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How this South African Business is Using the Cloud to Ensure Business Success During a Pandemic

At a time when businesses have found themselves facing rapidly evolving circumstances almost every month, one South African company has turned to the cloud to ensure business continuity, drive innovation and keep its team strength of more than 350 intact.   Digital first approach ooba, an online home loan quote comparison and application service, has been in business for over 20 years, and it prides itself in being able to help thousands of South Africans get better rates on their home loans.  When the pandemic hit at the start of last year,  ooba like many businesses was concerned about ensuring business continuity while keeping its staff safe. Luckily, as a future-forward business, ooba had already embarked on a digital first approach and was quick to adapt to rapidly changing business conditions.  Dominique d’Hotman, Chief Strategy Officer for ooba, explains, “ooba partnered with Oracle over a decade ago; as our business has grown, so has our relationship. Reimagining our business and the need to invest in cloud-enabled applications, leveraging their constant innovation and feature-rich development has enabled us to further enhance our engagement with not only our customers but our employees as well.” “If ooba was only starting out on its digital transformation journey when the pandemic hit, it would have been much more difficult to adapt. This shouldn’t dishearten companies that haven’t invested as much in the cloud or other tech, but rather encourage them to prioritise this in 2021”, added Dominique. Putting people first Often, when companies are looking to implement tech to help make them more productive or more efficient, they focus on the bottom line instead of considering the people who make the bottom line possible. Linda Roos, Head of Human Capital at ooba, describes how Oracle Fusion Cloud Human Capital Management (HCM) has helped the company support its staff, which was one of their main concerns last year.  “We could never have predicted the times we are living through right now; COVID-19 has affected every industry and every individual, but we are fortunate that with cloud, we were able to provide our staff with access to crucial HR systems during a time of much uncertainty,” she explains. “We found that the transition to an online, cloud-enabled platform had a profound impact on staff as a consistent employee experience created a sense of certainty, transparency and security within the organisation.” Building resilience through community For businesses that are focused on building resilience, defining what’s next is a critical priority. Resiliency is not only built through technology adoption, but through the development of a resilient community. A key priority for ooba was to ensure that employees have access to critical HR systems at all times, no matter where they were located.  After migrating their on-premise HR system to the cloud, ooba’s staff can now use e-learning modules to make on-demand learning and general workflow advice accessible, anywhere and at any time.  This has helped deliver a seamless, integrated approach towards each employee through their entire career-span lifecycle within the company, from joining through to exiting – closing the gap between ooba’s consumer-facing and its employee-facing technology.  “This is an incredible example of how digital transformation can be used to increase employee morale, drive job satisfaction, and contribute to more than just revenue,” added Linda Roos. At ooba, Oracle Cloud HCM is at the heart of providing continued access and support for remote workers while also safeguarding the safety and health of employees. A business’s workforce is its greatest asset and should remain its greatest concern. Especially now.  Linda Roos further suggested that “with employees scattered, the data collected and analytics generated by next-generation solutions becomes crucial to combat absenteeism, identify at-risk individual employees, and formulate a succession planning strategy across an entire organisation.”

At a time when businesses have found themselves facing rapidly evolving circumstances almost every month, one South African company has turned to the cloud to ensure business continuity, drive...

Cloud

3 Bold Moves CFOs Can Make Today to Outperform the Market

For years, finance leaders have been seeking ways to leverage technology to make their organizations future ready. The current pandemic exposed the shortcomings of outdated platforms and accelerated the pace of innovation, even as some organizations battle for their very lives. The bold moves draw from research conducted by McKinsey & Co. on the financial performance of 1,500 companies following the global financial crisis of 2007-2009, to understand how the top 25% in terms of total returns to shareholders, were able to outperform their competitors after the downturn.  These “Resilients,” the research found, shared key characteristics, including an aggressive approach to reallocating resources and investing in productivity initiatives within the organization. Bold Move #1: Adopt a transformation mindset when reallocating resources. The upside to any economic crisis is that it presents a logical and necessary opportunity to rethink every aspect of the business. Contrary to what one might think, now is not the time to invest resources in small, incremental adjustments; rather, it’s the time to focus on bold, transformational moves that can deliver outsize productivity gains and returns on investment.    Bold moves during a crisis also require powerful tools, yet many companies found themselves ill-equipped to maintain the business, let alone accelerate innovation.  Many Oracle customers were running on-premises systems from the early 2000s which lack crucial capabilities that are integrated into Oracle’s current Cloud ERP. The current generation of Cloud ERP software is giving companies outsize productivity gains now—when they are desperately needed—as well as the flexibility to adopt new business models that support subscription-based revenue streams or digital sales channels.  Getting on the cloud today also provides access to continuous innovations being architected now into the software’s roadmap, from digital assistants and chatbots to AI-driven predictive and prescriptive analytics.    Bold Move #2: Pursue pragmatic M&A and divestitures to improve the company’s portfolio Based on McKinsey’s research of the past and assessment of current conditions, the current economic downturn is an ideal opportunity to embark on a programmatic approach to mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures that can increase your business’s competitive advantage.  Organizations using outdated technologies will be challenged to gain visibility into the profitability of their current business models, assess the potential of new M&A activities or spin-offs, and operationally support the choices they make. Oracle uses its own Cloud ERP to support its M&A strategy and realize expected synergies.  Oracle is very acquisitive, and we have been buying a number of companies over the years, over 100-plus in the last 20 years—many of them large-sized organizations.  Over 25 of those acquisitions were completed during the Great Recession of 2007-2009, to support Oracle’s pivot into enterprise applications and hardware. The true cloud financial management systems are continuously updated with the latest capabilities to provide scalability and flexibility, rapidly integrate new entities, and provide the ability to model the impact of individual acquisitions or divestitures on both the bottom and top lines. Bold move #3 – Boost productivity through digitization Innovation in finance has been a priority for years but has now become urgent as a result of the pandemic. More digitization and automation of finance processes has long been on the to do list of finance leaders. According to the McKinsey report “Get in front of digital finance,” more than 75 percent of tasks can be automated in areas such as cash disbursement, revenue management, and general accounting operations. As organizations move toward digitization and high levels of automation, the importance of advanced data and analytics to drive visibility and collaboration across an organization has never been higher. At Oracle, our strategy has always been to provide a single integrated service: connected enterprise, connected data, connected view of the business processes to help you actually drive these big transformations. The view from the front office to the back office is critical, not just to operationalize all these new business models, but to also help manage ongoing changes. Through a single unified platform that facilitates more automation and better collaboration, CFOs and finance teams can more easily adopt modern practices such as continuous forecasting and planning, and predictive capabilities to better respond to the next crisis. Plus, they gain the ability to execute more work remotely—such as the critical task of closing the books. Oracle was able to increase productivity during the pandemic, shortening the monthly close by an additional 20% while working from home. In fact, Oracle is reaping the benefits of its own cloud solutions across hundreds of processes, every day.  Next Steps for Reimagining Finance Finance teams in every organization must move towards resiliency and finance reimagination at their own pace. There is no cookie cutter approach. COVID-19 won’t be the last of the disruptions businesses must contend with. It’s important for them to re-evaluate and rebuild their business models to be more resilient. Yet resilience is no longer about having the cash reserves and resources to weather disruption right now – it’s about building an infrastructure that is flexible, cloud-based and automated to deal with constant, unrelenting change. Here’s how you can start building business resilience with Oracle Cloud Applications By Anne Ozzimo, Executive Director, ERP & EPM Product Marketing at Oracle

For years, finance leaders have been seeking ways to leverage technology to make their organizations future ready. The current pandemic exposed the shortcomings of outdated platforms and accelerated...

Cloud

Is your Cloud provider delivering cloud on your terms?

To adapt to the new way of working, reduce business costs and increase revenue, companies the world over are accelerating their digital transformation strategies and efforts. Paramount to these efforts is the adoption of cloud. Not only does migration to the cloud enable business continuity and better team collaboration, the cloud enables business growth and development. Large enterprises are successfully reinventing themselves with the help of technology and are moving their on-premises applications to the cloud. Those companies ignoring this revolution might find themselves with outdated business models that no longer serve their customers in the ‘new normal’ and will become a cautionary tale. We have seen a new way of remote working set up almost overnight. Businesses are running quite complex systems on the cloud and this is often in home environments. Without this infrastructure, it would be more challenging for employees to collaborate and access real-time business data, from anywhere in the world. At a very day-to-day level, companies would struggle to share and write documents securely. Every business is unique, their technology demands are no different. Cloud technology needs to enable consistent delivery of services, in a cost-effective manner. Oracle’s offering makes it possible for cloud technology to be structured and tailored to each customer environment through its interoperable and open cloud solutions, bringing affordable and flexible cloud to any type of organisation. Zoom, faced with a massive increase of 50% in user numbers in the wake of COVID-19, and turned to Oracle Cloud to quickly provide the rapid scaling needed. “As the cloud becomes a mainstream enterprise technology, it is important it meets the needs of enterprises; and the heterogeneous computing environments they live in. Our recently launched Cloud@Customer enhancements bridges the gaps between public and on-premises cloud environments, as the reality is that companies want to run at least a portion of their workloads in their own on-premise datacentres. Oracle’s advanced autonomous database is now available on-premise bringing a complete cloud experience for these sophisticated environments.” says Shireen Pillay, senior sales cloud leader for technology, Oracle South Africa. “Our customers can build the cloud solution that best fits their requirements and budget. Companies of all sizes have moved to Oracle Cloud for its superior technology, price performance advantages, and dedication to partnering with businesses on their cloud journeys. First-generation clouds are built on decade-old technology. Oracle’s second generation cloud provides significant advantages, including the world’s first and only autonomous database, multi-cloud strategy, a unique shared responsibility security model, and an efficient architecture, which, paired with superior economics, is saving customers not only millions of rands, but 2x better compute price and performance compared to AWS. “Cloud is the game changer, especially now in the light of Covid-19, and local loadshedding. While South Africa has previously been a bit slow in terms of its cloud maturity levels, this has now changed dramatically and adoption has become much more prevalent. Cloud also helps overcome the challenges of working from home, making business continuity possible.” "There is also a heightened security risk due to increased homeworking, Oracle provides visibility into cloud application usage and uses machine learning to detect when users take unusual or risky actions. The security technology is automated, architected-in, self-patching and always on. “In a market where multi-cloud solutions are run, we partner with customers to ensure that their cloud is tailored their way. Ultimately having multiple cloud vendors (Microsoft and VMWare) gives the customer choice and control over their own technology environment. And security is never compromised. Rahul Pawar, vice president, product management, Commvault mentioned that they are happy to join forces with Oracle and VMware, the key benefits of this partnership provides – ease, scalability, security, and cost – perfectly align with the leading features of our products, making this a winning combination for customers. In addition, Chris Pasternak, Accenture Global Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Lead said that “now our clients have yet another option to help quickly move Oracle workloads to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure through the simplicity of tools like vMotion.” “For organisations today, they need to dig deep with their cloud partner to understand how cloud technology can enable continuity, while building resiliency and addressing cost reductions. There is no one-size-fits all solution,” she concludes. To learn more about the various cloud solutions offered click here.

To adapt to the new way of working, reduce business costs and increase revenue, companies the world over are accelerating their digital transformation strategies and efforts. Paramount to these...

Cloud

Nissan Moves to Oracle for High-Performance Computing

Plans to migrate computational fluid dynamics, structural mechanics simulation, and 3D visualization to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure to bring new cars to market faster Oracle announced on 11 August that Nissan Motor Co., Ltd is migrating its on-premises, high-performance computing (HPC) workloads to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. Nissan relies on a digital product design process to make quick and critical design decisions to improve the fuel efficiency, reliability and safety of its cars.  By moving its performance and latency sensitive-engineering simulation workloads to Oracle Cloud, Nissan will be able to speed the design and testing of new cars. Specifically, Nissan uses software-based Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and structural simulation techniques to design and test cars for external aerodynamics and structural failures. Oracle Cloud Infrastructure’s compute, networking, and storage services optimized for HPC applications will allow Nissan to benefit from the industry’s first and only bare-metal HPC solution with RDMA networking as it innovates cars. Nissan anticipates higher performance and lowers costs with the ability to easily run their engineering simulation workloads in the cloud. “Nissan is a leader in adopting cloud-based high performance computing for large scale workloads such as safety and CFD simulations,” said Bing Xu, General Manager, Engineering Systems Department, Nissan Motor Co, Ltd. “We selected Oracle Cloud Infrastructure’s HPC solutions to meet the challenges of increased simulation demand under constant cost savings pressure. I believe Oracle will bring significant ROI to Nissan.” Running large CFD and structural simulations requires tremendous amounts of compute power. Nissan has adopted a cloud-first strategy for its HPC platform to ensure its engineers always have the compute capacity needed to run their complex simulations. While the HPC market has been traditionally underserved by public cloud providers, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure delivers an industry-first Intel Xeon based bare-metal compute infrastructure with RDMA cluster networking, offering latencies of under two microseconds and 100 Gbps bandwidth, enabling large scale HPC migrations to the cloud. Nissan is one of the first automotive OEMs to leverage GPU technology in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure for structural simulation and remote visualization. By using Oracle’s bare-metal GPU-accelerated hardware, Nissan reduces the cost and overhead of large data transfer, while ensuring that all the data generated by simulation jobs can easily be viewed in 3D OpenGL format in the cloud. In addition to HPC workloads, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure supports a mature and diverse ISV application ecosystem across different domains such as CFD and structural simulation. This helps deliver a price/performance ratio that is more compelling than running on-premises or compared to other public cloud providers. Oracle’s unique cloud HPC solutions enable customers to run performance intensive HPC jobs on demand instead of having to buy fixed, on-premises capacity. With Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, Nissan can launch tens of thousands of cores and GPU-based high-end visualization servers with tremendous flexibility, enabling them to dynamically change compute and remote 3D visualization based on the needs of its engineers. “Oracle is excited to work alongside Nissan to change digital product design and development, and help them build the next generation of award-winning vehicles,” said Clay Magouyrk, executive vice president, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. “Our mission has always been to build the best cloud infrastructure for enterprises, including computationally intensive and extremely latency sensitive workloads that organizations like Nissan need to build the next generation of vehicles.” Additional Resources Learn more about Oracle Cloud Infrastructure for HPC workloads Read the blog about Oracle’s HPC momentum Learn more about Oracle Cloud Infrastructure

Plans to migrate computational fluid dynamics, structural mechanics simulation, and 3D visualization to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure to bring new cars to market faster Oracle announced on 11 August that...

Innovation

Getting innovation right in South Africa

Originally published on Brainstorm Magazine 27 July 2020.  Local organisations see digital transformation as a key enabler of innovation, but to realise the real benefits they must consider their approach carefully, argues Lahini Sivaganeshan, Agile Solutions Consultant at Oracle. Digital transformation (DX) and innovation are often treated as separate initiatives whereas, in reality, they are inextricably intertwined. The subtle dynamics need to be understood, especially now as organisations are putting their DX programmes into fast forward in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the massive changes it has initiated, Sivaganeshan says. “The more digitalised companies were, the better able they were to adjust to this new world. But CIOs have also realised that DX has to be seen as part of an innovation journey that will enable organisational agility—the all-important ability to read market changes and adapt to them at speed,” she says. Central to any discussion about DX and innovation is the question of data. Data has emerged as the crown jewels of the corporate treasury, the raw material for the insights that underpin innovation.  Research by World Worx in partnership with Cisco shows that large enterprises in South Africa generally see DX as a key strategy in dealing with Covid-19 and the associated crisis. Yet, says the report, only a third had fully digitalised before the pandemic hit. Another study of Sub-Saharan Africa by the International Data Corporation showed that 57% of organisations are putting their DX programmes on the fast track. This sense of urgency contains a danger: organisations must not cut corners when it comes to how DX and innovation generally are structured. “Organisations must never lose sight of the basic fact that DX and innovation are not ends in themselves: they are enablers of business strategy. The starting point should be the business problem, how urgent it is and how impactful it will be,” says Sivaganeshan. “Then one must interrogate the current business model and consider how it needs to be changed as part of the DX/ innovation process. The technology solution must be guided by this work.” Aligning business and IT Another important precondition for success is collaboration between IT and the business. For years, the CIO has been the go-to person for innovation and DX, but closer integration between the lines of business and IT is vital. Finance, HR, sales and marketing must become more involved. At present, says the IDC, only 12% of respondents can say that IT and other business lines collaborate closely to develop the DX and innovation road map together. “When DX is aligned with the business and what it needs to do, one starts to see really exciting innovations that use advanced data analytics to take the business to a new level,” Sivaganeshan says.  For example, Oracle is working closely with the World Bee Project using artificial intelligence to analyse data from sensors and other sources to enable apiarists to make informed decisions quickly, and help make hives healthier and more productive. “In this way, Oracle is helping address the challenge of food security and protecting farmers’ livelihoods,” notes Sivaganeshan. Another example is the collaboration between Oracle and Sail GP, an international sailing competition. Each boat is equipped with up to 1 200 sensors, with the data being fed back into Oracle’s Autonomous Data Warehouse, where it is rigorously analysed. Crews use the data-based insights to complement their own expertise to make decisions quickly during the race. “This is what modern business is increasingly going to be like: harnessing technology and data to enable rapid, fact-based decision-making on the fly,” Sivaganeshan comments. “It’s about DX leading to innovation that gives real competitive edge.” How to innovate successfully So how to innovate successfully? Craig Nel, Oracle MEA Cloud Platform Leader, Mobility, confirms that any innovation journey must begin with a problem or a goal. He argues that the foundation for successful innovation is the triangle of people, processes and projects. “A good structure and processes are needed, as well as the right people with the right mind set and attitude. The people need to be trained and the best way to do that is to learn by doing,” he says. “One must move beyond talking by mobilising small groups to try out some innovation initiatives—and give these teams time to learn.” Other key success factors include measuring the innovation project to determine its impact and build credibility within the organisation, and finding the right partnerships. “You simply can’t do it alone: companies need to find diverse partners to make progress,” he says. “By finding the right partners, you can accelerate the transformation process to become more competitive by serving customers better.” Find out how Oracle can help you use data more innovatively to achieve your business goals.

Originally published on Brainstorm Magazine 27 July 2020.  Local organisations see digital transformation as a key enabler of innovation, but to realise the real benefits they must consider their...

Cloud

The Power of Cloud Enables Businesses to Thrive in Any Situation

There is no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the market, and with it, consumer expectations. Luckily, cloud technology can unlock business agility and greater value for customers – especially during these uncertain times. Oracle, as a cloud-enabled business, realised early on that cloud technology has the power to enable better business continuity. By using cloud applications, we could quickly adapt to the changing market and move to remote working within hours - ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our employees in the process. With the need for accelerated Digital Transformation, many businesses are following this trend and moving more business-critical workloads to the cloud. Growing cloud consumption has created new blind spots as responsibilities in securing data are negotiated and understood. This confusion has left IT security teams scrambling to address a growing threat landscape, specifically in relation to sensitive data. Niral Patel, Managing Director of Oracle South Africa, sat down with Aki Anastasiou to discuss “What’s Next” for the technology industry, Oracle and its customers. Watch the full video interview on What’s Next, listen to the podcast on Spotify, SoundCloud or Apple Podcast.

There is no denying that the COVID-19pandemic has changed the market, and with it, consumer expectations. Luckily, cloud technology can unlock business agility and greater value for customers –...

