Oracle's Hurd: 'Support is critical to us'

One year into his tenure as Oracle president, Mark Hurd is still focused on sales, but he maintains supporting customers is core to the company despite some criticism.

SAN FRANCISCO -- A little more than a year since his tumultuous departure from Hewlett-Packard Co. and equally remarkable hiring as president at Oracle, Mark Hurd took the stage at OpenWorld’s opening keynote  speech Monday, highlighting the roughly 20% growth in license revenue the company has seen during his tenure.

Yet for some longtime Oracle customers, the company's appetite for license revenue comes at a cost. They report having trouble getting Oracle support tickets answered if they don't have a deal in front of a sales rep. Others bemoan aggressive license auditing tactics, limits to the Oracle unlimited license agreement and overly aggressive negotiations with the vendor. It leads some to question just how customer-centric the company is.

Hurd sat down with the editors of SearchOracle.com at OpenWorld this week and outlined the company's strategy.

"If someone says we're fixated on license growth; yeah we are," Hurd said. "We're fixated on building great technology and we're fixated on selling it. I'd add to that supporting it. That's at the core of what we do. That's everything in the fiber of the company."

Yet even as he responded to questions about support, Hurd made it clear that sales and growth remain priorities.

"We're trying to do several things simultaneously with our go to market," Hurd said. "Right now we're adding to our sales organization, so actually we're going to grow it and make it bigger.

Secondly, we're trying to get it more specialized. We're strong believers in specialization.

"When you show up at a customer, we think it's important you understand the customer's problem and understand the alignment of the technology and the solution to the customer's problem; therefore you have to have domain knowledge. Thirdly, we're trying to deepen our relationships with our customers. We’re spending efforts to make those three things happen."

Asked why support did not enter into that list, Hurd maintained that supporting existing customers is still vital to the company even if it's not part of the go-to-market strategy.

"Support is a separate entity to what we have and support is a big deal," he said. "In terms of our ability to better understand, diagnose and ultimately then actually fix problems for our customers, we think we have a new chance for a new day from a support perspective [with engineered systems]."

"Support is critical to us. In our business unhappy customers don't come back."

Ultimately, Hurd said, the quality of the product and Oracle's growth speaks for itself.

"The ability to grow is not just a testament to your sales capability; it’s a testimony to the quality of your products and a testament to the quality of your support," he said. "You don't grow the way we grew over the past year without having great products and great support."

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