Since 2007, Rich Kroes has been a leader in Oracle's initiatives to develop practices and products that help protect the environment in addition to driving business value.
In this role, Rich has been working with leading customers, partners, non-governmental organizations and other related bodies worldwide. He leads a global virtual team spanning multiple Oracle solutions and lines of business to guide Oracle's product strategy in the arena of environmental sustainability.
Product Strategy Director
Location: Lake Placid, New York
Q: What makes Oracle an innovative company in the area of sustainability?
A: We're looking for new ways to use information technology to address environmental sustainability. We already offer tools today that help reduce the environmental impact of companies while also delivering business value—examples of that include Oracle Transportation Management to optimize logistics networks and thereby also reduce emissions; Hyperion Financial Management to manage sustainability reporting and scorecarding; Agile Product Governance and Compliance to ensure that products are "designed for the environment" and that they are in compliance with regulatory directives such as Reduction of Hazardous Substances in Europe; and our self-service applications that eliminate the need for paper usage and the associated environmental and fiscal costs.
Our next step is to go beyond these capabilities to increasingly embed sustainability in the day-to-day operations of enterprises through the use of business intelligence and by leveraging our governance, risk, and compliance framework to manage environmental sustainability policies and initiatives. Many of our competitors are focused on the presentation layer with flashy charts and data analysis, but the real value and challenge is to get to the underlying data. We have the tools to dig deeper.
Q: How did Oracle come to focus on sustainability as a business driver?
A: We came at it from several different directions. We observed the incredible growth in our energy footprint from a data center perspective and realized we needed to find ways to run our data centers more efficiently. We also recognized that sustainability was a rapidly emerging business priority for our customers. Companies are recognizing this as an opportunity to create an "eco-advantage" for themselves by reducing costs, driving revenue, and reinforcing their brand. They also need to find ways of dealing with rapidly increasing regulatory directives effectively and efficiently. And lastly, you can't underestimate the will of the people. At Oracle we have a lot of highly talented and passionate employees who believe in the need to address sustainability and are looking for ways in which they can contribute.
Q: What's innovative about a project you're working on now?
A: We're looking to embed sustainability into how companies operate and measure performance. Embedding this is important because it will revolutionize how companies operate with respect to managing their environmental sustainability in much the same way that the Total Quality Management movement did. Companies need to understand that being sustainable is not a separate function. It needs to be embedded in every employee's role in a company. As an enterprise software provider, we have the ability to help make that happen.
Q: What would you call the enemy of innovation?
A: Complacency, relying on the status quo, and lacking a focus on value. If there isn't a pragmatic aspect to what you're innovating, it won't get adopted. You've got to make sure you're providing value and working in conjunction with partners and customers. You can't do sustainability in a bubble. Companies are around to make money—and they should be. They're not around to pour money down the drain. You need to show that sustainability is not only in the long-term interests of the company but also a source of ongoing cost reduction opportunities, revenue generation, and intangible benefits such as brand equity and employee retention.
Q: Who is the most innovative person at Oracle?
A: Clearly, Larry Ellison has a vision that is unique. He has gone in innovative directions way ahead of his peers. His acquisition strategy and the move to the internet were both incredibly insightful. I'm really excited about the new direction we may now be going in with hardware.
Q: What people in history were the most innovative?
A: Physical explorers over the ages—all the explorers from places like Holland and Spain and the pioneers who went west here in the U.S.—all braving the unknown. Now we're in the age of exploring information and science. It's equally as exciting and scary but in a different way.
Q: What's innovative product are you excited about?
A: The combination of the internet and wireless technologies. It has already drastically changed our lives and we're really just at the beginning of identifying the possibilities.