Customer Stories

How scenario modeling can help you weather a crisis

Originally published on CFO SA on 27 July Conversations with MTN and Oracle reveal how scenario modeling can help companies achieve success during a crisis. On Thursday 22 July, CFO South Africa and Oracle partnered on a webinar in which Wayne Heather Oracle executive director of enterprise performance management (EPM) product marketing, and Johan Pretorius, MTN general manager of EPM, explained how scenario modeling helped their respective companies achieve success during times of crisis. Wayne shared what Oracle has been seeing in different industries and how the company has been helping some of its customers during these strange times.  “Disruptive events are not new,” he said. “They’ve come around in many shapes, including the recession and 9/11. What we’ve found is that EPM really becomes front and centre in finance organisations during these times to help them remodel their business and be agile.” What makes Covid-19 different? Oracle started by looking at Covid-19 and what makes it different from other disruptions, highlighting a few key things:  High uncertainty High unemployment rates Largest stimulus packages in history He also pointed out that none of the previous disruptions has had such a big impact on every industry at the same time. “No one knows what the other side is going to look like or when we will get there.” Resilience + agility = survival Because of the uncertainty, Wayne said that how you model though this crisis, how you survive, how you conserve cash, and how you plan and reimagine the business to come out the other side is very important.  He explained that resilience and agility is very important when planning the future of your business. “According to a McKinsey report that has taken a look at many previous crises and what companies have done, it shows that resilient companies use the crisis as an opportunity to go forward. So if you’re agile or resilient within your finance office, you can probably understand your revenues and your cost impacts.”  Once you have this understanding, you can add more resources to those revenue-generating operations within your business and start cutting costs in other places.  Focus areas during the crisis Back to the present, Oracle asked its clients what they were focusing on during the crisis:  More or less 75 percent are in the process of forecasting for multiple scenarios. Reimagining their businesses by developing KPIs that specifically address the issues driven by the Covid-19 economic downturn. Changing their long-term forecast assessment strategies to short-term rolling forecasts to change what they’re doing and to conserve cash.  Performing range-based forecasts rather than point-based forecasts.  Managing uncertainty In order to manage the uncertainty around the impact of Covid-19, companies have to try and model for different outcomes based on the things that they don’t know, like: How long will the pandemic last? Will we run out of cash?  Are debtors withholding payments? What shape will the recovery take? What is the impact on the supply chain?  How are customers’ behaviours changing? “Being able to model those different scenarios and using simulations to help you iterate through hundreds of different variations of those models is something that our customers are looking at,” Wayne said.  Industry cases Wayne then highlighted the impact of Covid-19 on a few different industries: Due to its capital intensive nature, companies in the oil and gas industry are looking at alternate funding options. There’s been a massive volatility in the oil market because people aren’t traveling as much and there’s an overstock of oil. Some companies in this industry are considering divestitures.  The healthcare industry has seen a massive uptake in Covid-19 claims around medical aid. It has also been adversely affected by the unemployment, which has resulted in a decline in memberships. Companies in this industry are suffering revenue impact, but are also getting an increasing demand on Covid-19 patients and claims.  The travel and transport industry is going through massive turmoil at the moment because people are working from home and aren’t flying anymore. People say that the travel industry will only get back to normal in 2023 and unemployment in the industry is massive.  Companies in the retail and distribution industry are being forced to change their business sales models as a people are moving to online shopping. A lot of stores are closing as their sales channels move online.  The real estate industry is dealing with massive rental defaults, which goes back to retail stores closing and not paying rent. In the higher education industry, a lot of universities are not going to be offering physical classes until 2021, so they’ve moved their whole business to online. There’s a lot of incidental revenue around their campuses that they will be losing.  Moving to short-term scenario modeling Before Covid-19, Oracle customers would typically do long-range planning by looking at corporate initiatives, M&A activities and treasury initiatives. “Once they’ve set that high-level long-range plan, they push that down into the financial operational plan, which would typically be on an annually forecast basis,” Wayne said.  However, this behaviour has changed since Covid-19, as companies are modeling in a shorter term instead. “They are modeling different scenarios for different entities or units within their business, be it different geographies or departments, and then quickly try to consolidate those to push it back into the planning and reporting cycle.”  How is crisis planning different?  Instead of modeling traditional marketplace assumptions, companies are focusing on revenue and the things that can impact that revenue, like supply chains, government stimulus, and tax credits.  “The frequency of strategic modeling in times of crisis has also increased from yearly to monthly, weekly and sometimes daily,” Wayne said. “That gets pushed into the planning really quickly to understand what is realistic from a change perspective within the business, because it’s not good setting high-level strategies if you can’t push that down and get feedback from the group in terms of what’s possible and what’s not.”  He added that, having that tightly integrated back office where strategic finance and planning is integrated, has delivered massive value to Oracle’s customers. Surviving 2020 After introducing the MTN brand, Johan explained how the company’s CEO and CFO worked on a new strategy for MTN that focused on growth called BRIGHT.  “After a period of decentralised leadership, the core reasserted its importance as the group started to leverage its reach and size,” he said. “For finance this also served as a reawakening as the subscription of cloud solutions offered by Oracle forced the rethink of the business processes and their impact.” MTN compiled and rolled out a standardised chart of accounts that linked the group and its operations, as well as the financial and management reporting processes. Direct links between the business planning processes enabled MTN to rethink and reimagine the disclosures, reporting and information presented and used for decision making.  Operating in a high risk environment According to Johan, the secret of operating in a high risk environment is balancing the high risks with an appropriate reward. “Emerging markets with high growth rates are not easy to do business in, however, they present the opportunity to establish first mover advantage and to leverage learnings from other regions. Standardisation is critical in this process.” He explained that in the past, 80 percent of time was spent on compiling reports. However, using standardised template processes and definitions, the analyses and exception handling came back into focus. “Starting with reporting also highlighted the data deficiencies, process enhancements required and bottlenecks. We were able to consistently measure and report on risks.”  Reacting to Covid-19 With the new standardising initiatives well underway during 2018 and 2019, 2020 rolled around and no amount of planning and prudence could prepare finance and reporting teams for what happened next. “Covid-19 presented a whole new realm of possibilities when it comes to unforeseen business impact,” Johan said. “Unlike financial or political crises, it has an inherently human impact. While government and business reactions have differed across the globe. The underlying human fear is the same.”  Like all corporates, MTN’s knee jerk reaction was to conserve capital and cut expenses. “This wasn’t only limited to financial prudence,” Johan said. “As employees, we received bucket loads of sanitisers and had been asked to work from home. However, in isolation, these measures are not enough.” Johan explains that a strong strategy should underpin your roadmap out of a crisis. “Because our own bases were covered early, MTN was able to raise our heads and see the external needs early in the pandemic.” MTN’s strength during the crisis was its ability to respond to the human desire for connection in a time of isolation.  

Originally published on CFO SA on 27 July Conversations with MTN and Oracle reveal how scenario modeling can help companies achieve success during a crisis. On Thursday 22 July, CFO South Africa and...

News

Oracle Turns Supply Chains into a Key Driver of Resilience and Growth

By Rick Jewell, senior vice president, Applications Development, Oracle Global supply chains have undergone a massive stress test in 2020, and as far as we can see, this trend is likely to continue. To help our customers address the challenges presented by widespread supply disruptions, market volatility, shifting global trade patterns, and changing customer expectations, my team has been hard at work on the latest updates to Oracle Fusion Cloud Supply Chain & Manufacturing (Oracle Cloud SCM).  The latest planning and management solutions in Oracle Cloud SCM will help customers build more resilient supply chains that can drive growth. They do this by helping customers improve the efficiency of company-wide operations, gain greater foresight into supply and demand across their networks, and deliver enhanced service to their customers.  Replenishment Planning: Many organizations have experienced massive fluctuations in demand this year. To help our customers manage these changes and maintain the right level of supply at all times, Replenishment Planning enables organizations in multiple industries to predict consumption and to plan and execute replenishment in an efficient and manageable way. Highly automated and fully customizable, Replenishment Planning is a new capability in Oracle Demand Management. Backlog Management: The changes we have all experienced this year have provided a forcing function to rethink many established processes. To help our customers rethink the traditional “first-come, first-served” approach to backlog management, our new Backlog Management capabilities enable organizations to prioritize their entire backlog of open orders so they can fulfill their most important orders first. Backlog Management is a new capability in Oracle Supply Chain Planning.  Depot Repair: Maintaining customer service levels at times of extreme change can be incredibly difficult. To help our customers address this challenge, we have added a dedicated solution for managing the entire flow of work in repair organizations to Oracle Field Service. With Depot Repair, organizations can quickly and easily repair and return their customers’ assets, debrief on the work performed, and properly bill for the services rendered.  Project-Driven Supply Chain: The context within which almost every organization operates has changed this year. To help manufacturing and asset intensive organizations ensure their supply chain strategy aligns with changing business context, we have introduced Project-Driven Supply Chain. This end-to-end solution across Oracle Cloud SCM and Oracle Fusion Cloud Enterprise Resource Planning (Oracle Cloud ERP) allows customers to capture, invoice, and capitalize project-driven material, manufacturing, and maintenance costs in one integrated solution. Channel Revenue Management: Shifting demand and consumption patterns have made managing channel revenue harder than ever. To help customers address this challenge and efficiently manage their trade programs, Channel Revenue Management automates processing and settlement in the cloud. This will enable customers to streamline business processes while helping them increase overall revenue, profit, and market share. Channel Revenue Management is a new solution in Oracle Cloud SCM. While my team is acutely aware there is no magic wand to eliminate the supply chain challenges organizations are facing, the new updates will provide crucial insights needed to create efficient and resilient supply networks. And regardless of what comes next, we’re fully committed to helping our customers and partners reimagine their supply chains to return to business growth.

By Rick Jewell, senior vice president, Applications Development, Oracle Global supply chains have undergone a massive stress test in 2020, and as far as we can see, this trend is likely to continue. To...

Finance

Oracle Helps Finance Teams Build Resilience and Return to Growth

By Rondy Ng, senior vice president, Applications Development, Oracle Finance leaders are facing the biggest challenge of their careers. To help them build resilient and adaptable businesses and chart a course back to growth, we are announcing important updates to Oracle Fusion Cloud Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Oracle Fusion Cloud Enterprise Performance Management (EPM).  These important updates help finance teams leverage technologies including AI, digital assistants, and analytics to enhance productivity, reduce costs and improve controls. In addition, new industry solutions enable customers in Oil & Gas, Manufacturing and asset intensive industries to improve business processes and achieve faster time to value.  New AI and machine learning, analytics and security capabilities of ERP include: Predictive Planning: Helps organizations identify and leverage trends and patterns in financial and operational data. With access to predictions at data load time, organizations can see prediction and forecast variances, identify variance patterns, and make plan revisions on the fly to improve the quality and timeliness of decisions. Predictive Planning is now available in EPM. Intelligent Code Defaulting: Helps organizations improve the accuracy and efficiency of processing payables transactions by leveraging machine learning to recommend account codes. The algorithm adapts based on past actions to evolve with business changes.  Intelligent Document Recognition: Improves the accuracy and efficiency of financial information ingestion from PDF and other popular financial document formats to reduce (or even eliminate) manual invoice entry. The system learns over time and adapts to changes within invoice formats to increase accuracy as businesses evolve. Digital Assistant Skills for Time Entry and Projects: Help organizations reduce the effort required to submit and review time sheets, track the status of projects, and escalate time entry and project management issues. As a result, the new conversational user interface improves the user experience and increases business efficiency.   Embedded Incident Management: Helps organizations enhance data protection by providing intuitive, embedded incident reporting workflows that can be used to conduct investigations, create actions, and track and update incident status.   New industry solutions in ERP include: Joint Venture Accounting: Helps organizations in industries such as Oil and Gas to reduce partner disputes, improve cash flow, and gain real-time visibility into the financial state of joint ventures by automating transaction processing and introducing role-based tools to manage exceptions. With improved transparency and digital collaboration with joint venture partners, customers can focus on uncovering patterns and identifying strategic opportunities. Project-Driven Supply Chain: Supports the complex business processes of manufacturing and asset intensive organizations where the supply chain must work in the context of a specific project. Now generally available, this end-to-end solution across ERP and Oracle Fusion Cloud Supply Chain Management (SCM) allows customers to capture, invoice, and capitalize project-driven material, manufacturing, and maintenance costs in one integrated solution. To further assist customers through this time of crisis, last month we announced that we’d be making Financial Statement Planning, which includes Strategic Modeling, available to all Planning customers free for the next 12 months. To help customers gain the most value from these free capabilities, we are also providing with step-by-step guides and online tutorials.  These latest innovations are designed to help finance teams rapidly adapt to the current economic climate, explore new business models, improve strategic decision-making and begin the journey back to growth. While there is no easy solution to the challenges that finance teams face, my team is committed to helping customers adapt as best they can and plan for whatever comes next.  

By Rondy Ng, senior vice president, Applications Development, Oracle Finance leaders are facing the biggest challenge of their careers. To help them build resilient and adaptable businesses and chart a...

News

Oracle helps prepare young South Africans for the digital economy

Twenty seven previously disadvantaged (PDI) South African students graduated on 8 July 2020, by means of a virtual graduation ceremony, following the completion of the Oracle Graduate Leadership Programme for 2019. Now in its sixth year, the programme focuses on equipping PDI students with specialised IT and leadership skills that prepare them for a career in the IT industry.  “With the highest youth unemployment rate in the world, paired with worrying skills shortages, we believe corporate South Africa has a responsibility to aid the development of practical, technical and specialised skills development in the country. The Oracle Graduate Leadership Programme aims to assist in addressing the skills gap in the ICT industry, while also creating employment opportunities for South Africa’s youth,” says Niral Patel, Managing Director and Technology Leader for Oracle South Africa The Oracle Graduate Leadership Programme is a one-year course, developed in cohesion with our partners and select customers, offering a blended learning approach, combining classroom training with e-learning and structured on-the-job training. Oracle South Africa sponsors the full cost of training for all programme participants. Interns reflect on their journey “My journey at Oracle has been an amazing one. Through this internship I have grown in leaps and bounds; I have learnt the communication, networking and personal skills required to actively participate in this corporate world. It has been inspiring to be a part of such a huge company and work beside great people,” Phyllicia Mari, Graduating intern.  “Being part of the Oracle family has been nothing but a joy ride. Personally I have learnt what being independent, proactive and being part of a big family means. This experience has done so much for my career, as well as for my personal development. In the past year I have grown immensely and if I could go back and choose a company to grow in I would definitely choose Oracle again. I have learnt all sorts of soft skills (e.g. communication, time management and work etiquette).  Opportunities presented by Oracle are endless and it really depends on an individual whether to take them or not, but I know for sure that as a former Oracle intern who is certified in Oracle products, I am bound to be successful,” Tsholofelo Legodi, Graduating intern.  “The Oracle internship allowed me to gain confidence in my personal and professional skills. Due to the internship, I am able to start my career with confidence in myself and my abilities,” Nozinhle Sibanyoni, Graduating intern.  “Each interaction and experience taught me something that I will carry in my soul, to open up to the many possibilities that this world had to offer and to continuously learn and unlearn as my journey progressed,” Lynette Biyela, Graduating intern.  “In Oracle, I found myself a second home with great colleagues who are willing to help me grow in every way. Oracle gave me a chance to grow my career in the IT space, today I hold to myself two Oracle certification and two other certificates I acquired during my period with Oracle,” Katekani Mgiba, Graduating intern. The programme has successfully delivered 133 graduates since inception in 2014, with many of them securing permanent employment with Oracle partner companies and other organisations. The graduate intake for the 2020 programme kicked off earlier this year with 60 students ready to start their journey with Oracle.

Twenty seven previously disadvantaged (PDI) South African students graduated on 8 July 2020, by means of a virtual graduation ceremony, following the completion of the Oracle Graduate Leadership...

Cloud

How technology adoption in Africa is shifting amid COVID-19

By Weyinmi Egbe Oracle Alliance & Channel Leader Technology & Cloud Systems, Africa. The new normal in Africa is expected to re-direct the priorities of governments and business. For consumers across the continent, priorities are also shifting. Before Covid-19, customers could easily walk into a store to touch, engage and experience a product, where many are now relying on online reviews and comparisons to verify their purchasing decisions. Where possible, many businesses have invested in infrastructure to facilitate remote working for their staff. We believe that over the next two years there will be a considerable shift in behaviour across business and consumer segments underpinned by the following four trends: Critical advancements to the Healthcare system Upgrading health care facilities in Africa will receive more focus now than ever before. Countries like South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya have shown rapid and pro-active ad-hoc responses to health situations, however, contact tracing has been the major issue when it comes to managing patients’ pre and post treatments. This has exposed the need for a more optimised Identity Management Systems and the development of a citizen database to account for all citizens in the country in a timely and efficient manner. Over the next two years, we can expect that government will prioritise identity management and optimised database management systems. Faster adoption towards Digital Transformation and Automation Remote working has become the new normal. Digital transformation (DX) is an important strategy to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, a survey by International Data Corporation (IDC) across Sub-Saharan Africa suggests that 57% of organisations in the region are accelerating existing DX efforts. Digitally transformed enterprises are doing exceptionally well during these tough times. IDC’s forecast for 2018 showed about 17% of all enterprises being digitally transformed, and by 2023 about 52%. Now a lot of CIOs say that they've accelerated their digital transformation programs significantly. The catchphrase is: ‘we feel like we are living in 2025. Everything we had planned for 2024 or 2025 is happening now’. No one anticipated how much we will be compelled to rely heavily on digital engagements. Clearly organisations will now be compelled to truly consider digital transformation not as a buzz word, but for business continuity. The increased demand for digital assistants (chatbots) to drive customer engagements Financial institutions in Africa were the first to fully embrace digital assistants for customer care services and banking services. With this adoption we have seen an increase among our partners to deliver the same services to African governments as an automated way in which the government can quickly interact with citizens, answer FAQ’s and keep citizens informed 24/7. This is expected to become even more popular as a standard way for citizen engagement. While the more complex communication challenges will still need to be tackled by humans, a digital assistant may offer relief in some areas. For example, organisations may need to automate responses to most basic queries so human minds can be freed up to deal with more complex challenges. Enterprises and organisations may also need to enable more processes and transactions online and offer them in an easy-to-use medium – one that is easily accessible and intuitive.  Meanwhile, organisations are having to reconfigure how they engage with their customers, contractors, and employees – and in the case of public sector organisations and educational institutions, citizens and students, respectively. These various touchpoints include providing real-time, reliable information on health and safety guidelines; offering assistance in setting up a remote working environment; communicating up-to-date changes in policies; and enabling online self-service functions or access to relevant insights, information, and processes from within the organisation’s systems.  Increase in ‘e- commerce everything’ A post-COVID retail market will require new approaches to engaging customers and satisfying their demands with efficiency and elegance. Retailers need the transparency and flexibility to shift with the needs of their customers and business – whether those interactions are happening online, in-store or in the spaces in-between, such as buying online and picking up in-store (BOPIS). As people spend more time at home, online shopping channels have become a preference for household and grocery shopping. ‘E-commerce everything’ will drive a new form of retail engagement across the continent; encouraging retailers to relook their supply chain, their offerings, and their engagements with customers.  Retailers are going to have to explore the modern solutions on offer to them to enable optimisation of the online ordering process, of forecasting and planning assortment. We can expect a shift in culture for more services to go online and stay online post COVID-19.  

