Globally, there’s a growing acceptance for SaaS-based apps and India is no exception. The penetration has been consistently growing specially in areas like Customer Experience (CX), ERP, Human Capital Management, Collaboration, Supply Chain and others. With increasing complexities arising from on-prem apps, SaaS is also making an entry into legacy, large enterprises. Both total cost of ownership (TCO) and return on investment (RoI) are in favour of adopting SaaS. However, enterprises will certainly not take whatever is pushed their way. The changing business patterns indicate that SaaS vendors have to constantly look at changing their go-to-market strategy and also look at product enhancements very quickly.
In conversation with dynamicCIO.com, Arun Khehar, Senior Vice President East Central Europe – Russia – Middle East & Africa, Oracle Corporation, spoke about Oracle’s offerings in SaaS space and how they can help enterprises focus more on innovation and customer value than dealing with complexities of managing on-prem software portfolio.
Read the excerpts:
DynamicCIO (DCIO): The notion of technical debt (also compared with monetary debt) is mostly associated with on-prem apps which soon become obsolete. How does cloud-native, or SaaS applications deal with technical debt?
Arun Khehar (AK): Any technology, which is in vogue today, can become obsolete soon. Many organizations aren’t prepared for such situations. They take shortcuts and not a long-term approach. This results in technical debt. A long-term approach can preserve organisation’s efficiency, maintainability, and sanity. Businesses are struggling under the weight of massive technical debt. However, smart businesses are looking to get out from under those fixed technology architectures and cost structures. This situation of technical debt doesn’t exist in the context of SaaS solutions. SaaS solutions update automatically and customer gets to leverage the benefit of technology investments in SaaS applications.
SaaS solutions, embedded with AI and machine learning, give recommendations and insights, which constantly improve. That’s the real forte of SaaS applications. Organisations can leverage the complete suite of applications to make enable smarter business through recommendations.
DCIO: Where does Oracle find itself in the game of SaaS-based applications where it has to compete with some of the really best-of-breed, (but singular) SaaS-based app providers?
AK: SaaS is a key priority for Oracle. We are poised to become the world’s largest business applications cloud company. India is one of the largest contributors for Oracle’s SaaS business in the region. Oracle’s SaaS solutions can be delivered remotely to customers within a short span of time. It helps enterprises reduce the overall IT spend by 30-37%. This is a great way to look at transform with no upfront capital costs. You can not only bring down the cost of ownership but also speed up the whole process.
DCIO: You’ve got one of the most extensive cloud-based (SaaS) applications portfolio targeting both core IT and business functions supplemented with a robust Cloud infrastructure including compute storage, autonomous DB, and AI/ML capabilities. How does it give Oracle an edge over its competitors?
AK: We are perhaps the only cloud player that provides pre-integrated solutions at an economical price. Today, we are the only ‘Cloud Suite’ vendor in the market offering a great blend of cloud applications, pre-embedded with the latest technologies and upgrades. This offers an unprecedented advantage of saving hugely on integration. It also drives business optimisation through connected intelligence. At a time when agility and speed of innovation is top priority, through this SaaS-portfolio, we deliver an unprecedented value.
DCIO: How has Oracle reengineered its SaaS applications suite to make use of/exploit the Gen2 Cloud Infrastructure? Does this offer the users flexibility, speed and agility?
AK: With the launch and acceptance of Autonomous Database, we are far ahead in this game. By weaving artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other cutting-edge technologies into the cloud database, the cloud infrastructure platform, as well as the SaaS applications, Oracle engineers have built a truly self-driving database environment running on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. This is an attractive options for the enterprise wary of dealing with the complexity and worries of keeping systems updated, patched, and secured.
We are focused on the practical use of AI, machine learning, in our applications offering real business value. Imagine this: Nefarious actors and bad bots getting blocked before they can ever do harm to your applications or infrastructure. 
DCIO: How does Oracle ensure that the features, and functions of its applications are commensurate with the rising demands of digitally superior enterprises? Have there been some new features added to each of its SaaS-based applications in the CX, HCM, CRM, Finance and ERP space?
AK: Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence have become an important part of conversations. Enterprises are keen to know how we use these technologies to augment our apps portfolio. We plan to embed these technologies into our offerings so that users get timely upgrades automatically, in the cloud. For example, the ERP Cloud comes integrated with Oracle Analytics. Oracle Analytics for Fusion ERP provides line-of-business users and decision-makers with personalised analytics and improved cross line-of-business analytics. With machine learning-driven insights and self-service analytics, they can monitor and improve business performance and align decisions and data with consistency. This helps anticipate changing market conditions and adapt plans and forecasts via a solution for integrated business planning and execution. By integrating elements from Oracle Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) Cloud and Oracle Supply Chain Management (SCM) Cloud, this solution helps customers improve operational efficiency, reduce costs and improve business agility by integrating financial planning with supply chain operations.
The latest product and machine learning updates to Oracle ERP Cloud enable organisations of all sizes to quickly and easily take advantage of innovations in artificial intelligence, digital assistants, natural language processing, and the Internet of Things.
Digital assistants represent a new paradigm for user interaction, where there is a “conversation” between the user and the digital assistant with “skills” to monitor activity and spot and solve problems. Our cloud apps are developing digital assistant skills across a wide variety of use cases, including the supply chain. Oracle Digital Assistant for supply chain management provides an intuitive and conversational user interface to help customers simplify root-cause analysis for improved supply chain performance. We’ve recently announced a series of new data-first updates across Oracle Customer Experience (CX) Cloud. The latest updates include new digital assistants for sales, customer service and marketing professionals, new data enriched B2B sales capabilities, and new industry solutions for telecom and media, financial services, and the public sector.
DCIO: How have Oracle’s cloud offerings matured over the past two years? What kind of applications and services can customers expect in the Oracle SaaS suite going forward?
AK: Over the last couple of years, SaaS has gained a lot of momentum. We are referring to SaaS-by-design, and not to the legacy, on-prem applications and also not about applications hosted on the cloud. SaaS is being adopted by organisations of all sizes, at an accelerating pace across every industry. Some of the oldest businesses like Taj Hotels, Fab India and Indian Oil are using Oracle CX cloud to deliver differentiated services to their customers. We also have customers like Hindalco, Transworld, and Unilever, who are using Oracle ERP/EPM/SCM clouds as their first steps towards digital transformation. In addition to these traditional enterprises, we cloud-native start-ups such as Klay Playschool and Oyo Rooms are using various cloud solutions to cater to their internal and external customers.