ISVs, AI and multicloud on Oracle channel chief’s to-do list

The vendor is looking to make sure its partners deliver high levels of customer experience and can take advantage of emerging opportunities

Artificial intelligence (AI) and multicloud are important areas and this is where Oracle will be directing its channel partners over the rest of the year and beyond as the vendor looks to help customers manage their IT environments.

The firm is also looking to work with more independent software vendors (ISVs) as it continues to add depth to its solutions and is considering distribution expansion in certain territories to increase channel support.

Masterminding those efforts and acting on those plans is Doug Smith, senior vice-president, head of strategic partnerships and global partner ecosystem at Oracle, who is working on a strategy with three key planks.

The first – solutions innovation – is to ensure partners can extend the value of Oracle technologies into new areas. The vendor already works across 11 global industry units to cover the major vertical markets, but the feeling is that working closely with partners would unlock more activity.

“We’re bringing some Oracle expertise in those industries and we’re approaching our services partners to get a good sense of which partners are really strong, in which industries and geographies, and then we’re bringing ideas to partners to create the solutions,” he said.

“We’ve jointly created and launched more than 40 industry solutions with some of our SI [system integrator] partners,” he added.

The second area of focus is around go-to-market support for the channel that will improve the customer experience.

“With the partners, how do we collaborate more from lead generation all the way through the sales cycle so that the partner has a better chance of winning? We’re doing a whole bunch of things with partners to really collaborate on every step of that cycle from lead generation through to completed sale,” said Smith.

“That’s not just valuable to Oracle – the partners are really trying to have this very seamless sales experience for the customer, so the customer is getting what they need, when they need it, and how they need it, delivered from the parties involved,” he added.

The final plank of the strategy is one that Smith views as crucial – customer success – with the vendor making recent investments to ensure its channel partners are in the best position to support users.

“A couple of months ago, we created a brand new organisation called Oracle Customer Success Services. That group not only includes Oracle University and some of our resources to help train and enable our partners, but it also includes partner success managers and customer success managers who proactively engage with our partners to make sure customer implementations are delivering the value that the customers want, need and expect, depending on our technology area,” he said.

“Between 50% and 80% plus of our implementations are done with services partners, so they play an incredibly important role in the implementation of our technologies. We’re working with them to equip those partners, set them up for success, making sure that we’re tracking and engaging proactively to make sure the customers are having a great experience with their implementation,” Smith added.

There is also an ambition to maintain the channel base, making sure the right partners are on board, with that including an ambition to work with more ISVs.

“For the last two plus years, especially since I’ve been here, we’ve been growing and taking the company in a different direction when it comes to growing our ecosystem, the depth of our ecosystem, and how channel partners play a role in that,” said Smith.

“Our ecosystem is broad and is comprised of a lot of great services partners, whether they be global system integrator partners, more national or regional focus partners who are in the services business, or are focused around particular industries or use cases like healthcare or financial services or supply chain. Those partners are all important to us. Also important to us is ISVs. And this is an opportunity that Oracle has to grow,” he added.

Smith described the channel relationship as a journey in which Oracle is still in the early stages and not yet at the destination.

“There is so much great work for us to do with ISV partners, services partners, distributors and sell through partners. We want to meet customers, not only with the technology that they want to procure to deliver those solutions, but in the way that they want to procure it,” he said.

That will also mean casting the distribution net a little wider to make sure all the routes to market are covered.

“We have a large distribution part of our business today, and it’s growing, and it’ll grow even more. We put a lot of effort into that and we’re going to continue. Marketplace is an important area where we will continue to grow and innovate. For example, in EMEA, we’re working with Arrow as a distributor, and you’ll see more distribution agreements that we go after, especially for the small and medium business segment where a lot of these companies will have distributors that they work with,” said Smith.

When it comes to identifying areas of growth, generative AI and multicloud are at the top of the list. On the former, Larry Ellison has been clear it is going to be transformative for Oracle and its customers, and on the latter, the reality is most customers are already dealing with complex management issues.

“We are really big in the generative AI space and see more announcements in the next few months,” said Smith. “We have been very clear we know customers want multicloud. How do we make that a better experience for the customer? We hear that feedback, and Oracle has a very big role to play. It’s our desire to do more of that and inform relationships with those in the industry.”

Given the macroeconomic headwinds that are swirling above the industry, the concern could be that growth opportunities are not seized by the channel because of customer hesitancy. Smith is feeling confident that the market will continue to work in partners’ favour.

“We are feeling great about the state of the channel. We see very strong growth prospects ahead and that definitely applies to our partner community. Companies need to reduce costs, want to transform and get better use of their information,” he said. “Oracle is really well positioned from a technology perspective, along with a partner ecosystem, to deliver on those needs.”

Read more on Business Intelligence Tools and Services