OPN Specialized Program and Solutions Catalog help customers and partners make the right connection.
by Monica Mehta, February 2012
Enterprise IT projects often require finding a solution and service provider that meets very specific business needs. With more than 21,000 Oracle partners operating in all parts of the world, Oracle customers have a lot of choice. Here, Lydia Smyers, Group Vice President of Oracle Worldwide Alliances and Channels discusses how Oracle customers can look for the right IT partner to help achieve their business goals — and how Oracle’s partners are gaining value by collaborating with each other.
Profit: What role is the partner playing in the Oracle ecosystem?
Smyers: Partners can add differentiated value to a range of customer segments across a range of solution requirements. They not only have the capability to bring very skilled professional services to a large implementation, but also can provide very specific industry or domain expertise. Partners bring differentiated, on-site, value-added services to customers. In some cases these partners will be advisors of Oracle technology. In some cases, they’re deploying a third-party solution that they’ve developed around Oracle to meet customer requirements. They can also provide a reach to customers that Oracle doesn’t have today. They’ve got deep relationships with broad market customers.
Profit: How important is it to have a strong customer-partner relationship in delivering value for an IT project?
Smyers: I’d say the customer-partner relationship is paramount, as is the partner-Oracle relationship. We want to assure that customers are getting the proper implementation of our products, so they can meet their business requirements and ultimately realize the value of the differentiated Oracle solutions. Successful implementation and successful partner value-add comes through deep understanding and engagement from the partner to the customer.
That’s why our specialization paradigm works so well. To become specialized in over 80 possible solutions of Oracle, partners have to meet specific documented sales, pre-sales and implementation criteria. They also need to meet business criteria to demonstrate that they have had the experience transacting these products, as well as the references from prior customers to suggest that these implementations have gone well. Once a partner has attained specialization, we understand that they provide a demonstrated different level of competency and business experience.
It really offers a system of preference for the customer to select their partner in the engagement.
Profit: What criteria would you recommend Oracle customers use to evaluate potential partners, and how can they evaluate those partners?
Smyers: Customers should look first to Oracle’s Specialized partners when considering the right partner to support their IT needs. Customers want to assure partners have competency, true capabilities in our products. We’re talking about capabilities not only in the implementation, but also on pre-sales support to understand and be able to map the customer’s business requirements to the solution functionality.
We also assure that they’ve got the business expertise. Partners need to demonstrate that they’ve transacted these products successfully, and that they’re bringing customer reference capability to bear, to demonstrate their business expertise with these programs.
Lastly, we want to assure partners bring differentiated value or solutions to customers — be it in the form of a ‘templatized’ implementation methodology around an existing solution product, or a very specific third-party app that meets a unique customer requirement. The specialization framework allows customers to assess partners against these key criteria.
Profit: Oracle recently launched a tool to help customers evaluate potential partners. What role does the new solutions catalog play in that evaluation?
Smyers: We’ve launched our Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) Solutions Catalog, which is Oracle’s centralized record of our partners, and the services and solutions provided. This is a way for Oracle’s customers to identify partners who may be able to assist them in meeting their business needs with Oracle solutions. The Solutions Catalog documents information such as partners’ locations, their specific competencies, and whether they’re specialized with particular business expertise.