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A CX Guy’s First Oracle OpenWorld

It was my first Oracle rodeo. Recently, I was fortunate to attend Oracle OpenWorld in downtown San Francisco. For those who have not attended, 50,000+ people descend on the city for 5 days of hard learning, idea sharing and relationship building. More caffeine is consumed in this 5-day period than any other event on earth.* In short, the Oracle team puts on quite a show.


While at the show, I was able to connect with some old friends, clients and industry leaders. As you might expect, I have a few observations and would love to get some feedback from y’all.

  • Digital Transformation continues to be a key element of the Oracle narrative. And no wonder, with an estimated compound growth rate of 19.4% annually galloping in at $141B+ in public cloud spending in 2019.** Daily keynotes focused in on controlling costs and agility. Multinational corporations and growing mid-sized firms alike were brought up on stage to talk about budget shifts from maintenance to innovation and competitive advantage. I’m in. Let’s transform.
  • At the same time, not all firms appear to be thinking and talking Digital Transformation (big T) in the strictest sense. Conversations and stories came up more as incremental and iterative progress toward…something that would eventually look and feel like transformation. More trot, less canter. Some decision makers, particularly in IT, seem to be taking the “Time to Value” benefit and putting it front and center. The approach is less vision driven and strategic, and more focused on solving immediate pain or getting the quick win. Coming from a tech-agnostic background, this sentiment was certainly eye opening for me. More surprising were discussions that some of the incremental moves don’t appear to take an “Outside In” approach to their transformation. In some cases, changes that can be made to significantly improve Customer Experience across all consumer and customer touchpoints are being made as a secondary or tertiary move in their organizational journey.
  • I was also fortunate to speak with leaders and influencers at firms that are talking about true Transformation in the Age of the Customer. My sense is that they are currently – or will be soon – leaders in their industry. They have gone through the discipline of establishing a vision for their firm. They’ve evaluated costs and opportunities – placing particular focus on the opportunity to leverage transformative activities to differentiate firm, product and brand value proposition. They’re taking action to re-envision their firm with the customer at the very center. It’s an inspiring and exciting time for them – and for their customers.
  • One last observation specific to the way OpenWorld is set up, as viewed through the eyes of the new guy. CX Central – the segment of the expo dedicated to customer facing solutions, technologies and consulting firms – is tucked away on the 2nd floor of Moscone West. On one hand, it makes for a nice destination for people interested in learning more about CX cloud solutions. On the other hand, many of the people driving true transformation were down with us in Moscone South. Interestingly, one piece of anecdotal feedback I received from a CIO was that it was refreshing to connect with a team – both on vendor and consultancy side – that could speak to the complexities and nuances of multi-pillar transformation. If I’d spent all of my time up in CX central, that conversation may never have happened.

My first Oracle OpenWorld left me with many more observations, but I’d love to get feedback on these. I can still play the new guy card if I’ve said something that seems off. I’ll leave you with this: As trusted advisors to our clients, we can and should be doing more to educate and engage our friends and customers around the benefits of customer-centric Transformation. We can and should also be doing more in terms of listening to our clients and helping them through what will continue to be an exciting time. In the meantime, I look forward to hearing from all of you. Until then, Happy Trails!


*probably not true.


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John Latham

John Latham is the managing director of Perficient’s Houston office, where he helps energy and utility companies achieve both near-term goals and long-term vision by leveraging a portfolio of strategic end-to-end capabilities. His philosophy is that people and ideas make things happen.

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