With a project that spanned months, using technology from Oracle meant Ekulus had to handle multiple quarterly updates, so every quarter resulted in extra work to manage.
On top of this, the consulting firm had to deal with a heavily customised on-premises environment that needed to be completed.
“This is a 24 month project we are in together, and this was just the first phase. So, that hosted on-premises legacy application needs to live there for 24 months until its fully replaced,” Scalia said.
“And when you move it across, you always have other problems you need to deal with and those problems brought surprises to the project, but we resolved them together.
“It was really having that open conversation with Matt [Faries, chief information officer at AFG] and AFG and his team to make sure that whenever those surprises were appeared, we had an agreed plan on how to resolve them.”
Another issue Scalia mentioned was that Oracle’s breadth dealing in the CRM, HR systems, enterprise resource planning software and PaaS spaces has meant that Oracle has been lagging behind their competitors and facing issues when transitioning from on-premises to the cloud.
But over time -- about three years according to Scalia's estimates -- Oracle did make that transition, and staying with the company has been worthwhile in Scalia’s view.
“You truly have now everything on the cloud as opposed to having a very early CRM, but then you need to work out everything else,” he said.
“And also they're 40 years in the industry; so, they’ve transitioned their own legacy applications and migrated their customers to the cloud.
“In that time, they have dealt with complexities that are probably other vendors in the market didn't have to.”
Other wins for Ekulus this year include projects with Kmart, which saw the deployment of an enhanced contact centre for customer service and Kmart Online, and a multi-phase job with Victoria University, impacting on multiple aspects of the university including domestic and international students and research and development
Looking forward to 2020 and beyond however, Scalia has his sights first and foremost on the completion of their project for the AFG.
Past this however is Oracle’s generation two data centre, as Scalia said Ekulus has an operational data centre on the generation two technology, and plans to use it in conjunction with chat bots, or in Oracle’s case, its digital assistant offering.
In regards to the customer experience, Scalia spoke very highly of the digital assistant.
“It's the one product where you can unify every need from your customer and having that unified messaging or conversational interface to capture questions and bring the response back to the customer literally immediately,” he said.
“Chat bots are not just an online chat; it’s really how you respond to customer demands quickly and effectively.
No matter what project Scalia and Ekulus find themselves working on, the solution is something that is “not just technology”, he said.
“When you bring one of these solutions to life, it's not just technology; it's bringing that whole business mindset and changing it in many different ways,” he said.
“We find success when businesses like AFG start with a very clear vision and get everybody on board and committed into that into that change.”
With the company's current project, the AFG looked at multiple vendors and Scalia admits from a technology capability perspective, there’s little that differentiates them from each other.
“Ultimately, they're all copying each other in one way, so, it's really how you approach that technology from within the business, and the customer has a massive role to play in that space as well, he said.
“But when the change comes from within the organisation, it is so much, much more powerful.”
When it comes down to the bottom line, for an Oracle partner, Scalia says that that while there can be there can be HR partners, CX partners, finance partners or PaaS partners, there’s always an experience that needs to be delivered.
“The way we see it is that regardless which area you are in, there's got to be a way you can link what you're doing to delivering customer experience,” he said.
“It doesn't matter which function you do, and you don't need to be a CX partner to link it into experience, but it's how businesses are measuring their results today.”