On this episode of The Six Five Webcast host Patrick Moorhead and Daniel Newman discuss the tech new stories that made headlines this week. The six handpicked topics for this week are:
- Cisco’s Q2 Earnings Report
- Oracle’s Updates to its Cloud CX Offering
- Microsoft’s New Employee Experience Platform
- Oracle Roving Edge Announcement
- Box’s SignRequest Acquisition and Integration
- Poly’s Q3 Earnings Report
For a deeper diver into each topic, please click on the links above. Be sure to subscribe to The Six Five Webcast so you never miss an episode.
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Patrick Moorhead: Hi, this is Pat Moorhead with Moor Insights & Strategy, and I am joined by my awesome co-host, Daniel Newman, who is currently freezing his butt off in Chicago. Daniel, how are you doing?
Daniel Newman: Welcome to The Six Five. I’m doing good, Pat. It is a cold day here. Not going to lie, covered up the vent in my office yesterday because the heat was too hot, and now I can literally feel the goosebumps on my skin. But I’m going to Texas on Friday, and it’s going to be in the forties in Houston, so you know what? Cut the bragging. Let’s just talk technology, bro.
Patrick Moorhead: Yeah, let’s dive right in. That video you sent me was scary. It looked like Captain Ahab or what the captain of the Titanic might have seen, with icebergs and stuff like that. But we’re having a freeze warning today here in Austin, so of course, I’m not going to send you my weather screenshot that I normally do.
But anyways, let’s jump right in. For those of you unfamiliar with The Six Five, we cover six topics, around five minutes each. Okay, maybe a little bit longer, maybe we should call this The Six Six or Six Seven. But we are all about analysis because you can get the news anywhere. We are going to talk about some earnings today, but do not take any of this as recommendations for investments. Just ignore it. It’s for education.
So with that, Daniel, let’s actually jump into the first, and that is Cisco earnings. I’ll give, Daniel, just a brief, and you can go deeper if you’d like, but essentially, they beat on earnings, they beat on EPS, and they came in with a reasonable forecast, and they even beat on the infrastructure breakout that they do. And the market kindly rewarded them with a 3% sell off. Of course, I say that sarcastically, but that seems to be the tale of a few stocks out there.
The only thing I’ll point out about this was, I do feel a little bit better about Cisco and COVID. And I guess what I would say is, infrastructure and COVID, the infrastructure companies are getting hammered. First of all, budgets are moving from data center infrastructure to client PCs. I know it sounds weird, but you have to understand that an IT budget is an IT budget inside of an enterprise. And they had to get employees working outside the home, and enterprises are working to spend more money, so they ended up spending it on things like Zoom and new PCs.
But what that did is, there was less money remaining for infrastructure projects, and that not only hit Cisco, that’s hit HPE, that’s hit Dell. The only one who that really hasn’t hurt that much has been Lenovo, but they’re busy gaining a market share out there. But I thought that was a really good sign, and the other thing that I thought was really interesting was the hyperscalers. I think Cisco calls them web-scalers. It was really good to see them driving business, because quite frankly, while that business hasn’t gone to zero, you have a lot of these hyperscalers doing their own partnering with silicon vendors like Broadcom and doing their own networking gear, and 25%, apparently, of that SP number for these hyperscalers, so they’re starting to do some volume there. So some really good stuff.
Daniel Newman: Yeah, overall, the OEMs have had the biggest headwinds, in terms of benefiting from the technology boom that has been COVID-19. COVID reset the world. It changed digital. Anything that was streaming, anything that was cloud, anything that was digital commerce saw explosive growth. So if you were a cloud provider, if you were a SAS provider, if you were a digital commerce tool, CRM, in the cloud, you probably did very well. The big tech names, Dell, Cisco, IBM, HP, HPE, all had greater headwinds, because people are buying hardware that would go into a physical data center, But when nobody’s in the office, that, of course, is going to slow down the investments that are made.
So Cisco’s numbers, for a number of quarters, have reflected that. The growth of the revenue has been somewhat stagnant. I think it’s been five quarters of no growth in the top line for Cisco. But I really kind of had a different take on this. I looked at the overall business, and year over year, it was flat. But given the headwinds that the company had, given the fact that, not only did COVID slow the sales cycle, but you also had massive supply chain issues heading into this whole situation, that was a headwind that existed before COVID.
