On the RoadBy Aaron Lazenby
An interview with Oracle President Mark Hurd
Profit magazine Editor in Chief Aaron Lazenby recently interviewed Oracle President Mark Hurd for his insights on leadership, the state of the technology industry, and Oracle’s product strategy. Hurd also reflected on his first year as president of what he calls “arguably the best-positioned IT company in the world.” Excerpts from the interview appear below. For more of his thoughts, see “Mark Hurd: The Road Ahead,” in the February 2012 issue of Profit magazine.
Lazenby: What initially attracted you to the technology industry?
Hurd: I was a business major in college and I liked the pace, the speed, and the growth opportunities in the technology industry. Technology offers the opportunity to completely transform businesses, and there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s still the most exciting place to be today.
Lazenby: What’s the biggest change you’ve seen since your first technology job more than 30 years ago?
Hurd: Consumers today are more powerful, more global, and accessing more data—from everywhere in the world. And with the systems they have in place now, companies aren’t going to be able to get consumers all the information they want when they want it. Data is doubling every three to three-and-a-half years. However fast you think the world has changed, that change is accelerating, and it’s getting tougher to keep up.
Lazenby: What do you see as the core IT challenges facing businesses today?
Hurd: We as an industry have pushed tremendous complexity onto the customer. Can you imagine buying a car from the IT industry? You’d get a muffler dropped off in your driveway. Someone else would drop off a set of seats. Another person would bring the pistons. Then you’d hire a systems integrator to come put it all together. At some point you’d have a car in your driveway, but then they’d say, “Well, you can’t really drive it on the weekends because we’ve got a batch upload that happens then.” In the IT industry, someone sells you a server, someone else sells you a storage array, we give you some software, and you get other software from someone else. Then you have to put it all together and make it work. And by the way, when something is broken, you figure it out. In the end, our industry has to change. We have to get people to think about this differently—to think about the opportunity before them now to integrate multiple pieces of their infrastructure so it all becomes simpler.
Lazenby: How is Oracle working toward this change?
Lazenby: As the highest-profile free agent executive on the market when you joined Oracle, why was this company the right fit for you?
Hurd: You don’t get many recruitment calls from companies that say, “Hey, why don’t you come to work for a very well-positioned company, to help make it greater? Oh, by the way, nothing is broken.” Taking something that’s really good and making it great—there aren’t many of those opportunities.
Lazenby: How would you describe Oracle’s corporate culture?
Hurd: Oracle is a very focused company with a performance-oriented culture. It’s got a clear strategy, it’s got an operating model that supports that strategy, and it’s got great people. And I think it’s a company that can be catalyzed to do even more and do it faster.
Aaron Lazenby is editor in chief of Oracle’s Profit magazine.
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