Oracle to Accelerate its channel

Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL)launched the Global Accelerate channel program three-years ago in an attempt to change the way it works with channel partners.

After three years, the company not known of its channel prowess has build up a network of 129 solution providers from 33 countries including Canada that offer 230 solutions that currently play in 53 industry segments across 19 broad industries such as manufacturing and oil and gas.

Tony Kender, senior vice-president for Oracle’s Global Accelerate Program, said it all started when company president Charles Philips asked him to enhance Oracle’s market-presence with mid-sized businesses.

At the time, Oracle had a reputation of only working with big companies.

Kender examined customers in the $500 million and under range and found several markets or industries that where either underserved or completely ignored.

What Kender proposed to do from there was to revolutionize the way Oracle was going to sell its products to these mid-sized businesses.

“Most large software packages are too complex and too costly for mid-size companies. Those customers can’t use large enterprise software or the watered-down versions because they cannot crack the code on implementation costs,” Kender said.

What inevitable happened was when a company outgrew the enterprise-lite software they were forced to pull out the software and do a re-implementation that came with massive cost and disruption to the business, Kender said.

He did not want to go down that route and instead established three pillars for this mandate: create a product set for mid-size business, adjust pricing specific for solution providers and establish a partner ecosystem.

“We would go through the channel,” he said. These three pillars became the foundation of the Global Accelerate program.

“We created lower pricing for partners and also took software modules and chucked them into industry bundles. So if you’re a professional services company you do not need supply chain software, but if you are a manufacturer you need it. So you can get the modules you need for the industry you serve and we did not force people to buy software they did not need,” Kender said.

By taking this approach and using channel partners, Oracle was able to virtually eliminate long expensive buying cycles for customers.

Instead, through channel partners customer entered into a multi-fixed bid concept. “They basically get in and get out. That is how the market is shifting today and you can’t sell (long expensive product cycles) to customers in the mid-size arena,” Kender said.

Partners can go to market with Oracle’s enterprise class software, but are able to implement the software rapidly through an unzip button during pre-configuration.

When building out the Accelerate program, Oracle pre-configured about 80 per cent of its software for mid-size targets. So these solutions are more or less what mid-size companies are looking for. The rest, according to Kender, will be unique to the customer’s business. Solution providers are able to create conference room pilots in a day. “This has turn implementations from months to weeks and it is done inexpensively,” Kender added.

The multi-fixed bid method enables a channel player to define the scope of the work involved. “For this much money we will do this in this time frame and give you a solution that will do this for you,” Kender explained. Multi-fixed bids must be approved by Oracle first under the Accelerate program.

The partner ecosystem may be the third listed pillar but it is the most important part of the program, Kender said. The company looks at every country in the world to see if it has proper coverage. Oracle looks to recruit solution providers and approve industry specific, partner-build solutions through the Accelerate program with live instructor led training, rapid implementation tools, and special pricing.

As the program evolves, Kender said more channel partners are asking for Oracle to find ways to enable partner-to-partner exchanges.

He said that Oracle will protect a partner’s intellectual property, but will look for avenues of opportunity where partners can expand to other markets through partners. For example, if a European-based partner has a specific add-on for the oil and gas sector that solution should be available to an Oracle solution provider in Alberta for that oil and gas market there.

With that thought Kender understands that partners must do its own due diligence in forming a successful partner-to-partner business relationship.

Nothing will be forced on them, Kender added. He believes more and more business will be done in partner-to-partner relationships in the future through the Accelerate program.

However, Kender cautioned that Oracle is not interested in over-saturating markets with solution providers. “Oracle is not trying to be greedy here and have 400 manufacturing partners. We just want a sub-segment of the market. We’ll work with regional channels on the ground to find markets that are not serviced or under penetrated,” he said.

Today, the mid-size market of companies $100 million and under is exclusively through the channel.

Those customer opportunities in the $100 to $500 million area can be a co-selling arrangement with Oracle. Oracle’s direct sales staff has been told to find partner specialists for these mid-size industry-specific opportunities.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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