I think the company has showed quite a bit of strength, resilience would be the word, to be able to come through, keeping revenue flat, showing little inclinations of growth, forward guidance at three and a half, five and a half percent growth coming up in this next quarter, double-digit growth in the WebEx category, and a strong shift from perpetual licensing in their service business to recurring revenue on their software and services. I think over 75% now, of the revenue generated for that particular part of the business is now on a recurring scale. So that’s another really important part of the business.
Cybersecurity is big. We heard Microsoft come out with a number a few weeks back, and showing their wares in the space. But Cisco is still one of the biggest in this space and that physical security layer, and that’s not going to go anywhere, anytime soon. The, as you mentioned, web scale, the large Catalyst 9,000 and data center switching, security, WebEx, some smart acquisitions, the AppD side, observability, these are all areas where Cisco shows strength.
Of course, the big question mark that I have around Cisco, and I think, Pat, you and I share this sentiment, is, the cloud strategy needs better definition. I’m waiting to hear what that definition is. How does Cisco connect to the cloud? IBM has OpenShift with Red Hat, HPE has done pretty well with GreenLake, at least in terms of making that clear, and Dell, of course, has VMware and is pushing there. Cisco needs to really clarify that strategy. I think you and I would both agree, we’d like to see and hear more. But you’ve got to give credit where credit is due, it beat on expectations, and that’s good stuff, Pat.
Patrick Moorhead: You got a lot more out of that one than I thought you would. Let’s jump into our next topic. So Oracle had their quarterly update for CX. You can basically set it by your watch these days. And essentially, what they do, because they have a SAS product, is they’re doing rapid, quarterly updates, which is different from, let’s say, an on-prem version that doesn’t have this type of consistency. Daniel, I’m going to give you most of this one, so I think this is going to be the Daniel show, the next couple of topics here.
Daniel Newman: Well, you know how that goes. There’s things that we lean into. Tom Brady is coming in, buddy. Throw that trophy. God, I can’t believe he did that. Look, the team at Oracle and the CX and the cloud has been very ambitious. There’s been a lot of criticism that’s come over the years, that the company has not been innovative enough. So the real focus here is showing that it’s being innovative, showing that it’s regularly updating its products and services, and the cloud really is an enabler of this.
So these new updates have provided a couple of really noteworthy items, enhancements to selling B2B, enhancements in service B2B, and some loyalty and marketing capability updates. I’ll touch on these really quickly and why I like them. So voice capabilities added to the platform, we all know, with CRM, [inaudible] opportunity creation, the need to be able to talk to our systems, because people are terrible at… data. So I really like that. It scales the speed of uploading systems of record, and on top of that, it’s really more mobile-friendly. That was a big one in that particular area.
The other thing I really liked was some of the next-best-action tools. Salespeople need to know where to focus. Pat, you and I are entrepreneurs. We know how our heads run all over the place when we’re talking about different opportunities. Salespeople can have 50, a hundred, a thousand opportunities. Where does that focus go? I was encouraged at kind of how AI and ML and data is being applied to provide these salespeople more clarity.
On the service side, I also liked, one, the focus on B2B. I sometimes feel like B2B gets sidelined for B2C. B2C is cool, everybody knows what it is. There were some great updates at the digital service automation layer that really drew my attention. We hear about chat bots a lot, but look, a crappy chat bot is a crappy experience. I’m not going to say any more than that. I think everybody knows that. They’re working on making it simple to deploy very high-quality, engaging chat bots, that really can power a meaningful interaction. And there were some great updates done on that particular capability, so that caught my attention.
And the last thing is on the loyalty in marketing. We all know loyalty drives repetitive business. We also all know that the customer data platform, CDP, is a hot topic. So some updates to their CrowdTwist and Oracle unity, which is their CDP platform, were made. And I really liked the fact that they’re working to create more bi-directional data flows between CrowdTwist, which is that data source for all that external, connecting to things like social and digital, and then their CDP unity layer, which connects to the systems of record that you keep within the company, and let that data flow in between. The CDP is all about the right [crosstalk], right time, right customer. That’s what they’re doing.
