Insights from Oracle’s Leader Circle Program at #OOW14

I wanted to take an opportunity to share excellent insights while attending the Oracle Leader’s Circle Program while at Oracle OpenWorld 2014.

Let me start with the Finance Session that kicked off Day One. This segment was co-sponsored by Deloitte Consulting. The morning’s first presentation – Modern Finance Best Practices in the Digital Age – was delivered by Deloitte’s senior partner David Pleasance and was based on the findings of a survey and report that was jointly funded by Oracle and Financial Executives International (FEI) and also Deloitte.

The underlying thesis of the report focused on the fact that modern technologies such as cloud, social, mobile, and big data are changing the competitive dynamics of the global economy. Organizations that know how to create digitally enabled business models leveraging modern technologies are thriving; leaders who continue to invest in traditional business models powered by legacy systems are putting their companies, employees, and shareholders at serious risk. To help CFOs master digital transformation, Oracle partnered with Financial Executives International (FEI) to identify the modern best practices that will help CFOs and their finance functions flourish in the Digital Age.

The presentation underscored several key points about the ever changing role of CFOs in the digital age. They are now called upon to be:

  • Leaders and strategists
  • Catalysts of business model change
  • Make talent management a high priority

The presentation further suggested five processes that ought to be a priority focus for CFOs, with a series of suggested best practices underpinning each process area. They include:

  • Report and Comply – A streamlined close process and speed reporting
  • Measure and Respond – Better leverage of predictive analysis tools including BI and big data, as well as EPM
  • Plan and Predict – Replacing complex spreadsheets with modern planning apps / Be a catalyst to drive a culture of planning and process change across the enterprise
  • Procure to Pay – Embracing self-service, vendor management and spending controls
  • Project Financial Management – The use of real-time analytics to monitor and to predict the health of projects

Mr. Pleasance reminded the audience that change is a constant and that companies should strive to build a culture around change as a continuously evolving process. You can download the complete report here.

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The next speaker was Jeff Henley, Oracle’s Vice Chairman. Mr. Henley was also the company’s CFO for 13 years and focused his presentation on ‘Oracle’s Journey to Customer Centricity’. He recounted how Oracle:

  • Transformed their business and in the process, the enterprise software space
  • How the company scaled the business – 100+ acquisitions and counting
  • How Oracle digitized the business
  • How the company drove efficiencies into the business and centralized operations
  • And finally Oracle’s drive to reach a billion customers – Reengineer the sales force, becoming a customer driven company with a strong focus / leverage of data management solutions

A panel discussion was next and it featured:

  • Linda Zukauckas – EVP & Corporate Controller / American Express
  • Peter Hovenier – CFO/ Boingo Wireless
  • Jeff Henley from Oracle

The discussion was moderated by David Pleasance and expounded on many of the themes discussed in his opening presentation.

The final presentation of the morning was from Ken Goldman, CFO of Yahoo. Yahoo is a leader in search and digital content. Growth areas for the company include mobile, video and social. Mr. Goldman talked about the importance of collaboration as well as establishing a business rhythm where the ROI on everything was tracked.  He ended his presentation with his list of Career Rules of the Road:

  • Integrity and your reputation are paramount
  • Orchestrate your career as a strategy
  • Make a difference / add value quickly in a new role
  • Go where the action is
  • Be a team player – Win/Win player
  • Cash is still king
  • Get a life
  • People may not like you, but it is important that they respect you

Next, the Oracle Excellence Awards were presented. The recipients were:

  • Hyatt Hotels Corp. – Gebhard Rainer – EVP & CFO (US)
  • SITA – Colm O’Higgins – CFO (UK)
  • NUFARM – Fabio De Felippis – Financial Controller (Argentina)
  • University of Melbourne – Allan Tait – CFO (Australia)

Award recipients and/or their surrogates participated in another panel discussion and that concluded that concluded the morning program at Leaders Circle Day One.

The afternoon was moderated by Safra Catz, Oracle’s new Co-CEO. Other interviews, panel discussions, presentations as well as Q&A sessions were also on the docket. Most notable:

  • Our Industry in a Time of Digital Disruption – The Jeff Henley conversation with Jim Moffatt, Chairman and CEO of Deloitte Consulting LLP
  • The Future of IT and the Enterprise – An Oracle panel session with Thomas Kurian/EVP Product Development, John Fowler/EVP, Systems and Ed Screven/Chief Corporate Architect
  • Enabling the Modern Enterprise – Leading Customers, Leading Strategies – This customer panel was moderated by Safra Catz and featured CXOs from Telefonica, GE and ADM
  • Oracle Executive Q &A Session – Featuring Larry Ellison, taking questions from the audience entirely unscripted for over an hour

Day One of Oracle’s Leaders Circle was a success. Stay tuned for a recap of Day Two and the Oracle Women’s Leadership Summit.

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