By Weyinmi Egbe Oracle Alliance & Channel Leader Technology & Cloud Systems, Africa. The new normal in Africa is expected to re-direct the priorities of governments and business. For consumers across...

Customer Stories

MTN Group reduces budget planning time by 50 percent with Oracle Cloud

Johannesburg-based MTN Group offers cellular, internet, and mobile money-transfer services to 300 million subscribers in 23 African and Middle Eastern countries. Dependent on spreadsheets for much of its budgeting, financial reporting, and tax compliance, it ran into data-entry errors, differing calculations, and numbers that had been updated in some places but not others. As a result, its financial processes were too slow and error-prone, especially for a company that needed to become ever-more digital and agile. MTN wanted to simplify its application portfolio and standardise its processes to move faster, increase accuracy, and ultimately boost workforce effectiveness. “One of the big benefits we've seen with Oracle Cloud EPM reporting is having one version of the truth. Standardised reporting is very important for us because you need to trust the numbers,” says Chris Badenhorst, Senior Manager, Systems at MTN Group. MTN Group estimates that Oracle Cloud EPM has helped it reduce its head-office budget preparation time by 50%, because when its people were emailing spreadsheets around, every time a number changed, someone had to reconsolidate and re-aggregate the numbers. What’s more, company finance leaders and other executives now have access to the same, accurate numbers. Meanwhile, by implementing Oracle Cloud EPM’s tax reporting application, MTN has shortened the reporting cycle and strengthened tax-provisioning oversight across its 23 operating geographies. Now, tax provisioning calculations and their comparisons with the group effective tax rate are done monthly instead of quarterly. Previously saddled with high maintenance costs for its various financial applications, MTN has lowered its costs by standardising on one cloud-based platform. ”If you are looking for a full-suite solution, there is actually no other vendor in the market to consider,” concludes Badenhorst.

Johannesburg-based MTN Group offers cellular, internet, and mobile money-transfer services to 300 million subscribers in 23 African and Middle Eastern countries. Dependent on spreadsheets for much of...

Innovation

Overcoming today’s challenges with strategic, collaborative innovation

There is something remarkable about the African continent, the scarcity and complexity brings light to innovation and invention. Within the challenges of infrastructure resides the potential of technology and organisational agility. As the pandemic continues to influence how organisations operate and behave, African businesses need to adapt its workforce and technology considerations to fit the needs of the continent and the customer. Rebalancing the business The recent weeks and months have likely been the biggest challenge for all businesses across the continent. With almost no warning, millions of businesses – indiscriminate of size or stature – suddenly went from operating as usual to facing enormous challenges under the weight of uncertainty. When global uncertainty is coupled with increased scrutiny from the CEO, board, investors, employees, and customers, every move they make is critical. With these challenges to meet and tough decisions to make, the CFO is at the centre of a rapidly changing economy. There are four areas where a CFO-led rethink and innovation will be crucial: managing cash flow, investing in the supply chain, working closely with HR, and focusing on customers. The most immediate challenge faced has been managing cash flow. Many businesses, whilst inherently profitable, found themselves struggling to make ends meet with insufficient working capital readily to stay solvent. This lack of economic resilience does require short-term cuts, but it also relies on intelligent decisions that will keep the business healthy in the long-term. The next focus area is supply chain. For decades ‘lean’ has been the name of the game. But lean, just-in-time supply chains have struggled in the face of global crisis. To get back on track and plan ahead, spending big to ensure supply chains are robust and resilient, not lean, will be critical. Balancing cost-cutting while ensuring the business can still function effectively is vital, especially when your biggest asset – talent – is also your biggest expense. To walk this fine line and ensure every decision made helps safeguard business continuity and survival, the CFO should work closer than ever with HR. Together, they can master their business’ data to see where skills and resources are needed most in the here and now, while planning for whatever the future may bring. A people-driven approach is vitally important, and not just when it comes to staff and employees, but also customers. Delivering good customer experience is one thing, but right now, CFOs and finance teams getting closer than ever to their customers – and indeed their suppliers – is what will set you apart. Showing you can balance their needs with those of the business’ proves that you are the partner they can trust to guide them through uncertain times, now and in the future. Building resilience In building resiliency, organisations need to focus on building a resilient community amongst employees, customers, partners and suppliers. Having issues of cash flow front and centre forces the cost of talent into the limelight – but it doesn’t mean putting profit before people. Relooking their relationship, this is where the CFO and HR team need to come together, working more closely than ever before. Together, the CFO and HR need to evaluate skills and resources, minimise temporary and long-term loss of staff, and look after their people. All of this will build a resilient business. Focusing on bringing an overarching view of the health of the organisation is key; data is crucial to shape every discussion, aiding in quick decisions and allowing for agility and innovation. Building resilience is not finance’s job alone, this could be collaborating with the CIO and R&D teams, to ensure any future innovations align with customer strategies as well as the business’ purpose. Or it could mean working more closely with HR to ensure the business can meet changing customer demands. Right now, cloud based applications such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Human Capital Management (HCM) are immensely valuable as they help build business resilience and innovation in an extremely complicated market. These solutions provide insights that can offer improved control over factors such as supply chain management, inventory and purchasing. They integrate systems and data, connecting systems and information so that data becomes transparent and accessible and relevant. These applications also help the organisation use business intelligence (BI) to analyse data, to create KPIs that are based on strategic targets, and measure performance versus targets to meet goals based on current market conditions. With this strategic approach, companies are able to manage the complex balancing act more deftly between legacy and futureproof without whittling away at the bottom line. It has also stimulated greater interest in how digital applications can benefit the organisation. These applications need to support the balancing act between the business and its potential, between the CFO, CHRO, CIO and all lines of business, and ensure that they deliver more value to the organisation. Authored by Tamer Farouk Senior Sales Director, Applications Cluster Leader - East & West Africa at Oracle South Africa and East West Africa

There is something remarkable about the African continent, the scarcity and complexity brings light to innovation and invention. Within the challenges of infrastructure resides the potential of...

Innovation

Building resiliency in times of uncertainty

The recent months have likely been the biggest challenge for all organisations across the continent. With almost no warning, millions of businesses – indiscriminate of size or stature – suddenly went from operating as usual to facing enormous challenges under the weight of uncertainty. Companies in the region have had to find new ways of working, while establishing new pathways to productivity. Business resilience remains one of the most important and relevant ways for organisations to bypass legacy challenges and to explore new opportunities. Organisations that are paying attention to how digital can reshape their systems are not just readying themselves for the uncertainty of today, they’re fortifying their futures. Building resilience In building resiliency, organisations need to focus on building a resilient community among employees, customers, partners and suppliers. Having issues of cash flow front and centre forces the cost of talent into the limelight – but it doesn’t mean putting profit before people. This is where the CFO and HR team need to come together, working more closely than ever before. Together, the CFO and HR need to evaluate skills and resources, minimise temporary and long-term loss of staff, and look after their people. All of this will build a resilient business. Focusing on bringing an overarching view of the health of the organisation is key; data is crucial to shape every discussion, aiding in quick decisions and allowing for agility and innovation. Building resilience is not finance’s job alone, this could be collaborating with the CIO and R&D teams, to ensure any future innovations align with customer strategies as well as the business’ purpose. Or it could mean working more closely with HR to ensure the business can meet changing customer demands. Right now, cloud based applications such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Human Capital Management (HCM) are immensely valuable as they help build business resilience and innovation in an extremely complicated market. These solutions provide insights that can offer improved control over factors such as supply chain management, inventory and purchasing. They integrate systems and data, connecting systems and information so that data becomes transparent and accessible and relevant. These applications also help the organisation use business intelligence (BI) to analyse data, to create KPIs that are based on strategic targets, and measure performance versus targets to meet goals based on current market conditions. With this strategic approach, companies are able to manage the complex balancing act more deftly between legacy and adaptability, without whittling away at the bottom line. It has also stimulated greater interest in how digital applications can benefit the organisation. These applications need to support the balancing act between the business and its potential, between the CFO, CHRO, CIO and all lines of business, and ensure that they deliver more value to the organisation. Learning through others A leading financial institution in Africa decided to invest into a cloud based human capital management (HCM) system so that employees and the executive could gain deeper control over their own career development and performance. The investment was designed to support the company’s new focus on human capital, empowered growth and improved insights into performance. It was a step away from disconnected systems and multiple sources of information towards a more compliant and connected environment that aligned people to strategy and business to market demand. This is not a unique case study. Organisations around the world are recognising that investing into technology is one of the best ways for any organisation to create an agile and adaptable foundation. Technology is the great enabler as it allows for process, people and systems to pivot to meet new demands or markets.  Right now, the word ‘unexpected’ defines almost every market, company, business and region and its condition. The intelligent applications used by the Africa-based financial institution provided the analytics, strategy and talent management tools that the company needed to embed agility into its workforce. This is an agility needed right now as the SADC region turns to face the ripples of disruption caused by the pandemic. With legacy infrastructure challenges and limited connectivity, the region was working hard to shift into technology gear so it could fully tap into its potential before the pandemic. Now, the situation is somewhat more challenging. Digital applications and cloud solutions allow companies to gain access to credible data that can be used to fundamentally change how the business operates. From streamlining processes to cutting away dead areas of the business to leaping into entirely new business directions, data can help direct the company’s decision making at critical points in time. An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is designed to equip the business with resilience and agility. Both of these are beyond vital right now. Why? Because while agility gives businesses the ability to jump and swing when conditions demand, resilience is what ensures the business has what it takes to make that jump, to take that swing. ERP platforms have evolved so much over the past few years. We can now provide insights into spending patterns, customer demand, market requirements and overall business productivity. If integrated with a cloud based HCM solution, ERP can show the business the hidden corners of essential business operations for almost immediate short-term benefits. Want to know more about business spend, profitability and employee retention? That’s what this technology can reveal. Organisations should strategically consider adoption of the right tools that answer the most important questions – how can we improve efficiency, how can we transform business process, which areas need prioritisation? Authored by George Ferreira, Senior Sales Director: Applications at Oracle South Africa and SADC

The recent months have likely been the biggest challenge for all organisations across the continent. With almost no warning, millions of businesses – indiscriminate of size or stature – suddenly went...

News

Oracle and Kenya’s Equity Group Foundation Introduce Digital Skills Initiative for Country’s Next Gen

Over the past few years, several global experts and organisations have reiterated that today’s students upon completing their education will be doing jobs that don’t even exist today. Technology is evolving at breakneck speed, and it is imperative that today’s students are trained in emerging technologies that will power a digital economy. Oracle and Equity Group Foundation, the social impact arm of Equity Group Holdings Plc. that aims to transform the lives and livelihoods of Kenyan citizens, today kick started a three-year comprehensive series of customised upskilling workshops focusing on technology and business skills to equip Kenyan students with necessary IT skills, that are in demand across a host of industries. Under this initiative, Oracle experts and specialists from the foundations’ Equity Leaders Program (ELP) will deliver workshops across key emerging technologies for top performing Kenyan students selected by their leadership program. . “Kenya’s digital potential is untapped, and the creation of a digitally skilled workforce is an imperative to unlock this potential. Oracle has over the past three decades continuously undertaken numerous workshops and learning initiatives to address the skills gap in Africa. Our collaboration with the Equity Group Foundation is yet another initiative to support the youth in Africa.  We encourage Kenyan students to make the most of this opportunity,” says David Bunei, Managing Director at Oracle Kenya and Cloud Sales Director.   The programme will provide several online workshops that includes computing, storage, database development, data management, app development, platform integration, security, analytics, deep-dives into several Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions and the development of various soft skills such as sales 101, presentation skills and personal branding to name a few. “Our partnership with Oracle enables us to further empower the Kenyan youth with specialised skills and know-how, supporting the ongoing transformation of our country alongside the Big 4 Agenda. The digital revolution is characterised by the emergence of new digital skills in fields like artificial intelligence, big-data, cloud computing and mobile robotics. Our youth will have the opportunity with these new skill sets to influence people’s lives in Kenya,” says Reuben Mbindu, Executive Director, Equity Group Foundation. Oracle Kenya has been a key contributor to the ELP youth programme since 2019. A host of workshops including Get to Know Oracle; Online Resume Building including LinkedIn Setup and Financial Literacy workshops have been delivered by Oracle experts.  

Over the past few years, several global experts and organisations have reiterated that today’s students upon completing their education will be doing jobs that don’t even exist today. Technology is...

Cloud

Big moment for digital transformation

Digital transformation is having its big moment globally as well as in South Africa, as the business world scrambles to keep the wheels of industry turning in an era of social distancing and remote working. According to a new research survey by World Wide Worx in partnership with Cisco, on remote working in South Africa, every large enterprise in South Africa regards digital transformation (DX) as an important strategy to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. Yet, only about a third say they had fully rolled out DX prior to the pandemic. At the same time, more than half say that their DX strategy had a major impact on their transition to remote working. A survey by International Data Corporation (IDC) across Sub-Saharan Africa supports these findings: 57% of organisations in the region are accelerating existing DX efforts. And the reason is simple, says Mark Walker, IDC associate vice president of vertical industries for Middle East and Africa. “Digitally transformed enterprises are doing exceptionally well during these tough times,” he recently told a joint Oracle-IDC webinar titled Digital Transformation is No Longer Just an Option. “In our forecast for 2018, we looked at about 17% of all enterprises being digitally transformed, and by 2023 about 52%. Now a lot of CIOs say that they've accelerated their digital transformation programs significantly. The catchphrase is: ‘we feel like we are living in 2025. Everything we had planned for 2024 or 2025 is happening now’.” It is obvious to all that a spike in demand for online business channels, accelerated expansion of public cloud services and enhanced mobile data infrastructure is driving this rush to digital. Walker points to specific strategies and use cases, such as moving to opex-based services with increased adoption of hosted, managed, and software-defined services, adopting enterprise connectivity through 4G services to leverage mobility, and supporting remote workforce management and collaboration needs. However, two big questions arise, and these are critical to successful transition. The first is how to align business strategy with DX readiness. Walker recommends a region-specific DX strategy that targets business challenges and addresses strategic objectives, pointing out that CIOs in some regions have prioritised customer retention, while in others the focus has been more strongly on operational efficiency. Alignment between lines of business and the IT department is critical in any of these strategies, he says, yet few companies have close integration in this regard. “CFOs and chief operating officers and HR officers are becoming more involved, which is critical to successful digital transformation, but at the moment the IT department is still very much calling the shots: only 12% of the respondents say that IT and others collaborate closely to jointly develop the roadmap for the line of business. “In light of the COVID-19 impact, these triggers are going to change dramatically over the next two to three months as businesses realise the importance of e-commerce, of having cloud platforms and readily available data based on predictive analytics or machine learning, to drive better executive decisions, and for deployment of operational resources in a more efficient and effective manner.   “In six months time, I would expect, the roles are pretty much going to be reversed. The line of business is going to become important from an IT perspective as well as from a line of business perspective.”   Oracle’s research in progress bears out this insight. Ronnie Toerien, HCM sales development and strategy leader for Oracle Africa, says that one the company’s polls revealed three emerging trends. “The first area is the customers who had already started their digital transformation process prior to the COVID-19 situation. They are continuing the projects across the region, and this cuts across industry segments and geographies. Our system integrators and consulting firms are saying that almost all the projects are going ahead full-swing. “The second area is customers who are currently starting the digital transformation process. They're coming up with very specific areas of focus that they need to handle the current situation. For example, from a chief financial officer’s perspective, cash flow management and scenario planning to mitigate this crisis has become a top priority. “The third area is customers who have not yet started this transformation journey. They're starting to talk to us on specific areas where they see an immediate need for some sort of digital solution to help him through this particular process.” Overall, however, Toerien notes a sense of urgency in all three of these categories around accelerated engagements and discussions on how the company’s solutions can help them. The World Wide Worx study shows that the majority of companies fall into the middle category. More than half have started the DX process, but are not yet advanced. Toerien says one can pinpoint such companies’ pain points quite specifically. “For example, from a chief financial officer’s perspective, cash flow management and scenario planning to mitigate this crisis has become a top priority. Unfortunately, CFOs lack historical data that they would normally look at in a crisis like this, and that would help forecast how things might look like when we come out on the other side.  From a chief marketing officer’s perspective, a lot of CMOs need to address the right campaigns to cater specifically for their customer needs.” The second big question that arises from accelerated DX roll-out is that of data security. According to Walker, the marriage between cloud, mobility, social and big data analytics, which has been driven very strongly over the last three to four years, has resulted in a range of industry disruptors across augmented reality, robotics, cognitive AI, and the Internet of Things. Along with these glamorous-sounding categories, he adds the “dull relation”, and one that probably carries the greatest burden of responsibility: next-generation security. The recently released Oracle and KPMG Cloud Threat Report 2020, a study of 750 cybersecurity and IT professionals across the globe, found that a patchwork approach to data security, misconfigured services and confusion around new cloud security models has created a crisis of confidence. So, while organisations are moving more business-critical workloads to the cloud than ever before, growing cloud consumption has created new blind spots as responsibilities in securing data are negotiated and understood. This confusion, finds the report, has left IT security teams scrambling to address a growing threat landscape. For example, no less than three quarters of these professionals viewed the public cloud as more secure than their own data centres – yet more than nine out of 10 did not believe their organisations were well prepared to secure public cloud services. This encapsulates the mixed blessing of DX in a time of crisis. Tony Buffomante, global co-leader and U.S. leader of KPMG’s Cyber Security Services, sums it up perfectly: “In response to the current challenging environment, companies have accelerated the movement of workloads, and associated sensitive data, to the cloud to support a new way of working, and to help optimise cost models. This is exposing existing vulnerabilities and creating new risks.” Digital transformation’s big moment, then, is also a moment of tremendous risk to organisations embracing it. Addressing that risk is complex, but obvious, says Buffomante. And it is not only about technology. “To be able to manage that increased threat level in this new reality,” he says, “it is essential that CISOs build security into the design of cloud migration and implementation strategies, staying in regular communication with the business.” Authored by Arthur Goldstuck. Arthur is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

Digital transformation is having its big moment globally as well as in South Africa, as the business world scrambles to keep the wheels of industry turning in an era of social distancing and...