Last little thing, Pat. They did make a connection to Zoom, some upgrades to their Zoom integration. We all heard about Oracle doing some work with Zoom in the cloud, but one of the things also is, virtual events are becoming increasingly snoozers. Too much of it, not enough engagement, not enough visual data for people to know, are these events successful, or implemented in their newest updates to deepen the engagement and improve virtual events for vendors. So a lot there, Pat, kind of streamlined updates. But overall, I felt that it really is the key for Oracle, consistent continuity to the updates so nobody can say their products are getting stale, which is something that has been spoken about in the past.
Patrick Moorhead: Well, and just the notion that they’re going to do quarterly updates and stick off of that. I’m sure they have a lot of debate internally on, are these relevant enough? You can jam in updates all day long, but the biggest question is, do they matter to customers? When I looked at their presentation and watched the video… I think it was, gosh, was it yesterday? Yeah, this is pretty fresh.
What I was most impressed with, and this may sound nuts because it’s normally not the sexy thing that gets covered, was their B2B service updates, and their ability to intelligently manage chat bots, and prioritize a more valuable customer coming in, and then treat them differently on the fly than you might treat the other 50,000 people that came in for support. And there was this connection to the backend, which again, I think they’ve had pretty good success with so far, showing the value of the ability to go look into factory data, ERP, to be able to give better service to your customer’s immediacy.
So with that said, some really good analysis, Daniel. So hey, let’s dive into the next topic here, and we’re going to call an audible here. Let’s jump into Box and its SignRequest integration. So first off, if you’re in tech, you know who Box is and what they do. If not, you may only remember them as one of the early online storage and file sharing company. But what they’ve done, and I even missed it over the years that they were building, is created and coined a new phrase, called CCM, basically Cloud Content Management, and if you can think for a second, the highest security, the highest privacy environments, and the ability to move documents around and share them with people. And I’m grossly simplifying what Box does here, but it should give you a better idea of what they do.
And now, they’re competing with kind of legacy ECM vendors like SharePoint, OpenText, Documentum, still competing with the EFSS vendors like OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive. But with that said, prior to this, they had partnered with folks like DocuSign and Adobe, and still are partnering on the ability to go to that last mile, which is actually signing a document and routing it through to support. We’ve all done it before. I mean, we all do it. And quite frankly, and this was a big driver for it that came up when I was pre-briefed, was the fact that we’re not in the office. So this ability to route and sign in a safe, and secure, and legitimate manner has much higher demand. So with that said, Box acquired SignRequest. They’re a small company, but very robust company, and intend to integrate it in the next few months. So may not be the biggest acquisition, Daniel, that you and I will cover in 2021, but I think a real important one to expand Box’s capability.
Daniel Newman: Yeah, I’ve been tracking Box, impressed with the productivity space in general, the growth opportunity that exists within it. And this is, I would say, a very incremental but important move, Pat. How many times a day are we getting documents flung our way? How many tools do we have to kind of flow between to get to that signature? I can’t tell you often that I get a document, and then I have to download it, and then I send it through some chat app to somebody on my team, and they put it up into a DocuSign or a SignNow app, and then it gets emailed to me, and then I sign it, and then it gets sent back to me through routing, and then I, essentially, download that, and then I email it back. I mean, think about that workflow.
Patrick Moorhead: Oh, I do it almost every day, and it drives me absolutely bonkers. And I can’t believe the Fortune 50 tech companies who still do it.
Daniel Newman: Of course, if it’s point-to-point, it can work out okay, but a lot of times, like I said, it’s not. It’s just not that simple, and things don’t work that way. So Pat, I think Box is one to watch. Don’t sleep on the company, especially when it’s B2B. I think everybody kind of knows it for some of its more simple consumer, file storage type stuff, like the Dropbox competitive, but it definitely seems the company is playing in some new spaces and-
Patrick Moorhead: Yeah, Daniel, I took my eye off the ball, and it was just… I woke up, and oh my gosh, they are a content management company not competing with Dropbox, so quite the surprise.
So Daniel, let’s move to another topic, Microsoft Viva. Microsoft had a major announcement. And essentially, what they’re doing is, they’re taking the capabilities of SharePoint, injecting steroids into it, and leveraging the newer needs that managers and employees have for closer proximity, given COVID, and the ability for managers to manage better from afar. Daniel, what’s your take on this one?
