Monday Jan 27, 2014

Missed Opportunities: Changing the Way You Think About BI Can Open up a World of “Easy Wins”

Verdant is one of our PLM Preferred Sponsors of the 2014 Oracle Value Chain Summit. Attending the Summit? Be sure to visit Verdant at Booth #104 and learn more about Verdant's expertise in the blog below, authored by Wes Frierson, Partner and Chief Strategy Officer, Verdant.


As least as far as Enterprise software goes, dashboards can be pretty sexy stuff.  What else gets your colleagues and management as excited as some gorgeous dashboards? Taking a complex tangle of information, transforming it, then exposing it in bite-size chunks that you can actually get your arms around—who could argue with that value? That’s why those dashboards are the “poster children” for Business Intelligence value.

But for all the obvious “in-your-face” value these analytics demonstrate, there is a less obvious–but equally valuable—application of Business Intelligence that people have a much more difficult time seeing. When starting work with new clients, we see time and again situations where big opportunities to use BI-based solutions to problems are being missed. What are these companies doing wrong? The issue can be boiled down to the narrow way in which these technologies inside these companies. Broadening the way you apply BI tools (and broadening the types of problems you attack with them) can add immense value to your business and your PLM investment.  Here are a few things we talk about with our customers to help teach them how find these easy wins.

Don’t look for reports. Look for business problems

Ok, it’s a cliché, but I’ll start with it because it’s a bad habit that plays out every single day. Many opportunities are missed because people just don’t see certain things as “reporting issues.” I would be surprised if I said the words, “Could that be an integrated report?” anything less than 200 times last year as we talked through pain points and solutions with customers. And, in all but a handful of cases, that was indeed the best answer or at least the most practical answer to the issue. But, in each case, leveraging a BI-based solution had not been considered because the projected solution had already been cast as “an integration,” “a product gap,” or “a custom app.”

So many business issues and adoption pains are really about visibility when you get down to it—and that is what BI does best. The trick is throwing away the traditional bias about where and how you apply these tools. Sometime it’s an issue of not knowing what these tools can really do (past the standard stuff); more often it’s just not considering the more “creative” ways of applying these powerful technologies. Once people get the hang of solving problems this way, they quickly re-orient themselves and see opportunity everywhere!

Don’t wait

We’re fortunate to get the opportunity to advise a lot of customers on their PLM roadmaps to help them get value as quickly as possible. Often—as a start—they will show us their current plans. About 80% of the time, the plan has pushed much of the reporting or analytics needs later in the plan (and often as its own independent “follow-on” phase). The conventional wisdom seems to be, “Once we get done deploying a bunch of this stuff, then we can figure out what we want to pull out.” This is big mistake.

BI should not be some separate set of activities and requirements and definitely should not be deferred until the end. Not only does it postpone value unnecessarily, lack of investment in reporting and analytics early on creates a “value gap” for users that slows adoption. Your users want to see a “give and take” when they are asked to adopt new software solutions. Putting off investment in BI often leaves people feeling like they are being asked to do a lot of new things without a lot of visible payoff.

Make it seamless

Ideally, reporting should embedded, contextual (“1-click”), and invisible wherever possible. The idea that you go somewhere and “run a report” is antiquated and part of what limits the potential and appeal of these solutions. Sometimes the most valuable solutions we deliver are not seen as “reporting” by users. They often mistake them as customizations to the core application. It’s just an answer to a problem, and if designed properly it should be a totally natural extension to what they are doing.

“Thinking small” should be part of your BI strategy

These BI-based solutions don’t have to be large, or complex, or solve 50 different problems. They simply need to link an idea, fill a gap, provide context, show an insight, etc. I’ve seen very powerful BI output that simply pop up in HTML and contain about 6 pieces of information. While simple, the solution brought a critical piece of context from another system in a single click. When deployed, everyone immediately saw that this solution made perfect sense, but they had suffered with nothing for years because the business issue was initially categorized as “an integration need” and deferred. By thinking about the problem differently, it was solved in a day or so and at very low cost (with tools they already had in house).

Final Thought

So many issues are put off, lived with, or worked around when the answer is often pretty straightforward (if you change your point of view just a few degrees). We work with customers on a range of needs throughout the lifecycle of their software investments, and I can tell you that the effort and money spent on BI are often the most valuable. Seldom can you draw a line between the investment and the value as clearly as you can with a single BI asset. We’ve seen BI-driven solutions—some that take as little as a day to develop—turn whole business processes upside-down (in a good way!).

Come by the Verdant booth at OVCS (#104 in the PLM User Experience Area) and talk to us about PLM, Business Intelligence, Super Bowl commercials, or whatever else is on your mind. The Verdant Team and I would love to talk to you about your business.

Friday Jan 24, 2014

P4P Mobile Puts Key Product Information in the Palm of Your Hand

Kalypso is one of our PLM Premier Sponsors of the 2014 Oracle Value Chain Summit. Attending the Summit? Be sure to visit Kalypso at Booth #113 and learn more about what Kalypso has to offer in the guest blog below, authored by Daniela Ilieva, Oracle Practice Manager.