Innovation

From crisis-struck to risk-shielded supply chain management

With the disrupted supply chains of today in the spotlight, Supply Chain Management (SCM) has transformed as a consideration, moving from a “behind the scenes” organisational role to a prime driver of company business. As enterprises transition to the “new normal,” there should be a significant acceleration of digitisation to allow supply chains to emerge in a stronger position. After all, SCM is a key component of essentially every business sector, not just a concern for retail, manufacturing and heavy industry. Across the board, today’s supply chains are incredibly complex, with multiple global interlinkages, especially in Africa. Enter a scenario where the traditional ways of managing supply chains are falling short. What do you do if your on-premise systems are down and your database administrators are unable to physically access the system? SCM is about much more than tracking where stock and delivery vehicles are; that is the realisation many enterprises are experiencing right now. The advantages of a cloud-powered supply chain are no longer theoretical. These systems are geared to leverage emerging technologies like Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Blockchain to quickly identify patterns in supply and demand to seek out opportunities and better formulate strategies to overcome dynamic business challenges. Business decision-makers, some previously reluctant to embrace digital transformation, are seeing first-hand the risk-shielding efficiencies that stem from SCM when it is part of a single integrated, always-available business system, instead of being isolated in a back-office silo. Not surprising, enterprises that have already started to transform their SCM systems, driven by the realisation that the supply chain must be part of greater corporate strategies, are enjoying greater business continuity and resilience. This despite operating in a context of dramatic sales volatility, logistics disruption and supplier shutdowns.   In 2018, Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Services Enterprise modernised its Finance, HR and Supply Chain with Oracle Cloud to enhance its effectiveness as a regional transportation hub. The Addis Ababa-headquartered company has continued to innovate and optimise operations by adding more modules to its management system. Putting the company in a strong position to continue operating through the current crisis and beyond, the enterprise is considering IoT fleet monitoring to check, in real-time, the status of goods in transit. Included among the features, in-vehicle sensors alert to temperate change which can cause product spoilage. Such loss clearly cannot be afforded in a context of goods shortages and tightened budgets. In fact, intelligent Track and Trace applications built on a blockchain and IoT fleet monitoring can have major benefits for government health ministries that are scrambling to distribute medical equipment, PPE, pharmaceutical products and vaccines from warehouses to hospitals, without damage or loss. Along with end-to-end supply chain visibility, endorsed approvals within blockchain avoid time-consuming email run-around to fulfil orders. Regardless of industry, the future of business will demand such transparency and accountability every step of the way. Speaking of the future of business, it is a mistake to dismiss the current crisis as once-off. Periods of extreme disruption can occur without any warning. Protecting enterprises against a wide variety of risks is therefore essential, especially when you consider companies’ monumental losses due to recent breakdowns in the global supply chain. As one example, Kenya’s Importers and Small Traders Association reports having lost almost $300 million in the first three months of 2020. Along with being the platform necessary to deploy cutting edge emerging technology (IoT, AI, blockchain), cloud provides the flexibility required to be ready and reactive for any crisis – or change in general. With integrated cloud platforms, automatic, action-enabling insights are possible because of the business intelligence built into the system. The same smart system has simultaneous dashboard visibility across multiple modules such as Demand Management, Supply Chain Planning, Inventory and Distribution. SCM is as data-driven as any other business sphere. Awareness of that point is crucial, along with acknowledgement that SCM must be part of a greater corporate strategy, especially around innovation and digital transformation. SCM built on a cloud platform provides decision-makers with a clear overarching view of the digital thread running the full length of the supply chain. It is key to setting up an enterprise for business resiliency no matter what the future holds. Authored by Baljeet Nagi, Oracle Director of SCM Sales Development and Strategy for Eastern Central and Middle East Africa.

With the disrupted supply chains of today in the spotlight, Supply Chain Management (SCM) has transformed as a consideration, moving from a “behind the scenes” organisational role to a prime driver...

Finance

True business resilience demands fresh perspectives and putting best practice top of mind

It has been said over and over by a multitude of business systems experts. One of the greatest barriers to digital transformation is not technological. It is human resistance to change. Within an enterprise, a wholesale culture shift is needed for digitalisation to take hold and be used to its full efficiency-boosting potential. Of course, enterprises are now operating in a context of forced, unprecedented change beyond the scenarios covered in most business continuity plans. Who projected that we would one day be in a situation where essentially everything would close at the same time, crippling supply chains? Or that a company’s workforce would be mandated to stay home, with no access to on-premise systems? How unpredictable are things? In March, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) forecast that the continent’s GDP would decline 1.4% in 2020 from an originally projected 3.2%, to 1.8%. One month later, in April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted a 1.6% economic contraction for Africa in 2020, the lowest level on record. Businesses need new solutions to ensure business continuity in the current economic climate, recover quickly and ensure operational resilience beyond COVID-19. The time is ripe for change, but it demands a greater embrace of new perspectives. These newer attitudes have been slowly taking root in Africa. First, there was the move from manual to automated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) applications. This led to the realisation over the past decade that cloud-based systems drive greater operational agility than their on-premise equivalent, allowing enterprises to operate efficiently and securely, even across borders. As an example, Bank of Kigali Plc in Rwanda has leveraged cloud-based functionality such as end-to-end process automation to reduce costs, improve scalability and innovate customer offerings. Despite such success stories, many companies continue to cling to the mindset of “I have my own customised ERP, and it works for me; I’m not giving it up.” That attitude is understandable, but current challenges prove traditional ERPs lack the flexibility to overcome them efficiently. Rigidity is simply not contemporary best practice. Even before the current crisis, Steve Cox, Oracle’s Group Vice President for ERP EPM Product Marketing, referred to the future of best practices as being one of less work, more automation and better outcomes. The wider business context has, of course, shifted, but evolving technology remains key to unlocking business benefits, such as greater speed and cost savings. Best practice is also continually being disrupted and redefined by emerging technologies. We see artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) well entrenched in Oracle Cloud applications now, producing insights from big data, automatically maintaining systems and underpinning chatbots. Becoming similarly commonplace in enhancing everyday work processes are the likes of blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT) and augmented reality (AR), with the first two having special advantages for supply chain management (SCM). Even with expensive IT upgrade cycles, old on-premise platforms may battle to integrate with such new solutions. By contrast, through cloud, enterprises can instantly leverage the latest best-in-class technologies, which connect seamlessly because of already considered integration capabilities. The cost of continual upgrades goes away, and it becomes easier to predict spend and calculate budgets. With continual cycles of disruption expected to become the new business “normal,” the ability to accurately predict and prepare has become the best practice for enterprises. Cloud ERP offers users the ability to effortlessly pull together data sets across a business for better insights that drive scenario planning and optimisation strategies. At the same time, an organisation’s human talent is liberated to focus on innovation instead of losing their workdays to mundane manual tasks like report generation and transaction processing. Leveraging these capabilities, and more, does not require reinventing the wheel. To make an enterprise truly resilient, and minimise unpredictable risk, starts with overcoming attitude barriers. Authored by Dr. Ibrahim Abduba, ERPM Strategy and Business Development Leader – East & West Africa at Oracle  

It has been said over and over by a multitude of business systems experts. One of the greatest barriers to digital transformation is not technological. It is human resistance to change. Within an...

Innovation

How to build transparency, resilience and agility into the supply chain

By Dominic Regan, EMEA Senior Director for Logistics Applications, Oracle Almost every element of the way businesses operate has been drastically altered since the start of the Covid-19 crisis. In particular, many companies across the world have had to quickly alter how they move things from A to B, leading to more scrutiny on the supply chain than ever before. This scrutiny has revealed the fragility of the modern supply chain, with many companies struggling to adapt their methods quickly enough. So how can companies ensure that their supply chain is fit for purpose whilst reducing the exposure to similar vulnerabilities in the future? Vulnerabilities can be plugged, intelligently The first step companies will need to take is to assess the current state of their supply chain – are they managing yesterday’s processes using legacy systems and technology or have they already begun the digital transformation process? And what vulnerabilities have been exposed in their own methods and practices? From there, they can then go about taking the necessary steps to address any deficiencies. One of the initial steps for many companies is likely to be putting in place the KPI’s to ensure that the relevant insight and business intelligence is available. This is a necessity in times of crisis, but also in times of normality. In fact, research suggests that 68 percent of professionals see increased business intelligence as a key advantage of emerging technology in supply chain operations. The supply chain goes blind The Covid-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus why insight and intelligence is so important when it comes to supply chain. One of the main issues many companies have faced is that they simply lack visibility - not just visibility in terms of where their products or items are, but visibility into the partners and stakeholders upon whom many supply chains are so dependent in order to work efficiently. Smart organisations – no matter their level of preparedness for the current crisis – see visibility as the key to the resilient supply chain. There are several reasons why companies have encountered this lack of visibility. Traditionally many supply chain have operated in silos, and business leaders haven’t necessarily focused on making their supply chains ‘intelligent’ with the full view of the supply chain from end-to-end. This, in effect, has left many companies almost blind to the plethora of moving parts and involved parties inherent in the modern supply chain, making it incredibly hard for them to both identify exceptions and adapt to change. Making supply chains fit for purpose The C-suite is now looking to transform their supply chain into one that is agile, resilient and intelligent. This kind of transformation will require visibility across multiple tiers of the supply chain, often at a degree of granularity that has been hitherto unknown.  Going hand in hand with this will be the implementation of new technologies. For example, the ability to monitor demand at a very granular level across multiple tiers of the supply chain enables operational planning both within the company itself as well as with trading partners. Leveraging this intelligence enables the necessary operational agility to quickly reprioritise inventory in order to meet shifting customer demand or adjust to external impacts. In practice, this means that companies will be required to integrate technologies like IoT, big data, blockchain and automation into their supply chain.  Many might have done so already, although typically this has been done on a limited basis and for specific tactical projects.  Retraced, for example, is a company that uses Oracle’s Blockchain technology to let fashion brands map their supply chain right down to the manufacturers of the raw materials. That’s a level of transparency that is well beyond what most traditional companies are capable of at the moment. [Read more here] What we can expect to see going forwards is a significant ramp-up of this adoption, driven by the desire for supply chains to be more demand-driven and agile.  Similarly we can expect the expansion of both AI and machine learning in the supply chain, leading to data-driven operations that will significantly improve production yield, product quality, lead times, equipment, and labour efficiencies.  Digital supply chains will enable businesses to detect, analyse, and respond to IoT signals, then incorporate those insights into rapidly evolving market capabilities. Balancing speed and agility is key. Staring with a smaller scale, quick implementation can help form a testbed and highlight incremental gains back to the business, instilling greater visibility at every stage.  Focusing on this rapid time to value within the business encourages other parts of the organisation to accelerate their digitisation journey. The creation of a new modern supply chain With the focus now firmly back on the both the importance, and the vulnerability, of supply chains we can expect business leaders to take radical steps to make their supply chain processes truly fit for purpose in the modern era, and to build agility and transparency into them as standard practice.

By Dominic Regan, EMEA Senior Director for Logistics Applications, Oracle Almost every element of the way businesses operate has been drastically altered since the start of the Covid-19 crisis. In...

HR

Achieving business resiliency in the new reality of work

By Ronnie Toerien, Oracle HCM Sales Development & Strategy Leader – Africa It seemed to happen very quickly. The world changed, and businesses worldwide found themselves trying to operate in the face of unprecedented upheaval. Yet, it must be noted that the world of work was already transitioning long before recent global events. A fundamental change was already impacting the workplace in the form of emerging technologies and evolving business models, and the current climate is spotlighting how to achieve genuine business resiliency moving forward. Futureproofing hinges on flexibility within an organisation, with the first step being a willingness to potentially adapt existing processes to the best practice models offered through cloud. It is worth noting that the industries proving to be most resilient right now share one quality – adaptability. The decision by banks like AfrAsia Bank Limited and Mauritius Commercial Bank to move their business systems to cloud over the past few years is ensuring operational continuity for these enterprises, even in lockdown. Another example of adaptable organisations is hotels that immediately pivoted to deploy themselves as private hospitals or quarantine facilities to lessen the burden on public healthcare providers. A powerful asset to remove operational rigidity, and ease an enterprise’s entry into the new reality of work, is cloud-based Human Capital Management (HCM). Its strength is in breaking down silos within an enterprise and flattening the organisation structure to enable a rapid-to-react network of teams regardless of location. Even before the current crisis, strengthening of teams was becoming a greater priority as attitudes to organisational growth evolved. Revenue is no longer the only indicator of success – it is reputation. A united workforce positively impacts the perception of a company, as customers gravitate to organisations that genuinely demonstrate care and make work more “human.” Contemporary HCM tools enable that, facilitating connections across an organisation around certain self-chosen projects and goals. This creates a sense of belonging and more initiative in a work-from-home setting. Of course, in current times, HCM systems have a vital role to play in ensuring employee wellness on multiple levels. Zambia National Commercial Bank (Zanaco) is considering Oracle’s Workforce Health and Safety application – currently free to access for Oracle HCM Cloud customers – to monitor what is happening within its employee base. Mumbi Mwila, Chief Human Resources & Training Officer for Zanaco explains, “With employees spread out across the country, we need a system that swiftly enables us to track health and safety incidents regardless of location. If staff are equipped to log incidents, we can track events immediately, trace occurrences, and generate reports that help us determine what responses are required. By extension, we can ensure any similar risks are managed for the future.” In our current context, integrated HCM channels also provide a crucial understanding of teams, especially high-risk groups, and aid in workforce planning with an eye on the future. Business resilience demands that companies have the right people, which is achieved through the seamless togetherness of information such as absenteeism and employee personal development goals, to create a data-centred succession planning strategy. Next-generation, cloud-based HCM has a further benefit in ensuring business resiliency, now and in the long term. That lies in how the solutions encourage a culture shift. Working from home, employees are using cloud-based systems more. Not only are they inputting information about themselves that enables CHROs and other senior figures to make more accurate decisions, but by getting hands-on with cloud-based solutions, staff are realising their user-friendliness. Built-in voice-enabled digital assistants make things easier, for example, removing the need to understand complex processes. The result is that any animosity or fear towards robotics and AI fades away as employees experience first-hand how each side brings value to the table.  A further bit of good news is that organisations that do not currently have a robust cloud-based HCM solution can make the transition from on-premise within weeks.    The new reality of work is different and has been for some time. There is no going back. Resilience requires acceptance that business models are changing and that emerging technologies are bringing together human and machine in co-existence that enhances efficiencies and customer satisfaction.  

By Ronnie Toerien, Oracle HCM Sales Development & Strategy Leader – Africa It seemed to happen very quickly. The world changed, and businesses worldwide found themselves trying to operate in the face...

Cloud

How to use scenario planning to navigate a crisis

By Marc Seewald, Vice President of Product Management, Oracle Amid COVID-19, every underlying driver of and assumption about “business as usual” is being challenged. We lack the historical data we’d normally look to in a crisis, and we also lack the trends that would help forecast what things might look like once we come out the other side. This is where scenario planning comes into play. It can help us visualize the future, plan for multiple scenarios and assess how to respond to each one. The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated that companies can’t place all their bets on one outcome. After the crisis passes, some things may go back to normal while others may not. You should ask yourself, “Will we return to business as usual? Or will we see fundamental changes in our business model, how we serve customers or gain market share? Will there be new opportunities that arise, and how do we best position ourselves in a post-COVID environment?” Best practices for scenario planning One of the biggest advantages of scenario planning is that it can clearly demonstrate cause-and-effect relationships about how potential scenarios could play out in terms of plans, budgets, and forecasts. Before you begin, here are a few best practices to consider: Scenario planning should be from the top down. Scenario planning should involve fewer people and be more strategic than traditional budgeting and forecasting, with key stakeholders across the enterprise working together. Focus on high-level drivers. Focus on summaries instead of line items. Critical assumptions and variables should drive the strategy. Importantly, don’t over-rely on traditional drivers. Put thought into the best drivers that will capture the essence of the new normal. Apply a full trial balance. Think across your full income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow. Overly focusing on just 2-3 key areas, such as cash or revenue in isolation, will not give you enough transparency into cause-and-effect relationships. Limit the number of scenarios. Don’t try to model every possible outcome. Instead, model no more than four. Examples might be, “fast recovery,” “moderate recovery,” “moderate recovery but disrupted supply chain,” or “slow recovery.” Spend equal time examining each scenario – even if you think 1-2 scenarios are far more likely. The value of scenario planning is to be as ready as possible when the unlikely happens. Having thoroughly evaluated all options ensures that you are best-prepared, even for unlikely scenarios. It may be tempting to just re-use your strategic long range plan (LRP) for planning in a crisis. While the LRP will be a good foundation to start from, there are some key differences. Let’s take a closer look at the six steps involved in the process of scenario planning. Define scope, issues, and time horizon: Unlike the LRP, you’ll be focusing more on the next six to 12 months. One to two years out may still be relevant, depending on your industry, but your focus will definitely shift to more immediate needs. Define key drivers: What’s important right now? For example, an agribusiness in normal times might focus mostly on commodity price as a key driver. Today, assumptions around the supply chain are likely equally as important. (More on this below.) Collect and analyze data: Scenario planning requires collecting quantitative and qualitative data to develop key assumptions. Combine information from both internal and external sources. For example, there’s currently a lot of free data available from sources like Harvard Business Review about the macro-economics of past pandemics. Develop scenarios: The number of scenarios you model will depend upon your organization’s data and patterns, but it’s important to identify which ones are most important to you. And, as noted above, keep the scenarios to a manageable number. Apply scenarios: Test the chosen scenarios by identifying what the downstream impacts will be on sales, cash flow, capex, etc. Identify metrics and KPIs you want to monitor. Consider the thresholds that would require action for each metric that you choose to monitor. Ultimately, you are creating a company-wide plan.  It must be actionable and pushed-out to all parts of the enterprise. Maintain and update: Monitor the plan regularly and consider if you need more frequent reporting so you can respond quickly to changes in metrics. Augmenting your current bottom-up forecasting may be necessary to ensure that the enterprise is tracking towards key assumptions. Defining key drivers Traditional strategic plans use key business drivers (such as market share) to model sales. In a crisis, assumptions by customer segment or industry might be more appropriate. Relevant variables for managing through crisis might include access to capital, productivity of the workforce, or impacts from government stimulus. Size and timing of government stimulus will likely impact workforce retention, capex, as well as corporate income tax strategy. Isolating the most important drivers for your business will be key to successful scenario planning. Comparing scenarios Your model should let you easily compare scenarios side-by-side. Select an approach that makes sense for your industry and your organization. For some, it might make sense to model across geographies, while for others it might be better to model across sales channels or product lines. And you can evaluate risk and perform stress testing across each scenario using a type of data modeling known as Monte Carlo simulation. This technique allows you to quickly explore a range of outcomes across multiple variables. It can be hugely valuable when there is a high degree of uncertainty in assumptions. Cash is king In a crisis, it’s critical to focus on your balance sheet. Consider impacts such as funding the business, customer payment delays, and bank covenant ratios. You can also complement top-down scenario planning with bottom-up re-forecasts. For example, if you are not already doing it, collecting a bottoms-up short-term weekly forecast on uses and sources of cash can help you validate your more strategic top-down assumptions on liquidity. All of these capabilities are available in Oracle EPM Cloud. The value of scenario planning The point of all this isn’t to obsess over possible outcomes. It’s to help prepare your organization for whatever might happen. When you have a plan for multiple outcomes, you can communicate those plans to employees, customers, investors and other stakeholders, instilling confidence in your organization and its finance leadership.   In this way, your finance team can play a critical role for C-suite leaders seeking better decision-making processes, insights, and relevant information to drive strategic choices. Learn more in my webcast with Ash Noah of AICPA.  

By Marc Seewald, Vice President of Product Management, Oracle Amid COVID-19, every underlying driver of and assumption about “business as usual” is being challenged. We lack the historical data we’d...