Daniel Newman: Yeah, this is a big moment for the company. So 2020 did present us a boon for collaboration, right? Zoom, Teams, WebEx, all of them, so a ton of momentum. Here’s the thing, though. The overwhelming data shows that we are not overly satisfied with working from home. We are exhausted, we are fatigued, we’re [crosstalk]-
Patrick Moorhead: Check, check, check, on all of those. Sometimes, I just want to fricking pull my hair out. Other days, I’m kissing the ground because it’s nice to be home. I mean, it’s parabolic changes in my own attitude, so-
Daniel Newman: Absolutely, and it’s emotional swings, it’s challenging. But long and short of it is, as we kind of get past this pivot of expecting and knowing that part of our life is going to be incorporated by digital and remote meetings, we have to start to think about connecting the worker, worker productivity, work-life balance. Salesforce did something about this, and it was really focused on it with its salesforce.org and its return to work. And you saw Microsoft kind of started a platform around return to work.
Now we’re seeing this Viva platform though, and this was something Satya personally got behind. And Microsoft does a lot of announcements, but Satya doesn’t show up for all of them. Satya is behind this one because this was really all about employee experience. So within the Teams M365 environment, it’s a set of new tools that connects, analyzes, drives knowledge and connectivity and sharing throughout the organization.
So Viva is basically a platform. It functions within the M365 space, within Teams. There’s a connections module, or app, there’s a insights app, there’s a learning app, and there’s a topics app. Connection is basically the gateway to the digital workplace. Employees are able to access all the resources in one place. We’ve had the portal for a long time. This is just a piece of it. It’s kind of that portal for all the information.
Insights was something that really caught my attention though, because Insights gives three layers, Pat. It’s employee level, manager level, organizational level. Employees need to better understand. You have that Apple Watch or that smartwatch, tells you to get up and walk around a little bit. But what’s analyzing your work behavior, your ability to pay attention, your productivity levels? And how can employees see for themselves, how they’re doing? So that’s what’s being done here at that granular employee level.
And then, at the manager level, you start to see this data limited to Teams and then certain data be anonymized, where managers can get a better sense within their teams of how this is going. Where can their efforts be placed to improve that employee work experience, life balance that is required? And organizationally, they can go… full levels of anonymization of all this data, to really get a sense of, how is the organization doing, what’s the health of the people, how productive are their workers? And this is where we really need things to head. As people are fully functioning in digital realms, how do we get more from our people while considering the balance that we need to consider and the fact that this type of digital life is going to continue for years to come?
And the other two, I’ll just touch on quickly. There’s a learning module, which… Microsoft, by the way, remember, owns LinkedIn, and LinkedIn Learning has been a thing for a long time. But how do you take that learning from the social media and bring it intra-organization, building professional opportunities, growth, development, learning, tons of third-party connections, including LinkedIn and Microsoft, but also things like Coursera, Skillsoft, Pluralsight, edX, all incorporated into this tool?
And then finally, Topics is kind of like the knowledge center, right? We’re seeing cloud and Azure being used to centralize, create repositories where people can learn, and garner, and enrich, and know, hey, what are things that are being already shared in the organization that I could benefit from knowing more about? We all know work… especially the bigger an organization gets, the more duplication and redundancy that ends up happening. It’s like, hey, can you create this report? Well, you know what? This report has been created 30 times already inside the organization. Where does that exist? How do I find it easily? So Topics gives that ability to identify and find that, Pat.
For me, though, it’s all about humanizing the workplace. It’s all about using data, using information, using tools and technology, and really next-leveling the company portal. Organizational portals aren’t new. That’s really what this is. But what they’re doing really, is saying, “We and Viva…” something tied on life. By the way, I’m sure Viva is all about balance of work and life, bringing all the tools together, collaboration, but humanization. And so, I like the overarching idea here. Big topic, adoption will be an interesting thing to follow and watch.
Patrick Moorhead: Great insights, Daniel. It’s funny, I always have a sense… I can predict what Microsoft is going to do next. I didn’t predict this one. I did know that these management tools about remote employees were kind of dangling out there as an Office 365 thing, but they surprised me on this one, and it was a pleasant surprise. So a great analysis, and check out Daniel’s article on his website.
