Oracle is shortlisted for six awards at the V3 Technology Awards 2014, including best business intelligence firm, best storage product, best cloud provider and product of the year for Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c. We caught up with Dermot O'Kelly, senior vice president for Oracle UK, Ireland and Israel, ahead of the awards ceremony to hear about the company's plans for 2015, and what he sees as the biggest technology trends and challenges.
What has Oracle focused on this year?
O'Kelly: In general the focus for Oracle over the past year is unchanged from previous years. We continue to deliver on our promise to innovate by investing heavily in product development, and the $5bn we're spending on R&D this year is evidence of that commitment.
In applications our focus has been on increasing the breadth and flexibility of our SaaS applications (including CX, HCM and now ERP). In hardware and systems, we are continuing to innovate by developing engineered systems that deliver extreme performance to our customers.
When it comes to cloud technology, we announced at Oracle OpenWorld that we were opening up our platform-as-a-service to customers so that they can customise their applications. We've also made it incredibly easy for customers to have identical capabilities in the cloud as they have on-premise.
It means they have complete control and capacity on demand. They can move anything from on-premise into the cloud and back again at the click of a button and without having to change a single line of code. We're the only cloud provider that gives customers that choice and makes it that simple.
What is currently driving IT investment?
To quote Oracle executive chairman Larry Ellison: "Oracle has the largest portfolio of applications in the cloud of anyone." Looking at SaaS specifically we've seen confidence in the cloud grow steadily over the past few years and many of our customers are reaching what we refer to as the 'third phase' of cloud adoption. Companies that are confident placing their CX and HCM applications in the cloud are now looking to move more business-critical information into the cloud, such as ERP and financial management applications.
As a consequence of this, we will see interest in technology decisions spread across board and leadership positions. The increased role of technology in functions including finance, marketing and HR is causing the heads of these departments to work more closely with CIOs to shape technological investment. That trend will fundamentally change the way IT is procured and managed and one that we as a vendor have had to adapt to.
What are the biggest concerns and challenges for firms and IT managers?
Businesses across all industries are being shaken up by the so-called 'digital disruption'. Consumers have more power than ever before so it's crucial that companies use the data their customers are constantly providing to improve the experience they receive and boost loyalty.
Businesses must engage with their customers when they want, how they want and through the channel of their choice, and they will be able to succeed only if they can extract meaningful information from the masses of data being generated and shared by their customers every day.
What are your plans for 2015?
In applications we are committed to retaining our spot as the top SaaS provider in CX, HCM and ERP, and will continue to develop applications and solutions that add value to our customers in the cloud.
We are the only technology company in the world that can deliver solutions in all three layers of cloud services, and have a laser focus on being number one at every level - SaaS, Iaas [infrastructure-as-a-service] and PaaS [platform-as-a-service].
As Oracle co-chief executive Mark Hurd said at OpenWorld, it's no longer enough for technology companies to be best-in-class in one area of applications, or to have a wide range of products. They need both. We believe we have that already so our focus is to make sure we stay ahead of the competition and provide the most complete service for our customers.
Linked to this, in the hardware space we want to continue the impressive growth we experienced with engineered systems this year, and ensure our products provide even faster access to information.
What do you think the biggest technology trends will be in 2015?
I think that PaaS is going to be huge. We expect to see our customers move away from a 'buy or build' approach to applications towards a 'buy and build' approach. The ability to buy a ready-made application that meets all your basic needs, and then to be able to develop on top of that using the industry's development environment of choice, is extremely exciting.
We think this shift will affect everyone from technology vendors to application developers and the IT channel, which will have to evolve their businesses to meet the changing needs of customers.
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