Wednesday Aug 31, 2016

A growing divide between IT and business is leading many businesses to take the wrong approach to cloud

This morning we issued a media alert showing that a growing divide between IT and business is leading many organisations to take the wrong approach to cloud!

While many companies across Europe as the Middle East are embracing the move to the Cloud, nearly half are struggling, wrestling with increases in Cloud integration costs and data silos according to a new study sponsored by Oracle. A key reason: more than 60% of a company’s overall IT spend is being driven by individual business units versus traditional IT departments, making it difficult for companies to fully benefit from the Cloud services they are subscribing to.

Another significant part of the problem is that most organizations continue to fund their IT investments without aligning to revenue potential and innovative projects: two in three business decision makers said IT funding is too traditional and is stifling innovation, while one in three IT-decision makers admit their organizations’ IT funding models are hindering them from IT innovation, according to Oracle’s Putting Cultural Transformation at the Heart of Cloud Success report. For the research, Oracle partnered with Coleman Parkes to survey 600 senior IT and line of business decision makers across Europe and the Middle East

Time to change funding models

The findings reveal businesses must rethink their IT funding models and undergo a cultural transformation in order to fully exploit the benefits of cloud computing. One third (33%) of respondents say an inappropriate IT funding model is inhibiting their business. One third (33%) also believe their company’s IT culture is unfit for the cloud computing age.

Tellingly, 72% of respondents say a new cloud funding model will allow IT departments to deliver more cloud services to the business, and 70% expect it will help the company to reduce costs.

Shedding light on Shadow IT

The Oracle study also found that increased IT spend outside the IT team (also known as Shadow IT) is standing in the business’ way. More than one third (35%) of technology respondents believe Shadow IT practices are inhibiting the ability of IT to deliver on business goals. Indeed, 46% said the approach they’ve taken to cloud so far has increased integration costs, with the same percentage saying it has led to the creation of data siloes.

Additionally, the vast majority of respondents (95%) believe Shadow IT is a major cause of complexity. Roughly one-third say leaving lines of business to manage their IT-spend independently results in increased security concerns, making funding more difficult to manage, and diluting the company’s control of its IT.

Johan Doruiter, Senior Vice President of Systems, Oracle EMEA, said: “The issues companies face with their cloud resources are less to do with the technology itself and more to do with a lack of synchronization across lines of business. Decision-makers in each department are increasingly making cloud purchasing decisions without involving the CIO due to the ease of procurement. However, without one IT point-person to unify their cloud investment strategy companies will continue to struggle with individual departments tugging time and resource in opposing directions.”

CIO as Cloud Navigator

Oracle’s research reveals that in many companies there is no single person with a view across all technology investments. This makes it difficult for organizations to develop and follow a unified cloud strategy.

The CIO cannot continue to be side-tracked and must be an integral player in leading the business as it transitions to an enterprise cloud model. With integration and data management still critical to organizations, alarmingly, CIOs control less than half the IT budget in 66% of businesses.

Doruiter added: “Companies are having their expectations met by the cloud in many respects, but their approach to IT investment remains stuck in the past. The cloud is about seamlessly joining up data and workloads across the organization and yet we continue to see individual lines of business implement IT systems in siloes. This breeds added complexity and leads to integration issues that could easily be avoided with a more integrated approach.

“CIOs must work more closely with line of business leaders to ensure IT is supporting innovation. They must serve as ’cloud navigator’, collaborating with each department to manage cloud procurement issues, cost and risk and ensuring that all lines of business are working towards a common cloud strategy. The CIO should also be the voice of change in the boardroom, calling on the CEO and CFO to mandate a unified approach to cloud across the business.”

Contact Info

Anders Lund Rendtorff

+45 44 80 83 26

Oracle EMEA Public Relations

+44 (0) 844 875 1455

About the research
Oracle commissioned Coleman Parkes to survey 600 senior IT and line of business decision makers – encompassing the job titles of head of IT/CIO, CTO, head of finance/CFO, head of sales, head of marketing/CMO, head of operations/COO and head of digital/CDO. The businesses ranged in size from 1,000 employees to more than 5,000 and were drawn from manufacturing, financial services, retail and distribution, healthcare, professional services, public sector and legal. The research covers the UK, Germany, France, Turkey and the Gulf States/Middle East.

Wednesday Mar 23, 2016

Digital Security: Enabling the Modern Enterprise

Author: Xavier Verhaeghe, EMEA VP Technology Solutions at Oracle

Businesses today have at their disposal the means with which to innovate almost at will; creating competitive and compelling propositions that are transforming the lives of consumers. Everything from the rise of the sharing economy, courtesy of companies such as AirBNB and Uber, through to the futuristic innovations of Google’s driverless cars and Tesla’s commercial spaceships, are driven by digital technology. But for any of these innovations to take place one is absolutely essential: security.

The way businesses need to think about digital security is changing completely. Before the advent of cloud computing, mobile, social media, the Internet of Things, and the other technologies that are transforming business, security was relatively simple. As data resided within the databases well within the perimeter of the enterprise, firms could lock it down with a reasonable degree of certainty that it would not fall into the wrong hands.

However, modern enterprise technologies are being designed with one aim in mind: to ease the flow of data around the business to enable innovation. As a result, modern data systems are highly interconnected, with data flowing freely between machines, on-premise databases, cloud-based systems, employee devices, customer devices and partner networks, to bring about transformational customer services and business models.

Digital security is evolving to ensure that these benefits can be leveraged fully by businesses.

The cyber threat

Much has been written about the positive impact of digital transformation, but equally important are its one major side-effect: a rapid increase in cybercrime (last year there was a 20 percent increase in global cybercrime[1]). A vast black market has grown up alongside digital technologies, supporting the acquisition and sale of personal data, intellectual property, financial data, and almost any other piece of information with economic value. If digital businesses are to combat this threat effectively, they need an approach to security that is every bit as agile and dynamic as the enterprise systems they seek to protect.

