One of the leading providers of on-premise services, US-based Oracle has made a smooth transition to cloud services and is now making a strong case for its new autonomous database which uses machine learning (ML) to deliver self-driving, self-repairing and self-securing capabilities for a cloud experience free of disruption. In conversation with Mint, Shailender Kumar, India MD, Oracle talks about the transition from product to services, the importance of India and how the company is catering to the unique needs of start-ups.
Q. Oracle has been transitioning from a product company to being a services company. How has this transition been?
With cloud acquiring extreme dominance in our business agenda, we have embedded innovative technologies in every aspect of our cloud, enabling companies to re-imagine their business and processes. If you see today, our world’s number one database is now autonomous, allowing big enterprises to innovate at the speed of the start-up and achieve their objectives much faster. And who would have imagined that a database firm, that made business selling to large organizations only would itself transform to a complete enterprise technology solution provider.
I would say this is not only one of the company’s biggest transformation, but also the biggest industry transformation. We have also done the right combination of innovation and acquisition. We have been spending approximately $6.5 billion every year in research and development and invested over $80 billion doing 130 odd acquisitions since 2005.
Q. How has Oracle been doing in India? And what is the strategy going forward to take on competition in India?
We are experiencing very good momentum in the country today. Our customers in India have an appetite to try new technologies, and even from their side, they want to deliver ultimate experience to their customers. Talking about cloud, it has really helped us in terms of doubling our customers. In fact, today we have grown our base from 7,500 viewers back to approximately 15,000 customers in the country.
India is on the cusp of digital transformation in all the spheres of economy. We have been able to support start-ups, legacy companies trying to improve their business efficiency, or helping farmers trying to access more markets, enabling quick loans for small finance banks.
Just to give you an example of what we are doing with one of our clients IFFCO, India’s largest cooperative institutions, which is digitally empowering its farmers to procure fertilizers. In fact, they have launched something called eBaazar, an ecommerce platform which is totally Oracle Cloud enabled. And this platform enables cashless transactions allowing farmers to order and pay for their goods online. Federal bank is using our Autonomous analytics cloud to gain a unified single view of ATM availability, branch operations and network availability from its 1200 branches and 1600 ATMs across the country. This has allowed them to take more strategic decisions.
Q. How has India contributed to Oracle’s transformation in recent years? Tell us about the new data centres that Oracle is setting up in India.
India happens to be a very strategic place from research and development, support and from the sales standpoint. India is the only country outside of US, where every line of business from development point of view is represented. All our products have some kind of development happening in India. Also, we want to ensure our customers get an excellent experience and services and having a data centre in India will play an important role in making that happen.
Q. How does Oracle tailor its products for different business sizes in India?
For startups, we have a very unique collaboration. We are delivering a unique acceleration program that enables mutually beneficial business building partnership for these startups. So it starts with free cloud, and expands to a rich collaboration with opportunities to engage with Oracle’s vast network of mentors, product experts and customers. We are offering them free cloud credits of up to 9,000 hours. We are also doing business and technical mentoring. They may have an excellent idea, but how do they nurture that idea with the help of cloud and start working and developing on that. This would allow startups to save 70% on cloud right from day one.
Q. How has Oracle been leveraging emerging technologies like AI, ML and blockchain to improve its services?
Oracle today has been embedding machine learning into several management and security offerings to help monitor, troubleshoot and predict potential outages and security breaches. In fact, we enable automated but personalized interactions across all applications via digital assistance. We have also integrated the AI into analytics to help discover hidden patents and it has been successful.
We have also worked with the NITI Aayog for a project involving Blockchain and IOT. We are using blockchain to ensure if the real drugs are getting replaced with spurious drugs and IOT is being used to ascertain the parameters of the medicines which are being transported from one side to the other side, to ensure the chemical composition of a product doesn’t get lost.