IN THE HOT SEAT: Mid-market manoeuvres

IN THE HOT SEAT: Mid-market manoeuvres

Effervescent Englishman, Fred King, is a trained mechanical engineer who went into sales and has since worked in senior IT positions around the globe. His many roles along the way include alliance building and channel management in the early days of Digital. As general manager of technology alliances and channels, he now runs one of four Oracle business groups for Australia and New Zealand.

What is your professional background and how long have you been in the role?

Fred King (FK): I've been with Oracle for just nine months. Before joining, I ran my own business for two years and, prior to that, I was managing director at Crystal Decisions for five years before it was bought by Business Objects.

What are your main responsibilities in the role?

FK: My main focus is on the technology products in the Oracle portfolio. I lead a team that sells technology licenses through the channel for products including the Standard Edition Oracle database, Enterprise Edition and Application Server. Other product technologies include business intelligence (BI), J2EE, integration tools and collaboration software.

Will you be undertaking any new channel strategies in the near future?

FK: One of the big focuses going forward is the mid-market, which is a new area for us. We are taking enterprise technologies and repackaging them. This applies to our mid-market database products - Standard Edition and Standard Edition One. These databases on top of Linux are a good value proposition for the mid-market. There is new pricing so users get all the benefits of an enterprise product with the only limitation being the number of processors it can run over. This gives all the benefits of an enterprise product as well as scalability but at a lower price than Microsoft SQL Server. We will be promoting it through roadshows in the coming months.

Will Oracle locally rollout the newly announced US pricing of its Partner Network (OPN) program?

FK: We will be doing something similar. We have strong OPN membership already in Australia but we need to tailor the new program specifically for our Australian partners. If you join the current OPN program as an ISV you get software, discounted training, joint marketing and other data to help build up a capability.

How can prospective partners benefit from an Oracle relationship?

FK: There isn't one value proposition that appeals to every partner - integrators might want technology support in implementation areas, for example. Resellers can also benefit from our fully scalable database technology and our new grid computing architecture. Our big value proposition is the very large economy that sits around Oracle. For every dollar of license that is sold there are lots of services to be added and a lot of opportunities exist in the mid-market.

How does Oracle differentiate itself when looking for new strategic partners?

FK: We are head-to-head with Microsoft on technology so it is about getting the channel coverage. The key thing around channel is capacity and capability. We need to have enough partners and we must train them to position Oracle. The recruitment for mid-market partners is where the effort is going now. The vehicle will be the new mid-market OPN that we will be signing them up under.

Subsequent to the company's PeopleSoft acquisition, what lies ahead for Oracle from a product and market point of view?

FK: In the short term, it is business as usual with the next versions of PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Oracle. But, in the background, Project Fusion is looking at taking those technologies and functionalities into a combined architectural design about three years from now.

What should decision-makers do now, given the merger and Project Fusion?

FK: Ongoing needs should be based on the products we have today. The situation is only going to get better and as part of their maintenance support they will be moved to new products. Enterprise decisions usually have a five-year return on investment and we have said products will be supported until 2013.

How are market conditions at the moment?

FK: We are growing in every major area so there is no real shortage of opportunities. But we do have a relatively low mid-market database share, when compared with our enterprise penetration. Small organisations have the same needs but on a different scale and many have to compete with enterprise companies - for instance, they all need a good CRM package.

What particular opportunities stand out in your market over the remainder of the year?

FK: Business intelligence (BI) has been strong for the past three years and it is still showing about 20 per cent growth. In a recent seminar series we asked mid-market and enterprise people what is the area you would like to invest in the future and about half said it would be BI and analytics.

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