by Byron Connolly

Oracle A/NZ boss to fix ‘problematic’ engagement model

Oct 01, 20143 mins
Cloud Computing

Oracle Australia’s MD, Tim Ebbeck, has vowed to improve the computing giant’s relationship with local customers, admitting on Wednesday that despite liking the company’s technology, organisations “don’t like dealing with us”.

Ebbeck, a former SAP and NBN Co executive, who was appointed as Oracle’s Australia and New Zealand boss in January, told CIO Australia at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco that the engagement model the organisation had in Australia was problematic because there was a strong focus on individual lines of business.

“We were going to market as very much separate lines of business,” he said. “Customers were complaining about having truckloads of Oracle people coming in to see them, they would have a disjointed engagement … which made it hard for them to deal with us.”

Customers are getting “hammered” with too much information about too many products, he admitted.

Ebbeck is fixing the issue with a restructure of Oracle’s local operations, including the appointment of three former SAP executives. Former SAP and IBM executive Allan Fairhurst is the new VP, technology group key accounts.

“Allan is running our technology business and our top 10 accounts,” Ebbeck said.

Stuart Pike is working with Fairhurst as the new VP, strategic sales, while Steve Thompson is running Oracle’s new public sector practice as public sector sales director and GM.

“Our focus in public sector had been very disjointed from a line of business perspective and also not looking at the public sector holistically and understanding the cycles and the nuances of dealing with government.

“It is different and the engagements tend to need to be very long term and aligned to the pace that government wants to move but also consciously aware of the challenges the government faces right now around e-government, the mandates about moving everything to the cloud. These are big initiatives and will take time to implement.”

Ebbeck said Oracle is now taking a more ‘customer-centric’ view of sales engagement. He said that no customer wakes up in the morning wanting to buy technology.

“They’ve got a business to run and it’s been summed up by many of our large customers who have said to me ‘you will hear from our teams, we need your technology but we hate dealing with you. So if you just make it a bit easier to deal with us, it’ll make it a bit easier’.

“And that’s what we are doing,” he said.

Oracle is also putting in place initiatives around better coordinating the company’s capabilities, he said.

“At the moment, we will execute campaigns into customers as individual campaigns across their lines of business.

“This is OK if a customer wants to deal that way … but if they want to engage strategically, then we have to behave differently.”

This will involve sitting with customers on engagement boards, focusing entirely on the customer’s business and working out which technology they need in the background “rather than pushing technology down their throat,” he said.

Ebbeck admitted that Oracle is undergoing a cultural shift in the way it sells its wares from a traditional on-premise software to a cloud subscription model.

He has restructured Oracle’s local applications business around reaching the ‘buying centres’ within organisations such as the HR or marketing director, rather than just the technology buyer in each industry.

“That’s the big cultural shift,” he said.

Byron Connolly travelled to San Francisco as a guest of Oracle.