Ian  Smith

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Former UK MD, Oracle

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Ian ran BT’s consumer business, then joined Oracle – securing the software company’s biggest ever deal. He is now head of the Institute of Customer Service. Ian believes rapid growth covered up serious errors, which recession has helped diagnose and rectify. He argues that it’s short-sighted to use technology just to automate old processes. Instead it should help us re-invent them, liberating rather than enslaving the workforce. He also calls for ‘X-Factor’ enthusiasm.


Ian Smith was head of Oracle UK, Ireland and Israel. He became CEO Larry Ellison’s most successful and longest serving Managing Director - securing the biggest single deal in the software giant’s history at $650m. For Ian, technology is about reinventing entire processes - not just automating old ways of doing things.

Ian believes that past growth has masked serious errors, and sees recession helping to identify weaknesses throughout the operation and the supply chain. To achieve sustainable recovery training must be increased, despite pressures to cut costs, and business needs to learn to foster collaboration - much like social networking.

As President of the Institute of Customer Service he argued that change must be built around the customer experience, rather than the structure of the organisation. Everyone in the team should be stretched, given responsibility and made to feel involved in the big decisions - generating X Factor-style enthusiasm.

Ian was originally an engineer. Before Oracle, he ran BT’s consumer division and customer service operation. He continues to chair Young Enterprise and serve on the CBI President’s Committee and the National Employment Panel.


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JLA Speakers Breakfast - June 2010