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Pioneering integration of GovTech into Oracle

In this episode, Maria Carolina Martins de Faria, one of our Top 5 GovTech Groundbreakers, spilled the beans on her journey leading the GovTech ecosystem at Oracle, one of the most significant tech players globally. 

πŸ“Œ About Maria Carolina Martins de Faria

Carol serves as an ISV Partner Manager and Startup Ambassador at Oracle, having graduated from the University of São Paulo. Prior to her tenure at Oracle, there was no dedicated realm within the Oracle sphere exclusively focused on GovTech. To date, she has collaborated with 60 GovTech companies, facilitating their utilization of Oracle's technology and connecting them with Oracle's Public Sector Customers. 

Notably, Carol has played a pivotal role in the development of 'The GovTech Study 2023,' a collaborative effort between BrazilLab and Oracle, scheduled for publication in December 2023. She has also pioneered the creation of Oracle Open House events, which have brought over 30 GovTech startups to Oracle's Headquarters in São Paulo.

πŸ“Œ Can you tell us a bit about your current role and why the GovTech topic is relevant for a company like Oracle?

"We've got cloud tech, hardware, software, databases – you name it, we've got it. We're a tech provider, but it's crucial for emerging companies in Latin America to know who we are and what we do. Oracle is B2B company. We've always been with the big players like J&P Morgan, Arcos Dorados, Grupo Bimbo – always in their corner and never really close to small businesses and startups. Now, our goal is to get a bit closer to those small companies and startups. My role involves organizing events, visibility initiatives, chatting with startups to understand their projects, and working out market strategies for our clients. I'm the bridge between GovTech startups and the public sector that Oracle collaborates with – ministries, federal and state governments. I'm here to create a connection between Oracle and the GovTech market."

"We've recognized that Oracle has historically been somewhat distant from startups, and now we need to change that. Compared to Amazon or Microsoft, we're an old company. Oracle was born in 1977 in the U.S., while Amazon and Google are relatively new players. They've already embraced the mindset of being close to startups, and now Oracle needs to follow suit. Startups are not just the future; they are the present. GovTech startups, in particular, will play a much more significant role in the coming years. More and more governments are turning to startups to develop new technologies. The government used to invest in developers, tech teams, and technology personnel, but that's no longer the reality. Now, the government invests in third-party companies that develop the necessary technology because they're occupied with their challenges and needs. It's easier, more practical, and cheaper for the government to hire GovTech startups. At Oracle, we understand this shift, so how do we fit into the government's future? It's through GovTech."

"Instead of telling the government to "Hire a data bank and do it yourself," we're saying, "Purchase this software, ready to go, from a startup GovTech that is simultaneously hosted on Oracle's cloud." It's a technological backing from us, placing GovTech in the public sector. It's a win-win situation – the public sector gains ready-made, modernized software tailored to its needs; our cloud becomes a technological backbone for innovation, and startups GovTech now has our technological support and a client they didn't have before."

πŸ“Œ Could you share a success story of how a GovTech startup has leveraged Oracle's resources?

"Two or three years back, I came across this GovTech startup called Post-pandemic, they shifted operations to Amazon's cloud (AWS) and were part of Amazon's startup program. It's a GovTech startup collaborating with public hospitals, specializing in creating Artificial Intelligence (AI) for patients in urgent need of medical attention. Their AI analyzes symptoms and diseases of urgently admitted patients in hospitals, linking this data with pharmaceutical information. Based on the medications administered to these urgent patients, they can formulate a long-term treatment plan, identifying which medications yielded the best results or had minimal side effects. Essentially, it's an AI tailored for public hospitals. They brought their tech to Oracle."

"Here in Brazil at Oracle, we have a network of public hospitals called "Santas Casas." Despite being public, these hospitals buy products directly and don't require bidding processes. We've connected with these Santas Casas. They now manage around 6 or 7 Santas Casas that were previously solely Oracle's, providing them with a much more sophisticated software that aids in pharmaceutical and emergency management in hospitals. Each Santa Casa, with about 300 public beds, now has overseeing their management. The Santa Casa in Bahia, Curitiba, and other major cities in Brazil now have a system ready to go, something Oracle alone couldn't have developed."

"They've amassed thousands of credits on Oracle and are also assisting our clients in predicting with AI and connecting data related to medications for each patient in an emergency. When I bring a GovTech into the public sector, I'm talking about people who now have a better quality of life, who don't need to keep going back to the hospital because they have an improved treatment, an AI-driven treatment, and at the same time, it doesn't cost the public sector a dime. Working with GovTech is about having the purpose of improving people's lives. At Oracle, we want to place startups GovTech in the public sector because you can directly see the results in people's lives. I use the Santas Casas; I go to the Santas Casas. In Brazil, the public health system is widely used. So, I can use a system that I helped implement in the hospital. We have cases in healthcare, Brazilian elections, or treasury departments in Brazil with some taxation software. We have several examples, but health is always the one that hits closest to home because I use the public health system. Having that integration is pretty cool."

πŸ“Œ As a user of Santas Casas, how was it for you to benefit from that service?

