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In 2002, PwC sold its thriving IT services business to IBM amid that era’s heightened concerns over auditors and consultants under the same corporate roof. Once a ten-year non-compete agreement expired in 2012, and those concerns had largely waned, the global accounting giant immediately looked to relaunch its consulting division—and reestablish what had been a close alliance with Oracle.
Because of that decade-long hiatus, PwC entered the cloud era with the liberty to focus on next-gen technologies for enabling digital transformations, says Kevin Sullivan, PwC Global and U.S. Oracle Practice Leader.
“Because we didn’t have that legacy, our pivot to cloud was rapid,” Sullivan says. “It was our opportunity to leapfrog our competition, and we committed to that strategy even when we had those lean years. We didn’t have to feed that massive legacy beast.”
In the four years since he took the reins of PwC’s Oracle practice, the firm’s largest technology alliance within the United States and growing rapidly worldwide, Sullivan has steered continued growth by staying true to a strategy of offering customers in-depth industry expertise delivering highly specialized solutions.
That strategy relies on closely collaborating with Oracle to leverage a broad application portfolio and powerful development platform.
“Our relationship is so strong because our strategies are so tightly aligned,” Sullivan says. “We have a lot of trust together. With that trust, we’re able to go to market together with full transparency and support each other in driving transformation and business value.”
Here are five ways PwC plans to continue to take its Oracle practice to new heights in the post-COVID-19 era.
PwC’s consulting philosophy emphasizes providing full-lifecycle cloud services to target sectors and subsectors. It’s in the mastery of those ‘micro-verticals’ where PwC’s Oracle practice really shines, says Sullivan.
“The secret sauce is when we bring that deep micro-vertical expertise to the table and we build it around Oracle Cloud technology,” he says. “I need to know that industry—not where it is but where it needs to go, and build a set of complementary assets on Oracle.”
PwC has delivered robust Oracle-powered solutions to customers across the public utility, healthcare provider, technology, hospitality, gaming, food service and e-retail sectors. Insurance has been another strong focus, with banking a more-recent push in the financial services space.
All those industries are rapidly embracing cloud to maintain their competitiveness.
“You’re seeing them migrate to the cloud in bunches, because they have to,” Sullivan says.
But meeting the needs of customers with such diverse use cases and unique regulatory obstacles requires the ability to tap into a full suite of cloud software solutions.
“The intersection of the Oracle alliance and our sector focus is where the magic happens for both of us,” Sullivan said. “It’s hard to differentiate yourself otherwise.”
PwC prioritizes delivering Oracle enterprise apps from the cloud. While the consultancy continues to field successful engagements around Oracle’s on-premises ERP solutions, cloud services currently constitute about 80 percent of the business, and cloud-based solutions like Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP are taking share fastest.
The strength of PwC’s Oracle practice stems from the breadth and depth of that Oracle SaaS portfolio.
That’s extremely important in an IT buying landscape in which large enterprises want their enterprise software components to seamlessly work together out-of-the-box—rather than investing the significant time and expense of deploying and maintaining custom integrations.
Oracle delivers HR, finance, customer experience, supply chain and so many other critical enterprise technologies in the cloud at the scale needed by global corporations.
“The way we go to market in providing micro-vertical offerings, it’s not about a function, it's about the complete enterprise, everything that belongs inside that SaaS ERP,” Sullivan says.
As a full-service solution provider, PwC offers customers upfront strategy consulting, cloud assessments, implementation, application monitoring, and custom development services to extend capabilities and enable ongoing improvement and innovation. That last part is where Oracle Platform Services comes into play.
“We use the platform services to build out a differentiated set of digital capabilities to make our solution uniquely valuable to that sector,” Sullivan says. By taking advantage of Oracle’s platform, PwC can deliver “extended capabilities that piggyback off what Oracle has and make it very industry specific. So our Platform Services practice and Software-as-a-Service practice go hand in hand.”
As an example, PwC built a specialized predictive analytics solution for customers in the highly regulated gaming industry that conforms to strict USALI (Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry) standards that govern casino operations.
Those kinds of custom projects leverage the cloud-based development platform’s IoT, blockchain, predictive analytics and, most commonly, AI and machine learning tools to layer unique capabilities that extend the core set of horizontally focused Oracle solutions.
Oracle Platform Services “helps us address the very specific needs of a particular industry,” Sullivan says.
When PwC relaunched a technology consulting business in 2012, Financials were its big focal point. But the practice evolved with Oracle’s product suite, and in the intervening years PwC developed solutions expertise around many of the needs of modern enterprises.
That kind of balanced approach has been key to the success of PwC’s Oracle practice—the company has avoided getting pigeonholed around one product, allowing it to win engagements and serve customers across industries and use cases.
PwC’s Oracle revenue is fairly evenly distributed around EPM, HR, Finance and Supply Chain, which is a particularly fast-growing market and a huge opportunity for Oracle, Sullivan says.
PwC is also seeing a “big pickup” in its CX practice as customers increasingly look to develop their own cloud-based services and transition accordingly to subscription billing models.
The ERP suite is spurring CX adoption, Sullivan says, because enterprises realize they need to make buying decisions from a platform perspective to avoid integration challenges and extra costs.
“Oracle is a leader in each of those other categories now, so that gives its CX advantages over other solutions,” Sullivan says.
PwC customers are no longer looking at cloud transformations entirely through the lens of cost savings.
“They want to do this from a perspective of driving business value,” Sullivan says. “There’s a business case that underpins transformation to cloud, and not just to save 10 to 30 percent of ongoing TCO.”
Enterprises are thinking about which digital capabilities will not only deliver immediate value, but also provide a platform for continuous innovation that enables them to stay competitive going forward. That trend has only accelerated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Everyone got caught flat-footed, and all this pent up demand is now hitting us,” Sullivan says.
And today’s large cloud customers don’t just want systems integrators to deploy and manage their IT environments. They want the partners to help them develop their own culture of innovation—an approach PwC strongly recommends.
“They’re looking to develop those muscles internally,” Sullivan says.
As cloud accelerates the pace at which new products and features come to market, harnessing that culture of innovation could very well be the difference between success and failure in a post-COVID world.”