Reducing the number of relationships that Marvel Senior Vice President and CIO Glenn Magala has with external software vendors is a core part of his strategic IT plan. Indeed, focusing on a handful of critical partnerships allows him to more easily deploy new solutions, provide feedback to the vendor organization, and influence future software functionality. Additionally, vendors with deep relationships with Marvel become more knowledgeable about the nuts and bolts of the company's complex business operations—and therefore can recommend and build solutions that better serve Magala's users.
"I organize my vendor relationships so I have a few of high quality," says Magala. "When it comes to what's going to have an impact on our business, those few high-quality relationships are key. I take pride in knowing that my team is building these alliances."
The Oracle and Marvel relationship is an excellent example of how a close customer/vendor partnership can benefit both parties. Oracle has had a technology footprint at Marvel for more than a decade, and the trust built between the two enterprises allows for close collaboration on new projects. Oracle representatives can invest their expertise into Marvel's long-term strategy—answering questions about new products, briefing management on new technologies, and conducting assessments of how Marvel business processes map to its new IT footprint. And for Oracle, Marvel can serve as a model for other midsize and media and entertainment companies—lessons learned at Marvel are likely to apply to other customer sites.
One unique feature of the relationship will launch at the same time as Marvel's latest Super Hero movie: Iron Man. Marvel offered Oracle use of several Super Hero licenses to produce a short film that dramatizes the challenges the company has faced during its IT transformation and the solutions that Marvel has employed to overcome those challenges. This joint production allows Marvel to showcase characters from upcoming films through a nontraditional channel and gives Oracle a compelling and unusual way to present a customer case study.
This special project would not have been possible without Magala's close partnership with this trusted vendor. "I started this kind of relationship with Oracle a while ago, even prior to coming to Marvel," he says. "I'm a big believer in what we are building together, what we're doing for Oracle, and what Oracle is doing for us in return."