"We have a significant culture of utilizing all public services. Even during the pandemic, the public service we call SUS - Servicio Unificado de Salud - was the primary organization that supported us while we navigated through the pandemic. They not only backed the development of a Brazilian vaccine but also, to this day, handle the distribution of almost all the vaccines we have in Brazil. So, if you can't afford a COVID, influenza, tuberculosis, tetanus, or casumba vaccine, you can head to the public sector and get vaccinated. Consequently, Brazil boasts one of the most vaccinated populations globally and one with fewer common diseases. Of course, we have a lot of cancer, a lot of AIDS, and many diseases that don't depend on the public sector, but concerning diseases typical of less developed populations, Brazil excels in vaccinations through the public health service, which is unified and spans from Manaus in the north to Porto Alegre in the south."

"However, one of the main challenges of the public system is that it's not very technologically advanced yet, and being public, it doesn't have a lot of money to spend or invest in expensive technologies, such as an Oracle ERP for health. We have our ERPs for health at Albert Einstein, one of the world's largest hospitals, but it's private, with ample resources, and they have our ERP. However, SUS, a small hospital, a Santa Casa, can't afford an Oracle ERP because they lack the funds. Still, they can afford's ERP. That's why we implement's ERP and witness how, for example, doctors in the hospital no longer need to deal with paperwork or make changes to patient information. If I have a respiratory problem, I don't need to keep going back to the hospital every time there's an issue with my medicine or for the doctor to assess which medicine works and which doesn't because that information is already on my mobile app. This prevents people from needing to return to Santas Casas. The main point is that people with emergencies, those who really need a consultation, will have much less waiting time. The result is exponential: with better and longer consultations, and shorter queues, the public service improves overall with something as simple and straightforward as having an app."

πŸ“Œ How did Oracle's initial engagement with startups unfold?

"It was mainly in Latin America in 2021. We had to shift the mindset people had about Oracle. We've always been a large company serving other big enterprises. It required a sales effort from every individual at Oracle. I would attend events, like the 100 Open Startups, GovTech events, public sector events, and chat at the booths, exchange business cards, and say, 'I'm from Oracle, working with startups.' Some would ask, 'What is Oracle?' and I had to explain; others would say, "Oracle is a huge company, we're quite small, we don't have anything to offer you yet." That's where I explained, 'From Oracle, we also have products for the startup sector, we have credits, knowledge to share, and we're committed to working with startups.' We want to create awareness for each startup. I know everyone thinks they know what Oracle is, but most people in the market don't know us. They don't know what Oracle is. So, it's crucial to be prepared, have a concise introduction pitch like, 'I'm from Oracle, I do XYZ, I want to help you connect with the public sector, we can do it, I want to hear from you.' It was about engaging extensively with each startup, being humble because big companies like us often take before giving. We usually take from the customer before providing support."

"Internally at Oracle, the focus was on changing that, as emphasized by Luis Meisler, Oracle's CEO. We need to give support first, provide assistance, share our story, context, pitch, take a reverse approach: 'From Oracle, we're here to help you. You can choose our technology.' That's where we gain something: technology has a cost, our partnership has a cost, being with us involves labor costs, financial costs, but first, how can I help you? Are you interested in my technology? If they say yes, then we can work together. It's not the traditional Oracle pitch of 'If you want our tech, then buy it.' We had to change internally first before telling startups that we were available."

πŸ“Œ Constance Bommelaer de Leusse, Executive Director at Project Liberty, Founder, and Member of the Technical Advisory Committee on the Internet at the OECD, asked: In light of the current and emerging tech challenges, what should evolve in the way Gov leaders are trained?

"The government has always had a risk aversion. Some argue that it's not right for the government to be risk-averse, but all government leaders, whether in developed or developing countries, are trained with the mindset that significant caution is needed in negotiations and public procurement. Some people fail to grasp that this caution is still necessary. The government will never be a risk lover."

"When we talk about the government, it's not just about profit or email marketing. We're discussing lives, political rights, potential natural disasters, and possible wars that may occur in the government. The government always needs to maintain high stability and security. The main challenge when it comes to  startups is that GovTech and technology companies are still talked about as if they pose a risk. The government sees GovTech and startups as a risk factor, and that's where the lack of investment comes in. They often don't hire startups because they view them as a risk, but we need to change how the government perceives GovTech startups. They are not a risk factor; on the contrary, GovTech startups are a security factor because many of them already have scale, cash flow, years of experience, and training, and they work well with the government. These companies are so established that they already have strong compliance. They not only have the structure to work with the government, which involves no risk, but they also have software and services that bring security and stability to the government. A government that relies on paper-based transaction processes has no security; it only has risk, opening the door to corruption and insecurity."

"The government needs to understand that GovTech, technology in the government, is precisely the opposite of risk. Having software that manages taxation significantly reduces the risk. Having software that manages a public hospital, doctors, and nurses decreases the risk of potential issues in the government. We don't need the government to become a risk lover. The government won't change; it will always be an entity with a risk aversion. However, they need to comprehend that GovTech startups are not a risk. That's the mindset that needs to change. GovTech startups are a security factor, not a risk factor. When we talk about startups, everyone thinks about unicorns that are unstable, lack security, and are funded by investment funds, which raises suspicion. That's not the case with GovTech startups. They know how to work with the government, understand the need for stability, and the government needs to realize that they are a security factor, not a risk factor. The government's education on this matter needs to change so that they don't perceive GovTech startups the same way they view startups in the private sector. The two are different, and GovTech has security and doesn't pose as much risk as those in the private sector."