Oracle opened SMB center in Russia

The Oracle representative office for Russia and ex-Soviet republics (CIS) has announced the creation of a new division responsible for sales to small and middle-sized businesses (SMB center). By opening this center, the corporation expects to strengthen its market position in Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. Currently, 63 percent of the company's SMB sales in the region come from Russia.

Small businesses, which, Oracle spokesmen say, use almost no 'heavy' software and are mostly concerned with their survival in uneasy economic conditions, remain out of the company's focus. But the mid-market segment consisting of around 200,000 companies with 100 to 500 employees in the CIS countries will now get its close attention.

According to IDC, in 2004, SMB drew 55 percent of all IT expenses in Russia and, analysts forecast, the annual IT expenses growth rate within small and middle-sized businesses will have remained as much as 19-20 percent until 2009. Oracle could not pass by such a market. As its potential customers, Oracle considers companies that have already tried some sort of accounting and management software, like 1C:Enterprise, a software package quite popular in the country developed by a Russian company.

'Technologies for SMB are our investment zone' Boris Scherbakov, Oracle vice president and CEO at Oracle CIS rep office, said. He claimed that the amount of the investments was measured by 'millions of dollars'. 'We are not developing this market; but, as you know, oil prices develop it' he said.

In Russia, where, according to Scherbakov, business leaders often do not understand what they really need, 'an enormous billow of mid-market companies demanding reasonably priced reliable and scalable databases' is surging up today. As for business software, he thinks that small companies do not have such a big demand for it as well as middle-sized companies that are also extremely limited in budgets. Therefore it is too early for Oracle to speak about entering the SMB market segment with business applications yet.

Maria Kuvanova, was appointed the new SMB center manager. Previously she was Oracle's technology products sales manager in the SMB sector and was responsible for partnership network development in this segment as well. The center she is in charge of includes three units -- marketing, sales and telesales. The primary aim of the new division is increasing the customers' awareness of Oracle technologies for small and middle-sized businesses.