Digital LeadersQ&A with Des Cahill, Head CX Evangelist at Oracle

Q&A with Des Cahill, Head CX Evangelist at Oracle

We spoke to Des Cahill about his biggest challenges at Oracle so far, his predictions for the martech space in 2020, and how brands can improve their CX offerings.

30-second summary:

  • Customers want to be understood, known and treated consistently throughout their interactions with a company.
  • Organizations internally need to break down silos of customer data, and they then need to share that data between marketing, sales, service and commerce, to make sure that the customer is treated holistically.
  • Des thinks that the next 20 years of CX and CRM is going to be less about applications and more about data management.
  • Consumers are now in charge of their data and that is putting more pressure on brands to provide relevant and contextual experiences to them.
  • Organizations are increasingly under pressure to better manage their first party customer data and that’s what’s going to drive this hyper growth in the enterprise CDP market.
  • Ad tech and martech increasingly coming together, the introduction of 5G and the explosion of converged TV, are trends to look our for in 2020.

Des Cahill is a technology leader who is passionate about the intersection of brand, customer and data driven marketing, sales and service. He brings extensive executive-level experience in marketing, sales and operations from some of the USA’s top tech. Des is the Head of CX Evangelism for Oracle, responsible for strategy and messaging for the industry’s leading customer experience suite.

We had a chance to catch up with Des and spoke to him about his ‘dumbbell’ career path, Oracle’s CX offerings and his predictions for the martech space in 2020.

Q) Tell us about your background and how you became a marketing leader of one of the leading tech providers today?

Oh wow where do I start. I’ve had what you would call a dumbbell career path. My technology career started at Apple computers in 1988. The good and bad thing about working at Apple at that time, was that it would reorganize itself every 18-months. So every year and a half I effectively had a new job!

I went from running their retirement plan to a whole bunch of different product marketing and marketing jobs. That was a really good, well rounded education, in things like: the power of the brand; the importance of good messaging; and how good marketing and can really enhance customer loyalty.

After that I did what every young person wants to do in Silicon Valley, and that is to cut my teeth in the startup space. I was either a CMO or CEO of a whole bunch of startups for many years, until I joined Oracle about four years ago. That experience was valuable as it taught me the tricks of the trade, if you may, which I now apply to Oracle’s CX business.

What really attracted me to Oracle was the sheer diversity of its portfolio. When someone approached me about the opportunity, I was blown away with set of products Oracle were offering to its customers. But I also noticed that not a lot of people know about Oracle’s story. So I saw this as a great opportunity and challenge as a marketer, to try to help grow the Oracle CX business.

Q) Speaking of challenges. What have been your two biggest challenges at Oracle so far, and how did you deal with them?

The first big challenge was a shift of perception for me. Moving from a startup where you measure progress in day, week, months, to a company with over 140,000 employees and 400,000 customers, where progress is measured in weeks, months, years, that was eye-opening! So I had to be willing to invest for the long term. It’s a bigger stage, it’s a bigger business, and the cycles are longer, which is cool!

The second challenge was almost a lack of marketing discipline within the organization when I joined. But really that was almost more of an opportunity to take these incredible Oracle products and customers and tell their story of the world.

Q) Was it hard to implement that discipline, given the sheer size of Oracle?

It goes back a little to my first challenge. Implementing such changes in a company of the size of Oracle is more complicated, nuanced and takes more time.

There really wasn’t a solid understanding of the power of branding and marketing within the organization, when I joined. But that challenge gave me the opportunity to build trusted relationships with all my colleagues and the rest of the team within the customer experience organization.

By showing them the power of connecting our products to customers, who could then become our brand ambassadors, we were able to define a clear and consistent brand narrative, which we then dove via press releases, webinars and advertising.

Q) Based on that, what advice would you give to someone moving from a startup to a more established setup, as you did?

Take a breath, take a step back and have a strategy. Create a three year plan and operate against that. Have a longer planning cycle.

Q) What according to you makes for a good customer experience? What advice would you give brands to improve/maximize their CX offerings?

I would give the advice that your customers want to be understood, known and treated consistently throughout their interactions with your company. Right through their entire customer journey. They want you to treat them as though you holistically understand them.

So if I am about to take a trip on an airline and they cancel the flight, the last thing I want is a promotional email from that company. So the marketing department needs to know that the service department has an issue with me, which they’re trying to resolve, and so they need to suppress all marketing to me until that is resolved.

Organizations internally need to break down silos of customer data, and they then need to share that data between marketing, sales, service and commerce, to make sure that the customer is treated holistically. If they do that, then they are on course to providing great customer experience.

Q) Can we talk a bit about Oracle, your CX offerings and how, in your opinion, you’re the go-to tech offering in that space?

Oracle is definitely known as a data company. Our beginnings and our core today is still around data management and databases. And we think that the next 20 years of CX and CRM is going to be less about applications and more about data management.