In today’s fast-paced life, tablets and smart phones have become an integral part of our daily existence and how we get work done. Agile PLM for Process (P4P) users are frequently traveling and on-the-go, but still need the ability to stay on top of their product specifications, suppliers and projects in order to maintain high levels of productivity and meet the demands of their businesses. While working on PLM implementation projects with clients in the process industries, Kalypso found these four common needs among PLM users:

  1. Product quality managers often need to view quality testing protocols and expected test results while testing materials at the receiving dock
  2. Development managers need to approve rush workflows while visiting potential suppliers
  3. Supplier quality analysts benefit from viewing current sourcing approval records, supplier documentation and quality performance while auditing a supplier facility
  4. Sales representatives foster more effective customer meetings and discussions if they can show specifications to customers when presenting new ingredients and products

Kalypso developed P4P Mobile to meet these business needs. P4P Mobile, now available for Apple iPad, provides:

  • Instantaneous and continuous access to product and supplier data
  • Intuitive, easy-to-learn interface for users trained on the full browser version of the P4P application
  • Ability to manage action items, review and workflow specification and sourcing approvals
  • Ability to add mobile browser compatible apps that can be configured into the application, such as PLM analytics

Check out a preview of P4P Mobile here. Want to learn more or be part of the P4P pilot pack using the app? Come see us in booth #113 at the Oracle Value Chain Summit and test it for yourself!

Tuesday Nov 20, 2012

The Business of Winning Innovation: An Exclusive Blog Series

"The Business of Winning Innovation” is a series of articles authored by Oracle Agile PLM experts on what it takes to make innovation a successful and lucrative competitive advantage. Our customers have proven Agile PLM applications to be enormously flexible and comprehensive, so we’ve launched this article series to showcase some of the most fascinating, value-packed use cases.


In this article by Keith Colonna, we kick-off the series by taking a look at the science side of innovation within the Consumer Products industry and how PLM can help companies innovate faster, cheaper, smarter. This article will review how innovation has become the lifeline for growth within consumer products companies and how certain companies are “winning” by creating a competitive advantage for themselves by taking a more enterprise-wide,systematic approach to “innovation”.

Managing the Science of Innovation within the Consumer Products Industry

By: Keith Colonna, Value Chain Solution Manager, Oracle

The consumer products (CP) industry is very mature and competitive. Most companies within this industry have saturated North America (NA) with their products thus maximizing their NA growth potential. Future growth is expected to come from either expansion outside of North America and/or by way of new ideas and products. Innovation plays an integral role in both of these strategies, whether you’re innovating business processes or the products themselves, and may cause several challenges for the typical CP company,

Becoming more innovative is both an art and a science. Most CP companies are very good at the art of coming up with new innovative ideas, but many struggle with perfecting the science aspect that involves the best practice processes that help companies quickly turn ideas into sellable products and services.

Symptoms and Causes of Business Pain

Struggles associated with the science of innovation show up in a variety of ways, like:

· Establishing and storing innovative product ideas and data

· Funneling these ideas to the chosen few

· Time to market cycle time and on-time launch rates

· Success rates, or how often the best idea gets chosen

· Imperfect decision making (i.e. the ability to kill projects that are not projected to be winners)

· Achieving financial goals

· Return on R&D investment

· Communicating internally and externally as more outsource partners are added globally

· Knowing your new product pipeline and project status

These challenges (and others) can be consolidated into three root causes:

  1. A lack of visibility
  2. Poor data with limited access
  3. The inability to truly collaborate enterprise-wide throughout your extended value chain

Choose the Right Remedy

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions are uniquely designed to help companies solve these types challenges and their root causes. However, PLM solutions can vary widely in terms of configurability, functionality, time-to-value, etc. Business leaders should evaluate PLM solution in terms of their own business drivers and long-term vision to determine the right fit. Many of these solutions are point solutions that can help you cure only one or two business pains in the short term. Others have been designed to serve other industries with different needs. Then there are those solutions that demo well but are owned by companies that are either unable or unwilling to continuously improve their solution to stay abreast of the ever changing needs of the CP industry to grow through innovation.

What the Right PLM Solution Should Do for You

Based on more than twenty years working in the CP industry, I recommend investing in a single solution that can help you solve all of the issues associated with the science of innovation in a totally integrated fashion. By integration I mean the (1) integration of the all of the processes associated with the development, maintenance and delivery of your product data, and (2) the integration, or harmonization of this product data with other downstream sources, like ERP, product catalogues and the GS1 Global Data Synchronization Network (or GDSN, which is now a CP industry requirement for doing business with most retailers).

