TechBytes with Adrian Johnston, SVP of Cloud Applications, Japan and Asia at Oracle
Hi Adrian, please tell us about your role and the journey at Oracle.
I am the Senior Vice President of Cloud Applications for Oracle in Japan and Asia Pacific, and I lead the business for Oracle’s Cloud offerings in the apps space.
I first joined Oracle in 2002 as Vice President of Applications and Product Operations for Asia Pacific before taking on several other positions, including Vice President of the Applications Midmarket business unit.
How is the SaaS market in the APAC region different from North America and EMEA?
Recently, we have seen a massive shift to remote working around the world and this has naturally brought about new ways for employers and employees to adapt to a virtual workforce.
Those organizations in Japan and Asia Pacific that have leveraged cloud technology have found it easier to automate their workflow processes than those that haven’t done so.
With more and more businesses looking to transform their work processes and adapt to any future disruptions, many are turning to technologies that will help improve operational efficiency and insights, and enhance decision-making processes. This is where SaaS applications come in to offer a complete, nimble, secure, and integrated solution that builds in resilience for the entire business, across functions.
You are one of the leading business executives in the SaaS industry. What has been the most daunting challenge for you in this industry?
I don’t think anyone can be truly immune to the challenges of remote working. For the team and I at Oracle, it was the first time we had to support our customers remotely, but we managed to have many go-lives despite not being able to travel.
To what extent has automation helped grow your footprint in APAC? Could you tell us about the unique demands customers have for these automation platforms?
Organizations today understand that SaaS applications such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) can offer a constant stream of innovation at the fastest speed to build business resilience and flexibility into its core business processes, to be prepared for any future disruptions and stay ahead of rapidly changing customer expectations and business demands.
When it comes to technologies and processes, the current pandemic shines a spotlight on the weakest links. For example, finance leaders are facing the biggest challenge of their careers today, with last quarter being the first time they have had to close the books remotely.
For example, Asia Commercial Bank, one of the largest retail banks in Vietnam, has deployed Oracle Cloud ERP to streamline all finance, procurement and project expense management processes. With this cloud offering in place, the bank has been able to accelerate its month-end close and reporting cycles by 50% and reduced IT and support costs by 66 percent. Moving to the cloud also meant it no longer had to manage these applications in its own data centre, which minimised the need for any staff to be on premise. This enabled employees to continue working from the comfort of their home without any operational disruption.
No one knows what a post-pandemic world will look like, and no two industries or geographies will experience the same reality. But it is certain that we’re not done with innovation and change. Organizations are just getting started, and how they outpace and successfully manage change over the long term will continue to be one of the top challenges for them.
Hear it from the pro: The most contemporary Customer Experience trend that every professional in the SaaS business should master.
Having a data strategy is a must when it comes to customer experience. By balancing privacy and personalization, data can help businesses better understand the customer lifecycle, their changing needs and how companies can better meet those demands. Every business needs a data strategy today if they want to deliver greater innovation and personalization, and build business resilience.
COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of our lives. Yet, the technology industry especially SaaS and ancillary digital platforms (including apps) have shown the radiant path to mitigate pandemic crisis. Could you tell us how you are involved in this pandemic crisis management at Oracle?
At Oracle, we are doing everything we can to help our customers and partners find new ways to operate through this challenging period with continuous innovation. This entails accelerating digital transformation projects to go-live even in the midst of all that is going on. This has allowed organizations to adapt accordingly and carry out day-to-day operations while they reorientate and formulate a strategy to bounce back stronger and more resilient.
For instance, Western Digital also brought eight manufacturing facilities live on Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP and Oracle Fusion Cloud Supply Chain & Manufacturing (SCM) globally, including in Southeast Asia, during a 30-day period while travel restrictions were in place. Normally, global executives would fly to the locations to trains and do change management with new software adoption. In the new normal, Western Digital found that there were very few negative impacts with suddenly having to adopt a completely remote implementation strategy and in fact, more benefits as a whole.
What is the Future of ‘Enterprise Apps’ in the post-COVID era?
Oracle has long strived to provide our customers the necessary technologies to outpace disruption and lay the foundations to remain resilient. To that end, we’ve recently announced updates to our Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP and Oracle Fusion Cloud SCM products that focus on addressing the challenges posed in this new era.
Similarly, our latest planning and management offerings in Oracle Fusion Cloud SCM can help customers build more resilient supply chains that can drive growth. They do this by improving the efficiency of company-wide operations, providing greater foresight into supply and demand across their networks, and finally delivering enhanced service to customers.
Tell us more about your interactions with Oracle’s Marketing Cloud and Experience management platforms?
Similar to our customers, we tap on Oracle Cloud Customer Experience (CX) to transform our own business and unlock new value. In fact, with Oracle CX Cloud, we are able to reduce our campaign execution lead-time from weeks to days, and successfully automate purchasing for 70% of our transactions. Because we have done this for our own business, we’re confident that Oracle CX can help bring about greater value for our customers.
Oracle takes on a four-pronged approach that focuses on continuous improvement:
- Streamline – remove and simplify processes and workflow across the experience
- Empower – enable users to complete the experience autonomously
- Delight – design a positive experience that users enjoy
- Automate – automate with end-to-end experience with Oracle Cloud
Which tools and technologies are you using for Marketing, Sales and Communications? [You can just name the category of platforms, if you don’t wish to divulge the vendor’s name]
At Oracle, we leverage Oracle CX to help customers as well as our own brand build and manage lasting customer relationships. We also make use of Oracle CX Marketing (part of Oracle Cloud CX). This is an integrated portfolio of digital marketing offerings that help B2B and B2C marketers use real-time intelligence and customer signals to deliver personalized experiences. Some products under our extensive CX marketing suite include Eloqua, Responsys, CN Content, and many more.
One advice to every Business Manager on how to handle the pandemic crisis and plan the future ahead?
The global pandemic has created a mandate for organizations to outpace change—because this is not the last disruption we will face. There is no more runway, no more kicking the can down the road, and no more guessing what the cost of the status quo is. You need to get current and although it may sound counterintuitive, start building resilience today.
At the same time, the need for business visibility and scenario modeling has never been more important as businesses look to reduce uncertainty and carve a future for themselves. It’s no longer enough to just have a Plan A and Plan B. We need to plan for A, B, all the way to Z.
Tag a person whose answers you would like to read here:
I would like to tag our long-time collaborator in Malaysia, UEM Group’s Managing Director, Dato’ Mohd Izani Ghani. We recently marked a milestone with UEM Group, where several of its subsidiaries namely, PLUS Malaysia Berhad (PLUS) and UEM Edgenta Berhad (UEM Edgenta) are now live on Oracle Fusion Cloud Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).
Adrian Johnston is senior vice president of applications for Oracle in Japan and Asia Pacific. He is responsible for leading the business for Oracle’s cloud offerings in the apps space.
Johnston first joined Oracle in 2002 as vice president of applications and product operations for Asia Pacific. He then went on to hold several other positions, including vice president of the applications midmarket business unit.
From 2008 to 2015, Johnston held the position of vice president of the Microsoft Business Solutions Division in Asia, after which he returned to Oracle.
Johnston holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of New South Wales.