Oracle has been a partner of 1Mby1M since 2013 and has built its internal innovation program on the 1Mby1M Incubator-in-a-Box platform. In this interview, Sramana Mitra and Paolo Juvara, Group President of Oracle Application Lab, discuss the secrets of the success of the program. A unique window into corporate innovation thought leadership from some of the industry’s pioneering thinkers.
Sramana Mitra: Today, we want to share some of what we have learned, what we have done, and how we think about internal innovation at Oracle. The way we run this program today is twice a year, we have a Oracle One Million by One Million intrepreneurship challenge inside Oracle.
This is a program that is open to all of Oracle. We invite people to apply for scholarships to study with the One Million by One Million program to learn how to take an idea and present it to Oracle for consideration as a potential new product idea or a new module within an existing product area but with the primary objective of developing people and teaching them how to bring a product to market.
Let me turn it over to Paolo to explain to you, from his point of view, what he thinks we are doing here and one of the goals and objectives of the corporate innovation program at Oracle.
Paolo Juvara: I started my career at Oracle and spent my first 14 years at Oracle. Then I left and went to work for Openbravo where I was the head of product development. Then I became the CEO there. I first met Sramana when she interviewed me as part of that experience. She interviewed me as an entrepreneur of a startup.
Later on, I joined back Oracle. Vinay was part of my team and had been in touch with Sramana and was considering a program. Knowing her, I was immediately interested. The reason is, having spent a lot of time in my previous experience at Oracle, I knew that Oracle was a very strong engineering organization.
When you go into a startup and you are in an organization that does not have as many resources as Oracle, you learn that just having a great product is not enough. You need to learn product-market fit. You need to learn how to pitch the product. You need to know the addressable market. You need to know all of the things that the One Million by One Million program teaches.
I was very intrigued by the fact that we could give that experience and exposure to employees so that they could gain those sets of skills and they could complement their engineering skills. I’m not saying that Oracle doesn’t do market analysis. Of course, Oracle does all that for established products but that is done by a minority of people. A broad population of engineers of product managers are not that exposed to those activities.
One Million by One Million was an opportunity to expose people to those activities. We look at One Million by One Million as an educational program; a way to complement the skills naturally acquired within the company with other skills that are not readily available within Oracle. One Million by One Million is a very hands-on program. They work on an idea. They develop a pitch on that idea. That idea might, or might not, become part of Oracle’s product. That is another benefit. The real goal is the educational opportunity for employees.