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Read below the transcript of Simon's interview.
Q: You are the CEO of DSP-Explorer and you invested in DSP-Explorer five years ago, two years ago you got some private investment and with that you kind of changed the company a little bit. You saw an opportunity there, tell us a little bit about the opportunities and how did you come to capitalise on that opportunity?
"Okay well first of all thanks for inviting me along, so you’re absolutely right I’ve been involved with Oracle partners for about 20 years in fact we were a certified advantage partner, remember those days? That was a bit more simple! I then took a few years out and then invested in DSP-Explorer about five years ago. DSP-Explorer were a pretty regular partner, a very good partner, some great clients under their belt but they tried to do too many things in my view. They had too many vendor relationships, they were trying to do managed services, professional services, innovation, etc. So, a bit like what Javier Torres mentioned earlier on, I came in and said 'let's specialise'; let's pick one or two great vendors and one vendor in particular and let's work really well with them. So, I had a conversation with Simon Hill about three or four years ago and I decided that the partner network had clearly changed quite a bit in the few years I'd been away and there's a lot more support commitment to get into partners to build services around technology. Oracle's Cloud message had changed as well which meant there is a lot more capability to those services wrap around Oracle Cloud so I thought if we're going to do this let's go all in and that was the plan from there on in. I put lots of investment behind it, we also worked in a multi-vendor approach, so we did have Microsoft as well and clearly that’s been a bit fortunate from my point of view because the multi-cloud has turned up just at the right time."
Q: You have a strong base of over 200 customers, there are big names in there as well you've got Ocado, NHS and Reiss clothing, can you talk about how you acquired some of these names?
"Okay, so as a predominantly traditional Oracle managed services provider a lot of our time is taken up with account managing, so in order to win new business which is the lifeblood of any company we have to make sure it’s efficient. So what we do, which I think is quite unique, is we’ve worked with Oracle over the last couple of years to build an automated marketing machine which does a lot of social listening. I’m not a big fan of social media, I don't think it drives any business so I'm not going to advertise there but, it can give you lots and lots of good knowledge. So combining social listening with what we believe as 'sales triggers' we put it together with some machine learning overlaid, built on autonomous quite clearly, we starting to understand when we should start to approach customers at the right time in their buying cycle. I think that's now started to really pay dividends for us, as I believe we've got one the largest OMM pipelines in terms of volume of deals across EMEA so that's truly been quite a big change for us in terms of lead generation and you know, I think if you don't get new deals, then you die really."
Q: What’s the name of your marketing manager remind me?
"Jon Cowling is our marketing manager he’s done a great job, working with Oracle's marketing team as well to build this, hopefully we’ll also put that into Oracle Cloud at some point and it’ll be an autonomous case study. The answer is in the data."
Q: So Simon, you’re an MSP and you’ve got all the pillars (Build, Sell & Service) it would be really interesting for you to share, do you focus on all of them equally? Have you had to restructure your business to focus on the three or how are you handling it?
"I guess we're not quite there yet with OPN 2 internally but I guess my business does market and sell itself along those lines. I think as a business if you don't sell you won't make any money, if you don’t service you'll lose your customers and if you don't build your going to get overtaken by your competitors. So we do focus on all of them at the same time and I think in the past I used to have different sales activities attached to them for the benefit of Oracle's technology, now with OCI Gen 2, Autonomous, Multi Cloud and Machine Learning they’ve all kind of come together to a degree so we can actually work on things internally when it comes to build which is used to service our customers we can also use to sell. So we're going to fit in all three of those tracks, personally as a managed services provider I tend to want us to try and drive those managed service clients into Oracle Cloud because it makes it cheaper and easier for me to support them and from a new business perspective we either look at what I call energise the core which is locating on premise systems and asking how can we improve them, the other way we tend to look at it is embracing data, so looking at Autonomous, Machine Learning and try and build what we call bitesize projects, trying to demonstrate the ROI to a potential customer in a small division and then sell that up the chain. So we’re kind of using all the three pillars."
Q: But there might be some partners who only do re-sell, that's their main game, any advice for them?
If I’m being honest, re-sell and something else, sorry to contradict a little, but I would suggest that maybe sell plus something on top because you know you've got competition all over the place and you got to have some extra value to stand out.
Q: So tell us, given your vast experience as an investor why you think Oracle is a good investment for partners and what would you pitch to Larry Ellison right now with the dynamics of the market?
"I think in short, Oracle's technology stack was mentioned earlier on, is 'from the ground to the cloud'. As a partner you want to be able to sell across all layers of the technology life cycle, Oracle gives you that ability. I think the partner network it has now got, is to such an extent it really does support you and so that is why I think Oracle is a great investment. And also, it pays off, as I've invested in the past and I'm invested in my business you need to know you're going to get paid back over 3, 5 and 10 years not just in the year ahead, and I think Oracle with its credibility and its trustworthiness reputation will give you that so that's why we invested in Oracle.
What would I suggest to Larry? I think I would say trust your partners and I would say remove any hurdles that might be in place that stop us delivering immediate solutions or pitching solutions to end users. So whether it's Cloud or whether it's bringing in an Exadata box onsite, let's remove all those hurdles, trust us and don't give us a few days to turn things around, let us do it immediately if we find opportunity to go and do it and that's how we compete with the start-ups and the agile businesses like Amazon etc. that’s what I’d suggest."