Cloud

5 Steps for Business Continuity Amid COVID-19

This article was originally published on AICPA Insights.  By Ash Noah, CPA, CGMA, FCMA, Managing Director - Learning, Education & Development, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants  As a former CFO, I have managed through crises, including the Gulf War, 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis. But the financial disruption caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) is unprecedented. Our global economic and social system is operating in uncharted territory. Amid the uncertainty, the finance function can create value and elevate its role as a strategic business partner. As CPAs and CGMA® designation holders, our training and experience equip us with the expertise and skills to mitigate risks and lead the recovery efforts for our organizations, businesses and communities. To help guide you, the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants®, the global voice of the AICPA® and CIMA®, is conducting a four-part webinar series with finance leaders in the coming weeks to offer expert insights on business planning to help you lead your organization through this crisis.  The series will include learnings from Oracle on how its customers are leveraging technology best practices to not just ride out the current storm, but also that can increase your business resiliency in the months ahead.  A five-step plan for business continuity On my first webcast in this series (also available as a podcast), Chris Kite, Oracle’s VP of Global Strategy, shared her approach to business continuity, which starts with a business continuity plan (BCP). If your organization doesn’t have one, check if it has a disaster recovery plan (DRP) that can be leveraged. If it has neither, it’s time to start fresh. Once you have your BCP, follow these five steps to ensure its effectiveness: Conduct a business impact analysis (BIA). A BIA can help your organization determine and evaluate the potential effects of the coronavirus on business operations. This process involves performing a gap analysis to assess your organization’s readiness for continued operations. When conducting this analysis, consider the impact on the following stakeholder groups: Employees — Your workforce should be your most important concern. How you manage your staff now can have a long-term impact on employee loyalty and retention. Start by identifying the “critically important” processes and the staff members who execute them. Next, determine if these processes must be conducted on premise or if they can be performed remotely. Also consider any actions that allow most of your organization to work remotely. It’s vital to start building back up capability as it’s possible that a portion of your workforce may get sick because of the virus. Customers — How your organization responds to and serves its customers now is crucial for building long-term loyalty. One misstep could cause long-term reputational damage. Closely monitor customer debt levels and regularly assess their credit risk. Don’t use standard credit scores that are now not accurate, but unconventional ones that will help you determine if a customer will be a going concern after normalcy returns. Suppliers — With global supply chains disrupted, you must determine what supplies or suppliers are “critically important” to keep your operations running. Review all your supplier contracts, understand the implications and determine if there are other ways to continue your operations if one of your suppliers cannot deliver goods. Now is the time to rethink and reconsider everything. This is your opportunity to challenge conventional thinking.  Encourage innovation and creativity. Build scenarios (modeling). Next, you’ll want to create models for “worst” and “most-likely” case scenarios. This provides an adequate range of outcomes for the business to consider. For example, if you look at your key stakeholder groups and the risks you have identified for each, you should be able to identify possible strategic, operational and financial outcomes for the next three, six or 12 months. The CGMA scenario planning tool is a great resource to guide you through this process. Don’t forget to also look at the upside risks. There might be alternate business models or new ways to serve your customers. Perform risk analysis and mapping. In this step, you should consider scenarios (created in step two above) to help you identify new risks. This will help you build robust scenarios.  Consider also other potential risks — including financial, strategic, operational and external — and the probability of occurrence. The CGMA Risk Heat map can guide you with this effort. Ensure organizational alignment and communication. If your organization doesn’t yet have one, create a cross-functional pandemic response team. This will ensure organizational alignment around key objectives. You’ll also want to make sure approvals are in place to execute the continuity plan that conforms with governance requirements. Communication with stakeholders is also a vital step of every BCP. Identify the content and frequency with which you want to communicate with your stakeholder groups. It’s extremely useful to create specific landing pages for employees, customers, investors, etc., with resources and guidance. Develop an action plan with continuous monitoring. An effective BCP also focuses on key performance indicators (KPIs) of priority processes. Increase the frequency of measuring and monitoring liquidity, sales, stock, etc. to daily and/or weekly. Leverage data feeds for rapid responses to changing risks. Attempt to enable continuous forecasting in key functions and keep adjusting. As already mentioned, liquidity is the key. Also important is the workforce, the ability to continue to serve the customer, as well as maintaining the production lines and the supply chain.  COVID-19: Scenario planning and strategic modeling deep dive On April 9, we held the second webinar in our COVID-19 business continuity webinar series. You can watch the on-demand webcast for a deep dive into scenario planning and strategic modeling techniques you can use right now as you look to marshal your current resources around your action plan, as well as get out in front of changes to your business and industry in a post-COVID world. Joining us was Marc Seewald, vice president of Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) Product Management at Oracle and an industry veteran with more than twenty years of experience architecting and delivering leading planning and budgeting solutions. Specific learning objectives include how scenario planning can help your organization, the role of the finance in scenario planning, what approaches and methodologies to apply, and what tools are available to support your scenario planning needs. Marc shared best practices in scenario planning and will take attendees through how to move from emergency and crisis management today, to planning and modeling for a variety of continuity and recovery scenarios.   Parts III and IV our COVID-19 business continuity webinar series will look at the role of professional judgment in crisis and recovery management, and human capital management strategies.  Go to the AICPA COVID-19 Resource Center to view the replays or upcoming webinars in this series.  

This article was originally published on AICPA Insights.  By Ash Noah, CPA, CGMA, FCMA, Managing Director - Learning, Education & Development, Association of International Certified...

Cloud

Next-generation cloud and today’s business paradigm

The term “futureproofing” has been well used since the advent of cloud and recently the buzzword has proven to have real-world resonance. Cloud has been instrumental in enabling work away from office, streamlining secure staff access to data and business systems, such as ERP and HCM, that traditionally would only be accessible on premise or via VPN.   As companies’ operational requirements are changing almost daily today, cloud technology is continually evolving. Hyperscale cloud providers listened, learned and have delivered a second-generation cloud with capabilities more closely aligned with the operational requirements of big business. More specifically, contemporary cloud solutions are designed to remove the elements of risk that organisations face daily, regardless of shifting context. Key to Oracle second-generation cloud’s expanded capabilities is the embedding of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) into cloud applications and infrastructure from day one. As an intrinsic part of business processes, instead of later add-ons, these smarter systems learn each organisation’s unique ways of operating, and are innately adaptable. Such functionality is particularly useful in easing companies’ security burden in a remote working context. Autonomous security that is automated, architectured-in and always-on leverages AI and ML to spot unusual activities across an enterprise’s entire digital ecosystem and block external attacks. It also automatically patches databases without downtime and the pitfalls associated with manual system updates. With flexibility a contemporary business must-have, many industries expect their hybrid cloud strategy – driven by security and compliance requirements – to be accommodated. Next-generation cloud streamlines data segregation at different levels, so while analytics takes place in the public cloud, sensitive information stays on-premise or in private cloud.   At the same time, second-generation cloud is geared for multi-cloud environments, helping customers ensure greater, reliable control over their technology environment. To facilitate this, there are an increasing number of partnerships between cloud and technology providers, like the application interoperability agreement between Oracle Cloud and Microsoft Azure. Just as cloud’s capabilities are evolving, so too is what enterprises are doing with new opportunities available to them via cloud. A user working from home does not need to have the most powerful hardware and software to analyse company data. Machine learning models and analytics products built into next-generation cloud rapidly deliver the insight-backed decisions key to business agility, regardless of location. Then there are organisations like Barcelona-based biomedical enterprise ELEM Biotech using next-generation cloud-based computing to accelerate the development of new medical treatments and reduce costs. Combining a simulation engine, 3D models of scanned human organs, and a cloud database, ELEM Biotech replicates the functioning of medical equipment and treatments in virtual clinical trials, with rapid results. Even without the impact of unpredicted socio-economic upheaval, cloud has fundamentally changed how we experience and use data. Moving forward, the next generation of intelligent offerings, like Oracle Gen 2 Cloud, will ensure enterprises see a greater alignment between successfully harnessing data and safeguarding operations regardless of what the future holds. Authored by Niral Patel, MD and Technology Leader for Oracle South Africa

The term “futureproofing” has been well used since the advent of cloud and recently the buzzword has proven to have real-world resonance. Cloud has been instrumental in enabling work away from...

News

Zoom Taps Oracle to Keep Schools Teaching, Businesses Running, Friends and Family Connected

By Barb Darrow, Oracle It’s no exaggeration to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has completely upended the way people everywhere work, eat, and socialize. Stay-at-home mandates and suspension of large public gatherings have changed everything. But Zoom, with Oracle as a new cloud partner, has made it much easier for people to continue taking part in common daily activities—from attending business meetings and school classes to  practicing yoga – and yes, cocktailing – in the face of this threat, where social distancing is key. In some venues, Zoom is even being used to try civil and criminal cases. In April, Zoom’s daily tally of meeting participants mushroomed to 300 million, up 50% from 200 million the previous month. One reason for that growth spurt was that the company, founded in 2011 with a focus on business users, was scaling up to support educators and students with a free tier of its service. As the pandemic spread, Zoom also decided to eliminate the 40-minute limit for K-12 schools. All of that meant the San Jose-based company needed to boost its cloud capacity to support the additional flood of videoconferences. And that’s why it got in touch with Oracle, which was quickly on board in this effort. Oracle’s engineering team worked quickly, deploying Zoom on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure and ensuring Zoom had enough cloud capacity to serve the hundreds of thousands of new users flocking to its service. And when that flood turned into millions of additional students, teachers, and others, Zoom was able to easily scale up its capacity further to meet that need. Helping Zoom meet the soaring demand also demonstrates the robustness and reliability of Oracle’s second-generation cloud, which was built to handle the tough demands of video communications and other broadcasting applications smoothly. While Zoom’s services were already proven in business settings when COVID-19 hit, it was clear that its easy-to-use video communications could also make life easier for non-business users, including parents now pulling double and triple duty as teachers, coaches, and nurses -- all while maintaining their professional lives. Far flung family members can also visit each other using Zoom while following recommended social distancing guidelines. In the process, the company’s name has morphed into both a noun and a verb. Phrases like “Do you want to Zoom?” have entered the vernacular both in work and social settings. Zoom has even facilitated wakes and weddings. Given all this, it’s safe to say that Zoom’s high-quality video communications service is helping hundreds of millions of people -- many of whom are confined to their homes -- feel a little less alone, a little more connected to one another. And, Oracle with its modern Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, is thrilled to help make that happen.  

By Barb Darrow, Oracle It’s no exaggeration to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has completely upended the way people everywhere work, eat, and socialize. Stay-at-home mandates and suspension of large...

Innovation

Automation is behind every next big thing

As the world of the enterprise accelerates its embrace of the technologies underlying the fourth industrial revolution, fascinating nuances are beginning to emerge. We take it for granted that cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain and the like are all evolving at a similar pace, underpinned by the need of corporations to remain competitive, and of small and medium enterprises to level the playing field. The truth is very different. A fascinating statistic emerged from research conducted by World Wide Worx over the past two years: growth in uptake of artificial intelligence remained completely flat, with only 13% of large enterprises reporting uptake two years in a row. In contrast, the proportion embracing robotics shot up from 6% to 37%. And no, it was not a case of humanoid machines clanking their way around the office. A technology called Robotic Process Automation (RPA), which automates business processes through software “bots”, had become readily and cheaply available from numerous service providers, resulting in a robotics boom.  The industry sectors that had adopted robotics most enthusiastically also revealed the contrast in use cases between hardware-and software-based automation. The sector with the highest uptake, Legal services – at a high 67% – had been able to reap massive benefits from automating standard, routine and dull processes like searches for legal precedents. On the other hand, the next most active sector in robotics, Mining, was focused on hardware automation of both dangerous and routine processes, like drilling and sorting.  The contrast with other technologies is even more stark in this context: few can boast cross-sector uptake, or even intention for uptake. Quite the contrary: while use of emerging technologies varies dramatically across technology categories and industry sectors, most are at a low level. Virtual and augmented reality is used by a little more than a third of enterprises, but intended usage among the rest falls to below 10%. Blockchain, the technology for distributed ledgers that validate every step in a transaction process, is currently used by fewer than 10% of respondents. IDC’s Associate Vice President - Sub-Saharan Africa at IDC Middle East, Africa & Turkey Mark Walker says, “Interestingly, IDC’s 2019 CIO survey indicated around 49% of South African CIOs have already implemented or plan to implement AI or cognitive systems in the next 18 months.  Government, Finance and the Manufacturing sectors indicate the highest propensity for these technologies.  Surprisingly the Retail sector has been slow to adopt overall, however certain groups like PicknPay have been early adopters and credit some of their performance improvements to the use of these technologies.” A significant obstacle to adoption is the cost of skills for implementation. Of those not using AI, for example, 43% cited cost as the key reason. The irony is that AI and RPA go hand in hand, and the underlying reason for lack of uptake is lack of knowledge. Traditionally, intended uptake of new technologies shot up once education, awareness and knowledge increased. Now, however, we have seen the flip side of the coin. two years ago, 63% of those not using AI said they planned to use it in the future, and not a single company cited cost as a reason not to do so. A year later, the market seemed to wake up to the realities of obstacles like skills and cost, and the proportion of those planning to use it plunged to 21%. But, once again, lack of knowledge seemed to have been the culprit: in this case, the inability to see the connection between AI and RPA. When intended use of the latter increased, so did intention to use. As with the early days of cloud computing, the key is education on the underlying glue that holds together these emerging technologies, namely automation. The benefit is so profound, yet so clear, it often merely needs someone to state the obvious. “We’ve seen companies take processes that used to take weeks and using automation and reduce it to minutes,” says Rich Clayton, Oracle’s vice president of analytics, commenting in an article on the Oracle ERP website. The article cites a recent survey conducted by Oracle and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), which shows that 44% of agile finance leaders said they had implemented robotic process automation – described as “rules-based programs that capture and interpret information”. Only 12% of all other finance leaders had taken meaningful steps toward this level of automation, revealing the vast gap between the agile and the business-as-usual practitioner.   Jack Berkowitz, vice president of products and data science for Oracle’s Adaptive Intelligence Program, spells out the opening benefit as only the beginning of organisations raising their game dramatically: “Robotic process automation is the first step toward advanced analytics. It covers many of the back-office tasks that have been the domain of outsourcers, but that is only the start.” The bottom line is that automation goes far beyond saving time and minimising errors on routine tasks: “It’s a necessary step in analysing data quickly and effectively to better engage with customers, negotiate contracts, understand performance, identify talent and more.” Clayton points out that automation, used in conjunction with an ERP system, can have a profound impact on how companies manage their supply chains, make procurement decisions and negotiate terms with suppliers. “We look at this as a progression,” he says. “Once automation is in place, companies can use machine learning to optimise freight, payment terms, working capital, and more. We’re working toward embedding this into our ERP system so that the insights are right there.”   Very often, the excuse not to embrace such benefits is that they are not applicable to a specific company’s operations. Questionable as this may be, there are some benefits that no corporation can ignore – at least if they want to keep up with or get ahead of their competition. Compliance and risk management, for example, is a universal corporate requirement. As specialised as this field may be, automation is revolutionising risk management, says Berkowitz. “This is really the next level in compliance enforcement and evaluation. It offers an efficient way to analyse patterns and make predictions.” Now combine automation with cloud computing, and the benefits are multiplied. With fewer on-premise systems, less time spent on licensing and version control,  and more options for running processes remotely, management can focus less on processes and more on business opportunities and strategy. You may not be able to automate the CEO or CIO, but automation can help executives become more effective than ever before.   Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

As the world of the enterprise accelerates its embrace of the technologies underlying the fourth industrial revolution, fascinating nuances are beginning to emerge. We take it for granted that...

Cloud

Join Oracle Code Explore Online- 24 April

Africa is now recognised as one of the world’s fastest growing continents for software developers, as technology ecosystems and innovation hubs continue to sprout up across the continent. The Africa developer boom is showing no signs of slowing down. In GitHub’s latest annual State of the Octoverse report, developers from Africa created 40% more open source repositories on the software engineering marketplace over the past year—a higher growth percentage than any other continent globally Quartz Africa reports. Our world and the economy have changed, and they’re now powered by technology and the people that create it. The need for software skills has never been more critically felt. Ensuring your skill-set is up to date with the latest tech out there will help create new opportunities for yourself, your place of work and the community. Oracle Africa team will be hosting a series of virtual hands-on labs on 24 April to help you get closer to Kubernetes, create a chatbot or a simple application using APEX. Each session is two hours long, hosted by Oracle experts across the region, brought to you online, absolutely FREE. Do tune in. Virtual Hands-On Lab: Build Enterprise Apps 20x Faster with 100x Less Code Using Oracle APEX (Part 2) 08:00 -10:00 AM GMT Virtual Hands-On Lab: Developing Microservices on Kubernetes and Oracle Autonomous Database 11:30-13:30 GMT Virtual Hands-On Lab: From Zero to Chatbot to Digital Assistant in Under Two Hours 14:30-16:30 GMT Visit the main events page to see what else is available on-demand! There is also a massive repository of articles, tips/ tricks and other webcasts available for your reading on the developer homepage. 

Africa is now recognised as one of the world’s fastest growing continents for software developers, as technology ecosystems and innovation hubs continue to sprout up across the continent. The Africa deve...

Customer Stories

Oracle Adds Clarity and Color to the De Beers In-Store Experience

Luxury retailer De Beers Jewellers is adopting modern Oracle Xstore technology to enhance its customers’ shopping experience. The company prides itself on offering exquisite gifts and peerless diamonds for life’s key moments. Each of its 33 stores, located in 15 countries, are equipped with the proprietary De Beers Iris technology that allows customers to see the unique characteristics of their diamond through the eyes of an expert. With Oracle Mobile Point of Service (POS), De Beers will further improve the in-store experience by empowering associates to engage customers throughout their purchase journey. “Diamonds are works of art in their own rights with incredible colours, tints, and nuances. The more you know, the more you can discover. Our brand ambassadors guide customers to find the perfect jewellery for their unique tastes,” said Francois Delage, chief executive officer, De Beers Jewelers. “Selecting Oracle’s mobile technology will enable our brand ambassadors to ensure a seamless in store experience from the discovery phase to purchase, in the optimal setting.” In collaboration with Oracle Retail Consulting Services, De Beers Jewellers will implement Oracle Retail Xstore Point of Service and Oracle Retail Xstore Office Cloud Service. With the offerings, associates will be able to interact with customers in a truly personalized way. “Oracle Retail Xstore POS enables retailers to pivot to the customer by delivering a fully mobile store with all the capabilities required to create a modern shopping experience,” said Mike Webster, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Retail. “With Oracle, De Beers associates can focus their attention on showing the uniqueness of their jewellery and the needs of the shoppers from anywhere in the store.” Oracle Retail Xstore Office Cloud Service can centralize all back-office elements of store operations, eliminating the need for additional data center investment. This cloud service enables faster implementation timelines and creates a more responsive business model attuned to shifts in consumer preferences. Oracle Retail POS and Xstore are architected for global expansion, providing country-pack accelerators that help expedite international rollouts.   

Luxury retailer De Beers Jewellers is adopting modern Oracle Xstore technology to enhance its customers’ shopping experience. The company prides itself on offering exquisite gifts and peerless...