Daniel Newman: Viva la Vida.
Patrick Moorhead: Yeah, so let’s move to cloud infrastructure, baby, hybrid infrastructure, the Oracle Roving Edge. So Oracle, this week, announced that it is bringing OCI to your edge. It is a portable device. It’s rugged, it’s scalable, and it’s called a RED, so Roving Edge Device equals RED. And Red can take up to 40 CPUs, an NVIDIA T4 tensor core, half a terabyte of RAM, 61 terabytes of storage.
And the only reason why I’m going into this, ad nauseam, is because it’s a real compute platform, right? This isn’t to move data back and forth, this is actually to run the application on the edge. So imagine if you’re the military and you are flying planes around, gathering information, and you want to do real-time analytics on that data, but you want it connected to the Oracle Cloud and you want the ability to send it back. The consumption model is really cool. I mean, what you do is, essentially, in your console, you set it up, you order it, you load it with VMs and your data, and then once it’s configured, it’s disconnected and shipped to you. And if you don’t trust the transit system, you could pick it up at an air gap location in the Oracle data center, to deploy in your environment.
The other thing I love about Oracle’s play, its simplicity. It’s 160 bucks per node, per day. And obviously, that’s the entry level, that’s flat day per pricing, when the server is out in production. The other thing is, I think Oracle has a unique approach to how it’s dealing with VMware and using the Oracle Cloud, VMware cloud solution. Enterprises have full access control of the VMware environment. They get route access, full control of the cluster, managing and choosing it, and even whether they want to upgrade the elements of the entire stack. I thought that was really interesting.
So in the grand scheme of things, this is part of Oracle’s hybrid play, right, which includes things like a dedicated region cloud customer, which I’m a pretty big fan of, if nothing else, just for its simplicity. And I can’t believe it, Daniel, I’ve converted from an absolute Oracle infrastructure hater, I’m sure they’re going to love that, to having a lot of respect for. OCI Gen 1, just wasn’t any good.
Daniel Newman: Yeah.
Patrick Moorhead: And OCI Gen 2, plus their hybrid plays, quite frankly, is respectable. Daniel, I’ll give you the mic real quick. I just want to show you a quick picture of what I’m talking about here. A picture says a thousand words, right? It’s portable, it’s rugged. We’ve seen this with AWS’ Snowball devices and Azure’s IoT Edge, and embarrassingly, I’ve forgotten the Google name of it.
Daniel Newman: Yeah, absolutely. It’s a beautiful box. I’d love to have that on my front porch. Anyway, no, Pat, you hit it on the head. OCI continues to innovate their hybrid approach, very intelligent Cloud@Customer. They’re very clearly empathic to the hybrid architectures that are being adopted by companies. The edge is not always static, and so that’s why these companies have come up with these solutions.
OCI Gen 2, a lot more demand. Larry Ellison said in his most recent earnings note that… a hundred percent growth. Now, in my MarketWatch piece where I tried to calculate cloud data, essentially, I have no idea, a hundred percent demand growth from what, but the point is, is that there is growing demand. And I also, like I said, really do believe that the cloud, purely public infrastructure, as kind of little C and big C, is now all this hybrid, all this connectivity, all these services, all the edge. All of this software, when you start to bring it together, is cloud opportunities, growing fast, and companies like Oracle are certainly making their play.
Patrick Moorhead: Good stuff, Daniel. And you know how excited I get about cloud infrastructure, so-
Daniel Newman: I do. You’re-
Patrick Moorhead: … thanks for-
Daniel Newman: … viewing.
Patrick Moorhead: Okay, let’s round out our show today. My gosh, Daniel, we might be on time. I can’t believe it. So hey, let’s talk about our next one for 20 minutes, just so we blow straight through it. So Polycom had their earnings and it was an absolute barn burner. The company has new CEO, basically a whole new L1 management team, and they’ve taken a… And quite frankly, they haven’t really financially taken advantage of COVID because they were so focused on the office itself, as opposed to the hybrid office.