The reasons for this are twofold. First, modern businesses are increasingly data-centric: they live or die by their ability to handle data. Retailers for example might not see themselves as data businesses, but they are: every day they handle sensitive customer payment data through point-of-sale and ecommerce, and they support sales with online and mobile channels that harvest useful data on customer behavior. At the same time, this data is used to optimize purchasing, procurement and stocktaking thus, the entire supply chain is dependent on digital data. If retailers lose access to any of this data, they simply cannot compete.

The trust customers hold in businesses is therefore vital to their success: people must believe their private data is safe with the company they transact with. When that trust is lost, the consequences are huge. According to the Ponemon Institute, global businesses lost $1.57 million in 2015 solely from an abnormal turnover of customers, increased customer acquisition activities and reputation loss caused by data breaches[2].

Second, as businesses increasingly take on the role of data custodians, regulations are beginning to catch up. In the EU, protection of personal data is a priority for regulators as they see it as key to accelerating digital innovation. The EU is currently working on data protection reforms that will impact all businesses that handle the data of EU citizens (including those from outside Europe). The General Data Protection Regulation, as it is called, is expected to pass the EU Parliament in March or April 2016, following which EU member states will put it into force through local laws. The regulation will penalize firms up to four percent of global revenue for data-breaches or mismanagement[3].

Crucially, the General Data Protection Regulation also stipulates that organizations must give individuals better access to their data, and that this data should be easily portable between vendors if a person decides to make a change. So simply locking down sensitive customer data is not an option for businesses – they must be both secure and agile; able to protect data without hindering its free flow to customers and other approved stakeholders.

Digital security enables innovation

Digital security must therefore be seen not only as a protector, but also as an enabler. As well as keeping critical data away from prying eyes, digital security enables all the great customer and business services digital transformation brings about – from integrated health to big data analytics – by ensuring data can still flow freely between a multitude of approved service providers. In this regard it is ideally suited to the requirements of the EU’s data regulation.

So how can businesses use security as an enabler? How can they ensure they can launch innovative digital services while protecting against breaches, maintaining consumer trust and staying on the right side of legislation? Here are five ways:

1. Set up an end-to-end security platform

The priority is to have a system that is as dynamic as the digital business itself. This means putting in place an end-to-end security platform that protects structured and unstructured data, in motion and at rest, both on-premise and in the cloud.

Furthermore, digital businesses are increasingly demanding tailored, specially-built applications that meet their unique need. Gartner has forecast that by 2020, 75 percent of application purchases supporting digital business will be "build", not "buy" and will be sourced from startups and specialized local providers[4]. Building security into each individual app is a time consuming and inefficient way of ensuring security. Instead, businesses are looking for a way to drive security further down the software stack; right down to the database or even the silicon layers.

2. Enable hybrid security

Security for digital transformation has to be capable of covering on-premise apps as well as cloud-based apps; the foundation of digital transformation. Hybrid security is the key: being able to secure data and apps on premise and in the cloud. This is because for the next decade at least cloud and on-premise applications and infrastructure are going to work in tandem within enterprises. The ability of organizations to secure their data, no matter where it resides, will be crucial to fully exploiting the opportunities of digital transformation. Digital security in hybrid environments calls for robust encryption, ID management and access (see below) across both enterprise and cloud environments. Moreover, businesses need should look to classify data according to how sensitive it is; storing their most sensitive data where they feel it is best protected.

3. Encrypt your data

When building a robust hybrid security environment, data encryption is vital. Data must be encrypted as a rule, both while it is at rest in the data center and in flight, servicing digital transactions. It is important that businesses check the encryption policies of their cloud providers. While most cloud providers encrypt data, they often also hold copies of the encryption keys, meaning members of their IT team have the ability to access and read the data. No business can take the risk of leaving encryption keys in the hands of third parties, so it is important to find a provider that ensures only their customer has access to them. To put it simply: cloud providers should not be able to access the customer data they store and key management on premise is possible and can include cloud based services.

4. Protect digital identity

Digital identity is crucial in allowing people to access the digital world and the range of goods and services it contains. Moreover, physical “things” are increasingly connected such as sensors, home automation, cameras etc., all of which also carry a digital identity. Digital identity is the key to the digital economy, and it needs to be protected adequately, to prevent misuse, and to prevent data breaches.

With identity so important to digital business practices, the ability to manage user and device identities and to authenticate, authorize and audit them becomes critical. Businesses must be able to store user information and policies in a central repository – again, this can be on-premise or cloud-based depending on the organization’s need – that can be used to verify user and device identities anywhere on the enterprise network. Identity Management is core to enabling digital business transformation and movement to the cloud, all while maintaining security and control.

5. Secure digital access

Finally, businesses need to be certain that customer and employee data can only be accessed by those authorized to do so. Privileged users such as IT admin staff must not be able to access customer and employee data. Changes of employee responsibility must be reflected by automated change of access rights, which is done through role management. For critical resources, it must also be possible to combine multifactor authentication based on factors such as login data plus location, network or device characteristics.


The ongoing transformation towards digital business affects all industries. This is a major foundational change that reinvents how business is done and will change the ways we live and work. But this transformation will only happen effectively if data is adequately protected. Digital security is therefore the foundation stone of digital transformation, enabling trust while protecting businesses and their customers. By securing databases and data in motion, by using encryption, protecting digital identity, managing access, keys and roles you can create a true hybrid end-to-end security platform which will enable and secure the transformation of your existing business to a digital business.

Monday Mar 14, 2016

Digital Engagement: What Every Business Needs to Know

Author: Martin Cookson, Director of Mobility at Oracle EMEA

Digital is throwing up new challenges and opportunities for businesses. On the one hand companies face challenges from disruptive ‘digitally native’ competitors, rapidly taking significant market share, or worse: redefining the traditional market entirely. Take that now classic example of Amazon, which revolutionized online retail with 1-Click Ordering and has subsequently launched Amazon Web Services. On the other hand, companies are finding that they can create significant new revenue streams and enter new markets through the use of digital technologies within their traditional businesses. Chemicals company Monsanto, for example, has branched out into the delivery of data science technologies for the agriculture sector.

