If there’s anyone who understands the rapid pace of innovation around the internet, it’s Mike Strutton. He’s been working in the sector since the days when a telephone line was the conduit for your connection.

Strutton was one of the early employees for a small, regional Internet Service Provider known as MindSpring. That company merged with EarthLink to create a billion-dollar public company with more than a million subscribers.

He describes himself as a serial entrepreneur, product guy, dev leader, patent author, geek and social media expert.

DX Visionary

His current role is vice president of product management for the Oracle Social Cloud. He arrived there through the company’s acquisition of Vitrue, a social media technology company that supported many of the world’s top brands. During his time at Vitrue he was the chief product officer and creative vision behind many of the company’s technology products.

Strutton will be one of the panelists on a roundtable at CMSWire's DX Summit, which runs Nov. 14 through 16 at the Radisson Blu Aqua hotel in Chicago.

We caught up with him in advance to chat about his passion for technology and his predictions about the future of digital customer experience — thoughts he'll share during a DX Visionaries roundtable on Nov. 15. 

Great digital experience, he maintains, is about effectively bringing technology together, "not just integrating the pieces together but actually innovating how those pieces come together to make better solutions for marketers and bring about change for them."

Maintaining the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Walter: Tell us a bit about your background.

Strutton: We'll, I'm a technology geek. I admit, I geek out about this stuff — and we are living in what I think is the most fascinating time for technology — from both a consumer and business standpoint. Digital, social, mobile and cloud have spurred incredible innovations — and the next five to ten years will be revolutionary. 

Think about the potential around artificial intelligence, augmented reality and virtual reality. The opportunities for businesses are incredible. I feel lucky to be working at a company like Oracle, which has the global resources and partnerships to be at the forefront of this next wave of technology.

Walter: Can you briefly explain Oracle's growth in the cloud sector?

Strutton: Whether its Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) or Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), we're experiencing incredible growth across all our cloud offerings. We’re currently the only company offering a complete set of cloud systems, and customers are seeing value in the integrated cloud offering.

We’re also developing our enterprise resource planning (ERP) and human capital management (HCM) offerings. Oracle is the first to deliver a complete cloud ERP suite for mid-size and large enterprises. In fiscal year 2016, ERP and Enterprise Performance Management grew 58 percent quarter over quarter.  

We’ve also experienced significant cloud growth, which goes against a trend: Most companies experience declining growth rates as their business grows. 

Learning Opportunities

Walter: What was the biggest takeaway from your time at Vitrue?

Strutton: Well, that we built the leading social relationship management platform on the market — which was validated by Oracle's acquisition of Vitrue in 2012. I also learned smart businesses keep an entrepreneurial spirit. They never stop thinking like a startup. They never stop innovating. I've taken that mindset with me within Oracle.

Walter: MindSpring is a blast from the past of the early days of the internet. What strikes you in retrospect?

Strutton: It's mind-blowing how far we've come from the dial-up, 14.4K baud modem days. It just reminds you of the incredible speed of technology — and it moves faster every single year.

Walter: You'll be discussing the future of digital customer experience at the DX Summit. What are some key trends you see?

Strutton: Social customer service continues to be a major priority as customers use social channels to connect directly with brands. The power has definitely shifted from the brand to the customer in terms of opening communication, and increased engagement on social networks validates that.

We’re also noticing a movement toward data centricity in customer experience. Centralizing customer, sales and other data points into an overall view of the business is hugely important to gain a 360-degree understanding of your customer and make smarter business decisions. Data will continue to play a huge role in marketing and customer experience moving forward.

Walter: What do you enjoy outside the office?

Strutton: Boating, mountain biking, learning to wake board with my teenagers and keeping up with this lightning fast-paced technology environment. It's equal parts exciting and exhausting.