Sri Lanka a high growth market for Oracle: Regional MD

Tuesday, 4 October 2016 00:20 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Oracle encouraged by Sri Lankan firms quickly adopting to ‘natively cloud’ solutions 
  • Plans to encourage more firms to embrace cloud solutions and enjoy wider benefits
  • Oracle forges ahead with digital sales force in Asia with Singapore as hub; Sales and Consulting team strengthened to 5,000, to add 1,000 more this year

dft-10Oracle’s Regional Managing Director for South East Asian Nations and South Asia Neeraj Shaabi at the Oracle Open World in San Francisco


By Nisthar Cassim 

Global giant and leader in cloud solutions, Oracle has experienced Sri Lanka as one of the high growth markets which continues to hold great promise in the future as well.

“Sri Lankan firms are quickly adopting to ‘natively cloud’ solutions and this is very encouraging,” Oracle’s Regional Managing Director for South East Asian Nations and South Asia Neeraj Shaabi said. Natively cloud means firms’ first implementation of ERP, SCM or HCM is in the cloud as opposed to on on-premise technology. 

In an interview with the Daily FT during the Oracle Open World 2016 in San Francisco, Shaabi said Sri Lanka, which is among 18 countries he oversees, is among the grouping of high growth markets. 

“I am very surprised by the quick adoption to cloud by Asian firms during the past year. A lot of SaaS Cloud adoption is rapid in emerging parts of South east Asian and South Asian markets than the developed ones within the same region,” he said.

“In places like Singapore or Malaysia, which you consider technology developed markets, firms in some aspects are lagging a bit in their shift from on-premise to cloud,” Shaabi, who is based in Singapore, added.  

The Oracle official said why countries such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh or Pakistan are growing faster is rapid growth in connectivity. “These countries and firms have very little legacy investments or IT infrastructure. In the past they have been impacted by poor or low connectivity. But with rapid progress in connectivity, firms are putting it to good use. These companies are high growth and market demographics and young employees are helping to drive this too. All in all it makes very interesting business and growth opportunity,” Shaabi added.

He also said Oracle remains upbeat in terms of outlook for the South East Asian and South Asian markets. “Prospects look very promising overall in the region given the dynamics of different markets. We are more bullish and this is a good region to be in,” the Oracle’s Regional MD emphasised. 

At Oracle Open World 2016 in San Francisco attended by around 60,000 participants from over 140 countries including Sri Lanka, the industry giant reinforced its leadership and prowess by unveiling a host of cloud computing solutions in the existing offerings of Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (Saas) and Database as a Service (DBaas). Going a step further it introduced cutting-edge solutions in its new offering of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Digital disruption and empowerment by cloud 

Shaabi said digital disruption is sweeping across companies/businesses and firms have to remain competitive and innovative and cloud technology was the key. 

“In my 25 years of being in software, cloud is the most profound and exciting shift I have seen,” he said.

Adoption of or migration to cloud by firms who have invested in on-premise solutions will grow rapidly he said whilst new entrants dft-10-01will simply start on cloud from day one. 

“The ‘stickiness’ is very clearly established. On-premise technology relatively speaking is very hard, because your staff needs skilled IT staff, database administrators, systems people, maintain complex software. But new entrants are starting straightway on cloud and focus on growing their business. Even as firms expand, cloud will be critical. We have seen big banks such as HSBC adopting this strategy. Cloud solutions have enormous scalability,” Shaabi said.

“Whether a large enterprise or a small firm, the domain specific needs – financial planning, human capital management, marketing or customer relationship management or supply chain, etc. – remain the same. Oracle has the best of suite of as opposed to best of breed of cloud solutions and firms can expand business capabilities quickly to automate business,” the Regional MD said, emphasising the strong differentiator of Oracle solutions.

“Oracle is the heart and blood of companies large or small. Oracle Cloud solutions are faster, cheaper and better. To firms what matters is growing the business and Oracle will look after the technology and automation,” Shaabi stressed. “We want to provide maximum flexibility and elasticity without comprising whether you are large enterprise or a small firm,” he added.

Oracle, according to the Regional MD, has succeeded in on-premise and cloud market via both organic growth as well as acquisitions.

The Oracle Open World 2016 attendees were told that contrary to popular perceptions, SAP wasn’t the biggest competitor for Oracle in applications market but Workday and Salesforce. In PaaS, it was Amazon and Microsoft and not IBM whilst in IaaS Amazon was the competitor and not IBM or EMC.

Revealing Oracle’s leadership status, Chairman and Chief Technology Officer Larry Ellison said with regard to SaaS and PaaS Oracle sold more than anybody else during the past fiscal year. This year he forecast Oracle to sell more than $ 2 billion in SaaS and PaaS solutions than anybody else.

Oracle has been enjoying 82% growth in sales for SaaS and PaaS in the last quarter with Cloud revenue amounting to $ 1 billion. In fact Oracle’s SaaS and PaaS sales enjoyed twice the growth rate of Workday. Oracle had 2,862 Cloud ERP customers as against 228 by second placed Workday. He also revealed Oracle’s growing demand for ERP solutions with over 2,500 customers worldwide in 90 countries including 340 in the Asia Pacific.

Three-year transformation with cloud leading the way 

Oracle’s regional MD Shaabi said in the past year there has been an incredible shift in oracle’s ongoing plan of three-year transformation and has three main dimensions. 

Shaabi said first was the whole shift of technology to the cloud and Oracle’s growing and leading play in that for the industry and customers. Oracle Cloud today conducts $ 50 billion transactions a day supporting over 27 million users.

