Saturday, 30 April 2016
Five Years of Oracle Cloud and What I have truly learned about Business
Five Years ago this summer, I was in London in a City wine bar off of Fenchurch Street mulling over the future direction of Certus. “Fusion”, as it was known then, was really the only topic of discussion as I could see it was going to be a true differentiator and change the market for years to come. To say a healthy degree of scepticism didn’t exist would be a lie but Oracle’s product line, despite its many acquisitions, in my opinion was like Apple’s in the 1990s – confused, ugly, outdated with no real viable roadmap and frankly completely unexciting. To be blunt Oracle was in danger of becoming irrelevant.
Come 2016 and looking back if Oracle hadn’t embraced, what we refer to today, as the Cloud it would be fast on its way to becoming a dinosaur regardless of its cash position and healthy bank balance. Instead of posting monster revenue growth quarters, it would be losing money. Oracle needed to change, the customers it served were crying out for innovation as their industries and businesses were changing and Cloud was to be the Game Changer. Oracle needed to become “relevant” again.
Now I have written about this extensively in my previously blogs of how Certus as a business was born in the Cloud and the digital era of disruptive technology as well as the challenges we have faced and I am pleased to say successfully overcome. However the most fascinating insight I have gained is the difference between those organisations that are going to be successful and those that are not in this new era.
The great thing about digital technology, and the Cloud in particular, it has enabled a multitude of businesses to access technology of the likes of Oracle that would have been previously out of reach. Used correctly Cloud technology will transform your business, from engaging your employees, managing your talent, through to the adoption of best practice across finance and procurement as well as giving you access to real time management information. As a consequence over the past five years we have got involved in a wide range of new and exciting industry sectors and businesses from Gaming, Technology, Mining (Gold Mining - Yes Really!), Charities, Sporting Organisations and Hospitality as well as still servicing the traditional areas of Financial Services, Telco's and Government (more about that for another day!).
I honestly believe, as I enter my 29th year in IT (I still call it that!), we are truly living in the most exciting time of all. I have absolutely never enjoyed myself so much and love seeing the status quo in markets being constantly challenged and seeing companies like Uber and Airbnb disrupt en-masse. Innovation and disruption are now the only constants in a world of chaos.
Now this might sound harsh but for those organisations who didn’t decide to go Oracle Cloud or any other Cloud or even worse the ones that decided to do absolutely nothing at all after a protracted irrelevant procurement exercise (and there have been many) I say face the greatest challenge of all – Survival!
Cutting to the chase some people get all of this “stuff” and can see how their industries are transforming and the many new business opportunities that are available and some just don't. Unfortunately they are on the road to failure and extinction.
I always say on projects the only mistake you can really ever make “is not to make a decision at all” as the impact of indecisiveness costs time, money and business opportunity. Organisations that I have come across over the last few years that are indecisive I honestly believe will not be around in 3-5 year’s time. The reason being that the Executives seem completely “trapped” by their own culture to such an extent that if they cannot make a decision to go Cloud, especially given the body of evidence regarding the benefits and the very fact that their competition is using this technology that sometimes allows a multitude of new players with new ideas to enter the arena then frankly it is only a matter of time before their own business disappears.
You can hear it now the famous words of the Nokia CEO being repeated “we didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost”. Well sorry you did do something wrong – “You stood still and didn’t bloody do anything!” – Game Over.
It’s truly fascinating stuff that case studies should be written about, albeit granted it’s only the kind of case study that ever gets written after the event and not during it. Most of all when trying to pin point why companies fail, I think it really comes down to culture and a complete lack of ability to adapt fast enough to a changing world. You simply become irrelevant.
Only 22% of FTSE100 companies from 1984 are still in business today (with Lloyds Bank and Royal Bank of Scotland only being saved by HM Government bail outs in the 2008 crash). Technology and digitalisation in its most extreme form has changed the rules of business. We are now in an era of pure Digital Darwinism, how many of the remaining 22% will be there in 5 years time?
““the evolution of consumer behaviour when society and technology evolve faster than our ability to adapt.” (http://www.mrryanconnors.com/adaptive-marketing-digital-darwinism-one-can-prevent-the-other/ )
The successful companies - the ones that survive are the ones that adopt and adapt. Those that stand still join the dinosaurs. For those that do survive, they have the constant challenge of staying relevant to an intelligent demanding consumer base. To do that you need to constantly innovate and that ultimately requires investment in people and we come full circle back to the "war on talent".
The Cloud Moves Fast!
Without doubt, the Cloud is the most extreme fast moving business environment I have ever experienced. Oracle was late to the Cloud but it has and continues to change its entire business model, it will not only survive it will get stronger as it has the financial resources to back its plays. Does it get everything right? far from it and it still has a long way to go (sorry Larry, Mark, Safra). We learn by our mistakes and if you are smart you adapt accordingly. Even Certus constantly has to disrupt itself not just to stay competitive but to stay relevant to an ever changing environment and to our own customer’s needs.
The Cloud story is still in its infancy and we have many more exciting times ahead. So strap yourself in and get ready as Roald Dahl writes in Matilda “Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it’s unbelievable.”
So what I have learned - those that survive and excel are decisive, they know they have to adapt, are calculated risk takers, and most importantly know they must constantly innovate to stay relevant to their consumer base.
There are many more chapters in this book to come and as I have said before we all write our own story so go be brave and go write the next chapter.