The digital revolution is also an opportunity for any business to transform its own operations and in doing so, find new markets, develop new business models, and engage with consumers in innovative ways. To do this, however, companies must understand the nature of digital engagement and the possibilities that it affords.

Digital engagement in action

Digital engagement is of course driven by leveraging technology but success is about ensuring positive outcomes. It encompasses creating new revenue streams, seeking out new business opportunities, finding a competitive edge, creating efficiencies, and better serving customers.

One great example of an established business benefiting from digital engagement is Floyd Medical Center in the US, which is using its new web experience management platform to improve the way it communicates. Floyd Medical Centre today uses its web presence as an important community resource and marketing tool as it faces up to the challenge of increased competition in the region.

The healthcare system also includes an intranet that provides important information and resources for employees across the organization, as well as for departmental teams. Employees can now securely access the intranet, which is updated with new content daily, either in the office or remotely; while improved search and segmentation capabilities enable employees to find internal content more quickly. The result is a more effective workforce better able to service customers and deliver a competitive edge.

One of Europe’s largest and busiest airports, meanwhile, is using beacon technology to track travellers across its premises. Not only can the airport know exactly where an individual is at any time, but it can use the data it gathers to have new interactions with people at every stage of their journey. This enables it to target people with tailored information, whether it’s marketing messages in duty free, hotel and taxi recommendations at arrivals, or relevant advice at check-in or immigration.

Finally, News Limited in Australia has overhauled its publication systems and processes to remain competitive in the digital age; particularly to provide content designed for mobile devices and to introduce new services, such as paywalls for premium content. Its new digital content management platform allows the company to publish stories in less than 90 seconds, compared to 15 minutes in the past, allowing the company to stay on top of breaking news in real-time. News Limited has also added new features, such as story and gallery wizards and intelligent, internal search and automated editorial-content enhancement functions that have increased the quality of content and enabled greater customer satisfaction and higher subscription numbers.

Intelligent, in-the-moment customer experiences

So what are these businesses doing that sets them apart from their competitors? Or to put this question another way: what can businesses do to ensure their digital engagement strategies are successful?

First, businesses must adopt a mobile first strategy and engineer their services from the outside in (i.e. think with mobile devices and end user needs in mind). Businesses should then look to create value and loyalty while reducing the cost of operations by building intelligent, in-the-moment experiences across different channels simultaneously, in-context and collaboratively. This is all about knowing the user; not just about who they are and what they like etc., but what they are doing now; where they are and who and what they are near.

This is why the above-mentioned airport is enjoying such success from its beacon technology – it enables a service that is all about the customer at a precise moment in time, it meets a need, in context and through the perfect engagement channel. This is what digital engagement is all about – exceptional customer experiences through intuitive services that build customer engagement and loyalty.

Enabling digital engagement

Any business serious about creating disruptive digital engagement needs to adopt a mature digital engagement platform. The agile nature of digital engagement means that any such platform must be based on cloud computing technology. This is because only the cloud can deliver the flexibility, integration capabilities and speed businesses need to innovate and take engagement models to market before their competitors.

The cloud is also where many of the services digital engagement platforms leverage are based – such as Facebook, Google Maps and Apple Notifications and Twitter – and it makes sense to build the platform as close to these services as possible. Finally, the cloud delivers the cost-effective business models and appropriate operations models (for example, DevOps), required to make digital engagement a success.

Today’s cloud for tomorrow’s needs

However, cloud platforms are not all created equal. As businesses look to enable digital engagement, they must select cloud platforms capable of accelerating their digital transformation, integrating core business systems with modern engagement and delivery platforms, and giving them a competitive edge. This requires a holistic digital engagement platform comprising middleware and database software that delivers against the core areas of digital engagement, such as mobile, the Internet of Things, content and collaboration, digital web experience and business process agility. These are all elements that tie directly to building and deploying transformational omni-channel customer experiences.

It is crucial to point out that the right digital engagement platform is not simply an enabling technology - it is a strategic engine of innovation and absolutely essential to creating compelling customer services. The right cloud platform provides application developers within businesses with the ability to test and develop new and innovative customer services in low-cost, intuitive cloud environments, using pre-configured development tools. This approach dramatically reduces the cost and time associated with innovation.

Moreover, a hybrid cloud approach, which brings together both public and private cloud elements in combination with on-premises systems, enable businesses to rapidly scale up applications that have been proven to be successful within the test environment. It is an ideal approach for businesses that due to regulatory or policy reasons have not been able to move to the public cloud as fast as they would like. In today’s environment all businesses need to think of themselves as start-ups and look to deploy cloud platforms that help them innovate at speed and low cost – whether that is public, private or hybrid solutions.

No-one has a natural right to the digital future. Businesses will have to fight hard, be brave and experiment. The rewards are there to be won, but those who have no stomach digital transformation will find themselves in a fight for survival.

Friday Mar 04, 2016

Digital Connections: The Secret to Business Success

Author: Neil Sholay, Head of Digital at Oracle

Digital transformation is enabling a new class of business that is more agile than its competitors and as a result, better suited to creating new and innovative services; ones that are closely aligned to what customer’s actually want. These are businesses with lightning-fast internal operations and customer services; businesses which are able to exploit all of their organization’s assets in real-time to create maximum value for customers, employees and partners.

For established businesses used to a slower pace of change, the race is now on to understand how digital transformation can apply to their organizations – a task that can seem complex and daunting. However, when reduced to its fundamentals it becomes clear that digital transformation is to a large degree based on a relatively simple premise and one that all businesses can get to grips with: the ability to facilitate better business interactions by connecting people, places and things.

The connected enterprise

To explain just how critically important ‘digital connect’ is for organizations, it is important to frame the debate in business, rather than technology terms. This is because digital transformation is not only, or even primarily, a technology issue: it is, for most businesses, an existential one.

