10 Questions For Oracle President Mark Hurd

10 Questions For Oracle President Mark Hurd

Mark Hurd, the channel sales savvy executive, shares his views on sales compensation, sales coverage, 100 percent channel exclusivity and the Salesforce.com cloud. Here are ten questions that the Oracle president answered in an interview with CRN's Editorial Board.

Talk about your views on channel sales compensation.

My view of the channel is that the channel should be treated just like a (direct) sales organization. We are going to compensate them based on performance. The better they perform the more they make. What we wanted to have was a model where the more you did and the way you did it was important to us. So if you sell a box that may or may not be interesting to us, but if you sold the box to that target market, to that hospital that we can't cover, that is more interesting to us. If you sold that box with our storage, that is even more interesting to us. If you sold it with our support, that is even more interesting.

Talk about Oracle's new sales plan that focuses the direct salesforce on the top 2000 accounts and the channel on the rest of the market.

I have some of the best salespeople in this industry - maybe the best. They are very capable of going into the most sophisticated customers in the world and representing our portfolio and winning. I don't have enough of them to get to all of the buyers. They can't do it! So I need help.

I can't get to Des Moines and get to the community college in Des Moines. In this country there are 5,000 hospitals. What can I get to direct? 50. So I need reach. And so I want that reach to be obviously the best reach it can be and I want it to be compensated.

Are you expecting to get 100 percent channel exclusivity?

I think we could. And you know -- no matter where I have been -- I have never preached exclusivity. The channel likes consistency. But let me add to that: the channel wants predictability and consistency and so do we.

If you are going to bring two or three vendors to the party and we are not going to know which way you are going to go, that is not good for us. So it is like any relationship. Every relationship wants predictability. No matter what it is: personal relationship. Business relationship.

You can have clarity and rigor in a partner that has got multiple lines they cover but they can have people dedicated to your line. They can have people that you can count on.

Compare Oracle's technology/services strategy versus to the competition.

I don't think there is a company in the industry that has better technology than Oracle.

We are not into the services business. We are not in here trying to take your services business. We are simply in here trying to give you the best technology and the best products in the world. On top of that, we also integrate them for you and give you a leveragable integrated system to take to market.

And if you tell me 'Listen, you know I found this company and their products are just better than yours,' [then] you should buy those. You should take those to your customers.

Compare Oracle's public cloud to the Salesforce.com public cloud?

Our strategy is to give the customer choice. Allow the customer to leverage the cloud or on site and to mix or match. The way our strategy works you can use CRM from the Oracle Public Cloud for a division in Asia Pacific or a division in the Southwest United States.You can have another division that is on site. The same code base.

By the way you can change your mind. And the ability for us to hybrid these environments we think is a competitive advantage. Because if you go into Salesforce.com's cloud you are not coming out. By the way our cloud you can go take our stuff and go to Amazon and then you can come back to our cloud. Our cloud is open.

What is your message to partners regarding specialization?

The more focused the partner the better for me. There is nothing wrong with general partners and so forth but the real magic for us would be the ability to get agreement on going to this target market with this value proposition, that for us is incremental space for us to cover, taking our stuff to places we are not.

We would be glad to wrap an attractive economic proposition around that for the partner and get agreement that this is where we are going. We will have our channel teams in our regions help the partner. But the deeper the business plan the better for us.

So has Oracle come up with something different that is revolutionary with how the company is bringing solutions to market with the vertical stack?

This is huge. Want to make it simpler and simpler and easier and easier. And integrate these things and test them, what people have had the channel do. The channel has added a lot of value integrating piece parts. We can do it for them and save them costs and give them a better value prop (proposition) to take to the market.

We are going to keep on it. You don't want us to have a one time economic model, a one time couple of valued product introductions. You want a drumbeat from Oracle over the next quarters and years. That we are going to continue to drive the strategy that pushes on this focus of looking down by market, segment, by target market, by industry, trying to enable solutions that get into these target markets.

Talk about the Oracle Database Appliance Margin Opportunity for Channel Partners.

The Oracle Datababase Appliance was very much designed to get an entry level engineered system into the market that could both apply to departmental and small medium business opportunities and still get the benefits of the engineered system. Perhaps not at the size of an Exadata.

So we actually went purposely to go get a value proposition pulled together and we gave some attractive licensing features with the product and if done right the channel has got a chance to make not just better rebates. There is margin in the material opportunity for them to just get a better margin on the product itself.

You called Exadata the iPad Of the Enterprise. Talk about that.

You can go buy any brand PC at Best Buy and you buy Microsoft Windows at Best Buy and the first time those products really come together from an engineering perspective is at your house. Now when you are building this (an iPhone and an iPad) you get a level of hardware engineering, a level of software engineering and you did it together and you integrate it. Exadata is the same way. It is not only optimized for performance. But it's easier to use, it is easier to support because it has been built together. It is the same concept: that if you can engineer these things together you are going to get a better answer. You are going to get a better experience.

In the past you went to VARs and spoke to their customers. Are you going to be doing that at Oracle?

I want to do it. The view I had with these partners was you are a surrogate for me. So if you have your best customers in a room and I can help you sell send me in! And I will go help you represent your brand, your capabilities. The only thing I want to know from my team is that they believe in you. And that you have committed to doing the things necessary to properly do that. If so get your best customers (together and bring me in).