At OpenWorld this year Enterprise Times sat down with Phill Wallace, managing director at Accenture to talk about Oracle. Wallace heads up the Oracle practice at Accenture for the UK and has worked at the company for more than two decades.
How is Accenture working with Oracle in the UK at the moment?
“We’re engaging very heavily with their Oracle Application sales leads, because it’s really key to get in there, right of the start. They’re having lots of conversations with clients up front, which means if we get in, we can build that relationship ahead of time using the relationships we already have.
“We’re in lots of the accounts talking about journey to the cloud, Oracle are in there with a Gen 2 cloud talking about how database as a service is a real game changer for them. There’s some real value for us talking with a client about the journey to the cloud across all the different providers and adding Oracle OCI as part of the hybrid cloud.”
How has it changed from 12 months ago?
“Their products have come a long way, Gen 2 cloud for infrastructure and Database as a Service is real game changer. It is a real solution that you can actually suggest to a client they can do massive consolidation with. The SaaS products have moved on. We’ve now got plenty of use cases. Our relationship with Oracle is getting closer. We’ve always been a big partner, but actually by bringing new people into our business is creating that real link with Oracle. I brought an ex Oracle Sales ASR into the business and gained all those relationships with Oracle. We’re now using that close relationship.”
You mentioned NetSuite earlier and you pitch Fusion against NetSuite, what about a NetSuite practice?
“I don’t at the moment. I have no people that do NetSuite in the UK. We have a NetSuite practice in the US and we do some NetSuite still. Often the clients are too small and actually I can do Fusion SaaS for the same price.”
In the past organisations have often dipped their toe in the water with HCM or an addon finance application for example. When talking about Apps with customers are you leading with Finance or HCM?
“It is across the board? We see a lot of ERP and HCM together. We’re seeing less sole HCM. Although we still are seeing a couple where clients have done Oracle ERP SaaS and Workday, because Workday was cool and sexy. Now they’re going “actually integrating them is really hard”. Could you tell us how to do Oracle HCM?”
From the outside many customer case studies for Oracle ERP are still public sector organisations. What is actually happening in that mix between public and private sector?
“From a SaaS perspective probably 50/50. Financial Services is really picking up in the SaaS world. There’s a few retailers who are starting to go there. Government/public sector is really going gangbusters at the moment.”
It feels most use cases from Oracle are public sector clients. Is that because they are coming and next year they should be more willing to talk?
“That’ll be the thing. We have got plenty of financial services clients that we’re working with and in the US much more so. But it is the getting them out there to talk. The government clients like talking and it’s a lot easier for them to talk.”
Challenges in 2020
What about challenges faced by Oracle in the market?
“They’re starting to come out of it. In the IaaS space they’ve taken a long time to really A) get cloud and then B) get a cloud that really works. Gen 2 really is there, you’ve got a product that works. There is a whole new UI that’s coming out of Oracle, the Redwood change that’s where they’ve been kind of lacking bizarrely. Workday are very good at UI and were sexy. Oracle still have to break out of that and there’s still not enough people that know Oracle have a product. I very definitely see that internally that. Whenever we’re talking, everyone’s going, ‘Oh, you want to do HCM? Well let’s talk Workday’ and you say: ‘Hang on Oracle has a proposition as well and it’s top right quadrant.’
“The new UI just takes it up a notch. They’re bringing in their AI products, things like DataFox. There’s some really cool features in the releases that are coming out this year. But they’re features that you need if you’ve got the product. Not necessarily to implement to start with. As an implementer, you’re looking at it going, ‘Yeah, let’s not do all that stuff right up front’.
“There is still a bit of a perception that other products are better. We’ve got to try and break that but they’re doing great. It is why we are teaming up with the ASRs. They’re doing a great job of selling their product.”
Challenges for Accenture in this year?
“The same thing. It’s to get all the work Oracle have done into our groups that might be having the agnostic conversations to make sure they understand that Oracle SaaS is really there.”
That sounds like both an external and internal educational challenge.
“Absolutely, it is a bit of both. It’s very definitely getting word of all the great work that I’ve got in my team and making sure that the whole of UK Accenture understand it too.”
and Oracle customers…
What are the challenges faced by customers at the moment?
“I don’t know whether there are necessarily challenges. The big thing, working with clients is about how we get them to not replicate what they’ve already got. There is very definitely that transformation and quite often they don’t want the transformation. But there needs to be a little bit of transformation anyway, it doesn’t have to be heavy. Oracle are great at selling everything in the cookie store and you go ‘well, can we keep some of the sweets for later’. Get onto the platform and then leverage the platform and expand the platform. That’s probably the biggest one. Getting them to make the scope smaller.
