Name: Mike Handley
Role: Head of Alliance & Channels Oracle UK
Spirit animal: Elephant
Walk-on song: Back in Black (AC/DC)
How would you summarise your company's channel philosophy?
Customer success is at the core of Oracle's channel philosophy, and our partners are at the heart of everything we do. We are focused on empowering partners to ensure they can do their best work. Therefore, we are keen to ensure our business aligns with our partners and we are able to provide all the tools needed to drive business transformation, customer success and increase advocacy.
We don't see [direct vs channel] as a conflict. At the heart of what we do is giving our customers choice
Tell us about your company's partner programme in 100 words or fewer…
Modern Oracle PartnerNetwork is our customer-focused, cloud-first partner programme designed to accelerate our partners' transition to cloud while driving superior customer experiences and business outcomes.
It's quickly become apparent that the acceleration of a cloud-first strategy is a top priority. For customers, this means it is critical for Oracle to help them identify partners to deliver quality results and innovation as they adopt cloud. For partners, mutual investment in the resources needed to build successful cloud solutions and services is the greatest priority.
How many partners do you work with in the UK?
We work with hundreds of partners across every aspect of our business. What's most exciting for us in the UK is to see how our partner ecosystem is diversifying and growing as customers adopt cloud at a greater and faster rate.
The UK cloud ecosystem is becoming more mature, and as it does there are new avenues for customers to leverage it, which means we can work with a more diverse and different group of partners.
Are you looking either to expand or reduce that? If so, what partner profile does this apply to?
Taking advantage of the growth opportunity presented by cloud technologies is now driving considerable changes in the channel. Broadening the presence in the UK and onboarding new partners will help grow the local partner ecosystem and further help end customers make better use of the cloud.
Have you made any major changes to your partner programme recently, or are you about to?
The shift to cloud led to customer experience becoming the differentiator for success. This is why Oracle transformed how it engages with its partners, putting them as a priority. In designing the enhanced partner programme, Oracle listened carefully to both customers and partners to hear what they really need to flourish in the rapidly evolving cloud market. With a cloud-first strategy as a priority, the Modern Oracle PartnerNetwork programme is built on three core tenets: customer-centric, success-driven and a simplified, streamlined framework.
Describe your perfect partner?
There's nothing better than a partnership where both parties can flourish together and work towards the same business goals. The right partner is reliable and skilful, and understands the business and industry to become their trusted technology and business advisor.
Expertise is the foundation of the Modern Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN) programme and the standard that allows customers to easily and clearly identify partners with the validated skills and the experience required to help them succeed.
In which areas would you most like to see your partners invest over the next 12 months?
With change as the constant, partners must stay up to date with the latest versions of product upgrades to maintain currency of knowledge and remain relevant to customer needs. Education and training will develop programmes and tiered certifications to keep partners credible and in compliance.
How do you see vendor channel programmes and channel engagement models evolving over the next few years?
Focusing just on a Go-To Market strategy will no longer be enough. Partners need to have a plan for post-go-live support so that they can continue to provide a strong foundation and be able to resolve issues even after implementation.
What are your priorities for the next 12 months?
It's very simple - grow the base for the amount of partners we are working with in the UK so we can help our customers get the best out of cloud.
Do you feel your company is doing enough to cater for non-resale partners, including those that sell technology as a managed service, ISVs or agents?
Absolutely, we work with a whole plethora of non-resale partners and are doing some great work here. For example, Xynomix has several Oracle experts and also provide both customers and fellow partners in the Oracle eco-system with technical support when needed.
Is direct-channel conflict ever an issue in your partner ecosystem, and if so how do you mitigate that?
No - we don't see it as a conflict. At the heart of what we do is giving our customers choice. If a customer chose to work with a partner because that is what they feel is best for their business, we will accommodate that. If they want to work with Oracle direct, that is also fine. What we want is to provide our customers with the right technology to help them grow. That's the ultimate goal.
Name one trait you prize highly in partners, and one you deplore?
Personalised solutions tailored to each customer's requirements are crucial for success. The cookie-cutter approach to channel simply doesn't work anymore. Partners should avoid a legacy attitude. With the last two transformative years, partners need to ensure they are changing with the times and not holding on to what they are used to.
If you could wave a magic wand and change one aspect of your channel performance or strategy overnight, what would it be?
There's nothing I would change dramatically. We've tailored our partners offering to make sure we are in the best place possible to drive success for both our partners and our customers. We need to keep focusing on this goal.
What's the most challenging aspect of being a channel leader?
I would say this is more exciting than anything else, but really the maturity of the UK market. As I said, it's maturing rapidly and that means we get to work with partners to do more exciting work for our customers. We're having to get creative to help them meet their goals, and rising to meet these challenges is what is most exciting for me.
Tell us something about yourself most people won't know
I'm a massive Marillion fan!
What would be your walk-on song, and why? -
Back in Black by AC/DC, just because it's a classic tune.