At a press conference today in Oracle's offices in Petah Tikva, "Globes" asked co-CEO Safra Catz, a former Israeli, about her meeting with US President Donald Trump. "We spoke about all kinds of things. We spoke about the country and how things were going," she answered. "As you know, the US economy was very strong - the tax cut and the employment law, which were very important, and are already producing good results. I think they are generating more investments in the US - there's no doubt about it. I shared with him some of the conversations I had with several CEOs about how things were going."
Asked about whether they talked about the Internet privacy crisis, she answered, "I don't remember talking about the privacy crisis and the whole Facebook story."
"We didn't come here in order to save money on taxes"
Catz told the press conference that she had just returned from Europe, "where all the industries were suffering great disruptions from what people expect: in retailing, banking, and government. Everything is changing very quickly. As a result, most of our customers and the industry need everything quickly. The managers I meet realize that they either disrupt or get disrupted."
Commenting on her company's investments in Israel, Catz said that the reason for the investments was that Israel was a target because of its innovation, not its tax benefits. "We didn't come here to save money on taxes," she said.
Catz is visiting Israel at a very turbulent period in the enterprise computing market. Industry sources said that Oracle had recently been conducting an aggressive campaign to recruit personnel and customers for its cloud product, which is competing head-to-head against Amazon's Web (cloud computing) Services (AWS), and against Google and other companies. Catz described the advantages of Oracle's cloud computing services over its competitors, and emphasized the fact that the company made it possible to manage customers' databases both on the cloud and on the customer's premises.
Catz says that Oracle's cloud computing services fulfill the 40 year-old vision of the company's founder and chairperson Larry Ellison of making computer services accessible from a distance, just like other public infrastructure, such as water and electricity. She adds that Oracle bills its customers "only for what they use, and can grow only when they want to grow, on the cloud or on the customer's servers."
Commenting on the plan by the US Department of Defense to switch to cloud computing, Catz commented that she "does not know a single commercial enterprise that uses only one cloud. There's no logic in it. Trump was confident that the Pentagon would make a fair selection, and I'm sure that's how it will be. I never heard about just one cloud, and I challenge anyone to show me a single important customer who uses services of just one cloud."
Catz spoke about Oracle's autonomous databases, which autonomously patch, upgrade, and configure themselves, based on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies, in order to avoid human error. She noted that in contrast to services like Facebook and Netflix, in which delays and minor inaccuracies in the system are acceptable, when critical systems like communications and banking are involved, 100% accuracy is essential. She says that another advantage is that the system can be upgraded without shutting it down, "like replacing a wheel when the car is still in motion," as she put it.
Catz spoke about AI at length, saying that Oracle was integrating these technologies in every possible aspect. "We have no AI project; we have AI in every project," she declared, adding, "In personnel, for example, we're trying to find which employee needs more help, or tracking which employee is doing the best job. In procurement, we want to know who the best supplier is, or who should be watched more closely, which customers have some particular thing, which want to trying a new product, and to whom we should market."
Asked again about the privacy questions currently upsetting the Internet industry, and about the European GDPR privacy standard, which will take effect next month, Catz answered, "The companies will do some of these things on their own initiative in order to avoid regulation, because regulation always misses the target or uses too much firepower against it." On the other hand, she says, "It is important for users to understand a little more about what they are doing, and what is being done with the information about them. It is important for them to be able to choose not to take part, because right now, there is no way to do this."
Catz was asked about her insights as one of the leading women in global high tech. She said that when she began working on Wall Street, there was unquestionably gender bias, whether or not it was deliberate. She added that at that time, even if she was the highest-ranking executive in the room, when they had to bring 10 copies of a certain document, they asked her to make them. "I could have responded in a number of ways. I could have made a fuss, but that's not what I did. Instead, I asked, 'How many do you want? 10?' Then I gave the document to the vice president next to me, and told him, 'Make that 11,' and stayed in the meeting."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 16, 2018
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