In other words, the next step in delivering customer experience is actually breaking down those silos of customer data that are held within an organization and bringing that data together. This suddenly become a data management problem and this a space we are investing heavily in.

Our offerings help our clients bring that data together and once that has been achieved, then AI and machine learning can be applied against that, to drive these more personalized and individualized experiences, whether they’re digital to human or human to human.

Q) What tips do you have for someone looking to implement Oracle’s CX platform?

If you are a $500 million plus, complex, multi divisional business with a global footprint, and are looking to provide a synchronized contextual experience across the entire customer journey, you really need to be working a platform approach. And your platform needs to have a foundational data layer, a foundational intelligence layer, a foundational content layer and cloud based applications on the front office. But you also need to be thinking about the back office.

Increasingly, a lot of our customers are looking for a single platform, both for the front office and back office, to center around, so that they can share a common set of data. For example, let’s say I come to your site and want to buy an umbrella, and I want it delivered quickly. Unless the ordering system is in sync with the supply chain and inventory systems, you won’t know if that umbrella is in stock and if you’ll be able to deliver it to me ASAP. I’m not going to have a great experience if I expect the umbrella to arrive in two days, and it actually arrives in three weeks!

I’m sure there are a lot of other, more sophisticated examples out there, but the point is that, in general, we do talk about Oracle Cloud as a platform, both in terms of front office capabilities and back office capabilities, and increasingly customers are embracing that notion in order to provide these seamless customer experiences.

Q) Looking ahead, what are your plans for Oracle’s CX offerings going forward?

We are increasingly evolving our platform toward micro services, so that we can provide a platform that is highly customizable to meet the particular needs of a customer in a certain industry. We also want our platform to integrate and play well with other vendors software.

Customer data platforms (CDPs) are another big focus for us going forward. We are investing heavily in it. We recently launched a CDP enterprise called CX Unity, which is part of a broader customer intelligence platform strategy we have at Oracle CX. The idea is to integrate our data management platform with our CDP and ID graph.

We are very excited about CX Unity. The reception it is already getting in the market, makes me say the next 10 to 20 years in CX is really going to be about customer intelligence powering all these applications, which then help provide these great experiences.

Q) Speaking of customer data, obviously there is a lack of trust right now of how brand and vendors are using their customer’s data. How would you mend that relationship?

It is important that consumers have a choice with what happens to their data. The genies out of the bottle, on that. I’m not a privacy expert by any means, but I do think that it is inevitable that the consumer is – and should be – in charge.

And I think that just puts more pressure on brands to provide relevant and contextual experiences. The brands that fail to do so, will quickly lose their customers to their competitors. Organizations are increasingly under pressure to better manage their first party customer data and that’s what’s going to drive this hyper growth in the enterprise CDP market.

Q) A lot of the vendors I have spoken to think the market is moving towards an ‘open marketing ecosystem’, what are your thoughts on that, is it the way forward?

As CX becomes a strategically important part of the business value proposition — and is having a direct material impact on the bottom line — we are seeing CEOs and CIOs work in unison with their functional leads (CMOs, CROs, etc.) to make buying decisions.

I’d say in the last 20-years there’s been a propensity toward best of breed, which basically means sales chooses the best sales software, marketing chooses the best marketing software, and so on. That approach has brought us to where we are today — where we have these silos of customer data. I think those days are gone.

I think now there is a level of coordination around more of a central platform. I like said before, that platform needs to be flexible and support multiple vendors. Increasingly we are moving to a micro services world, where the IT department of that organization can customize and configure and optimize.

Q) What are your predictions for the martech space in 2020?

I believe ad tech and martech will increasingly come together. New data privacy regulations and the diminishment of the cookie, are going to put pressure on third party anonymized advertising acquisitions to merge with the management of first party data. That’s why we see, the data management platform (DMP) and the CDP coming together.

This will also be the year of 5G. Having speeds of 50 megabits per second on our mobiles is going to be a game changer. I think it will be a slow rollout, that’s mainly B2B, but we’ll see the first interesting applications of 5G for consumers in 2020.

And then the other area which I think is really interesting is the explosion of converged TV, meaning streaming services like Netflix, Disney Plus, HBO Max, etc. The rampant development in this space is going to see TV, for the first time, move from mass advertising to targeted advertising, and 2020 is going to be a pivotal year for that.

Whitepapers

US Mobile Streaming Behavior

Whitepaper | Mobile US Mobile Streaming Behavior

2y
Winning the Data Game: Digital Analytics Tactics for Media Groups

Whitepaper | Actionable Analysis Winning the Data Game: Digital Analytics Tactics for Media Groups

2y
Giving a Voice to Your Brand

Whitepaper | AI & Automation Giving a Voice to Your Brand

2y
Mobile Messaging Masters

Whitepaper | Mobile Mobile Messaging Masters

2y