Continuing Strides to Improve the Customer Experience
As an Oracle customer and a member of the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG), I was extremely surprised and dismayed to learn that there are still those in the customer community that would suggest that their relationship with Oracle is predominantly hostile and filled with deep-rooted mistrust, particularly when it comes to licensing and audits.
As we all know, Oracle is a huge multinational corporation that is expanding in size and portfolio through strategic mergers and acquisitions. As these mergers and acquisitions occur, it takes time to integrate business practices and incorporate licensing models.
As an active Oracle customer and a member of the IOUG, I have had the opportunity to work with Oracle since 1997 in various capacities. I am pleased to convey that as a function of an active and participative customer relationship, enhanced by user group collaborations – I have had extensive interactions with many facets and levels of Oracle, including discussions with Oracle CEOs Mark Hurd and Safra Catz. You may be asking yourself – really, you have discussions all the way to the top of your solutions provider? ABSOLUTELY! Oracle is not JUST a solutions provider, but rather they are a partner in helping promote the success (or failure) of every organization they do business with ---- and for me --- failure is not an option!
Through the many interactions I have had, Oracle has acknowledged that they have some challenges to overcome related to making it easier for customers to understand the diversity of licensing options across the plethora of technology solutions that they have to offer. With this acknowledgement, Oracle has been working with the global user group communities, CIO Advisory Group, Customer Advisory Boards and other avenues to obtain input and feedback – and work to enhance the customer experience. I know that this issue remains as one of their key priority focus areas, and they continue to work across all facets of Oracle to improve products, services and customer interactions, with an emphasis on making it easier to understand licensing options and associated costs.
Back a couple of years ago, the International Oracle User Group Community (IOUC), which is comprised of all of the 450+ Oracle user groups from across the globe, formed a Business and Licensing Council – to be an advocate for all customers, and to facilitate input into these issues. In fact, I was honored to Chair this group, as we worked to provide candid feedback into Oracle, and to be a channel of information back out to the global Oracle customer community. After two years of focused efforts, it was determined that this Council was no longer required, because Oracle had moved this initiative to the forefront of their priority list, and had created a number of avenues to solicit input and feedback --- which expanded well beyond the reach of user groups. Oracle continues to focus on this priority today, as it strives to enhance the customer experience.
What are other ways Oracle is working to enhance the customer experience? Oracle has an organization called License Management Services (LMS) which promotes the management, governance and awareness of the proper use and distribution for Oracle systems. I have personally engaged this team to help gain a better understanding of my organization’s licensing and ownership rights, and leveraged their expertise to help reduce the long term costs of our Oracle investments. As the CIO for a large County that is funded by tax revenues from over 800,000 citizens, I have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that the County is proactively managing all of its assets and investments, which includes the hardware, software and database solutions which help facilitate the cost effective and efficient delivery of government services. Engaging the LMS team helped ensure legal compliance, and optimized use of all Oracle related licenses.
Another program which I have leveraged, to help gain a better understanding of what we own, and how best to leverage our investment is the Oracle Insight Program. This program is a comprehensive business strategy development program in which customers work closely with Oracle business and IT strategy experts to identify the critical objectives and challenges for their unique business needs and understand how technology can help address those needs. These are two programs which many customers may not be familiar with --- but add great value to customers who want to better understand what they own, and how best to leverage their investment.
And last, but certainly not least ---- if you want help navigating Oracle, and to be able to work with others that have common interests, products, industries or challenges --- then I would encourage you to join a user group! If you are a DBA, functional user, CIO or other technology professional – then the IOUG may be a great fit for you. The IOUG and all of the other user groups are independent of Oracle – but work collaboratively with them to provide mutual benefit. Want to check out the IOUG? Head on over to www.ioug.org and take a look. Want to see what other group might be a good fit for you and your organization? Please visit https://community.oracle.com/community/usergroups.
About the Author
John Matelski is CIO and director of information technology for DeKalb County Government (Georgia) as well as president of the Independent Oracle Users Group.