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India’s political leadership is focussed on leapfrogging into future, not hampered by legacy systems: Oracle’s Safra Catz

The US firm stresses it has the technologies and solutions that support all three pillars of Digital India—building better digital infrastructure, creating digital citizen services and making citizens digitally literate.

“India is now in an amazing moment,” said Safra Catz, CEO, Oracle, on her visit to New Delhi last week.

Digital India and Smart Cities—two of the government’s ambitious initiatives—are steadily taking effect, with both urban and rural communities becoming increasingly connected and digitally aware. Large, medium and small enterprises, and even start-ups, are embracing new digital technologies to replace overly complex paper-based systems and stay relevant in the marketplace. The $37-billion Redwood Shores, California-based enterprise software maker Oracle sees an integral role in this digital landscape. It reckons that data and cloud computing will be at the core of analysis and action for businesses and governments.

“India is now in an amazing moment,” said Safra Catz, CEO, Oracle, on her visit to New Delhi last week. Catz was addressing the Oracle OpenWorld conference being held in India for the first time.

Destination India

In recent years, India has emerged as a sweet spot for Oracle; it has seen a surge in SMBs and start-ups as well as large enterprises creating a digital infrastructure to support their business growth with the help of Oracle cloud solutions. The US tech major stresses it has the platforms, technologies and solutions that support all three pillars of Digital India—building better digital infrastructure, creating digital citizen services and empowering citizens by making them digital literate.

Addressing the conference, the Oracle CEO said, “India has become one of the most vibrant and exciting markets in recent times and many of the greatest minds and biggest operations are expanding here.” She reminded the audience that Oracle was one of the first multinationals to come to India and today it has a strong India operation with 38,000 employees—25% of the global headcount—and presence in 11 cities. “India is also one of our top R&D destinations,” she emphasised.

To capitalise on the India opportunity, Oracle has rolled out an aggressive business strategy. To begin with, it has announced the availability of Oracle ERP Cloud to help local and multinational firms operating in India prepare for the country’s transformational tax reforms – Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime – from July 1 this year. “Global adoption of our leading Oracle ERP Cloud continues to accelerate,” said Catz. “We expect this trend to grow in India as customers can now take advantage of Oracle ERP Cloud’s comprehensive tax management capabilities, fully integrated with core ERP functions, to help make better business decisions and address regulatory changes driven by the new GST.”

The excitement at Oracle about government initiatives such as Digital India, Make in India, Startup India and Skill India is palpable. Underlining the Indian market potential, the Oracle CEO told FE: “India’s political leadership —both at the Centre and states—is focused on leapfrogging into future. It is not hampered by legacy systems. Digital India is the only way to empower citizens, improve transparency and accountability. The leadership team is focusing on empowerment and services; for companies like us that build tools, the opportunities are unlimited.”

According to the Oracle CEO, India’s rapid transformation echoes the generational shift taking place in the technology industry. “Just as cloud is triggering broad innovation within the technology industry, it will also drive changes and increase efficiency within emerging economies like India,” she said.

While she did not divulge the investment or the headcount expansion plans for India, she said, “There are no limits to investments. We announced our new campus in Bengaluru last year with $400 million investment.”

Oracle officials said the new campus will accommodate 10,000 employees including developers. “This supports the Make in India initiative since our developers will be creating Oracle software in India for the world,” said company officials.

Cloud is the way to go

Meanwhile, Oracle announced plans to expand its cloud services in India over the next six to nine months with a new data centre in the country. Over the coming months, it will review proposals from government and business partners to provide customers with the capability to build and move workloads to an India-based cloud. The services will offer robust security and performance at a significant price advantage over both existing on-premises infrastructure and competitive cloud offerings.

Oracle’s expanded infrastructure footprint is a result of increased customer demand. “Our customers and partners in India have trusted their businesses to the Oracle Cloud for years,” said Thomas Kurian, president of product development, Oracle. “With this expansion we will be able to further support customer choice adding to capabilities already available through deployments of Oracle Cloud at customer, as well as other Oracle Cloud data centre regions in Asia Pacific.”

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Last week, the government of Jharkhand and Oracle signed an agreement to improve citizen services and make Jharkhand an attractive destination for start-ups. Oracle will offer its support to the state through its vast portfolio of technology solutions, including Oracle Cloud. As part of the agreement, the state government and Oracle will jointly explore and identify areas in which Oracle’s latest cloud-based technologies can be used to deliver improved citizen services and to address the state’s citizen and business requirements.

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