As Oracle is betting big on cloud business, there is an increased focus on upskilling as well as reskilling of partners. Srikanth Doranadula, Senior Director and Head – Alliances & Channels, Oracle India, shares insights into the various initiatives that the company has undertaken as part of the partner empowerment strategy
What’s the direction for Oracle India in 2018 in terms of focus areas and initiatives being taken?
Cloud remains our topmost priority for 2018 and beyond. Our Oracle Partner Network (OPN) partners are investing with us on an ongoing basis. We will continue to provide opportunities for every partner to choose an area in the cloud, be it IaaS, PaaS or SaaS. Our other businesses like License and Systems business continues to be on track.
Our focus will continue to be on skill enhancement of our partners. This is a continuous journey. We encourage our partners to achieve more specialization, receive proper recognition and win more with Oracle across all areas of our solution stack, in our vertical applications and in the cloud as well.
How are you weaving the channel piece into this plan?
Partners continue to play a vital role in Oracle’s plans for India. From a cloud perspective, we want partners to play a key role in closely working with and supporting customers during their journey to the cloud. Hence, suggesting the right path, successful implementation and customer references will continue to be the key driving forces. We urge partners to stay focused on upskilling and reskilling themselves, and also on ensuring we have more successful go-lives.
Partner enablement is inherent to our channel strategy. We view it as a perpetual process and empower our partners via regular training programs delivered through virtual classrooms, hands-on implementation workshops, or partner focused boot camps.
How significant will be their role in building the company’s growth story?
Partner business has always been a core element of our growth strategy. At Oracle OpenWorld 2017 held in October in San Francisco, USA, we announced that we are continuing to see strong cloud leadership and momentum across our 25,000-member strong partner program. Since its launch in February 2016, more than 2,600 unique partners have joined the Oracle PartnerNetwork Cloud Program. Additionally, cloud resell revenue from our partners increased 105 per cent year over year globally.
Selling cloud is one part, ensuring the solutions are implemented smoothly and successfully is the other equally important part. Implementation and successful customer ‘go live’ are key, and we clearly see our partners’ role getting bigger and bigger in the coming months.
How much focus will be on building skill-set of partners? What sort of efforts are being put in this endeavor?
There has been a considerable amount of change in our channel engagement program last year and we expect it to get bigger and better in the coming years. Our partners went through an evolution phase with greater focus on cloud. The accentuation clearly is on partner upskilling and reskilling to ensure our customers get the best and are very happy. We recently concluded a thorough, hands-on implementation partner training workshop at Jaipur, underlining our emphasis on and commitment to fully enable our partners. Such initiatives are in line with our partner empowerment strategy and we will undertake many more of these programs in the coming months.
In this digital disruption era, how do you envisage the role of partners evolving with changing market dynamics?
We work with a strong certified, well trained partner network and we believe that they are an extended sales team of Oracle, supporting us to take our offerings to customers across diverse verticals and geographies. We closely work with our partners and reward them for their efforts, especially when they successfully see the customer through proof of concept to Go-live. Our partners can select between co-selling and implementing, or just reselling.
Are we going to see any fundamental structural changes in the channel structure (vertical-wise / product—wise segmentation)?
Oracle formally recognizes partners that have invested time and resources in developing significant expertise in specific Oracle products and solutions. We are committed to delivering value to three primary groups: our community of partners, our end customers, and our Oracle internal sales force. OPN offers a number of ways for partners to differentiate themselves in order to be recognized by these three audiences. Having said that, we will always have large partners playing across the entire length and breadth of the market, and across all solution stacks. These could be the large global SIs. We will also have partners focusing only on niche areas, and boutique partners addressing specific single solution areas. Our program is designed to encourage partners across all segments. We also have VADs addressing the regular run rate business.
We are heavily investing in OPN programs to help our channel partners succeed in the marketplace with our products and solutions especially cloud offerings. With reselling and implementation of cloud, our channel partners are making a significant difference to their businesses. Last year, we unveiled a new OPN Cloud Program to help partners accelerate the growth of Oracle cloud business by providing them with technical and go-to-market support. Through this program, partners showcase their Oracle cloud expertise, vertical market offerings, and success with customers through tiers of recognition and progressive benefits. Customers are now able to easily identify and engage with partner firms that best align to their specific project needs.
What’s the bigger message for the channel community?
I am a firm believer that we need to leverage each other’s strengths to address our customer requirements in the best possible manner, especially in complex markets like India where customer needs are so varied and diverse.
Our message to the partner community has been consistent all these years: understand the customer’s needs and focus on specialization, which should be a continuous process that’ll help our partners stay relevant in the market and closer to the customer. It’s important that our partners recognize the need to start speaking and thinking the cloud language, because cloud is the new currency and it is here to stay. It’s also crucial for partners to ensure what solutions they propose to customers, are indeed implemented and being utilized in an effective manner by the customer. Both Oracle and our partners should never ever take our eyes off the customer.
From a skilling perspective, we are also investing heavily in OPN programs to help our channel partners succeed in the marketplace with our products and solutions, especially cloud offerings. Using the Oracle Cloud Marketplace, partners can expand the visibility of their applications to 425,000+ Oracle customers and partners.
We also certify partners through our recently launched ‘Cloud Excellence Implementer Program (CEI)’. The CEI program helps customers make a smooth transition to the cloud through Oracle implementation partners. The new program recognizes and rewards those partners who have invested in building their Oracle Cloud expertise and demonstrate a proven track record for delivering high quality cloud implementation projects across Oracle’s customer base.
With the CEI distinction, partners that work with Oracle to implement Oracle Cloud around the globe will be able to further differentiate themselves in the marketplace, and benefit from increased enablement and go-to-market support from Oracle. The CEI program is available to OPN members now and will initially focus on implementations for Oracle’s SaaS Cloud services.