Joni Johnson-Powe (00:00):
So we have a really exciting podcast today with Chris Carlstead from Thomson Reuters. We're going to listen and hear more about the recent partnership announcement with Oracle. But before we do that, let me first introduce myself, and then I'll also let Chris introduce himself. My name is Joni Johnson-Powe. I am a partner here in the KPMG transaction tax systems group, and I lead the west region here from the Denver office.
Chris Carlstead (00:29):
Hey, everybody. My name's Chris Carlstead, and I am ahead of partnerships and alliances for Thomson Reuters and our corporate segment. Excited to be with Joni today.
Joni Johnson-Powe (00:40):
Well, thanks again, Chris, for joining us. And what I'd really like to hear about is more about this new agreement with Oracle. And sounds like you guys are expanding your global footprint and the capabilities of the indirect tax determination to natively run on Oracle Cloud. Can you tell us a little more about that?
Chris Carlstead (01:00):
Yeah, I'd love to, Joni. It's been a great journey, and a lot of fantastic work has gone into bringing this agreement together that we announced just about a month ago. And quite frankly, years in the making. And we're really proud of it because of the collaboration and the partnering that both of the organizations came together and really made this a reality. But on its face, it's putting the Thomson Reuters tax engine onto the Oracle Cloud infrastructure and taking advantage of all the great things that OCI offers its customers. And in the end, we're pleased to be able to provide our application on a cloud that Oracle customers want to use and making it easier for them to not only take advantage of the great aspects of OCI but also being able to use the Thomson Reuters tax engine on the cloud of their choosing.
Joni Johnson-Powe (01:58):
Well, that's really exciting. I know that we, as a practice here at KPMG, we're really excited to hear the news, and that's because we ourselves have a really strong relationship with Oracle and a really strong Oracle practice here with the firm. We are not only a platinum partner with Oracle, but we have an Oracle cloud ignition center, like right here in Denver. We also have, I think, which is going to be really great about the Thomson Reuters partnership in conjunction with ours is we've really been focusing on accelerating solution deployment, and this new innovation that you guys have with Oracle Cloud, I think is going to fall right in line with what we're doing today. And another piece of exciting news I think that we're looking forward to as well is then the transaction tax systems group; we're also looking to expand and create an Oracle center of excellence. So I really think all of this news together is really going to help us align as partners as well in the indirect tax solutions area.
Chris Carlstead (03:06):
I couldn't agree more. Actually, it's great news. The opportunity for the three of us to come together to really ultimately bring an optimal value proposition to the customers first and foremost. And putting the customer first is always a winning strategy. And obviously, Thomson Reuters and KPMG have also a very long-standing partnership, and bringing Oracle into the picture through the recently announced agreement, I think is just better for the customer, so win, win, win.
Joni Johnson-Powe (03:38):
Absolutely. So tell me a little bit more, what are going to be the benefits of this partnership to your customers, and why is it important?
Chris Carlstead (03:48):
Well, and let me actually start off with a survey that we recently conducted. Thomson Reuters basically annually goes out and pings our customers. And in this case, we got about 800 respondents to really just get a state of the state, if you will, of the corporate tax department so that we know what's motivating them, what's driving them, what challenges they're trying to solve, and where they see opportunity. And without really any disagreement, the primary challenge, which I think isn't really even new is just the fact that they're being asked to do more with less, and resourcing and lack of resource and capacity that came out is just the number one challenge they face. I would say equally consistent in the responses was that they see technology as the path to helping address those challenges. And what we found in those that have leaned into technology, they self-described themselves as optimized or predictive or proactive, and I think that's really interesting.
Chris Carlstead (04:56):
And the other thing we found is that there's this theme of leading to tax organizations or tax and trade organizations that are finding synergies in connecting the dots between the other functional groups within the corporation like finance or technology and tax. And as you know, we all have in our careers experienced, oftentimes those functions don't work as seamlessly together as we might like, and we've used technology and services like KPMG to help bring those folks together, but now we're really starting to see momentum building. And bringing technology together across different vendors is as important as ever. And I like to say that we as the consumers love our iPads, our iPhones, our Androids, and we are getting very spoiled and getting instant-ready answers. And while businesses are somewhat behind in that experience, especially B2B, that's changing.
Chris Carlstead (05:58):
And to put a pin on that, bringing our tax applications onto Oracle Cloud is a step in that direction. Oracle customers want to use Fusion. Oracle customers will use Fusion on Oracle Cloud, and now they can use Thomson Reuter's tax engine on the Oracle Cloud as well. And the benefits that that brings is it now starts to unite those functions that are making those business decisions, namely finance and technology when you think about Fusion and the technology stack, but now tax is part of that conversation, and it helps to reduce the risk of having not only those groups not talking to each other but also not having that technology as tightly integrated as we now are able to do through this agreement with Oracle.
Joni Johnson-Powe (06:43):
Yeah, absolutely. I have to say, in my 20 years of being in tax technology, the way we deliver projects has significantly changed. I mean, it used to be in a vacuum. We'd meet with the tax people, they would maybe talk to IT on the side, but now it's really an integrated process that involves accounting, finance, tax, procurement, operations. And I think those projects where all of those groups are working together for a common goal, those are the most successful projects. And so, the deployment strategy for a tax automation project today compared to three to five years ago is really different. And I think the expectations are also different, where plug and play capabilities, that's expected. IT experts, "How fast can we get this solution in?"