As any digital leader can testify: the ability to fully connect enterprise services and data is integral to everything from product innovation and customer experience, to operational effectiveness and agility. The connected enterprise is one in which everything that can be automated is automated; where leadership is based on mastering the customer experience; and where industrial mass production is replaced by tailoring on an individual scale.

These are businesses where the three ‘legs’ of business operations: people (customers, employees, partners, etc.), places (stores, factories, offices, warehouses, etc.) and things (plant equipment, products, trucking fleets, infrastructure, etc.) are connected, and the competitive race for success is not merely about launching new products or getting services to market faster; it is one that centres on the ability to deliver entirely new business models.

In the connected enterprise therefore, not only are business processes made infinitely better (sales reps, for instance, can immediately access rich customer data when out in the field; while customers can easily access and modify the status of their orders through a brand’s portal); but wholly new business models are launched, as companies from Netflix and Uber to Amazon to Airbnb can testify.

The digital difference

A digitally connected business is by nature agile – it can seamlessly connect all its customer and business applications across the various types of enterprise IT infrastructure in use today: public and private cloud, and on-premise, as well as with mobile and other connected devices. In the connected enterprise, all services can communicate seamlessly and in real-time; regardless of where they are housed, which channel they serve and which data sources they rely upon. This is important because the connectivity in place in the digital enterprise in turn enables innovation and operational efficiencies. As a result, business services perform better, are faster and are more convenient than anything we have seen to date.

The challenge businesses must tackle when looking at digital transformation is therefore clear: to find a way to bring widely distributed and heterogeneous assets and services together to create digital interactions between consumers and businesses. Companies that are adept at rapidly connecting their own IT systems, processes and data and also connecting virtually anything externally are the ones pulling away from the pack.

Take, for example, Japan Exchange Group, Asia’s largest financial-instrument market infrastructure provider. Its new margin-simulation system provides real-time interest rate and trading position information and enables customers to offer more accurate derivatives pricing to investors, whilst reducing warranty-deposit payments. Through this digitally connected system, it has gained a competitive edge in the international stock-exchange market by increasing margin-simulation accuracy and attracting more customers to use the system for OTC settlement. Crucially, by seamlessly linking the core system with external applications, Japan Exchange Group removed the need to rebuild the entire simulation system.

And it’s not just private businesses that are benefitting from digital connections; the public sector is too. Argentina’s Ministerio de Seguridad, for example has established a new Unified Control Center, which consolidates the operations of the country’s four police forces; optimizing decision-making at the administrative and executive levels. The new, connected systems have enabled the force to do everything from create new and more effective patrol plans, decrease waiting times for emergency response and better forecast criminal trends with the creation of detailed dashboards—providing insight into precinct maps, pattern structures and situational statistics.

Enabling the connected enterprise

In the connected enterprise integration is critical, but it can still provide a challenge for businesses. The integration challenges that businesses are used to from on-premise systems remain, but in addition businesses must also integrate the range of new applications, deployment strategies, interfaces, and business rules fundamental to creating a truly connected business. No two integration challenges are the same, and depending on what the integration is for and who is executing it the integration will require vastly different tools and processes. Integration is rarely a simple process and traditionally a great deal of time and effort goes into provisioning, configuration, and administration. In an environment where businesses are under pressure to be more flexible and agile than ever, this is far from ideal.

The cloud provides a clear solution to this challenge; enabling the rapid and seamless integration of enterprise applications and data across cloud, on-premise, mobile and intelligent devices. In the cloud, product-development cycle times are shorter, customer trends can be spotted more quickly and top performers can more easily drive innovative ideas. This is because the cloud automates much of the manual processes that were associated with integration. It also provides highly intuitive user interfaces so that almost anyone in the enterprise is capable running integration programmes, even those from a non-technical background.

Take the integration of services as an example. Through the cloud, line of business managers can take control of their applications and customize them to better suit their business requirement. One customer of ours reduced customizations for its partner management application by 80 percent as a result of implementing this approach, which also brought about a 30 percent reduction in associated costs.

Another example comes from the Internet of Things (IoT). The market today offers a multitude of increasingly powerful, connected devices at low cost. By using the cloud to integrate these devices with customer applications, line of business managers can create new and transformative applications and services that add to the bottom line.

Cloud-enabled integration also ensures businesses can exploit fully their data capital. Leveraging technology for real-time and bulk data movement and data management services, the cloud ensures that business data is accurate and available wherever it is required: be that for an on-premise business application or a cloud-based customer web service.

The cloud also makes it easier than ever to connect enterprise applications with those of third parties by simplifying the process for making and sharing APIs (application programming interfaces – the code that allows different pieces of software to communicate with each other). This allows businesses to expand their relationships with partners and accelerate business growth.

Finally, the cloud helps businesses manage capital expenditure by offering integration as a service. The cloud can help free CIOs of their number one budgetary challenge: the fact that historically 80 percent of IT spend is consumed by low value maintenance and integration[1], rather than on value-add innovation that drives customer engagement and growth.

In short, the cloud makes all of a company’s apps, data and processes available as services and able to communicate seamlessly and in real-time. This is the key to digital integration and, by extension, digital transformation.

Total digital connectivity

Looking ahead over the next ten years, it seems clear the market leaders will be businesses that understand the need for digital integration and prepare accordingly. The ability to easily integrate applications and data sources across on-premises, cloud, mobile and a growing set of intelligent devices will be vital to driving innovation and taking customer service to new heights.

Such is the essence of digital connectivity: the ability of a business to bring together all its digital interactions in a way that delivers the best possible experience for employees, partners and, of course, customers. Through the cloud this innovative agility can be enabled today, the only question that remains is which businesses are going to be the first to take full advantage of their digital estate.

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[1] Source: Gartner, 2006

Sunday Feb 14, 2016

Cloud enables 92% of Organisations to Innovate Faster

A new report from IDG Connect has just been published on Oracle’s website. It shows that cloud uptake is set to continue growing at pace as considerations evolve beyond security.

