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Digital India only way to give empowerment to citizens, says Oracle CEO Safra Catz

LiveMint logoLiveMint 09-05-2017 Nandita Mathur

New Delhi: “I don’t talk to the US press but I am happy to make this exception for the Indian media. So please be gentle with me.” These were the opening words of Oracle chief executive officer Safra Catz at a press briefing, part of the tech company’s two-day conference Oracle OpenWorld, in New Delhi that started on Tuesday.

Catz, who is an Oracle veteran having joined the company 18 years ago, addressed a number of issues—from Oracle’s plans in India to Indian start-ups, protectionism by the Donald Trump administration and the cloud market.

Catz is excited to be in India, encouraged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of digital India. “This is the only country where both the governments at the Centre and the states are all focussed on leapfrogging into the future. They are not tied by legacy systems, and feel an urgency to provide a better experience to their citizens. Digital India is the only way to give empowerment to its citizens. The government is hungry for technology, and is empowering citizens by moving to a digital experience,” she said.

Oracle’s India operations are steadily growing and the company is investing rapidly here. Catz had announced a $400 million investment in Bengaluru last year, saying that the new facility will contribute significantly to the Indian economy.

Oracle intends to employ up to 1,200 professionals directly and an additional 1,000 professionals indirectly through service providers for the construction stage, which will take place in stages over the next five years.

Oracle first launched start-up incubation centres in India, and now there are nine such centres in operation that provide not only Oracle’s tech platform but also business advice and mentoring to start-ups.

“India has become a more vibrant, exciting market, many great minds and big operations are here and all of you should be proud of India,” she said.

Talking about the cloud, Catz said that Oracle has been in this space since the beginning and called Larry Ellison (chairman and chief technology officer) the father of the cloud. “We have taken the opportunity to rewrite every part of our product line database, our applications database that includes the acquisition of PeopleSoft, creating brand new product lines like Fusion Middleware even before the word cloud was coined. She went on to add that “nobody has what we have—the breadth, the depth and the deployment choice all in the cloud.Oracle in the cloud is complete, and its not a overnight success, it took 20 years in the making,” she said.

She brushed off comments about competition saying, “We compete with everyone, we just don’t compete with anyone on everything.Oracle provides software as a service, the huge Oracle database and raw computing. With companies like AWS, on the other hand, we compete only in a small niche.”

On protectionism, she was optimistic that common sense would prevail. She added that the government should always be focused on advancing the agenda for the greatest possible minds.

Earlier during the keynote address, Catz announced the expanded availability of Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) cloud in India that delivers built-in features to facilitate compliance with the new GST regulations, besides providing native support for the GST network, integration and reporting.

The company also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Jharkhand government on Monday to improve citizen services and make the state an attractive destination for start-ups.

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