Oracle's Thomas Kurian says, Indian IT companies are making a good transition

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Oracle president for product development, Thomas Kurian, 47, is being tipped by many as a strong contender to become the chief executive officer of one of the world's largest business software makers with revenue $38.2 billion in fiscal 2015. In an exclusive interview, he told the Economic Times that the Indian IT companies are making the transition from services to products, demonstrating maturing capabilities.

Studied in Bengaluru and the United States, Kurian described Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka, a former board member at Oracle rival SAP, as a "fine engineer".

The financial daily asked him to describe the transformation in the IT (information technology) services industry, Kurian said the first shift is cloud computing. "People who wanted to use software, Oracle software, they had to have data centers, they had to have hardware, they had to have people to operate all of this. Now they can simply use all this software through a browser. For Oracle, cloud opens up the market — all the people in the world who wanted to use Oracle technology, but did not have the resources to do so."

Kurian continued that the second transition is from the personal computer to the mobile — that is a dramatic shift. "The mobile phone, the smartphone is a very different device from the personal computer. And those who have designed solutions for that have been able to build significant new revenue streams, compared to those who are trying to continue living off the PCs," he said.

According to him the third big change is the data explosion, driven by a number of factors, including Internet of Things. "These are the three big disruptions," he said.

Talking about the cloud computing, he said: "When we say cloud, we mean it differently than what Amazon is talking about. At Amazon it's about infrastructure, computers and storage. When we talk about cloud we talk about software as a service, applications delivered as software as a service and platform as a service."

Informing about Oracle's several Indian partners, Kurian said: "We have a number of them — all the big names that you are familiar with — Cognizant, Wipro, Infosys. First of all, they are growing significantly with us now as our customers move from existing systems to cloud. We need partners and we need to invest in them heavily as this transition happens."

"Our solutions, especially the industry focused ones, are on top of cloud — a lot of work they are doing is in these areas. I think what our new product offerings enable is to have partners drive lots of these newer solutions," he said.

On being asked to comment on SAP's Vishal Sikka, who joined Infosys, a services firm, Kurian said: "My view is that Vishal is really a fine engineer and a very capable executive. I think what the services companies are doing, all of them, is moving from purely delivering services to increasingly building products. And that's a natural evolution for these companies. They started as off-shoring, then they moved to build process outsourcing, then they moved to higher-value services, and now they are getting into products. It's a natural evolution of maturing capabilities."
(Image: Reuters)
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