A massive meeting of technology minds for the past 20 years, Oracle OpenWorld is a conference that is dedicated to helping businesses achieve innovation and growth through emerging technology. Showcasing leading cloud technologies and providing insight into the latest industry trends, NEXTGEN’s own Chief Technology Officer James Cunial was one of the tens of thousands of attendees who headed to San Francisco at the end of October to experience Oracle OpenWorld 2018. 

We caught up with James to find out what he’s bringing back to the NEXTGEN team from Oracle OpenWorld…

Q. So you’re back from the whirlwind that is OOW, how was the experience in 2018?

It is always is a great experience. Although it’s a very busy 4 or 5 days, I’ve never been to one without coming away knowing that Oracle has a strong vision for the future and great insights into the industry.

Q. Why is it important for you to keep coming back? Why is it valuable? 

There are usually three key reasons we attend vendor conferences, to understand the direction of the company and its technology, to hear first hand from key executives around programs that may impact the channel ecosystem, and to network with the vendor and partner both in professional and casual settings. Oracle OpenWorld always offers an excellent platform to do this and delivers big time on key insights globally, but also aspects that we can translate to the local market. 

Q. So this helps you in your day-to-day now you’re back in the NEXTGEN office? 

Yes, because it's all about the feedback. We find out what the vendor is saying and also importantly what partners and customers are talking about. I take this away and think about how NEXTGEN can play a role in the ecosystem by solving challenges and providing innovation. Sometimes you have to read between the lines to really figure out what the messages are, but it sparks the conversation that can lead to even more innovation. Which I think is another key outcome of the conference, to inspire people to continue to innovate whatever their role is in the technology sector. 

Q. What was your favourite or most valuable part of the conference? 

I always find it interesting to understand the challenges being faced across the globe. In one particular session there was a lot of discussion around the risks of selling Cloud in countries and regions which are generally considered higher risk in terms of doing business. They have major issues with contract fulfilment and service levels. We are very lucky in Australia where a lot of the challenges the global channel faces aren't really seen here. We're more focused on innovation and ecosystem rather than credit and risk.

Q. What do you think was the key technology message that dominated air time and conversations at the conference? What is the global industry interested in? 

For me this was quite clear, less human touch means increased security. Oracle is automating everything, so access and people aren't required on day-to-day tasks, meaning that inherent risks associated with human access and errors is taken off the table. This message was reinforced again and again, and it's a powerful play by Oracle. 

Q. What did this OOW say about the current state of the industry and did it provide any insights for the direction or concerns for 2019?

It's highly competitive out there. Organisations are moving to the 'as a service' model and if you want to have a seat at the table you have to compete on all fronts. Price, technology, go to market and so on. Further, the skill sets that organisations will be needing both internally and those provided by external sources in the near future will be focused around value and innovation rather than just keeping the lights on - people and partners need to adapt to make sure that they are aligned to this shift. 

Q. Final question, what were your top 3 takeaways from the event that you'll be bringing back to NEXTGEN HQ?

1. Partners need a range of support to help them win business and successfully implement projects. 

2. Australia is relatively mature in its understanding of Oracle Cloud and the long term benefits of reselling and being part of the transaction.

3. Oracle's autonomous products can really have a seat at the table of any enterprise, it's just a matter of getting the message right and supporting the partner ecosystem. 

Oracle Open World was held on October 22 to 25, 2018 at Moscone Center in San Francisco, California, USA.

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