Focusing on the needs of Oracle On Demand customers is the top priority for Oracle’s service delivery management team.
by Molly Rose Teuke, March 2009
Oracle is known for the depth and breadth of its customer service. To find out just what went into building that reputation, Profit talked with Mike Hutchinson, vice president of service delivery management for Oracle On Demand customers in North America.
Profit: What is at the heart of Oracle On Demand’s customer service commitment?
Hutchinson: Everything we do begins with the customer’s business requirements. We’re engaged with the customer in business conversations—for example, what are its business processes, its reporting needs—before we ever get to the IT conversations. From there we develop a 52-week working plan jointly with the customer. It starts with business requirements, which get translated into application strategies—what is it doing in terms of implementing new modules, new locations, or new services to meet its business requirements. Then we develop the infrastructure strategies—do we need to deploy additional servers, do we need additional bandwidth for networking or storage capacity, that sort of thing.
Profit: Who’s behind all that?
Hutchinson: It starts with the service delivery manager [SDM], whose role is to make sure the working plan is reviewed and updated on a regular basis. That lets us stay ahead of changes in the customer’s business requirements and provide stable environments scaled to its needs. Behind the SDM is a global backbone of engineers, ready from Day One to take on setting up and provisioning the customer’s environments and ready and able to monitor those environments for any kind of issues that may come about. We also have an extensive change management team that will deploy necessary changes across the customer’s environment.
Profit: What kinds of changes do you see most often?
Hutchinson: A customer may want to take up additional functionality in the form of software patches or upgrades or configuration changes, or the SDM and the Oracle On Demand delivery team may come to the customer with suggestions for change activities. The goal might be to bring about further security or stability in its system or to ensure compliance with a legislative or regulatory change that we know will affect it.
Profit: Predictable cost is a big Oracle advantage for many companies. How do those kinds of changes affect the customer’s costs?
Hutchinson: They don’t. Change management activities are built into our Oracle On Demand contracts, so updates and patches are all part of our base service. Major upgrades or the addition of new users or new modules might involve additional costs. But when that happens, the customer has typically realized significant benefits and knows the potential for additional return on investment [ROI]. It sees the ROI going in.
Profit: You said that on-demand customers adopt changes more frequently than on-premises customers. Why is that?
Hutchinson: Partly it’s because Oracle On Demand enables customers to realign their IT resources from system maintenance to new capabilities that support the business, and that often leads to new business requirements. Also, each of our customers has a dedicated Oracle On Demand portal specific to its environment. The portal shows all the metrics and service levels, so the customer can see at a glance how they’re doing. That kind of transparency gives companies a clear picture of the benefits and helps them plan for the future.