Oracle CEO Safra Catz on Digital Transformation: We’ve Faced the Same Challenges

New technologies are always emerging that create new business opportunities.

By Chris Murphy | February 2020

Oracle OpenWorld London

Oracle CEO Safra Catz knows from personal experience how, in a strong economy, it can be hard to get people on board with a digital transformation project.

Speaking at Oracle OpenWorld Europe on February 12, Catz shared how one of her first leadership roles at Oracle was leading just such a transformation—in 1999, at the peak of the dotcom bubble, when it seemed “as if money flew through the door,” and people weren’t excited to do anything differently.

“I’m sure many of you in this time now are going through periods where people are saying, ‘No, no, no—I’m willing to change, but I’d much rather not. It ain’t broke. Don’t fix it,’” Catz said at the London event. “And what you realize is that the hardest part of these transformations is often not the computers, not the software, but the entire rethinking of how to operate in a modern global environment.”

Now as CEO, Catz is leading another transformation at Oracle, this time using the company’s own cloud-based applications and infrastructure and the machine learning tools built into them, to run the business more effectively. One example Catz cited is Oracle’s ability to now close its books, record its financial results, and file with federal regulators in just 11 or 12 days, thanks to the machine learning in its cloud-based financial applications.

Oracle CEO Safra Catz on Digital Transformation

“We’ve literally changed our businesses. We’ve sped up the clock,” Catz said. “Things that would take weeks, like supply chain planning, now take an hour.”

Because new technologies are always emerging to create new business opportunities, this digital transformation process never truly ends, she said.

“As new technologies become available, they allow the companies to bring them in and leverage them for greater strength, for better customer understanding, for better financial and employee decisions,” Catz said. “And that’s really where we find ourselves now.”

During sessions at Oracle OpenWorld Europe, Oracle team leaders and Oracle customers in areas such as finance, HR, supply chain, and IT shared their experiences implementing cloud applications and infrastructure and optimizing their operations. Addressing customers, Catz said, “Ultimately for us, our greatest success is when we see you successful.”

Chris Murphy is editorial director at Oracle. He was previously editor of InformationWeek. You can follow him on Twitter @murph_cj.

Photography Getty Images and Oracle