Customer Stories

African Banks Transform Operations and Customer Experiences with Oracle

Oracle Financial Services enables digital banking, process optimization and market agility across the continent Several of Africa’s innovative digital-first banks are turning to Oracle Financial Services to transform their processes and deliver a centralized experience for customers. Banks across the continent are investing in the FLEXCUBE Universal Banking platform, which powers more than 10 percent of the world’s consumer bank accounts. Among these is LAPO Microfinance Bank, Nigeria’s largest microfinance bank with four million customers, which is implementing FLEXCUBE as well as Oracle Banking Digital Experience (OBDX) and Oracle Banking Payments (OBP). The Central Bank of Libya in Tripoli, which includes four of Libya’s public sector banks, is also upgrading its current FLEXCUBE solution. FLEXCUBE helps banks meet customers’ evolving expectations for more digital, responsive and connected experiences. In addition to addressing core-banking needs, the integrated solution will empower banking staff with key insights and help improve operations. It will also make it simpler to launch new products and reduce time-to-market for new services. Other key banks implementing FLEXCUBE include a public sector bank in Algeria, and several others in Malawi, Djibouti, and Sudan. “We have a long-standing presence in the African market, and it is promising to see more banks streamline their business operations and enhance the customer experience using Oracle,” said Sonny Singh, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Financial Services. “Africa continues to be at the forefront of innovative inclusive banking, and we are poised to support our banking customers as they continue to modernise and expand their digital offerings.” Oracle’s growth in the continent can also be attributed to the success of other products.  Oracle Banking Digital Experience (OBDX) has been chosen alongside FLEXCUBE by multiple banks including Al Nile Bank and Balad Bank in Sudan, as well as Libya’s Alyaqeen and Andalus Banks, and a postal bank in Senegal. With OBDX, banks can build on their existing infrastructure to launch new digital brands, automate processes, modernize experiences or launch innovative new digital capabilities, such as mobile payments and digital wallets. Meanwhile, Titan Trust Bank in Nigeria is implementing a full suite of solutions: FLEXCUBE, OBDX, OBP and Oracle Banking Corporate Lending. A history serving African banks Oracle has been powering banks in Africa for more than 20 years, with 100+ banks in Africa relying on FLEXCUBE to power their growth. Oracle has been consistently investing in the product to ensure that it has anticipated the emerging needs of banks in Africa. It has a vast presence in the region including resources across sales, sales consulting, implementation and support staff, and it is backed by a strong network of established partners.

Oracle Financial Services enables digital banking, process optimization and market agility across the continent Several of Africa’s innovative digital-first banks are turning to Oracle Financial Services t...

Cloud

Oracle’s cloudy ambitions

Authored by Matthew Burbidge, Deputy Editor Brainstorm Magazine Original article ran in February issue of Brainstorm Magazine, online here. Photo credit to Karolina Komendera. Enterprise software company Oracle took everyone by surprise last year when it announced it would be opening a local datacentre region in South Africa. Staff members remember an excited call from local Oracle MD Niral Patel, who’d heard the announcement at the Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco in September. The company said at the time that it expects to open an average of one region every three weeks or so over the next 15 months. After this expansion, it will have 20 additional regions, three of which are dedicated government regions. South Africa joins new cloud regions in the Bay Area in San Francisco, Montreal, Belo Horizonte in Brazil, Newport in Wales, Amsterdam, Osaka, Melbourne, Hyderabad, Chuncheon in South Korea, Israel, Chile and two each for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Oracle also announced an interoperability deal with Microsoft that will let customers run workloads on both companies’ clouds. This is now available in the Ashburn, Virginia, region and London, but the interconnect partnership will be expanded to the rest of the world ‘in the next few quarters’. It’s not clear when this will happen in South Africa. The company said the South Africa region will be launching with a ‘broad range of compute, storage, data management and cloud-native services’. This will include bare metal instances, Kubernetes, containers, its Exadata datacentre optimisation product, as well as its Autonomous Database. As to whether it’s going to be build its own datacentre, or co-locate, it said all cloud providers use a mix of the two. “Oracle has stringent requirements for third-party datacentres, and then layers a comprehensive regimen of physical build and compliance procedures on top. Oracle keeps a certain level of deployment details private to protect customers,” read the statement. Patel says he’d known about plans for a local datacentre ‘since the day he got to Oracle’ (about two and half years ago), but he hadn’t been aware of the exact timing. “It makes very good sense for a corporation to invest in South Africa as a base for Africa. I wouldn’t call it a surprise. I would call it a plan well executed. The surprise was the timing, but not the investment.” Investment into Africa As to whether he thinks the company has to play catch-up in this most competitive of markets, he says what it’s doing currently ‘is right, and fir for purpose', particularly with its second generation, or Gen2 cloud offering. “My competitors aren’t investing in resources. We are.” He expects the local region to be live by the second half of 2020. The biggest four public cloud providers account for over 70% of the worldwide market for Infrastructure- and Platform-as-a-Service. According to Synergy Research, Amazon Web Services has about 40% of the market, while Microsoft, Google and Alibaba are also gaining market share. These leaders are followed by Salesforce, IBM, Oracle, Tencent and Sinnet-AWS, as well as a large group of other companies, according to the research house. Azure is currently available in 54 regions, followed by AWS with 22 regions and Google at 20 regions. Oracle Cloud plans to have 36 regions available by the end of this year. Patel says the local datacentre is not only an investment for South Africa, but one that will grow into the African continent, where it has 13 offices. Talent hunt Globally, the company has embarked on a massive hiring spree, while also letting some people go as it refocuses its strategy around cloud. It says it’s planning on hiring about 2 000 employees to support its cloud expansion, mainly at its Seattle, Bay Area and India development facilities, as well as in the new regions. Patel says the company is hiring, specifically looking for cloud competencies. It also has a local graduate and intern programme. Asked how he’s going to grow the local market, he replies: “We’re doing it; we’re posting fantastic results, and you can see not just the investment in the datacentre and in resources, but in this facility you’re sitting in,” gesturing around the modern boardroom in its new gleaming new building in Sunninghill, north of Johannesburg. Patel says while the economic climate is tough, the economy is sound, with strong governance and a world-leading banking sector. The country is also blessed with political stability, and while there were ‘some issues’, it is a strong democracy. He believes South Africa has unique issues in terms of what’s happened over the previous political administration, which is contributing to some of the major fiscal issues that we're seeing right now, specifically in the public sector space relating to state owned enterprises’. He says the country has very strong private public partner relationships 'to fix economic growth in this country,’ mentioning that Oracle is partnering with the government to tackle youth unemployment. “We’re not here for the short term; we’ve been here for three decades, and that will continue for the foreseeable future. The only way we’re able to do that and take advantage of the opportunity we see locally, abroad, and on the continent, is to continue this exercise. “It’s being locally relevant to what’s happening in the local economy, the political system, the banking, telco and retail sectors. These are critically important to assist the government with its turnaround.” Oracle weight Jon Tullett, research manager of IT services for IDC Sub-Saharan Africa, says cloud growth in the country is fantastic news, but there are some inhibitors, such as an acute skills shortage. The exchange rate is also a big issue, as are any services that are bought and paid for in dollars. “People don’t like signing up for services where the price can vary by 10% over a quarter,” he says. He says Oracle’s plans are impressive, and while it was quite slow in making its initial forays into the cloud, ‘it caught up with a big bang, and added massive investments in overhauling its products and strategy and really went all in on cloud’. “Oracle maybe let the market get away from it a bit in terms of datacentre deployment, and now it’s investing in catching up. I don’t know if it can keep to the schedule it has described of putting up a new datacentre every 20 or so days. If it can, that’s astounding, but even if it just comes close, it’s a huge investment, so there’s no question of its commitment.”    

Authored by Matthew Burbidge, Deputy Editor Brainstorm Magazine Original article ran in February issue of Brainstorm Magazine, online here. Photo credit to Karolina Komendera. Enterprise software...

Data, transformation and 4IR consume CIOs in 2020

Spare a thought for the chief information officer. If the future is coming too fast for the average consumer, imagine multiplying that challenge by thousands of users operating at different levels in the enterprise. The CIO has to meet the diverse needs and demands of the organisation, while both optimising current systems and keeping an eye on what comes next. Right now, what comes next looks like a bewildering menagerie of wild, weird and wonderful technologies. Some executives want to embrace them all. Some want to avoid them like the dangerous animals they may well emulate. How do CIOs strike a balance? Where do they focus? The answer is both simple and complex, says Tony Parry, CEO of the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA). And it’s all summed up by the big buzz-phrase of the past three years, the Industrial Revolution (4IR). “The impact of the 4IR and the wave of innovation in the ICT sector will remain in focus in 2020,” he says. “South Africa’s CIOs know that the Fourth Industrial Revolution presents a wealth of opportunities for South Africa, but factors such as resistance to disruptive technologies, a lack of high-end skills and fear of job losses could hamper its progress.” The IITPSA presides over the President’s Awards, annually choosing a CIO of the Year, which allows it to engage closely with South Africa’s CIOs in gleaning their perspectives on a technology-led future. “Many of South Africa’s CIOs concur that the 4IR can create new jobs and business opportunities,” says Parry. “However, seizing the opportunities would require new approaches to education, workplace skills development and embracing disruptive technologies, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, virtual/augmented reality and the Internet of Things.” All of which, of course, demands entirely new levels of innovation and investment in the underlying  infrastructure. “Today's CIOs face the challenge of moving their enterprises quickly enough into these new technology arenas to ensure they keep a competitive edge – while at the same time mitigating the risks arising from dependence on an unreliable infrastructure. “Fostering an ecosystem that supports 4IR progress in South Africa will require strong IT leadership across all sector levels to plan and implement 4IR transformation strategies. This leadership is important to communicate a 4IR vision, mobilise long-term commitment, integrate ICT opportunities and investments into strategies, align complementary policies, harness skills, and pursue partnerships with private and public sector.” Those are the broad brush-strokes that provide the context for every CIO in South Africa. They will serve as the foundations of corporate strategy well into the next decade. This means the biggest challenges in the short term will come down to preparing those foundations for transformation, says Jay Reddy, CIO of Dimension Data. “All our clients are talking to us about digital transformation,” he says. But it is not about transformation for its own sale. Firstly, it’s really from the perspective of how clients are able to transform their customer experience and generate new revenue channels beyond the business. It's an outward focus." “The second component of transformation is around operational transformation, which is where clients optimise their services for a better customer experience, a better revenue channel, and business growth.” That is hardly unexpected. It’s what comes next that is more difficult to anticipate.  “We see a couple of things happening in this coming year and probably the next two years. For digital transformation to become really effective and to be able to serve how you transform internally in the organisation, we see data becoming the centre of the IT universe. They've got to use the insights from that data to be able to determine how they're going to serve their customer experience and revenue channels, and grow their business.  “We will see organisations spending a lot more time around data analytics, around data strategy, data architecture, and which platform they use: what type of service catalogue they build in the organisation; how they use different computing models to serve the data, including machine learning, AI, and predictive modelling.”  One factor that will help transform the ability to transform, so to speak, is the rapid arrival of the world’s major hyperscale data centre providers. At Oracle Open World last year, chief technology officer Larry Ellison announced that the company would open 20 new cloud regions by the end of 2020, for a total of 36 Oracle Cloud Infrastructure regions. One of these would be in South Africa, making it the first Oracle cloud region in Africa. “Data centres enable much needed innovation," says Niral Patel, Oracle South Africa Managing Director. "The concept of cloud has fundamentally shifted from a buzzword to an essential business tool. In South Africa, the cloud is no longer just a possibility, it is a fundamental tool igniting innovation and disruption across industry, sector and enterprise.  "The adoption of cloud services is driving every organisation to consider speed and extent. Forward-thinking C-suite leaders are looking to the financial and long-term benefits of cloud and understand its value. They’ve already adopted solutions and examined their potential and are now considering richer cloud engagement, driven by economy, investment and market demand. More for less is the mantra that drives C-suite decision making into the cloud." Says Reddy: “With the advent of cloud, these models are becoming readily available on over-the-top services from the hyperscalers. Organisation are going to start adopting it. However, their data architecture, their data platform, their strategy around how to use the data, and how they model data, is going to become a critical component. It’s making sense of what they need to use.” This perspective resonates strongly for Derek Wilcocks, group CIO of South Africa’s largest health insurance organisation, Discovery Health. It has more than 4-million members in South Africa, and its Vitality wellness programme serves more than 11-million people in 19 countries. That’s a lot of member data to manage. Wilcocks sees it as the great opportunity of the coming year. “The effective use and management of data is the biggest single technology opportunity facing enterprises in 2020,” he says. “It requires a multifaceted approach covering, among other things, data quality, standards, privacy and security.” But it also requires a sense of urgency, he says. “The time frame for data relevance is shrinking rapidly and real-time data collection approaches are required for almost all digital enterprises. Enterprises that succeed with data open the doorway to the effective machine learning and customer experience management.” Tony Parry argues that such approaches will not only result in greater market share, but will counter the threat of massive job losses. “Disruptive technologies, if harnessed efficiently, could result in positive major impact,” he says. “South Africa would be able to compete in providing services in a way that allows them to gain market share. The single biggest opportunity is aligning 4IR technologies with industries that can create new jobs.  “These include 4IR opportunities that create job markets and match buyers and sellers in, for example, tourism, agriculture and business process outsourcing. The skill set of people in South Africa can be grown to improve the social economy.” Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee      

Spare a thought for the chief information officer. If the future is coming too fast for the average consumer, imagine multiplying that challenge by thousands of users operating at different levels in...

Cloud

Stay ahead of those data security woes

The very factors that have helped to make Kenya such a motivated and major African player in the Digital Age have also made local organisations in the public and private sector vulnerable to security threats and compliance issues. The good news is that, next-generation cloud infrastructure and applications are mitigating these concerns with their autonomous capabilities, ensuring a higher level of security than ever before. In 2018, Kenya’s economy lost Sh29.5 billion to cybercrime and related activities, up 40% from the previous year. The Communication Authority of Kenya also reported that in Q4 2018, the number of cybersecurity threats in the country jumped 167% to 10.2 million from 3.8 million in Q3. Faced with such intimidating figures, many enterprises – especially those in high-risk sectors such as Government and Banking – are investing heavily in cybersecurity measures or carefully exploring digital transformation, the very process that will help them to operate more efficiently and cost-effectively. At Oracle, we have been integrating security into our solutions and protecting our customers’ sensitive data for decades. Oracle solutions have multi-layered security built-in and integrated, whether talking about Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, Autonomous Database, SaaS applications as well as our traditional on-premises infrastructure and applications. Of course, with more customers moving to cloud, we have intensified our focus on security, taking advantage of developments in AI, and related machine learning, to protect customers’ sensitive data and ease their security burden. Last year at Oracle’s annual OpenWorld conference in San Francisco, attendees were able to learn more about the role Oracle’s Generation 2 cloud has in underpinning a wide variety of new cloud services such as Oracle’s Autonomous Database.  Autonomous functionality is very important to cybersecurity as a large percentage of system breaches are the result of not being able to respond to events, self-patch or self-tune to mitigate against compromises or outages. Secure by design – in fact, having security architected into every layer– Oracle Generation 2 Cloud is designed to configure, manage and secure systems for the customer, based on their requirements. Human error is removed because processes are no longer manual, and patches are applied automatically in the background while running to avoid downtime. The same applies to data encryption, backup and a general enforcement of security policies. As an example, Oracle Data Safe was just one of several next-generation cloud security services introduced at OpenWorld this year. Data Safe helps organisations protect their databases more effectively in a way consistent with best practices. Data Safe can identify sensitive data and mask it for use in partner or development environments. It also alerts on risky users and system configurations, and proactively monitors database activity to spotlight and respond to suspicious access attempts. After all, data is at risk from both external threats and those – whether accidental or deliberate – within organisations. Such cloud-embedded simplification of security tasks for businesses is particularly relevant in Kenya, where there were only 1,700 skilled cybersecurity professionals in the country in 2018. Generation 2 Cloud security measures help to fill a noticeable gap and keep organisations safe. The narrative around cloud and cybersecurity is also changing worldwide. Security in the cloud is now being recognised as secure, or more secure, than what can be achieved on-premise by 72% of those surveyed in the Oracle and KPMG Cloud Threat Report 2019. Security is now named as the biggest benefit to cloud by 66% of C-level executives, putting it ahead of both cost and scalability. Data security is also closely linked to compliance in terms of handling personal information. Oracle’s second-generation cloud security solutions are designed to keep sensitive data safe and out of sight on Oracle cloud databases thanks to automatic encryption, advanced access controls, always-on separation of duty, data masking and redaction. It’s one of the  reasons, Rakuten Securities, Japan’s largest online financial brokerage company, chose Oracle Database Security to address their strict regulatory requirements, while efficiently managing social security and tax ID numbers for 2 million customer accounts across a complex network of disparate systems. With financial losses, fines and reputations at stake, it is critical for companies to ensure the security of their data and resiliency of their systems in the face of continually evolving threats and regulations. With Generation 2 Cloud, the burden shifts from enterprises to Oracle, and with Oracle’s embedded AI doing most of the work, customers have the chance to really innovate instead of expending so much time and manpower on patches and staying up to date with defensive measures. Cloud services are a viable option for the most critical enterprise workloads. Fears around data security should never hold an organisation back from exploring this path to greater, immediate business value. Authored by David Bunei, Managing Director at Oracle Kenya and Cloud Sales Director    

The very factors that have helped to make Kenya such a motivated and major African player in the Digital Age have also made local organisations in the public and private sector vulnerable to security...

HR

Back to Work – What 2020 holds for Employers and Employees

As 2020 fast approaches, we reflect on having survived a year where HR has been flooded with information on how their jobs and those of employees will change. Technology continues to take a foot hold in our everyday work lives; the new way of work has become the way we work. There are two dominant forces playing a major role in changing the way we work – the emergence and adoption of new technologies, and how the new generation at workplace view their jobs. The first force has come about through the rapid advancements and deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies within organisations. The second is the drive towards a workforce dominated by contingent workers - which aims to reduce the dependence and the fixed costs organisations incur through the more traditional model of having a permanent workforce. Additionally, when looking at the future way of work, we also find that organisations are impacted by four primary factors: Continual and Rapid enhancements in technology The emergence of the Networked Organisation Globalisation of the workforce Working with four different generations simultaneously in the workplace Organisations and their HR teams need to understand how these factors will affect their current way of work and more importantly how they can best take advantage of the opportunities. A recent study conducted by Oracle, Robots at work, of 8,370 employees, managers and HR leaders across 10 countries, found that AI has changed the relationship between people and technology at work and is reshaping the role HR teams and managers need to play in attracting, retaining and developing talent. These changes provide the HR team with an opportunity to transform themselves and the organisation. By empowering themselves in becoming more strategic and business focused, HR enables the ability to start creating true value within the organisation through people practices. One of the new ways of work that all employees need to adopt is to start building internal and external networks. Here social media plays a huge role, as it has already become the de facto means of how the younger generation already communicates. This always-connected culture has seen leading HR solutions include social media connectivity as an integral part of the standard functionality offered within the system. This allows the organisation to start leveraging off their employees’ networks. The emergence of the networked organisation has a mechanism to pool the collected IQ of the organisation and make it available to whoever needs it, thus destroying the age old siloed organisational structures by providing employees’ knowledge and experience across the entire workforce. With the lines of communication between work and home becoming more blurred and now practically interchangeable on platforms such as LinkedIn, WhatsApp etc., employees can now connect to any member of the organisation. With this, the ability to cross-pollinate knowledge and ideas has grown exponentially, by enabling employees to connect with work colleagues both past and present, family and friends. Now even customers can belong to the same group, sharing thoughts and ideas. All this indicates another big shift in how employees interact within their workplace – by being mobile. Younger generations, especially millennials, have a need to be able to perform their work anywhere, anytime, and from any device, all of course within the relevant organisation security parameters. Employee mobility also enables organisations to expand across the globe. With the impact of geographical distance negated, it allows for a global workforce without having a physical footprint in country. In many industries entire projects can now be completed offsite and delivered electronically. Through the latest Chatbot technology, HR can now provide a 24/7 service for handling and answering the bulk of mundane employee queries. Ultimately, the future of work is all about people - your employees, the way they work, where they work and how they can work - factors which are influenced through emerging technologies are forcing these changes. Organisations with an appetite to embrace change will reap the biggest rewards, while those that refuse will become irrelevant and slowly disappear. Authored by Rob Bothma, HCM Business Solution Architect at Oracle Corporation South Africa  

As 2020 fast approaches, we reflect on having survived a year where HR has been flooded with information on how their jobs and those of employees will change. Technology continues to take a foot hold...