The right PLM solution should help you:

  • Increase Revenue. A best practice PLM solution should help a company grow its revenues by consolidating product development cycle-time and helping companies get new and improved products to market sooner. PLM should also eliminate many of the root causes for a product being returned, refused and/or reclaimed (which takes away from top-line growth) by creating an enterprise-wide, collaborative, workflow-driven environment.
  • Reduce Costs. A strong PLM solution should help shave many unnecessary costs that companies typically take for granted. Rationalizing SKU’s, components (ingredients and packaging) and suppliers is a major opportunity at most companies that PLM should help address. A natural outcome of this rationalization is lower direct material spend and a reduction of inventory. Another cost cutting opportunity comes with PLM when it helps companies avoid certain costs associated with process inefficiencies that lead to scrap, rework, excess and obsolete inventory, poor end of life administration, higher cost of quality and regulatory and increased expediting.
  • Mitigate Risk. Risks are the hardest to quantify but can be the most costly to a company. Food safety, recalls, line shutdowns, customer dissatisfaction and, worst of all, the potential tarnishing of your brands are a few of the debilitating risks that CP companies deal with on a daily basis. These risks are so uniquely severe that they require an enterprise PLM solution specifically designed for the CP industry that safeguards product information and processes while still allowing the art of innovation to flourish.

Many CP companies have already created a winning advantage by leveraging a single, best practice PLM solution to establish an enterprise-wide, systematic approach to innovation.

Oracle’s Answer for the Consumer Products Industry

Oracle is dedicated to solving the growth and innovation challenges facing the CP industry. Oracle’s Agile Product Lifecycle Management for Process solution was originally developed with and for CP companies and is driven by a specialized development staff solely focused on maintaining and continuously improving the solution per the latest industry requirements. Agile PLM for Process helps CP companies handle all of the processes associated with managing the science of the innovation process, including: specification management, new product development/project and portfolio management, formulation optimization, supplier management, and quality and regulatory compliance to name a few.

And as I mentioned earlier, integration is absolutely critical. Many Oracle CP customers, both with Oracle ERP systems and non-Oracle ERP systems, report benefits from Oracle’s Agile PLM for Process. In future articles we will explain in greater detail how both existing Oracle customers (like Gallo, Smuckers, Land-O-Lakes and Starbucks) and new Oracle customers (like ConAgra, Tyson, McDonalds and Heinz) have all realized the benefits of Agile PLM for Process and its integration to their ERP systems.

More to Come

Stay tuned for more articles in our blog series “The Business of Winning Innovation.” While we will also feature articles focused on other industries, look forward to more on how Agile PLM for Process addresses innovation challenges facing the CP industry. Additional topics include: Innovation Data Management (IDM), New Product Development (NPD), Product Quality Management (PQM), Menu Management,Private Label Management, and more! .

Watch this video for more info about Agile PLM for Process

Thursday Aug 04, 2011

Agile in the News: a Recap of Recent Customer Announcements

If it seems like you've seen more of Oracle's Agile PLM in the news recently, you're right.  We've had several interesting stories in the past month or so to announce, particularly around customer momentum.  Here's a recap:

Kroger generated plenty of buzz when it was announced the company selected Oracle's Agile PLM for Process solution to improve customer experience.  Chris Hjelm, Chief Information Officer, Kroger, is quoted in the Oracle Press Release saying, "We look forward to leveraging Oracle's Agile PLM for Process solution as we further streamline operations, improve the customer experience, and lead the grocery market through innovation and a commitment to excellence."

In Life Sciences industry news, Stryker released a case study about how they established an Enterprisewide Quality Management System with Agile PLM applications.  The story details how Stryker used the product quality management tools to cut change cycle time by 50% and improve first-pass yield of change by 90%.  They've also increased transparency to reduce the average number of corrective and preventative actions (CAPA) open at any time by more than 40% and accelerate resolutions.  AGA Medical (acquired by St. Jude Medical in 2010) also participated in a case study about drastically improving productivity and creating an enterprisewide integrated quality system with Agile PLM.  AGA Medical was able to reduce change order times from 26 days to just 4.5 days, an 83% time reduction, while including more information under appropriate controls.  The Agile solution also controls the item master for the company's JD Edwards EnterpriseOne implementation, allowing Agile to manage the approved as-designed item configuration and JD Edwards to manage the as-built device, allowing significant flexibility in managing change and complexity of the product, reducing cost and time to implement changes and speeding system business process changes.

In the High Technology arena, Secure Meters Limited announced in a case study their work with Oracle Consulting to replace ten legacy engineering systems with Oracle's Agile PLM applications.  There are several impressive results, including reduced engineering change order turnaround-time by 50%, reduced defects per software build by 40%, improved potential earnings before interest and taxes per product developer by 40%, and accelerated time-to-market for utility meters by reducing product development cycle time by more than 25%.  And in a video interview, John Hitchcock of Pace (formerly 2Wire), explained to me, Oracle's PLM Product Marketing Manager, Kerrie Foy, how they saved $4 million dollars by adding the Agile Product Cost Management application to their footprint!

Check back often for more stories, and feel free to join the discussion here, on Facebook or Twitter.

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