Interview with Des Cahill, VP, Global Outbound Product Management, Oracle CX Cloud Suite


“Marketing is rapidly evolving from just being a creative process to being a data-driven process.”

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Tell us a bit about your professional journey. What drew you to marketing a cloud suite?

I spent 9 years at Apple and 17 years in Silicon Valley cloud-based CX startups as a CEO or marketing leader and now I’m at Oracle leading product management for our CX Cloud Suite. I joined Oracle because I saw both tremendous products and people in the CX organization, yet the brand wasn’t well known in the larger CX community. As a marketer, that is a challenge that I love to take on.

How has cloud computing democratized access to technology? 

Cloud computing has democratized access to technology in a number of ways:

  1. Removed capital expense (servers, traditional software license, etc.) and complexity as barriers to adoption of new software
  2. Empowered a line of business leaders to drive choice of software vendors, rather than IT
  3. Lowered overall cost per seat or at least made costs more predictable for the customer
  4. Increased overall innovation rate as cloud software update rates are 4 to 10 times faster than on-premise software

What draws you to the Modern Customer Experience 2018? Which sessions are you looking forward to? 

I am so excited that over 5,000 customers, partners, analysts and press in the Oracle CX community will be together for three days. There’s so much sharing of information, experiences, best practices and stories. Everyone leaves the event that much more inspired and educated about the critical role CX plays and what tangible steps they can personally take to create legendary experiences for their own customers.

I’m looking forward to our keynotes – Casey Niestat, our new GM of Oracle Marketing Cloud, Shashi Seth, and our CEO Mark Hurd will all be speaking. I’m excited that we have Michael Krigsman from CXOTalk joining us at Modern Customer Experience to conduct interviews. Our general sessions for marketing, sales, commerce and service are all going to be amazing.

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What are your thoughts on the evolving role of B2B marketing?

I think that marketing is rapidly evolving from just being a creative process to being a data-driven process. So we’ll be sharing a lot of exciting news with our B2B marketing customers about ways they can use Oracle Marketing Cloud to advance their use of customer data to drive improved customer engagement.

How does Oracle approach modern CX? What prominent trends, in this sector, do you foresee in the next five years?

We talk about three main themes for modern CX – Connected Data, Connected Intelligence and Connected Experience. Connected Data is about being able to leverage traditional and new (IoT, digital, third party, social) data types to get a deeper understanding of your customer. Connected Intelligence is about deriving insight, in real-time, from that deeper customer understanding. AI plays a big role in that real-time understanding as well as behavioral analytics on digital and IoT data. Finally, if you have real-time insight about a customer, you have to be able to deliver that insight in the channel of the customer’s choice, when the customer wants it. That’s Connected Experience – being able to contextually engage with a customer in commerce, sales, service or marketing channels.

What are your thoughts on modern marketing’s emphasis on breaking down silos?

The most effective marketing organizations will be those who are best at effectively managing customer data. We have a number of exciting announcements we’ll be making in this area that will empower marketers.

What startups are you watching/keen on right now?

I am fascinated by the Unicorns and whether they reach escape velocity or end up as the pioneers with the arrows in their backs. Will the Spotify IPO fare well going forward? Will Tesla get the Model 3 out the door? Can the new CEO turn around all the problems at Uber? While these are all big companies, as we’ve seen over last 20 years, capitalism is destructive.

What tools does your marketing stack consist of?

Oracle Marketing Cloud is our data-driven marketing platform. Overall, modern marketers look to our platform to create ideal customer experiences and increase revenue. They use integrated information from cross-channel, content, and social marketing with data management to deliver personalized customer experiences across all marketing channels. Oracle Marketing Cloud’s portfolio consists of Responsys, Eloqua, Maxymizer, Social and Content Marketing.

Would you tell us about a standout digital campaign? 

This is more of a transformation, rather than a campaign, but the one example that comes to my mind is how Oracle customer Mack Trucks drove its CX transformation. Mack Trucks is one of America’s most iconic brands, now being 118-years-old. But just like any organization, Mack Trucks didn’t rest on the strength of its brand alone. It needed to keep moving with the times. Not just with the technology in its trucks, but in the way, it markets its products and services and engages customers, dealers and the broader ecosystem. Mack Trucks was launching a new highway truck model, Anthem, and this was the first major launch in 15 years. When you think about it, the world really has changed in that time – mobile phones were only used to make phone calls, Google and Facebook didn’t exist and mainstream broadband Internet access was a distant dream. And instead of resting on previous marketing strategies and tactics, Mack Trucks embraced modern marketing approaches. Leveraging the latest in B2B marketing and social media technologies, the marketing program for Anthem included a comprehensive social media program, influencer marketing, event marketing and even virtual reality headsets that enabled potential customers to take a virtual tour of the trucks. The company’s result was a hugely successfully launch that went far beyond simply generating awareness for the new Anthem trucks and instead generated tangible leads for sales.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?

Ask questions. It’s important to get grounded in reality around AI as there is so much hype in the marketplace. There is a very small portion of the general population that could accurately define AI beyond referencing the movie Terminator. Also, one big thing that marketers miss is the importance of data. Ask what data is the AI working off of. This piece is often overlooked, but critical – data is the fuel that the algorithm engine runs off on. If you have bad or absent data, there is a good chance your AI is going to be generating bad results. As with most things in marketing, it all comes back to the data.

One word that best describes how you work.


What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Evernote is my extended memory. Zoom, it’s a great way to stay in touch with Oracle CX’s global community of customers, partners and employees.

What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?

Always have a great slide designer on tap. I can put my ideas on a piece of paper and have killer slides the next day.

What are you currently reading? 

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House is currently on my Kindle. At work, I consume information in the normal ways – email, Slack, presentations and meetings. From my startup days and as I’ve advanced in my career, I’ve learned to filter out the noise and cut to the heart of the matter in any communication channel.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

The oxen are slow, the earth is patient. Meaning, Rome wasn’t built in a day. You have to think strategically for the long term, while you are acting day to day and getting stuff done. Otherwise, when you look back a year or six months, you won’t have advanced toward your bigger goals.

Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?

I can take very complex concepts and frame them into simpler and relatable messages.

Thank you Des! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Register Now With Special MarTech Series Promo Code: DMMAR2018*

*The code, for new registrations only, offers Mar Tech Series’ readers a $705 discount.

Des is a high-energy and high-bandwidth marketing leader who has spent most of his career in Silicon Valley SaaS B2B software helping companies scale and win. He is hands-on when he needs to be and is also a natural leader who loves to build amazing marketing teams. He began his marketing career at Apple.

The Oracle Cloud offers complete SaaS application suites for ERP, HCM and CX, plus best-in-class database Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) from data centers throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. For more information about Oracle (NYSE:ORCL), please visit us at

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The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.

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