Innovation

The Future of Best Practices: Less Work, More Automation, Better Outcomes

By Steve Cox Group Vice President ERP EPM Product Marketing If you’re like me, you’re old enough to remember the days before the internet was ubiquitous. Used mostly by academics, researchers and the military, the development of the World Wide Web in 1991 introduced the internet to the public at large. Suddenly, everyone with a computer and a modem could open a web browser and surf to any site they could find. This advancement changed the world in ways most of us never imagined, giving rise to social media sites, reams and reams of what we now call “big data,” analytics to help us understand that data, cloud computing, and eventually the mobile devices and apps we rely on every day. A similar shift is nearly upon us. At Oracle OpenWorld 2018, Oracle founder and chief technology officer declared that a new technology—machine learning—is the most important technology since the internet. I predict that it will have a similar level of economic, technological and sociological impact. In 2014 we produced the guide Modern Best Practice—Explained because I had an epiphany. I realized that the business processes in almost every organization needed to change. What used to be “best practices” were suddenly out of date in a rapidly changing business climate being disrupted by advanced technologies. Six technologies in particular were reshaping how work was being done, as well as the expected outcomes from that work. Everything started moving much faster as cloud, mobile, analytics, social, the Internet of Things, and big data spawned new definitions of value and new models for businesses and business systems. We produced Modern Best Practice—Explained to help our customers realign internally so they could best navigate this new terrain.  Today, technology is changing faster than ever. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), blockchain, and augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) have added elements like “automation everywhere” to best practices. Along with the original six drivers, these newer technologies have further accelerated business change and are presenting even bigger opportunities for transformation and reinvention. It’s time to look toward the future with the release of Modern Best Practice—Predicted. In my new book, I explain Oracle’s future vision of eight processes used in finance, supply chain, human resources, and customer experience as they evolve hand-in-hand with advanced technologies. The good news is that best practices are about to get significantly better. Work will be a more human place, with an emphasis on people using insight and experience to plan and make decisions rather than perform the same tasks over and over. For finance teams, processes will be simplified drastically due to software automation. For example, we predict that 70 to 90 percent of account reconciliations/transaction matching will be automated, allowing accounting staff to focus on more complex cases. In fact, automation will completely change some basic concepts in finance, such as “the close.” Autonomous processing will transform finance We predict the frenzy around period close could become obsolete as AI/ML capabilities expand and the process becomes autonomous; that is, the process is “always closing” without human involvement. The new process could look like this (compared with today’s transaction-focused process):         Another process that will compress is Report to Forecast. AI/ML will streamline data analysis and detect variances from forecast. The “people” part of the process will be to strategically respond to this information. In this case, too, the best practice shifts from report creation to insight discovery. Procurement will also completely change. AI/ML will enable procurement professionals to do things like dynamically negotiate the most beneficial terms on outstanding payables based on in-the-moment analysis of treasury position. They’ll also be able to maintain optimized supplier portfolios with intelligent, multifactor merging of ERP data with other trusted business data. Start moving toward tomorrow’s best practices The changes in Modern Best Practice go beyond finance, of course, into every line of business. The original six disruptive technologies have become mainstream, and indications are this cycle will repeat with AI/ML, blockchain, and AR/VR. In fact, this cyclical disruption is the new normal, and best practices enterprise-wide will continue to evolve and change. Modern Best Practice—Predicted can help you prepare for change more easily by serving as a blueprint to stay aligned to internal and external shifts. Learn how the future of work is poised to evolve. Read Modern Best Practice—Predicted.

By Steve Cox Group Vice President ERP EPM Product Marketing If you’re like me, you’re old enough to remember the days before the internet was ubiquitous. Used mostly by academics, researchers and the...

Innovation

Maximising the Data Opportunity in Digital Manufacturing

With the advent of automation, AI, and machine learning, those working on or near the production line can literally see manufacturing changing before their eyes. However, advances in technology also bring with them a growing complexity—particularly for CFOs. For example, CFOs need to understand the cost-effectiveness of new production processes, as well as rethink accounting systems for reporting and reshaping production models. Effectiveness begins with understanding data, which is always easier said than done. Here are a few ways that CFOs can address the challenges manufacturing businesses face in an increasingly digital world, and how they can do more to leverage their data. Delving into data brings key business benefits Digital manufacturing is data-rich. The hardware and software now available makes that possible. For example, integrating digital scanning provides easier and faster asset traceability, while CAD modelling and digital twinning ensure product precision in large or small batches, as required. As a result, everything produces a digital footprint—from financial data to production speeds, supplier coordination, and asset management. The potential insights that companies can uncover from this granular level of operational, production, and technical data are endless. But, unless that insight can be used to help make better business decisions, it is essentially going to waste. Demonstrating digital ROI means a mindset shift This explains why so many manufacturing CFOs are increasing investment in AI and machine learning. Why? Because they’re the most effective ways of being able to handle big data sets at scale. Essentially, they’re the crucial technologies needed to collate, review, extract, and analyse data—detecting patterns that can help manufacturers boost savings, optimise efficiency, and ensure a more agile operation. According to a recent Grant Thornton survey, 83% of CFOs want technology purchases to be connected with quantifiable ROI. The big question is: how can CFOs demonstrate the need for investment when no precedent has been set—when they’re dealing with unknown or untested methods? A mindset shift is needed. The finance function is renowned for risk aversion (as they should be!) but experimentation—in the form of a proof of concept or pilot programmes—can mitigate any significant costs. Looking at digital transformation as a continual improvement process is important too. The proliferation of connected IoT devices, for example, provides CFOs with plenty of case studies for getting their digital manufacturing infrastructure right. Co-creation, collaboration, monetisation However, an even more effective way to get the best use of your data is to partner with other companies. This doesn’t mean sharing insight with competitors; it means collaborating with suppliers, shipping companies, and other related service providers in order to identify best practice, such as using the insight gleaned from IoT networks. In this way, CFOs can add greater depth to their data sets—potentially sharing the costs and even co-creating the industrial software and analytical approaches needed to run an end-to-end digital manufacturing business. Having data readily available can help generate revenue. With the right tools and IT infrastructure, manufacturers can guarantee a fast, frictionless production line for their clients. And the right data can be used in other areas, such as quality control, to help assess and qualify what "good" looks like. Ultimately, understanding data is at the heart of getting digital manufacturing right. Sure, CFOs can toe the line on key cost-saving initiatives like predictive maintenance and using IoT devices to monitor quality and productivity, but they can’t operate in isolation. Transformation needs to be a strategic imperative for the entire operation so that everybody benefits. Done correctly, with the right tools, insights, and IT stack, digital manufacturers can continue to future-proof the way they do business.  

With the advent of automation, AI, and machine learning, those working on or near the production line can literally see manufacturing changing before their eyes. However, advances in technology also...

Innovation

Enjoy a slice of the innovation cake

If the market is a jungle, businesses need to adapt to survive. We’ve seen entire business models upended as organisations transform themselves to keep up. As we enter a new decade, more disruption will follow.  To facilitate this sea change, many businesses are exploring how they can evolve their crucial back office functions - including finance, HR and payroll - to be faster and more efficient. Enterprises today need to make strategic decisions based on accurate, consolidated data and rapidly implement change across the organisation in response to time-limited opportunities.   This means exploring new ERP systems and applications, as well as migrating entire back office functions to the cloud. However, recent history is a graveyard of failed implementations. Supermarket giant Lidl invested half a billion Euros and seven years into migrating to a new inventory management system, only for it to end up dead on arrival. Another botched ERP project at National Grid USA took over two years to complete and cost the operator $585 million, more than 150% of the cost of implementation.  Can you have your cake and eat it too? The causes behind an implementation disaster can be many. However, any challenges that emerge are only magnified by the complexity of the project and a lack of flexibility from the implementer. These two elements are typically the death knell of a failed project.   Transforming your ERP system will always be a challenge. Yet, if you try and implement everything at once you could be creating a near-impossible task. With some of Oracle’s competitors, this is sadly the only option. When organisations have to roll out their ERP implementation in one go, projects can  become very large and have many points of failure. There’s much more risk involved, and the risk of failure becomes far more costly. It’s similar to splashing out on a huge wedding cake, but then having to eat it all at once - you’re much more likely to choke. Oracle, by contrast, offers a platform that integrates across all our applications, putting them at your fingertips. You have more flexibility in the implementation, and the freedom to start with whatever applications you like. This enables enterprises to migrate piece by piece, leading to less costly and much less risky implementations. It’s like savouring your wedding cake slice by slice.   A craving for innovation When selecting an ERP provider, also consider how far along their own cloud journey they are. Many of our rivals are still migrating their on-premise applications onto their new cloud-based systems. The problem facing their customers now, however, is they’re operating critical functions on a franken-construct of cloud and on-premises applications.  This has and will continue to cause major headaches, made even worse now that SAP plans to ‘switch off the lights’ for its main legacy systems by 2025. Organisations will constantly have to swap out current on-premise apps for the new cloud apps of their provider. Each time a change is made CTOs will need to ensure the new cloud application fits into their system the same way the old app did. If issues are found delays and costs are inevitable, impacting your operations, customers and bottom line.  When they should be innovating, our competitors will instead be spending a lot of time and money making their old applications cloud-native. Some, unable to innovate themselves, are even trying to acquire new companies to do it for them. Yet, it will take years to turn these new acquisitions into embedded features. Meanwhile, their customers won’t have access to the latest technologies, making them unable to outpace change. By contrast, the Oracle platform and its apps have been cloud-native for years. When we roll out new updates and capabilities, they are released as one across all systems and applications. Our customers have access to the latest AI, ML, Voice and IoT innovations without worrying about implementation challenges or falling behind. If they decide to change business focus, or even alter their model completely, they can do so quickly. Let's be clear - no implementation is ever a piece of cake. However, with our tools and cloud-native architecture, the process will be less complex and risky. With the pace of change constantly accelerating, companies need to be able to evolve faster than ever. Oracle’s priority is to take you from implementation to value creation as soon as possible.  Authored by George Ferreira Senior Sales Director, Applications South Africa & SADC Region, Oracle  

If the market is a jungle, businesses need to adapt to survive. We’ve seen entire business models upended as organisations transform themselves to keep up. As we enter a new decade, more disruption...

News

How long will you stay with the devil-you-know?

      Deciding on an ERP system is a bit like buying your dream home. On paper, it’s all about the checklist: detached, garage, open plan layout, master en-suite. But in reality, decisions aren’t made on a checklist of logical reasons to buy or not to buy. At the end of the day, it often comes down to that elusive “feeling.” We recognise that. The checklist is all good and well – price point, speed of implementation, time to ROI, level of innovation, intuitive UX. But with so much resting on how well a company leverages technology, it is no surprise that many feel risk averse; but at what point does staying with the status quo present the greater risk? For many companies, the ERP system is the core backbone of the company.  Time, effort and no modest budget has been invested in a system upon which the whole company relies on to function. The devil-you-know, perhaps, and change feels like a risk. Time and effort of migration is only part of the concern.  What if the new system doesn’t live up to its promise?  You don’t want to be the latest headline about a write down or additional charge in the earnings report. But we live in dynamic times. Volatile markets and new competitors are pushing aside establish companies faster now than ever. We celebrate new companies joining the FTSE. There are a finite number of companies on these listings.  With every new one added, an established player that didn’t move with the times is being taken off the list. These companies are often ones who papered over the cracks. They may have made some changes but were they fast enough to introduce a new product; to provide a seamless omni-channel customer experience; or take advantage of the radical transformation new technology can bring? Legacy might be the reason but it is not an excuse.  Companies can often see and agree what they need to do. They are, however, hamstrung by an internal infrastructure that is complex, slow to change and difficult to integrate.  They devil-you-know suddenly becomes the liability it has threatened to be for some time. The decision to move toward a cloud based ERP system, and in fact an integrated set of cloud applications, no longer requires a leap of faith. It is not about having the confidence to take a risk. It would be more risk to stay on the current platform, or to stick with a vendor that is suggesting a costly complex migration. Time to look at what is in the market. The cloud applications landscape has transformed and now provides mature enterprise grade solutions, ones companies like Oracle and NetSuite have been developing for many years. Our rivals are nowhere near this level of maturity, with some not even having finished building their systems, simply offering hosting services while they scramble to build their infrastructure from the bottom up. Maturity means built together to work together. Not a collection of acquired software built on different architectures.  This becomes central in the work across an organisation. The ability to incorporate HR, supply chain and customer experience management capabilities having one consistent data structure across every application is becoming central to how companies look at their back office. At Oracle, we partner with our customers for successful outcomes - building applications based on customer input and usage patterns, not a ‘one size fits all’ approach.  Such an integrated framework breaks down silos and improves user engagement and performance, giving equal access to business users across the organisation. More importantly it helps improve the ability of different data to be used to give real-time insight into what is happening with the company and, crucially, among customers. Great, but that might only get a company onto a level playing field with its new competitors.  To move ahead of them, it is necessary to look at the technology grabbing the headlines as the engine for growth. Isn’t that more cost and complexity?  Yes if it is implemented as standalone technology.  That’s why Oracle has embedded AI and machine learning in every application as standard, not as an add-on for additional cost. This means all our customers can benefit from the latest innovations in conversational interfaces, natural language processing, blockchain and IoT – and the list is growing. Other ERP systems can’t offer this level of constant innovation, as their cloud platforms and infrastructure aren’t yet mature enough to support it, meaning customers are losing out and businesses are losing competitive advantage. Those companies that are taking this leap of logic can stay ahead of all the expectations thrown their way. They are building organisations that are ready and willing to embrace sudden change and the potential of the future, and they can drive innovation within their own business and collaboration across departments. Despite the initial idea that sticking with the same supplier is the logical decision, it is possible that this is a feeling preventing the choice of innovation over laggard features and using emotion over logic. Changing your ERP system, like buying a new house, will never be a no-brainer – you just need to choose which side of the brain you want to follow. Learn more here. Authored by Arun Khehar. Senior VP Business Applications Middle East, Africa and India Orcale 

      Deciding on an ERP system is a bit like buying your dream home. On paper, it’s all about the checklist: detached, garage, open plan layout, master en-suite. But in reality, decisions aren’t made...

Cloud

Oracle to bring war on Amazon to SA shores

Authored by Arthur Goldstuck, originally posted in Sunday Times Business Times on 22 September and hosted on Times Live and Business Live. Larry Ellison, founder of database software giant Oracle, recently revealed that South Africa would be part of a global offensive to take on Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the data centre market. In his keynote address at the annual Oracle Open World conference in San Francisco on 16 September 2019, the company’s chairman and chief technology officer said that Oracle would have more cloud regions than AWS in the next 12 months. He presented a map of the new regions, revealing that South Africa would be the first country in Africa with an Oracle data centre. AWS announced last October that it would open two data centres in Cape Town in the first quarter of 2020. This follows Microsoft opening Azure data centres in Johannesburg and Cape Town in March this year. The giant facilities are known as hyperscale data centres, and are central to businesses and governments operating more efficiently and cost-effectively via cloud computing. Each “cloud region” represents investments of billions of rands in infrastructure. The news comes on the heels of the June unveiling of a cloud inter-operability partnership between Microsoft and Oracle, in effect creating an alliance between the largest challengers to the dominance of AWS in cloud computing. Ellison made no bones in his keynote of his enmity towards the latter.  “We’re at least 25 times more reliable than Amazon,” he quipped. “That’s a very conservative number.”   In a massive expansion, the company has opened 12 cloud regions in the past year and presently has 16 globally —11 commercial and five dedicated to government services. It will launch 20 new regions by the end of 2020, including new countries and dual, geographically separated regions in existing territories. They include the USA, Canada, Brazil, UK, European Union, Japan, Australia, India, South Korea, Singapore, Israel, South Africa, Chile, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Oracle expected to open an average of one region every 23 days over the next 15 months. It will open further regions for usage by the governments of the UK and Israel, and expand the roadmap for its interconnect with Microsoft Azure. Ellison also announced updates to its autonomous database technology, which reduces dependence on human intervention, and includes the ability to implement software patches and configure systems automatically.   He took much delight in reminding his audience of the nature of the human error behind the recent Capital One breach, in which more than 100-million of the bank’s customers saw their financial information compromised. The breach came about as a result of misconfiguration of an AWS server by a software engineer.  “In Oracle Cloud your system automatically configures itself; it automatically backs itself up,” he said. “Human beings aren’t involved, so there can be no human error.” South African expansion Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Richard Smith, Oracle senior vice president for the UK, Europe, Middle East And Africa, told Business Times:  “South Africa is part of our global commitment to deliver a cloud region every 23 days and is part of our broader strategy for the African continent to give customers the world’s first fully autonomous cloud. “South African customers have long been at the cutting edge in deploying our technology to deliver business transformation.” Customers in this country will now have access to all Oracle Cloud Infrastructure services, including Oracle Autonomous Database and Oracle Fusion Applications. Don Johnson, executive vice president of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, said: “Enterprise customers worldwide require geographically distributed regions for true business continuity, disaster protection and regional compliance requirements. Multiple availability domains within a region will not address this issue.” Johnson implied it was also likely to launch a second region in South Africa.          “Unlike other cloud providers, Oracle is committed to offer a second region for disaster recovery in every country where we launch Oracle Cloud Infrastructure services, a strategy that’s aligned with our customers’ needs.” Roy Illsley, analyst for infrastructure solutions at Ovum, said Oracle’s aggressive global data centre expansion plan was helping in its growth.  The company last week announced that, of total revenue for the last quarter of $9.2bn, $6.8 billion came from cloud services and license support revenues. This compares to AWS generating $8.38-billion of Amazon’s $63.4bn revenue for its last reported quarter.  “With its reputation for reliability, high performance and security, we believe Oracle is increasingly becoming an influential enterprise-class cloud provider," said Illsley.       Smith, who visited South Africa in September 2019 for the opening of Oracle’s new regional head office in Johannesburg, revealed that the company already has a strong developer team based in Cape Town. Along with AWS employing several thousand developers in the mother city, this reinforces the city’s positioning as the technology hub of Africa. “Cape Town is part of our global development team,” said Smith. “We employ developers that provide availability around the clock, following the sun dial. They work on development of components of our database, security elements, and building out our machine learning capabilities. “From a business standpoint, we have a very robust business in South Africa, and it is going from strength to strength. We are working hard on employing a lot more local talent. We are pleased to have received the second highest classification of BBBEE, something that it very important for us. Firstly, it enables us to continue doing business in South Africa, but secondly also recognising the importance we place on region. We take our social responsibility very seriously.” *** Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee  

Authored by Arthur Goldstuck, originally posted in Sunday Times Business Times on 22 September and hosted on Times Live and Business Live. Larry Ellison, founder of database software giant Oracle,...