According to Oracle more customers are turning to the cloud to derive value from their IT investments, while they focus on business growth. Oracle Cloud has been able to support customers in a variety of ways, for example: Modernising and streamlining financial and procurement processes; Implementing a global single standard for HR: for recruitment and talent management; Creating wonderful customer experiences, brand loyalty and operational efficiencies; Redirecting spend from IT thereby empowering companies to focus on innovation; Reducing computing resources by four times and enhancing reliability of critical Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and by lowering pricing on IaaS solutions, provide users with a reliable cloud platform that can reduce maintenance costs by nearly 98%.

Second is the shift in Oracle’s business model itself. “As much as our customers going digital even Oracle as a provider of technology is going through a transformation of our business. We are serving much larger and diverse customer base than before with a total of over 400,000,” he said.

Oracle has also expanded the addressable market by 10 or 20 times in Asia Pacific thanks to its push for cloud. He said cloud can benefit all firms be it a big international bank, medium sized retailer or logistics provider or small grocery store. 

Shaabi said Oracle Cloud Machine was a fantastic opportunity for the industry as well as customers. 

“A lot of customers want flexibility – enjoying benefits of cloud and rely on the on-premise private data centre benefits. This is the only pure play solution industry has. It is a unique and brilliant solution,” he added. He also viewed the newly-launched suite of IaaS products as a universal opportunity for Oracle as they address some of the pressing needs of modern businesses.  

Oracle has also transformed its sales force and how it goes to market. “As opposed to the traditional enterprise business marketing of six to nine months, today we have reduced the sales cycle to six to eight weeks or shorter. Same with the implementation cycle. For example with Bangkok Airways decided to buy Oracle service cloud and deployed it from signing the deal and fully going live within six weeks,” revealed Shaabi.

“We are adding 20 times more customers. In ASEAN we are having an addressable 50,000 companies. Asian is a high growth economy, top growing in the world collectively worth $ 2.4 trillion primarily powered by SMEs. Previously one wouldn’t have imagine Oracle to be serving such SME companies. We cannot add incrementally add hundreds or thousands of sales people or consultants or solutions specialist to tap/serve 50,000 customers. So Oracle as much as customers are transforming into digital we are finding new digital ways to sell. Technology is now easily consumable, the decision-making cycle has reduced with information gathering by clients of solution providers are done and analysed in advance online,” the Oracle Regional MD said.

As part of building a new kind of sales force, Oracle is setting up its Digital Sales Force with its hub as Singapore, which will serve via a young and modern team of 250 initially.  

The third dimension of Oracle transformation, according to Shaabi, is with regard to hiring top talent. 

“This is more local to Asia Pacific. We have refreshed our talent. Last year we added 1,000 people in Asia Pacific, increasing the base to 5,000 in sales and consulting. This year we will add 1,000 more in the digital sales force. With this modern work force focusing on 50,000-firms addressable market, Oracle is in a much more advantageous position. We are a magnate for talent. In IaaS and PaaS or Saas, we are drawing top talent in tandem with sales growth and demand,” he added.

Benefits of transformation are already evident in Oracle. In the last year alone Shaabi said Oracle has added 40% more customers in Asia, especially first time customers. These customers invest $ 100,000 to 300,000 for SaaS and few more couple hundred dollars for implementation with partners such as consulting firms. The model has moved to what marketing team terms ‘Land and expand’ – you land a solution, make it successful and then expand from there as opposed to the old sales model of spending nine months of building a solution and closing a $ 5 million sale,” recalls the Oracle Regional MD.

Growing footprint in Asia

Having started operations in the region in 1986 in Australia, the company now operates in 25 countries across the region. Oracle Asia Pacific has been a key engine for growth for Oracle. Its top growth markets are China, Korea, Australia, India and Singapore. For cloud, Australia, China and India are the top business contributors with growing opportunities in Korea, Singapore and select Asean countries. The company serves 100,000 customers in Asia Pacific across private and public sectors.

Oracle’s partner ecosystem continues to grow with over 5,000 partners in Asia Pacific – the second largest base outside USA. Additionally, these partner firms constitute 25% of Oracle’s global cloud specialisations. Oracle is powered by over 45,000 employees in Asia and has 1.8 million in Oracle Technology Network communities. It has five Partner Solution Centres in China, India, Singapore and 14 R&D Centres – four in China, nine in India and one in Singapore. Four of Oracle’s 19 data centres are in the Asia Pacific – two in Australia and one each in Singapore and China. Over 1.24 million students and 3500+ institutions are supported annually through Oracle Academy as well.


FT Profile: Neeraj Shaabi

Neeraj Shaabi is a seasoned software business executive with 24 years of experience in the pure-play enterprise software industry. He has served in various roles internationally, including leadership and executive management, general management, sales management, strategic account sales, marketing, channels, alliances, and solution consulting.

As Managing Director and Vice President for the Oracle Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Shaabi is responsible for Oracle’s entire portfolio and operations across the region and serves clients, business partners, and end users across a multitude of industries and segments.

Prior to Oracle, Shaabi was at TIBCO. As Managing Director and Regional Vice President for Asia Pacific, he expanded the company’s business in the region, establishing offices across Singapore, Australia, Korea, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and India.

He also spent five years at IBM South Asia and Singapore, and was at Microsoft for ten years in various positions across Asia Pacific and Japan. Shaabi has also worked with other major IT companies, including Unisys and SCO.