their A-players.
Amit explained how Oracle’s answer to this problem has been to take a longer-term view. Just over five years ago, they moved back to an “old school” approach of recruiting talented young people right out of college or university and invest in their development. According to Amit, it has been a success with some of those hires already in management positions within the company.
From Amit’s point of view, this investment in young people has a particular resonance in ASEAN as it aligns Oracle with governments in these emerging economies – many of whom have plans to skill the younger generation in emerging technologies like AI and Big Data. Amit highlights how ASEAN nations see “skilling up” young people in data-driven technologies as a way to capitalise on the global shortfall for these skills. By investing in local talent, Oracle is not just investing in its own people; it is contributing to national ambitions.
There is no doubt that Oracle is a company that had to transform to survive and as the saying goes, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”. Oracle has focused on business priorities and transformed to stay relevant in the digital age. From our perspective, Oracle’s own transformation success is a big tick in the box when it comes to the company’s credibility to advise others on their transformation journeys.
If you want to learn about how Oracle is helping businesses plan and implement their business priorities and embrace emerging technologies to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow, read our coverage of the first ever Oracle OpenWorld Asia event by clicking here.