Joni Johnson-Powe (07:38):
We've moved from on-prem to cloud-based solutions. And so, the move to Oracle Cloud is right in line where at one point in time IT was no way we're going to the cloud, and now that's the expectation. And so, I think that with even the pandemic where tax departments have learned that they can have dispersed resources in multiple places, but there's a lot of data that they have to deal with on a daily basis, speed and performance are necessary because of the high volume, the high expectations in terms of turnaround, and the fact that we have a lot of big data that is integral in our day to day lives today, both from a technical perspective and a tax perspective as well. So with that, tell me a little bit about the cloud strategy that you guys have in terms of this new partnership with Oracle.
Chris Carlstead (08:38):
Yeah. Absolutely. And it just actually to build on the point that you made there and, I'll tie it into the question, Joni, is that I do find it's really interesting, and it's happened so fast. But over the last handful of years, we went from an environment, in particular, in the tax and trade space, but I think it permeated beyond that function where cloud was seen as risky, that the security's not going to be there. I'm not going to have control, automatic implementation or automatic upgrades were scary. And then more recently was performance. I'm not going to get the same level of performance because it's too far away for me. And the amount of change, and not only thinking, but actually the technology that drove the evolution of the thinking has changed so dramatically in the last 12 to 24 months, it may be even a little bit longer, but then you had a lag of the actual corporate buyers getting on board with that, but now you're considered insecure if you're not in the cloud, and that you're exposed to hacking and whatnot.
Chris Carlstead (09:46):
And with the evolution of the public cloud providers, Oracle, of course, being one, but then you've got others as well, like AWS and Azure. This race to winning that market has been amazing for customers because they now have data centers all over the place, so they've addressed the latency part in large part. They've certainly addressed the security part. And we've got room to grow and continue to improve, but we've come a long way. And now you're starting to see the adoption very quickly follow. And I share that because that's really important with respect to our strategy and the work that we're doing with Oracle.
Chris Carlstead (10:29):
By being on OCI, we now have reduced the latency. We've reduced the risk that's inherent in having applications either on-premise or potentially in different clouds, and that's all value for the customer. And I would say the second big benefit is that by coming on to Oracle's cloud and collaborating with Oracle, we now have better access to their technology, to their roadmaps, to their vision. And we're able to align our roadmaps, our vision, our strategy to the direction that Oracle is going, which is, ultimately, just going to provide a more enhanced and better experience for the customer.
Joni Johnson-Powe (11:14):
Yeah, I absolutely agree. As you talk about that collaboration, it makes me think about what we're doing with our Oracle team as well. And I think that speed of innovation is right in line with what we're seeing here and what we're doing with our clients and our customers. I think one really exciting area for us is the fact that our advisor group has developed this great solution called powered solutions, specifically to our Oracle deployments. And it's really an end-to-end pre-configuration solution, so it goes back to what you were saying about having those systems connected, having efficiency in terms of being able to implement, and staying very connected in terms of new innovations. And so, we're working really closely with our advisory group to be part of that pre-configured solution from a tax technology perspective.
Joni Johnson-Powe (12:16):
There are some other things that we're also trying to help customers and clients be efficient in terms of the deployment of indirect tax solutions with our testing tool kits. We also have this great tool with the Thomson Reuters geography validation on our address validation. And I think that as we continue to see the evolution and the unity in solutions between different finance groups and IT, as well as partners and vendors, we're going to continue to see a change in the environment that we find ourselves in today. And I think this is just a really great first step to continuing that growth. So, Chris, any other points you'd like to cover in terms of this exciting partnership with Oracle? I know here at KPMG, we were really, really excited to hear about the direction that you guys are going because it aligns really perfectly with where we see our practice as well.
Chris Carlstead (13:29):
Yeah. I do, actually. If I may be so bold and speak directly to the potential customers that are out there listening to this. At the end of the day, I think the most powerful, most important about Oracle and Thomson Reuters coming together, and then, of course, working with KPMG to, to bring that value into the marketplace are the benefits the customer is going to receive. Undoubtedly, tighter collaboration between the three of us will lead to a better customer experience that will translate into some tactical things. We'll see lower latency. We'll see better performance. We'll see higher security. We'll be able to conduct more volumes of tax workloads at a faster pace or faster speed. You then also get the benefit of all the great investment that's going into the Oracle Cloud infrastructure.
Chris Carlstead (14:28):
And if I may, I'm going to read just one piece so I get it right. On Oracle, they are touting that they've got the built-in security, the high availability, the superior price performance, and they find that to be a very competitive differentiator in the marketplace. And that's what Oracle is expressing to their customer base. Well, why wouldn't we want to be a part of that and be able to help serve those customers, right?
Joni Johnson-Powe (14:51):
Chris Carlstead (14:51):
So I think that's fantastic news. And then, from a Thomson Reuters standpoint, the tax engine that's been widely adopted in the marketplace that covers 56,000 tax jurisdictions sits in over 200 countries with respect to content and is tried trued and tested, all that is not just coming to Oracle and going to be on the cloud where those customers want to be. So they get the same great offering, but in the cloud that they would prefer to be in. And I think that's just fantastic.
Joni Johnson-Powe (15:26):
Yeah, absolutely fantastic. Well, Chris, really appreciate your time today. Again, here at KPMG, we are super excited about this announcement with Oracle, and we look forward to working with the Thomson Reuters team and appreciate everybody joining us today.
Chris Carlstead (15:44):
Well, Joni, I can't thank you enough. It's been my pleasure, and I really enjoyed the chat with you. And if I may end with just a quick plug, again, for those listening, you can learn more about the relationship we have with Oracle by going out to their website. And we're a member of the Oracle PartnerNetwork, or OPN as they refer to it. And additional details is available there as well as on the Oracle Marketplace, where you can learn a lot more about what we discussed today. So thanks again.