More than 90% of enterprises believe the cloud enables them to innovate faster, the new research reveals. The study, conducted by IDG Connect on behalf of Oracle, finds that half (51%) of businesses will have reached cloud maturity within two years, while the concerns and considerations around moving to the cloud have evolved.

For hybrid cloud adoptions, traditional barriers, such as concerns over security, are being displaced by operational concerns such as managing multiple IT architectures and network bandwidth. Those building private cloud infrastructures continue to see security as the prime concern.

Respondents also cited “winning the support of key business decision-makers” as the most important building block of successful private and hybrid cloud infrastructures, suggesting that influence on cloud deployments extends beyond IT into broader business functions. These figures suggest that the CIO’s role is more important than ever in coordinating multiple architectures and effectively communicating the benefits of cloud deployments to the wider business.

Key findings from the research include:

92% of respondents say that the cloud enables them to innovate faster; 73% said it helps to retain existing customers; and 76% said it helps them to win new customers

One-in-five businesses (19%) have reached cloud maturity, with more than half (51%) saying that they will reach maturity within two years.

Respondents identified the most important building blocksfor successful hybrid cloud deployments as winning the support of key business decision-makers (29%), cost efficiency (25%) and building a strong relationship with a supplier (22%)

The biggest barriers to hybrid cloud adoption are managing multiple IT architectures (60%), network bandwidth (57%) and relationship with IT supplier (52%)

My take on the findings is this: As cloud rapidly reaches maturity, we are seeing a shift in how enterprises perceive the chief benefits and barriers to adoption. Traditional areas of high concern such as data security and reliability are moving down the list and these are actually cited as key benefits of cloud adoption by most enterprises.

These traditional concerns have been replaced by the operational worries, including how to manage multiple IT architectures and ensuring networks have sufficient bandwidth. For enterprises that are reaching maturity with their cloud deployments, it’s increasingly important to be able to manage public, private and hybrid deployments through a single, consolidated view.

Bob Johnson, who is Vice President and Principal Analyst at IDG Connect, adds to the Oracle perspective: We see an understandable difference in security focus between private and hybrid cloud deployments. For companies focusing on private cloud deployments, security is a prime concern, indicating that enterprise workloads are moving into the cloud. Organizations with the hybrid mix of on-premise and public cloud services have realized the benefits of opening up their infrastructures to partners and customers, and as a result are open to a corresponding enhancement of the strength, maturity and sophistication of their security systems.”

The full report can be downloaded here.

Monday Jul 20, 2015

If the driving shoe fits - Oscar Lausegger

Uber’s skill-building game points to some serious possibilities for recruiting skilled employees How much does a candidate’s CV really tell you about their aptitude for the job? There’s no doubt that if they’ve worked for a competitor or hold a relevant university degree it’s worth considering them for an interview at the very least, but as we all know that doesn’t guarantee they’ll perform well. That’s why employee referrals are so valuable. When someone has the personal backing of an existing employee who has already proven themselves they instantly become a much more attractive prospect. In recent years, companies have taken this further by using employees’ social networks to cast an even wider net in the search for the best talent. The difficulty there however is to narrow the search to candidates with a specific set of skills that can actually be verified ahead of time. That’s why Uber‘s recent release of UberDRIVE caught my attention . For a bit of background, the company released a game in which players get to experience a day in the life of an Uber driver, picking up and dropping off virtual customers on the roads of a faithfully recreated digital city. Originally conceived as a means to help drivers become better acquainted with the cities they operate in (itself a worthy example of HR gamification in action) the company can also use the game to recruit new employees. Uber plans to send a message to the highest scoring players asking them if they’d like to join the ranks of its drivers. Is this a tongue-in-cheek recruitment approach? Absolutely. Will it work? Who knows. Either way, it does highlight the reality that the smartphone has essentially put a new recruitment device in everyone’s pocket. It also points to the possibility of mobile games becoming a new frontier for discovering untapped talent. I’m not saying people will necessarily start queuing up to work for Uber just because they enjoy playing the part of a virtual driver. By that token I would be building up medieval empires for a living or working as a professional “Candy-Crusher”. However, there is something to be said for finding new ways to focus the search for talent while still reaching out to the highest possible number of potential recruits. Engaging passive candidates remains one of the major struggles for HR today. The best employees are highly valued by their current employers and are usually treated as such. They are also less likely to be very active on LinkedIn (at least for job seeking purposes) if they feel happy and secure in their current role. Proactive outreach, whether direct or via social media, therefore has a limited impact on these individuals. Whether or not gamification is the answer remains to be seen, but finding new effective ways to engage talented individuals is an absolute priority for HR teams today. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find willing skilled workers at a time when so many companies are coping with widespread digital disruption and need talented individuals to help them come out on top. It’s perhaps telling that the one of the companies taking the lead in this space is also one that is responsible for disrupting a long-established industry on a global scale. And while Uber’s game remains first and foremost a fun learning and CX tool, it has certainly put into play some ideas that merit serious consideration.

