Oracle OpenWorld 2015: Oracle Continues its Ascent into the Cloud

SAN FRANCISCO — To kick off Oracle's 2015 OpenWorld user conference here Sunday night, CTO and executive chairman Larry Ellison detailed the steps Oracle has taken to complete its ongoing migration to the cloud over the past 10 years. While the company has made great headway with the transition, Ellison told the 60,000 in attendance at the Moscone Center, it hasn't been without its challenges. For one thing, the effort to create cloud-based products that match the quality of those the company offers on-premises has "required a huge amount of work" in rewriting its various applications.

But the exertion has been well worth it, according to Ellison, as the vendor has successfully tended to the design goals it set down for itself in the cloud. Ellison highlighted cost-effectiveness, reliability, performance, standards, compatibility, and security as top concerns, and said the company has been shaping its products accordingly.

Ellison said that Oracle "has the largest set of enterprise applications of any company," but has to further fill out its enterprise footprint in the cloud; he promised two major new applications in manufacturing and e-commerce.

Ellison also brought attention to the company's singular focus on vertical-specific software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications. "We have a huge emphasis on industry-specific applications," Ellison said, including retail, banking, hospitality, “and so on and so on.”

To illustrate why the transition has been the company's central undertaking, Oracle's CEO, Mark Hurd, took a peek at the future in his morning keynote on Tuesday, speculating that over the next 10 years, companies will move their operations to the cloud en masse to reduce costs and address requirements for new technologies.

According to Hurd’s predictions, by 2025:

  • 80 percent of production apps will have moved to the cloud;
  • 80 percent of the SaaS market will be dominated by two suite providers;
  • all enterprise data will be stored in the cloud; and
  • enterprise clouds will be the most secure IT environments.

Hurd expressed confidence that Oracle will be one of those two leading suite providers controlling 80 percent of the SaaS market. "We're going to lead this decade long transition to the cloud," Hurd said.

Throughout day two, customer experience professionals caught glimpses of the potential of Oracle's updates to its cloud-based CRM suite. Aaron Shidler, vice president of product development at Oracle, discussed functionality that enables companies to unite the various departments of their organization for better communication, by enabling a seamless flow of data that is easy to comprehend and act on. Chief among a customer experience professional's various goals should be to get the fullest possible picture of a buyer's relationship with a company, Shidler said. "We believe companies need a platform that supports all of a customer's engagements with a brand over a lifetime," he added.

In a CX Central session, group vice president of Oracle sales cloud Bill Hunt demonstrated the improved capabilities included in version 11 of Oracle's CX Sales Cloud, among them partner relationship management and sales planning and management tools, which aim to give companies stronger channels for communicating with members of their sales teams. Echoing Ellison's comments on day one, Hunt noted that the software runs on an accessible and intuitive interface that is easy to pick up.

For enterprise-size outfits, the solutions have proven to make all the difference. Becky Ploeger, vice president of digital commerce and customer care at Kohl's, recounted the chain's goal of becoming "the most engaging retailer in America," which has involved embracing customers' growing expectations that retailers know them and help them when it counts; likewise, it means that agents require "comprehensive, accurate, quick, and consistent" tools to enable them to serve customers.

And while Oracle is widely known for its clientele in the enterprise, a medium-size customer was called upon to detail its successes using the Oracle Customer Experience suite. Mark Smith, chairman of a midsize U.K.-based B2B jewelry insurance broker with 110 employees, discussed the company’s undertaking as the first small to midsize business to adopt Oracle's four-pillar CX suite. The company has succeeded in its market, scoring high in customer satisfaction and ranking among the top 100 providers in its space, but it also had to prepare for growing customer expectations. Among its challenges was uniting legacy systems and bolstering its social media strategy. The company has been using live chat for eight months and has had such success that it has had to adopt an intelligent FAQ capability. 

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