Now, what they did is, it took them a while, but they just put it into overdrive here. Now, they just released a new set of what I consider truly hybrid work, that obviously didn’t impact their earnings this quarter. It was a lot of the work that they did with the prior series, and also, this doesn’t sound very sexy, Daniel, but getting their manufacturing in place to take up the demand. So gosh, what was their stock up like, 20%? It was absolutely insane.
Daniel Newman: Yeah, there was quite a run on the stock, but there’s been a shift from growth to value. Poly sort of sits on the premise of gold because it hadn’t grown early in COVID, but it is in the right space. Collaborations is the right space to be, [inaudible] Poly, and by the way, the ticker, PLT, because it was Polycom and Plantronics.
Patrick Moorhead: Buddy, that mixes me up every single time. I’m literally searching, what is the Poly ticker?
Daniel Newman: Yeah, PLT, and it was Plantronics, didn’t change when the company changed. And there’s that big smile. That’s Dave Shull, the new CEO, which we’ve had some opportunities to engage with. And Dave came from… probably best known for his role leading TiVo, but he’s had some other big jobs too. We’ve talked about Dave, but I really did like that the company brought someone kind of outside the traditional on-prem video conferencing.
So if you think about Poly where it was sort of best known, it was legacy video conferencing. That was where it was known. And Plantronics was kind of known for the legacy headsets, things in call centers. Well, the companies had to really make a big pivot and the pivot has essentially been moving from those on-prem legacy businesses to really attaching itself to, say, Zoom and to Microsoft Teams, and that’s really what’s happening here. So this new piece areas of professional devices is really all about creating hybrid work technologies, larger format displays, more dedicated headsets, small… This is a sync device, part of another new launch, that connects Zoom for higher-quality audio experiences.
Look, we’ve been stuck in our offices for so long now, and you and I have the benefit. We get all these toys sent to us. We’re playing with new technology. We get microphones, computers, PCs, cameras, laptops. But the average knowledge worker is in their office using a three or four-year-old laptop with a crappy camera, crappy audio experience. It’s really all about turning that up to the next level. All the money companies are going to save by getting rid of leases of commercial spaces, removing real estate, well, what we need to do is up-level the video quality, because we still see people in rooms that they shouldn’t be doing video in, we see video quality that’s way too low, we have audio issues, the whole, what? What’d you say? What’d you say?
So look, the earnings were very good. The foundation, the baseline, was low. The company retired some debt, created a lot of cash through its operations, almost doubled the expectation on earning, had a 10 plus percent beat on revenue, the leadership change is working, the products are getting in line with where they need to be. And these partnerships, especially Zoom and Microsoft, are key partnerships for any company that wants to be relevant in the peripherals business, around collaboration. And the company is also, by the way, focused on software. It’s working. It has this new lens software that’s actually doing analytics on collaboration, tools, usage, success.
And organizations, you heard me talk about Viva, same thing here. When it comes to collaboration, organizations want to know more about how their people are doing these tools, or the kind of tools that can help, both from the sense of understanding how they’re doing and enabling them to do better. So congratulations to Poly, Dave Shull, the whole new L1 and the leadership team over there. It’s a good momentum. And of course, as a analyst, I’m going to say, “I want to see more.”
Patrick Moorhead: Yeah, I’m a big fan of Dave and his no BS approach. All my interactions with him, one-on-one, have been just open, and free, and giving feedback, and he’s taking it and challenging me, and I appreciate that. They’re in a really interesting space. Poly is one of those companies, okay, on one end, you have PC equipment, right, that’s universally flexible, but not as easy to use, and I would pause it. The experience isn’t necessarily as good.
On the other side, you have equipment that’s tied to one service, and then in the middle, you have companies like Poly that can work with multiple, but they have optimized experience for three, four, in an audio, seven different options that you can get. So I think they fill a really interesting gap. They always need to be on the ball and thinking about value they provide so they don’t get squeezed at one end by the PC folks and they don’t get squeezed on experience by the proprietary folks.
So with that, Daniel, my friend, we have come to an end of another awesome show. It’s wonderful to see you, and I just want to thank all our fans who are tuning in. If you like what you’ve heard, go to YouTube and hit that subscribe button on Daniel, or my website. So Daniel, good to see you.
Daniel Newman: See you later.
Patrick Moorhead: Take care, everybody, and have a great weekend.