Making way for a happier welfare - Melanie Hache-Barrois

Putting people at the heart of an innovative European public sector Most people don’t view innovation and public administration as bedfellows. Today, the idea that a public sector institution can be innovative borders on the impossible for many of us, especially when compared to private sector organisations. In truth, however, no sector today can escape the vortex of digital transformation – and that very much includes Europe’s public institutions. Italy, for example, is currently transforming its national pension service: The INPS, and Massimo Cioffi, its new Director General, has been quick to recognise just how important digital innovation is to his task. For me, there are two factors driving this innovation at the INPS and at other public sector institutions across the EU: the promise of lower operating costs and the ability to better serve the public. As the cost of social security to the state is so large (twenty per cent of the EU’s GDP is dedicated to the task) it’s easy to see why governments across Europe are keen to keep administrative costs to an absolute minimum. Importantly however, a valuable advantage of embracing change in the public sector goes beyond cost: governments and government agencies can improve and personalise the services they deliver. In the private sector the benefits of digital innovation can be seen everywhere. Personalised services have been embraced on a wide scale by consumers thanks to disruptive companies like Airbnb, Facebook, and Uber. Other businesses in the private sector are beginning to catch on too, and are opening up access to data and simplifying the way they work internally to keep up with the digital economy. The time has come for public institutions to begin operating on a similar level. I’m not saying state-run organisations should drop everything, transform themselves into San Francisco start-ups, and install ping pong tables in every meeting room. However, they should start to rethink the way they work to place the individual at the heart of their operations. This move comes down to better talent management and more customer-focused business process management. Back to Mr. Cioffi, who clearly understands this point: speaking at a recent even in Milan, I heard him describe his plans to create a new framework of roles for his employees, adapted to the needs of the INPS’s users. Here is a clear example of talent management being put at the service of the people that matter: the end consumer (in this case INPS pension holders). Such innovative HR practices are beginning to crop up all over Europe. In Belgium, for example, the national social security office kicked off this change internally by appointing its first Chief Happiness Officer, Laurence Vanhée. The changes it has taken on under her stewardship have helped raise employee sentiment, improve productivity, and streamline internal processes while driving up engagement among their collaborators. And without a ping pong table in sight! A people-centric approach lies at the core of any modern operation, regardless of sector. From the employees working within their walls to the citizens they ultimately serve, Organisations across Europe are beginning to understand that success in the digital age comes down to better interactions among their people.

It's time to get serious about social in HCM - Joachim Skura

Social recruiting has been one of the hottest topics in human capital management for a couple of years now. The danger is however that while everyone is keen to talk about social recruiting; precious few businesses are implementing it in a meaningful way. The result: a missed opportunity to recruit the brightest and the best from Europe’s pool of talent and built up the most effective internal recruiting force in an organisation. The problem is that there is a misperception about what social recruiting actually is. Many organisations believe that they already have social recruiting processes in place. They will post job applications. They will engage on Twitter. That surely is what social recruitment is all about, right? In fact, social recruiting is a transformational process that completely turns traditional recruitment practices on their head There are, I believe, four main characteristics of a true social recruitment platform: 1) Volume – Simply posting the odd job placement or sending a Tweet from time to time is not social recruiting. True social recruiting involves posting many posts, often, and on multiple channels, building up awareness over time. 2) Word of mouth – Social recruitment is just that: social. To work, employers must build up a robust social network that joins together the networks of employees past and present. This is the foundation of social recruiting and is the difference between success and failure 3) Transparent rewards – Employees will only agree to leverage their own social networks for social recruitment if they get a clear, transparent and dependable upside. It may sound mercenary, but you must ensure employees are rewarded consistently for any referrals they generate. 4) Automisation – A key component of a social recruitment platform worth the name is that simple tasks are automated, so that HR teams can use their time for more complex, value-adding tasks. Simply broadcasting job placements over social platforms is, therefore, not enough. Social recruitment is a conversation between recruits and the people who know your business best and are best place to sell it: your workforce. And the overriding aim of social recruitment is to treat potential employees as human beings, embracing all the complexity and sophistication this involves. To bring this message home we are hosting a unique event in Munich on the 25th June. At this event, together with our partner Promerit, we will give our attendees the possibility to prove their social recruitment activities to an audience of those most likely to engage with it: students. This ‘social slam’ seeks to answer questions most HR professionals have asked themselves: are our efforts in social actually working; and do the ‘millennials’ we hope to reach through social actually listen to us? Watch this space for a follow up blog next month where I shall report on the findings of what promises to be a very interesting experiment.

The pendulum swings back - Andy Campbell

The CIO has a key role to play in leading the cloud transformation agenda As we get towards the end of the spring ‘conference season’ I got to thinking. In my experience, regardless of how important, entertaining or ‘guru-like’ the keynote speakers might be, it is always the customer experiences; often in the form of question and answer discussion panels, that provide the richest insights. For me this is particularly interesting because I am currently working on a white paper specifically on the topic of ‘Living with the HR Cloud’ with a number of fascinating case studies. Anyway, I was therefore delighted to come across the latest piece of research from Harvard Business Review entitled ‘Cloud Computing comes of Age’. This report assesses the maturity (and thereby the experience) of customers who have deployed cloud applications. The results are quite significant. Those organisations classified as ‘cloud leaders’ also achieved higher levels of business success. It reports a correlation between an organisation’s cloud maturity and the health of its growth initiatives such as business expansion. The benefits that they realised included improved business agility, enhanced organisational flexibility and faster speed of deployment. They also reported improved decision making through an increased ability to analyse and act upon data and information. For HR leaders the natural consequence of this is the ability to offer a more proactive value added service to the business, something that I think we all aspire to. Anyway, perhaps of most interest to me was the fact that the cloud leaders took a more managed and enterprise wide approach to their cloud applications, something that embodied a range of good practises. To give a few examples. Cloud leaders are more likely to define the business value that they expect to get from their cloud initiatives, 69 per cent in fact, compared to only 40 per cent of novices. Similarly, only 53 per cent of the survey had established policies for cloud security, a figure that rises to 79 per cent amongst cloud leaders. Also, cloud leaders are more likely to have a strong partnership between IT and other parts of the business. Cloud technologies including social, mobile etc. have had a democratising impact on IT and enhanced collaboration with business users is, quite rightly, becoming the norm. However, to me, one thing stands out. Evidently cloud leaders are more than twice as likely to have a CIO who leads the transformation agenda!! Sure IT and business must work together, but somebody needs to be in charge, and that is the CIO. Now if you had said such a heresy a few years ago, you would probably have been strung up by a lynch mob to chants of ‘the business user is king’! The perceived wisdom at the time was that ultimate power was vested with the business and the user community. However, things have changed and the pendulum has swung back again. As the adoption of cloud technology has become more mainstream, the experience of users is that to be truly successful both parties, IT and the business, need to truly work well with each other.

