OracleVoice – 5/05/2015
By: John Soat
What business imperative does a food maker, scientific-data publisher, and just about every other company have in common? It’s the need for speed—the ability to adjust to market changes, to interact with customers more directly and meaningfully, and to deploy applications more quickly.
Cloud computing can support such speed and agility, according to two executives who discussed their companies’ cloud strategies at Oracle’s recent CloudWorld Tokyo 2015 conference.
Heather Metcalfe, chief financial officer of UK-based Baxters Food Group, which manufactures canned soup and other long-shelf-life food products, told attendees that the 147-year-old company’s ambition to reach $1 billion in revenue by 2025 is incumbent on it being an industry leader. “Whether it’s the latest diet or the latest super food, we have to stay ahead of that game and be very innovative,” Metcalfe said.
For example, Baxters is working on two new product strategies, one involving so-called “spouted pouch” packaging, the other microwave cooking. The company’s IT organization is an integral part of those innovative efforts, Metcalfe said. “They help develop our ERP processes, making sure that we’re optimizing what we’re doing,” she said.
The Baxters IT organization can contribute directly to the product development process because, in 2005, the company moved its data center operations to a private cloud consisting of Oracle On-Demand services. It also implemented the Oracle ERP Cloud Service.
Outsourcing that technology grunt work was a deliberate push to make Baxters focus on its core business strategies, Metcalfe explained. “We should be concentrating on what we do best—and we make food,” she said.
Yasushi Adachi, director of global customer experience strategy for Elsevier B.V., which publishes medical and scientific data to a worldwide network of thousands of organizations and individuals, had a more specific problem. “It’s very difficult to enhance customer experience,” Adachi asserted through an interpreter.
To that end, in 2009 Elsevier implemented Oracle Service Cloud, which automates customer self-service functions over the web. Back in 2009 Elsevier had 200 people in its call center.
A three-month update of the cloud service in 2010, across hundreds of websites (today: 400), let the company reduce support staff to 75. Meantime, customer satisfaction, based on data from reporting tools in the system, has increased 10 percentage points, from 75% to 85%.
“So we are seeing tangible results,” Adachi said.
Elsevier was looking for three advantages in its move to the cloud. “All three we could not compromise,” Adachi said.
First, the company wanted to be able to use business data more productively by integrating internal applications, notably its business intelligence and CRM systems, with the cloud service. “We wanted to connect properly with such systems,” he said.
Second, because Elsevier is global, with support operations in the Netherlands, Japan, Singapore, and the US, plus customers worldwide, the fact that the cloud service operates 24/7, with no geographic boundaries, was a big plus.
“It’s probably only the cloud that could allow us to do this,” Adachi said.
The third advantage was the speed of deployment, “the fact that we could implement quickly with Oracle Cloud,” he said.
For its part, Baxters is increasing its use of cloud applications, including Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service. It’s anticipating the same business advantages in terms of speed of deployment, scalability, function, and cost—and the same division of labor.
“We want to focus on delighting our consumers,” Metcalfe said. “We’d like Oracle to continue to delight us with their information technology.”