Industrial-Strength Oracle

An executive update on Oracle’s industry strategy

November 2008
Oracle has gone vertical in a big way, not only in the breadth but also the depth of its industry offerings, says Harry Ghuman, Oracle’s group vice president for industry strategy. In an interview with Profit, Ghuman explains what is unique about Oracle’s industry approach—and how organizations can profit from it.

Profit: What is Oracle’s industry strategy?

Ghuman: Complete, open, and integrated—the same three principles that guide our product strategy also inform our industry strategy. Complete is the first element—we’ve developed a comprehensive portfolio of industry solutions. We look at the specific business processes involved in every one of the industries that we cover. We’ve gone way beyond traditional ERP [enterprise resource planning] solutions, aiming to give our customers support for everything they need, including industry-specific and business-centric capabilities. So, to come up with these complete solutions, we’ve either been buying specialized companies that have built best-in-class software around specialized industry processes, or we’ve been doing a lot of native development with our own software to give customers functionality in those specific areas where they wish to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Profit: What are some examples of Oracle’s industry-related acquisitions?

Ghuman: For retail, we’ve acquired Retek, ProfitLogic, and 360Commerce. For the communications industry, we have Portal, MetaSolv, HotSip, Net4Call, and others. In banking, our partnership with i-flex is important. For the insurance industry, we bought AdminServer and Skywire. For the utilities industry, we acquired SPL Worldgroup and LODESTAR. And manufacturing customers benefit from our acquisitions of G-Log, Demantra, and Agile.

Profit: What about open, the second part of Oracle’s industry strategy?

Ghuman: Open means a standards-based architecture, as opposed to proprietary architectures that create extra cost for customers. This allows customers to interact with their other applications, as well as exchange data with their partners more effectively. Universities are teaching open technology standards, so Oracle’s support of open standards makes it much easier for our customers to find qualified employees—and it provides a good medium for Oracle to interact with partners who provide complementary industry solutions.

Profit: And integrated?

Ghuman: Customers don’t want to take on the cost of integration. They would rather have Oracle sell them everything preintegrated, so that all their business processes are preintegrated. This gives them more flexibility at a lower cost. They like Oracle Application Integration Architecture, which makes it easy to integrate their Oracle applications not only with each other but also with third-party or custom-developed software they’re already using.

Profit: What other ways does Oracle’s strategy benefit customers?

Ghuman: We’re always listening to our customers, so if there are innovative things they want to do, we can create new functionality for them. By using our industry solutions, customers can become a lot more competitive, can get better intelligence from their systems, and can make better decisions at all levels of the organization. They are also able to become more efficient in all their processes and to collaborate more effectively—with employees, operating partners, customers, and suppliers. Overall, our solutions give customers greater flexibility in responding to changing market conditions.

Profit: What is unique about Oracle’s industry strategy?

Ghuman: We’re the only ones who can offer all of this. If you look at our competitors, they either don’t have the complete technology footprint or they don’t have the complete applications footprint. And some of our largest applications competitors make only back-office solutions—they don’t even have industry solutions. Oracle has the world’s best intellectual property and the most complete portfolio of end-to-end industry solutions.

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