Productivity means knowing your employees - Andy Campbell

LSE Centre for Economic Performance, Productivity and Business Policies, Anna Valero and Isabelle Roland (March 2015)[Read More]

The need to take a look under the covers - Andy Campbell

There was no debate, no disagreement, just a sea of nodding heads. ‘We know that performance management systems don’t work and most people hate then. The same usually applies to succession planning as well. That’s just a given’. It was an interesting start to a very engaging lunchtime discussion. The occasion was the launch of the latest PARC research into HR, Technology and Analytics, a copy of which can be downloaded here. Andrew Lambert has done a great job updating his previous report and even though it is only a year on, it is surprising how much has changed in such a relatively short period of time. As well as the inevitable conversations about the relevance of performance management that always surface at such events, there were two real key topics of interest that were independent, but closely related The first was how the roles and influences of different parts of the organisation have shifted. There was a view that until recently the IT function used to operate in its ivory tower, the final arbiter of which systems the business would develop. Then, with the advent of the cloud, the HR department; historically the poor relation when it comes to systems investment, suddenly saw the opportunity to deliver new capabilities to the business without the restrictions imposed by the constraints of an enterprise architecture model. In this age when organisations will either be ‘digital or dead’ the importance of talent and skills that drive innovation are paramount. This is now being recognised and reflected in a change in the relationship between the two functions. The second key topic was the role that both the legal and security departments occupy in this increasingly digital age. With regard to the former, it is recognised that technology has advanced dramatically, yet the legal frameworks in which we operate have failed to keep pace. This is compounded by the fact that even though organisations are increasingly operating in a global manner, this appears to contrast with the apparent proliferation of local legislative requirements concerning issues such as access rights, data privacy, data location, data protection, etc. The discussion around security was equally alarming. It was suggested, with authority, that eight out of ten organisations have been successfully hacked, yet most either won’t or can’t admit it. This need not be the case. Indeed, technology already exists to ensure that both data and devices can be adequately safeguarded, but the subject needs to be taken seriously. For example, it is obviously important that data about our people is encrypted when it is at rest, but equally, what about when that data is in transit, do we have the same high level of security? The risk when considering new systems is to say ‘That one looks nice and seems to do the job OK’. It might do, but it pays to look under the covers just to make sure. The devil could well be in the detail and you do not want to make a mistake!

Embrace Diversity and Congruence in the Workplace

Andy Campbell, Senior Director, HCM Strategy Oracle UK What makes a healthy workforce? Ask a roomful of recruiters and someone will very quickly mention diversity. After all, businesses need employees from a wide variety of backgrounds who can inspire and challenge their colleagues and create a workforce that better resembles the outside world. But if diversity is important, so too is inclusion. If recruiters can find people from diverse backgrounds, with diverse skills, but who share many of a company’s perspectives and values it’s more likely they’ll fit in and contribute towards a cohesive, productive team. And let’s not forget just how important it is to get that right fit: the most expensive part of the hiring process is when the wrong hire is made and the whole thing has to start again. For HR departments and recruiters looking for congruence, it seems to me that social sourcing has a whole lot to offer. This is because social media doesn’t just allow recruiters to advertise on a broader scale, but it can even enable them to channel campaigns through employees’ networks. Why is this important? Because most people’s networks are networks of like-minded people. Recruiting through your number one sales rep’s LinkedIn network is likely to increase your chances of hiring a new employee of similar calibre. Moreover, it will save money on recruitment fees. There is of course a caveat here: social media is only part of the answer. Let’s face it, most people’s social networks are made up of people of a similar demographic to them and this can be limiting. Yes, companies want like-minded people, but they do not want clones. For this reason, transparency is hugely important. A potential employee must to be able to easily find out about a company and determine whether the company shares his or her values and is a good fit. Social media not only makes it easier for a prospect to find out this information, it makes it absolutely inevitable. All that remains is for employers to ensure that when the right recruit looks at their business through the lens of social media they like what they see. The real power of social media in the recruitment space is that it works both ways. Not only can employers find out more about potential recruits and access talent that may otherwise have been unavailable to them, but prospects can learn more about the inner workings of a business than ever before. The end result should be more right fits more of the time.

Cars: soon to be your favourite smart device

Neil Sholay, Head of Digital at Oracle EMEA Just as the mobile phone has become much more than a device for making calls, the car has evolved beyond just serving as a vehicle (if you’ll excuse the pun) for getting from point A to point B. Automobile manufactures today are rolling out new value-adding services for drivers, and taking advantage of real-time data analysis and heightened connectivity between their cars to do so. And they’re not doing it alone. Car companies are working closely with mobile operators to bring the convenience of our favourite applications, content, and services to their vehicles. We work with one of the world’s largest telecoms operators, who has partnered with a leading American auto maker to integrate the latter’s cars onto its mobile network. With a service built on our connected car platform, they’ve made it possible for customers to access many of the same apps they use on their smartphones and tablets while on the road (on a personal note, being able to listen to my Spotify and Pandora playlists in the car has made my daily commute considerably less painful). Which brings us to how even companies outside the automotive and telecoms industries are developing new digital models to enhance the connected car experience. We’ve established that mobile operators are quickly building new revenue streams with this approach, but third party players like the music streaming services mentioned are also gaining an attractive platform through which to reach a wider audience. The convergence of digital technologies is blurring the lines between car makers and many businesses that at first glance seem far removed from the automotive industry. Take those cars fitted with sensors that beep wildly when you’re about to back into a pylon or fellow driver, for example. This technology has proven popular with drivers, and today luxury car brands including Bentley, Aston Martin and Tesla are partnering with computer graphics specialists to install high definition graphic sensors in their vehicles and give them even sharper “eyes on the road” . The endgame for all businesses involved is a better overall service for drivers and passengers, which will help build customer loyalty. There has been much talk in recent years about how customers move quickly from one brand to another. People today flock to companies that can deliver an engaging and convenient digital experience, and industry leaders such as John Lewis and Starbucks have built a loyal following in this environment by using the digital technologies at their disposal to enhance their relationship with customers. This reality is hitting home for the automotive industry. It’s safe to assume that drivers who have bought into a particular connected car ecosystem will be more likely stick with the same mobile operator and car manufacturer, as long as they continue to receive a high quality service. Building a compelling proposition today is therefore crucial to developing long term appeal. The automotive industry is on its way to delivering what may be the most immersive connected experience out there. From in-dash apps to specialised sensors, connected cars already have more digital touch points than any of our other smart devices, and this is only the beginning. We’re still just scratching at the surface of what’s possible, and I’m certain some very surprising ideas are just around the corner.

