Interview with Simon Mørup-Petersen, Consulting Director, Oracle.

Oracle preaches simplification in 2015

Interview with Simon Mørup-Petersen, Consulting Director, Oracle.

Make sure that your IT reduces, rather than increasing, the complexity of your customer's business. In rough terms, this is Oracle's simple recipe for success for the next many years ahead. ConsultantNews had a chat with the Danish Consulting Director, asking him to describe the simplification agenda.

Like everyone else in the IT world, Oracle predicts that the future will be marked by upheavals in digital business models. This means that well-known industries and companies will increasingly be obliged to convert their current practice into completely new business models – often using new technologies – or others will do this before them, thereby stealing the market.

In this brave new world, speed is a key parameter. This is speed measured as the time it takes to develop an idea, the time it takes for product development, and the time it takes to get the products into the market. Time to market has always been vital to a company's competitiveness, but when technology trends such as Big Data, mobility, social computing, cloud computing and Internet of Things are added to the matrix, you more or less have the state of play in many companies today: confusion due to a massive increase in complexity.

From the smallest elements to the major issues, Oracle therefore focuses on making the business and IT world simpler, according to Consulting Director at Oracle Denmark, Simon Mørup-Petersen.

"Right now, everyone is preaching simplification. You will be in high demand if you can help to eliminate complexity from the customer's business processes, since this will free up time, resources and money for innovation. IT can be a business enabler if it facilitates simplification, yet it can also be a business disabler if it leads to confusion and reduces transparency," he says.

Engineered Systems

Simon Mørup-Petersen explains how many IT departments currently face a situation where the crippling financial crisis has meant that budgets have stagnated, or even shrunk, year-on-year.

"A rule of thumb is that 60-70% of a company's IT budget is devoted to systems maintenance. This expenditure does not lead to any development: it's money spent on keeping the lights on, and nothing more. We can see a massive focus on driving down this 60-70%, so that a larger share of the budget can be channelled into IT projects that can help to grow the company," says Simon Mørup-Petersen, linking in Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems in 2010.

"There was a bit of uncertainty about how Sun's hardware focus and Oracle's software focus could team up together? However, the acquisition proved to be the first step towards greater simplification, since today, our hardware and software are born together. This fusing of hardware and software is what we call Engineered Systems."

Oracle Engineered Systems are based on chips from Intel, but otherwise consist exclusively of Oracle components, containing, for instance, their Big Data Appliance, Exadata Database Machine, Exalogic Elastic Cloud, Exalytics In-Memory Machine and ZFS Storage Appliance technology.

"The first simplification stage for us was the design of Engineered Systems and a more standardised infrastructure. The next step is to pull the Engineered Systems platform up into the Cloud, which will make the system even simpler to work with," says Simon Mørup-Petersen. "Oracle's Cloud solutions are based on Engineered Systems, so that the technology is exactly the same as in the customers' data centres."

Integration tasks in the pipeline

Oracle is well-known as a supplier of many of the building bricks for companies' IT solutions. Despite the popularity of Engineered Systems, a lot of classical software and hardware is still sold, and therefore companies' internal and external consultants have the task of assembling the overall IT environment.

Do you have any good advice for Danish IT consultants who are keen to stay abreast of future trends?
"They should first and foremost stay on top of the latest technological developments. Customers will not be satisfied with the software they buy from Oracle unless they use the software correctly. A version 10 of a product is not the same as a version 12. The sheer amount of functionality makes it necessary to stay tuned for the latest upgrades," says Simon Mørup-Petersen.

In terms of business development, he predicts a host of new opportunities for consultants, as IT moves closer and closer to companies' core activities and related business processes.

"We often see how companies take a best-of-breed approach whereby they, for instance, have Salesforce CRM, SAP for their finances, and Oracle HCM Solution for HR. This generates a lot of integration tasks, which are a market niche in themselves. Once again, it's a question of staying updated. The technological landscape is changing constantly, and I don't even know the details of our new solutions yet. But I'm quite certain that there will be many new integration opportunities, going forward."

Superstar consultants

Simon Mørup-Petersen also predicts that – in view of IT's move up from the basement and into the boardroom – completely new roles and functions will arise. They may require a bit of getting used to, but on the other hand they will constitute the arena for the superstar consultants of tomorrow.

"A good example is marketing. Big Data will play a major role in the marketing of the future, since a marketing director will always be interested in paying less to get closer to the ideal customer. The more relevant the customers, the greater the value they represent. Reaching out to this customer not only requires very powerful analytics tools, but also that we can extend beyond the data models in Big Data and convert them into something that a marketing director can understand. If you can do this, you will command a really strong market position and, as far as I know, this position is still vacant," says Simon Mørup-Petersen.

Financial restrictions are here to stay

Besides simplification, Oracle's main headline for 2015 is Cloud. Cloud computing was always bound, sooner or later, to make its mark as a more flexible and cost-effective way of buying and using IT services, but this technology accelerated during the financial crisis, because Cloud carries an inherent automatic savings agenda.

"During the crisis, travel budgets have shrunk, there are procurement restrictions, and the replacement cycle for corporate PCs is longer. When we at some point get back to a growth scenario again, it would be wrong to think that companies' financial restrictions will be rolled back. They've found out that they can save good money from cuts across the board. Cloud is a perfect match for this rationalisation philosophy, yet also has the potential to change a company's work processes and business model," Simon Mørup-Petersen concludes. "So Cloud will continue to be a strong driver for Oracle in 2015.”

Into the Cloud

Three Oracle focus areas in 2015

  1. Oracle SaaS. Various Cloud applications (for instance within marketing, service and sales) include social computing, mobile and analytics functionality, and help companies to speed up their time to market and engage in more valuable customer dialogues.
  2. Engineered Systems and PaaS. With Oracle PaaS, at the click of a button you can, for instance, make an existing Oracle ERP application mobile for iOS og Android – without writing a single line of code.
  3. Big Data and real-time data analysis. Technology that both qualifies and supports business decisions in real time, but which also helps to identify new business opportunities with the help of Oracle's Big Data technologies.