“We’ve got a couple of clients in the Financial Services space where we are going to try and move them quickly. There’s a lot of scope that’s just going into a phase three. You can’t do it all in one go.”
A look at the projects with Accenture and Oracle
What interesting projects has Accenture recently completed?
“The Crown Prosecution Service is very interesting. We’ve done that end to end in nine months: ERP, HCM, no payroll. Taking our Engage product that came across some Certus, implementing standard process, light touch transformation. They’ve moved onto cloud very quickly. Finance went live in about four or five months.”
What about a larger one in the private sector?
“For a big insurer that we’ve done ERP and GL consolidation in the first phase we’ve now done the next phase of rollout. This is starting to get the insurance actuary systems pulling through Cloud FAH, (Finance Accounting Hub) into ERP, doing all the accounting and getting that working into end and live, in UK, Europe and AsiaPac.”
What is being worked on now?
“Lots in government and some key banking ones which are UK subsidiaries that are then going to roll out across the globe. In Public sector there’s health, local and central government. There’s a lot of stuff happening with the Westminster police platform. Then finance, insurance and banking are both moving. It’ll be interesting to see if we can move slightly out of those two spaces, lots of prospects but nothing actually started yet.”
Is Oracle growing market share?
Is Oracle getting any net new customers?
“I don’t think we’ve got any yet but we have seen them. We’ve seen net new from SAP. It will be interesting how much the move of the HANA date slows that down. We have got a couple of RFPs that are taking HR off of Workday because they already have Oracle.”
How is your Oracle expertise evolving? Do they need different skills today and is Accenture redistributing headcount to other cloud solutions or advisory/change management services?
“It’s really interesting because it’s a conversation we have had with Oracle consulting. Oracle consulting are a competitor and sometimes you team up. That’s because they have moved from being advice and guidance to taking ownership of doing the delivery. They want to do all the delivery of the install base. It’s not reducing my headcount, I still win all the configuration, integration work and analytics work. On top of that, part of Accenture’s new growth model is how we pull advisory services that are deep Oracle or other platforms to do deep advisory in a platform. I’m not seeing my need is just do the advisory piece. I am still going to do it end to end and that’s going to be my value.”
On Oracle Openworld
What are your thoughts about OpenWorld this year?
“It’s been incredibly busy. I can see the regional ones doing much better. I’ve got more clients on stage talking. We’ve had so many people at the booth. Having the tech day and an apps day has been great. We’ve met a lot of people and have a lot of things to follow up on. Keeping the regional flavours is great. It gets you to meet everyone.”
The Oracle branding seems more subdued this year.
“That is Redwood. They are trying to prove that they’re not the big stark red machine that everyone knows. It is what they’re trying to be. I’m seeing it from how we interact with them. Even with the licence sales, they are more teaming. They are talking about the client, at the partner event it was all about client success.”
Is that the NetSuite SaaS culture that is rubbing of, are they becoming confident rather than arrogant, which they have historically come across as?
“Yes, they know they have got products that can compete. They know they’ve got to prove their products compete, they’ve got to sell positively and they have got to sell a success story. They’ve changed their way of working and we’re seeing it from a partner perspective as well. There is a lot more openness to team with partners.”
What about Salesforce, it is growing rapidly and replacing legacy CRM and marketing solutions. Where is Oracle on this?
“We haven’t spoken much about Oracle CX and that’s a great suite of products, but it’s losing out to Salesforce. There’s a lot about how you move the Siebel infrastructure across to the CX products and lots of people are going: ‘I have invested a lot of time in my customer and product masters, I’m not going to touch them for a while because that’s really hard’. Actually bolting a Salesforce Marketing on there works. We still see a lot of work in Salesforce. That’s an interesting place where Oracle play in and once they get their install base on ERP and HCM they may move to CX afterwards. Salesforce are still very strong.”
Where do you see Oracle in the future?
“At some point Oracle cloud is going to launch both in the infrastructure space and in the SaaS space.”
By launch Wallace means accelerate rapidly like a rocket ship. It has spent a long time seemingly grounded. The rockets are now firing on full and it seems that Oracle is about to shoot upwards in both SaaS and IaaS. It has become more open and the recent partnership with Microsoft demonstrates that it is willing to share enterprise workloads where appropriate with another vendor. This is a sensible approach as it gives the customers choice and should keep them competitive without the lockin that has frustated many.