Taking it fast and slow

It’s no secret that the innovation cycle has sped up dramatically in the past few years. The time-to-market new digital solutions is near-instant, and in this environment even innovations that are just months old can become obsolete in the blink of an eye (just look at the short shelf-life of most mobile gaming apps for an indication of just how true this is). Businesses of all sizes need to make sure they can innovate at speed and at scale to stay relevant in the digital economy. And yet, while many established companies have begun to develop their digital vision, the majority are held back from acting on their ambitions by decade-old legacy systems designed to support siloed and hierarchical businesses. These have grown increasingly complex over the years and become ill-suited to respond to the challenges of new IT developments. They have also left organisations managing a large number of outdated technologies running independently of each other without necessarily contributing towards productivity or profitability. The big struggle for companies today is to become agile enough to put their digital strategies into action. To do so, they must absolutely modernise and consolidate their back-end systems. At the same time, they need to get new services up-and running more quickly to get a jump on young upstarts that aren’t hindered by the same complex infrastructure. Hence the appeal of taking a two-speed approach to digital transformation, which involves running an agile customer-centric front end alongside a slower transaction-focused legacy back end. By bringing software development into the cloud businesses can quickly build and roll-out compelling applications without relying on their antiquated in-house IT. In the meantime, they can work at their own pace to consolidate their back-end systems and bring the entire organisation up-to-speed for the digital era. CIOs and CDOs need to view this as an opportunity, not a daunting process. In an environment where organisational pressures are demanding more revenue generating, or cost saving, outputs from the IT department at a faster speed, traditional models can no longer meet expectations. By implementing a two-speed approach, organisations are able to meet the mission critical demands of customers and deliver value for the business, while still achieving core objectives of providing cost effective, scalable, efficient, safe and accurate IT systems for the enterprise. Additionally, they are presented with the opportunity to balance all demands from the business and maintain their ever scrutinised IT budgets. It’s imperative, when companies start looking at implementing a two speed IT strategy, they tackle their operational siloes. There has to be a dialogue between the teams focusing on the more agile application development and those working on the slower back-end system. They must work together as a cohesive unit to move towards creating a single IT platform and making meaningful strides towards succeeding in the digital economy. Ultimately, traditional IT does have its place in a modern enterprise. While by no means responsive enough to support real-time responses to the market, back-end systems do excel at handling predictable tasks and helping to manage governance issues. What sets a digital business apart is how it opens up its back-end processes and data to the rest of the organisation, as opposed to maintaining an operational barrier between the two. Author Name: Neil Sholay, Head of Digital

Real disruption is worth getting out of bed for

Neil Sholay, Senior Director of Products & Industries, EMEA at Oracle What’s the first question that comes to mind after you’ve panted through the final mile of your morning run? Chances are it isn’t “I wonder how I look in my new Nike trainers?”, but rather “How fast was I going?” or “How far have I gone?” The reason fitness apps such as Nike+ have been so successful is that they answer these questions and motivate us to constantly improve. What’s notable about Nike’s app is that a leading sportswear company known for its shoes and athletic gear has taken a step back from its products to essentially become a digital service provider. The company has taken advantage of peoples’ affinity for smart devices and through its access to large volumes of customer data has become a veritable partner in peoples’ quest for self-improvement. The success of digital products today is linked less so to their physical qualities and more so to how they bring new possibilities to life for those that use them. Take the latest smartphones and smart watches, whose performance and feel are more or less similar from vendor to vendor. What attracts us to these devices are the applications companies develop for them which capture our imaginations and better our lives. Stefan Olander, Nike’s VP of Digital, recently underlined this reality when discussing Fuelband, the company’s now-ubiquitous fitness tracker, saying “what we were doing was all about motivation”, and admitting that they only built the device to support Nike+ because nothing similar had been developed yet. The physical product was merely a means to an end, and with the Apple Watch and a number of fitness trackers now flooding the market Nike is actually killing the Fuelband and focussing on integrating its digital offering into third party technology. It is putting its service above its product. Those companies that are pulling ahead in the digital age put their customers at the heart of everything they do. They are more responsive than their competitors and, importantly, find ways to give people what they need even before they even realise they need it. Just look at how Paym has made mobile money transfers as easy and secure as exchanging cash directly for the smartphone generation, or how AirBnB has shaken up the travel industry by using social media and strategic digital partnerships to create a community of shared experiences for its customers, instead of just helping them find a place to sleep on holiday. User data lies at the core of a customer-focussed digital business. A technology platform built on well-defined data collection analysis allows businesses to recognise the uniqueness of each customer and develop their own version of personalised service. The convergence of large-scale analytics with social, mobile, and cloud technologies has made it possible for virtually any company to develop and act on its unique vision for customer engagement. From helping people get healthier to making travel more enjoyable, the endgame for a successful digital business is to develop services that drive a positive change. This will require that creativity and a digital mind-set permeate across the organisation. In this environment, innovative thinking can be applied to modern technologies to breed genuinely disruptive ideas that add value to peoples’ lives. And if Nike can find a way to get me out of bed to exercise at 6am everyday then truly nothing is beyond the realm of possibility.

The latest stories, thought leadership, customer and partner successes from Oracle across Europe, Middle East and Africa.


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