Oracle Co-CEO Mark Hurd put the software giant's efforts to grow its full-stack cloud business in the context of larger economic trends on Monday, telling OpenWorld attendees cloud is becoming an essential resource for customers looking to cut costs and reduce risk.
At the annual conference, which drew more than 60,000 attendees to San Francisco this year, Hurd's keynote detailed a brutal business landscape in which companies increasingly need cloud providers to cut their IT budgets and take the operational load off their staff, especially in implementing security.
While digital transformation is expected, IT budgets aren't increasing, and almost every security upgrade motivated by a high-profile intrusion cuts into the customer's innovation spend, he said.
Hurd emphasized the challenges on CEOs in the current business environment. The average tenure for a chief executive is 18 quarters—the short lifespan likely due to market conditions. GDP growth is relatively slow, so companies across industries are mostly competing for the same market share, while fending off disruptions from startups.
While achieving growth is incredibly difficult in those conditions, the event most likely to make a CEO walk the plank, as seen so many times in recent years, is a data breach.
And despite the headlines, most recently regarding Equifax, the business community probably hasn't seen a truly shocking cyberattack just yet, according to Hurd. But they almost certainly will.
"I'm telling you, the next event might be bigger than you think," he said. "This thing is going to get more serious, not less serious."
Oracle's working to help companies avoid being victimized by hackers by offloading software administration duties onto its cloud. That's a facet of a multitude of new products, from an autonomous database to a blockchain service to upgrades across dozens of Software-as-a-Service applications.
Artificial intelligence is another key area of product innovation being showcased at this year's OpenWorld.
In a media conference after his keynote, Hurd said AI has often been "a solution looking for a problem."