Cloud

University of Mauritius & Oracle collaborate to equip 1000 students with cloud skills

The University of Mauritius (UoM) and Oracle Mauritius on 18 October signed a Memorandum of Understanding to equip 1000 students from the university’s Faculty of Information Communication and Digital Technologies, with resources in the form of cloud-centred technical support and mentorship.   As part of the three-year Memorandum of Understanding between the two parties, Oracle technical and business advisors will deliver knowledge transfer sessions, workshops and guest lectures to students on cloud and other emerging technologies. Faculty staff, meanwhile, will be trained in the use of Oracle Cloud for innovative teaching, research and development purposes. Included is unlimited access to the Oracle Cloud Free Tier, offering $25 000 in value to new Always Free services for faculty and students to use. Further to training and knowledge sharing, the collaboration will also introduce the student-led Oracle Ambassador Club, which connects students with mentorship opportunities and practical advice around such topics as resume development, networking, financial planning and career strategy development. The objective is to produce graduates fully equipped to grow the Mauritian ICT sector and related fields. Mauritius boasts one of the most competitive and ambitious economies in Africa, with ICT earmarked as a pillar for national advancement since the early 2000s. Over the past decade, the industry has become a major economic contributor, generating 5.7% of Mauritius’s Gross Value Add in 2018, and employing over 16,000 people. Last year, the value-added of Mauritius’s ICT sector rose 5.9% to Rs 24,248 million.  The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Mauritius, Professor Dhanjay Jhurry says, “This MoU reinforces our partnership with Industry. In addition to helping us more effectively fulfil our mandate as an institution providing the highest quality, future-minded education, the University and Oracle’s Memorandum of Understanding will safeguard the competitiveness of Mauritius in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This will be accomplished by creating knowledgeable and highly employable professionals who can contribute to the developmental needs of the country, whether they choose to work for the growing number of ICT operating out of Mauritius or are inspired to become entrepreneurs themselves.”   Avinash Ramtohul, Managing Director Oracle Mauritius, adds, “The partnership between Oracle and the University of Mauritius is a golden opportunity to develop both skills and technical capacity, with knock-on effects for the country. Working together will enable us to harness cloud technology’s potential in expanding and disseminating crucial research in the field of ICT, while students are empowered with the right skills for the future workforce.”  Earlier this year, Oracle Kenya and Kenyatta University signed a similar Memorandum of Understanding to advance the skills and careers of 7,000 Engineering and Science students at that institution.

The University of Mauritius (UoM) and Oracle Mauritius on 18 October signed a Memorandum of Understanding to equip 1000 students from the university’s Faculty of Information Communication and Digital...

Cloud

Oracle to set up cloud region in SA

Oracle unveils “in country” dual region strategy to help customers address disaster recovery, operating efficiencies, cost and compliance needs To support its customers around the world, Oracle recently announced that it plans to launch 20 new Oracle Cloud regions by the end of 2020, for a total of 36 Oracle Cloud Infrastructure regions. “We are very excited that South Africa is to be one of these 36 regions. This means our South African customers and partners can harness the power of Oracle Cloud to unlock innovation and drive business growth, accessing all Oracle Cloud Infrastructure services, enabling the ease of migration,” says Niral Patel, Managing Director for Oracle South Africa. “Unlike other cloud providers, Oracle is committed to offer a second region for disaster recovery in every country where we launch Oracle Cloud Infrastructure services, a strategy that’s aligned with our customers’ needs. With these dual regions, customers can deploy both production and disaster recovery capacity within the country, to meet business continuity and compliance requirements,” adds Patel. Oracle’s Gen 2 Cloud Infrastructure makes this possible through highly-optimised region deployment technologies, which can implement an entire software defined data center and customer-facing cloud services in days. Customers will now have access to all Oracle Cloud Infrastructure services including Oracle Autonomous Database; as well as Oracle Fusion Applications. Oracle expects to open an average of one region every 23 days over the next 15 months for a total of 20 additional regions (17 commercial and three government). As planned, 11 of the countries or jurisdictions served by local cloud regions will have two or more regions to facilitate in-country or in-jurisdiction disaster recovery capabilities. 

Oracle unveils “in country” dual region strategy to help customers address disaster recovery, operating efficiencies, cost and compliance needs To support its customers around the world, Oracle...

Cloud

Oracle Launches Cloud Centre of Excellence in Lagos

Lagos, Nigeria – 17 September 2019: Oracle, in collaboration with Redington, a leading value added distributor operating across East, West, French West Africa and Middle East and a Platinum level member of Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN), recently launched a Cloud Center of Excellence in Lagos to enable knowledge share and ready availability of Oracle’s full stack of services to help Oracle partners develop and implement transformative cloud projects across Africa. “Cloud led digital transformation is on the rise across Africa, and with this acceleration comes the demand for improved services and solutions from local partners”, said Adebayo Sanni, Country Leader, Oracle Nigeria. “The new Cloud Centre of Excellence will allow Oracle partners to focus on continuous skills development and education of their employees, empowering the Nigerian IT ecosystem to grow, while better servicing customers who are embarking on their cloud journey.” “The new Cloud Centre of Excellence aims to provide a variety of enablement, engagement and development resources in Nigeria; delivering technical training workshops aimed at developing partner skills. Supporting the digital transformation strategy of customers in the region; the hub will also rollout a Digital and Cloud accelerator programme to help partners align and transform their business model in the era of cloud,” says Cherian John, Vice president Redington Value. Located at the Oracle office in Ikoyi, Lagos, the Cloud Center of Excellence can be accessed by all Oracle partners in the region, interested in furthering their understanding and ability to implement cloud-led solutions and services. For more information, and to book the hub please email: CCoE.Nigeria@redingtongulf.com

Lagos, Nigeria – 17 September 2019: Oracle, in collaboration with Redington, a leading value added distributor operating across East, West, French West Africa and Middle East and a Platinum level member...

Oracle Africa

Women who lead within Oracle South Africa: Cathy Stadler

This women's month we set out to work with a few of our colleagues who are actively engaged in the Oracle South Africa Chapter of Oracle's Women's Leadership programme. Getting to know them a little better, to understand how they do what they do and why they do it. Cathy Stadler is the Director Applications Marketing - African Operations. What do you love about your job? I learn something new every day –the variety of the work that I do keeps me engaged and interested. Plus, I work with a brilliant team of marketeers from whom I learn something every day across the region I work in Africa and broadly in EMEA. What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made?   Joining Oracle. What’s the worst career decision you’ve ever made? Working for a recruitment agency – I just wasn’t interested. I didn’t last long. How do you organise your time? This has become ever more important as we are challenged by the 24/7 worked of digital I organise my time by projects – so chunks of time are spent on a specific projects, rather than being driven by inbound emails which can be a distraction. I set my own deadlines and work towards achieving those on time to avoid being driven by outside deadlines which could be aligned to different priorities. What do you think is your greatest strength? Communication and team work. What do you think is your greatest weakness? I take everything personally, I am a perfectionist, plus I hate public speaking – it’s a big challenge for me to get up in front of lots of people to talk – but I’ve overcome it by getting out of my safety zone and tackling it head on. How do you make decisions? Fast – I believe in moving forward in organised chaos rather than staying in the same place and agonising over a decision. What do you read? The Economist, Times Literary Supplement for insight and inspiration, business books and novels (online and offline) – also fem lit (novels) like Margaret Atwood, (Classics) and love historical novels like Hilary Mantel. And the odd kids classic at night time with my twins. What do you think are the secrets behind getting to where you are today? Focus on delivering on the plan, data driven insights and being a team player. I had always wanted to be in marketing and set that as a goal. What would your message be to a younger you? Be brave, think big and don’t stress the small stuff. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and find a mentor who can help you navigate through the world of business.  

This women's month we set out to work with a few of our colleagues who are actively engaged in the Oracle South Africa Chapter of Oracle's Women's Leadership programme. Getting to know them a little...

Oracle Africa

Women who lead within Oracle South Africa- Rubashni Zentelis

This women's month we set out to work with a few of our colleagues who are actively engaged in the Oracle South Africa Chapter of Oracle's Women's Leadership programme. Getting to know them a little better, to understand how they do what they do and why they do it. Our featured leader today is Rubashni Zentelis, Advanced Customer Services Sales Manager for Oracle SA . What do you love about your job? I love that no one day is the same. Each day presents a new opportunity and new challenges. I am constantly pushed to be better than I was the day before. It is definitely an exhilarating feeling. What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made? I had grandiose dreams of being a lawyer whilst I was in university and unexpectedly made the leap into sales 4 years later. Looking back I would do it all over again. What’s the worst career decision you’ve ever made? Changing roles from an OEM to a smaller company. I mistakenly believed that a smaller organisation would have less complexity. How do you organise your time? I start my day early, which allows me the time to be flexible for both my team, my family and my customers. My role requires that I am able to manage multiple deals and projects at the same time, and I have had to learn how to prioritise and delegate. What do you think is your greatest strength? I am a firm believer in being a team player, and strive to collaborate with the many teams and individuals that I work with daily. It is a must for me to “walk the floor” each day. A simple “good morning” goes a long way to cement relationships What do you think is your greatest weakness? I try to be everything to everyone, sometimes tripling my workload. Learning to delegate to the correct person has taken time to learn, and I have not mastered it yet. How do you make decisions? I consider a few things when making business decisions: Is it right for my customer? Is it right for my business? Is it sustainable? In my line of business, longevity is key. What do you read? Fiction, fiction, fiction – I am easily absorbed into a gripping murder mystery… What do you think are the secrets behind getting to where you are today? Variety. When changing roles/jobs/companies I have always tried to expand on what I already know. Whilst some may say that Sales is Sales, I disagree. You constantly need to adapt and learn new concepts and cultures. What would your message be to a younger you? Don’t be afraid to want bigger and better. Never settle for less than you believe you are worth.  

This women's month we set out to work with a few of our colleagues who are actively engaged in the Oracle South Africa Chapter of Oracle's Women's Leadership programme. Getting to know them a little...

Oracle Africa

Women who lead within Oracle South Africa- Ocea Garriock

This women's month we set out to work with a few of our colleagues who are actively engaged in the Oracle South Africa Chapter of Oracle's Women's Leadership programme. Getting to know them a little better, to understand how they do what they do and why they do it. Ocea Garriock is the Solution Engineering Director at Oracle South Africa. What do you love about your job? I have always enjoyed working with technical teams. Now, as the Director for Solution Engineering, I am working with some amazing, smart people. Our role is to assist sales in taking our solutions to market. My focus has been on collaboration with sales and across the different divisions in Oracle, to drive improved results in our market. I am also the Chairperson of the Oracle Women’s Leadership Group. This has been a rewarding role; to engage, develop and empower women. This includes community service, which helps us to have an impact on society and the country. What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made? I have a technical background in data management and analytics. My best career decision was moving into management. Also recently, I assisted in building a start-up analytics company in Singapore. That was an amazing experience; working and living in another country broadens your life views and experience. What’s the worst career decision you’ve ever made? I took too long to be brave enough to make the move to management. How do you organise your time? I prioritise spending time with people. I try to balance my week to spend time on customer engagements, partners and time managing my employees. I also make time for my own learning. It is important to balance time between urgent and important tasks. What do you think is your greatest strength? My strength is in managing and motivating people. I am passionate about my job and I get great pleasure in seeing people grow and develop towards their potential. What do you think is your greatest weakness? I am not a process person so I am not good with administrative tasks and processes. How do you make decisions? I have a democratic approach to decision making. I like to involve my teams in decisions so they feel part of the process. What do you read? I belong to a book club and read some fictional novels, but I also like to read self-help and leadership books. What do you think are the secrets behind getting to where you are today? I live by this mantra: ‘Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can…..and wisdom to know the difference.’ What would your message be to a younger you? Believe in yourself. Don’t listen to those voices that say “you can’t”. Focus on “I can!!”

This women's month we set out to work with a few of our colleagues who are actively engaged in the Oracle South Africa Chapter of Oracle's Women's Leadership programme. Getting to know them a little...

Oracle Africa

Women who lead within Oracle South Africa: Simonia Marimuthoo

This women's month we set out to work with a few of our colleagues who are actively engaged in the Oracle South Africa Chapter of Oracle's Women's Leadership programme. Getting to know them a little better, to understand how they do what they do and why they do it. Today, we hear from Simonia Marimuthoo Oracle's ERP Applications Sales Representative. What do you love about your job? That I am not stuck behind a desk! My job allows me to work from anywhere; this is very important to me. The flexibility to work from anywhere allows me to prioritise work and family, enjoying a healthy life-work- balance. As with the consistent change in technology having a change in scenery keeps me driven. What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made? When I decided to take on my 1st sales role it changed my life completely, not just financially, but also I realised that sales was the heartbeat of a organisation and that I was part of that heartbeat. What’s the worst career decision you’ve ever made? Shew!! Where do I start? Well there has been many; from joining competitors, to changing roles and realising the grass is not always greener on the other side. If I had to single out one event, I would say the worst desision I have made was to not give myself a chance to push through a difficult time *aka difficult sales quarters*and sticking with what I call pig-headed determination. I have learnt that sometimes you have to hold on just a little longer for success or for the reward. You never know what’s around the corner. How do you organise your time? Early morning is "me" time. I wake up  early before the rest of my family, this is my time to read and journal before the troupe wakeup, allowing me to plan my day. I also organise my time by listing my 6 must do's. I allocate a time frame in which I need to get this done, I set boundaries and will not answer emails or take calls unless it's my kids or husband, this allows me to control how I organise and spend my time. What do you think is your greatest strength? I don’t procrastinate, if I decide to do something: I go for it! If the winds change I adjust my sails and continue sailing. This coupled with my positive energy and personality are my greatest strengths. What do you think is your greatest weakness? What you see is what you get, I am very straight forward but sometimes what I say might offend others or their egos. How do you make decisions? Over the years I’ve learned to trust my gut, but depending on what I need to make a decision on, I usually look at what is the outcome that it will give me. I try to understand and determine if it will serve me or my family, what will I learn or gain from the decision and is it aligned to my purpose or beliefs. What do you read? I absolutely love Psychology  & spiritual books What do you think are the secrets behind getting to where you are today? My thoughts have manifested my current reality,  what you think you become; focus on positive thoughts, focus on abundance, see yourself achieving, winning and you will manifest this into your reality. What would your message be to a younger you? No matter where you have come from, it’s the journey not the destination that will get you to live your life’s purpose. ENJOY THE JOURNEY!    

This women's month we set out to work with a few of our colleagues who are actively engaged in the Oracle South Africa Chapter of Oracle's Women's Leadership programme. Getting to know them a little...

Oracle Africa

Women who lead within Oracle South Africa: Rufaro Mhuruyengwe

This women's month we set out to work with a few of our colleagues who are actively engaged in the Oracle South Africa Chapter of Oracle's Women's Leadership programme. Getting to know them a little better, to understand how they do what they do and why they do it.  Rufaro Mhuruyengwe is the Regional Marketing Manager for Technology & Systems for Southern Africa at Oracle What do you love about your job? I love the ever-evolving nature of the industry I am in and the role of marketing, as this keeps me on my toes – constantly learning and adapting. I also love the fact that I get a front row seat in seeing how emerging technologies are changing the way we work and live. I don’t only market Machine learning and AI – these are not just concepts but elements I use in my job which is exciting as we ‘eat our own dog food’.   What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made? Deciding to work in the ICT space, an area I had no experience or qualifications in, was by far the best thing I did early in my career. Having studied finance/economics my initial vision for my life was definitely different from what I now live and I love it! Never a boring moment and no regrets here! How do you organise your time? Planning is key! I am a firm believer in jotting down notes or reminders for myself. I also have found value in booking out an hour a day to do admin where no meetings are scheduled and its dedicated to doing the necessary administrative tasks or send out emails etc. What do you think is your greatest strength? I like to think I have high emotional intelligence; coupled with my tact and ability to tackle difficult conversations with finesse have definitely helped me in my career especially as I interact and build rapport with stakeholders, managers colleagues and direct reports.  What do you think is your greatest weakness? According to Gallup Strengths theory, a person doesn’t have weakness but just ‘less strength’   How do you make decisions? I have a systematic approach which means I evaluate all options and choose based on data and facts presented. I also rely on my intuition/instincts. What do you read? My reading choices depend on my mood thus I sway between a range of books – I can go from reading ‘We’re going to need more wine’ by Gabrielle Union, to ‘The One Thing’ by Gary Keller within a space of days. What do you think are the secrets behind getting to where you are today? The key to success in my opinion is be hardworking and consistent. I have also had great managers and mentors who have supported, enabled me and ensured I am equipped to perform my best and grow within my chosen career path. What would your message be to a younger you? Don’t overthink somethings, live a little, relax – it’s just a job! But seriously I would say I have learnt that its ok to be firm, decisive and still be empathetic and vulnerable; and that it is ok to say NO.

This women's month we set out to work with a few of our colleagues who are actively engaged in the Oracle South Africa Chapter of Oracle's Women's Leadership programme. Getting to know them a little...

Oracle Africa

Women who lead within Oracle South Africa: Natassia Badenhorst

This women's month we set out to work with a few of our colleagues who are actively engaged in the Oracle South Africa Chapter of Oracle's Women's Leadership programme. Getting to know them a little better, to understand how they do what they do and why they do it. Natassia Badenhorst is the Corporate Communications Manager for South Africa, and Sub Saharan Africa at Oracle. What do you love about your job? There are many things I love about what I do, however, what I love the most is the frequent engagement with media, and executives across the continent. Building stories with journalists, hosting interviews with senior executives, hearing their stories, and how the company I work for is impacting industries and communities across Africa. And of course, I love the travel! What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made?   There have been several decisions that led me to Oracle. I don't believe there was a single "best" decision; I believe having a vision for yourself, and your career is important. The decisions you make throughout your career should all be important, thought through and with intent to reach an ultimate goal. What’s the worst career decision you’ve ever made? There have also been many; joining a smaller PR agency led by a family member stands out for me, however this decision as bad as it was, led me down a new path that brought many opportunities knocking. How do you organise your time? I use my diary to allocate time to the things/ actions that matter the most for the day/ week/ month. Starting with a focus hour each day to bang out the tasks that matter to me (and not others), the hard tasks, the "deep-thought" tasks. I literally allocate hours/ time in my diary per task, or project, and stick to it to make sure I get everything done that is needed for the day/ week What do you think is your greatest strength? My confidence, as well as my ability to be emotionally intelligent. This allows me to be vocal, strong, authorative, self-aware, aware of others, deliver with perspective as I go through my day. What do you think is your greatest weakness? My recent personality assesment says I have quite a few ;p I think my greatest weakness is my desire to please others. This derailer often sees me overpromising, loading my workload and committing to tasks/ projects that don't drive my KPIs. How do you make decisions? TBH, depends on the depth of the decision needed. So it varies. I do tend to like to mindmap the harder decsions, looking at all available options and the benefits/ risks associated to each. What do you read? A large variety of books, however, recently I have read The Choice by Edith Edger, The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Good Morning, MR. Mandela. What do you think are the secrets behind getting to where you are today? TBH some of it was luck, some of it was planned, some of it was dreamed. I think if you can see the end goal, what you want long term, understanding who you are, and what you are willing to do (and not do). What would your message be to a younger you? Be patient. Listen more, talk less.

This women's month we set out to work with a few of our colleagues who are actively engaged in the Oracle South Africa Chapter of Oracle's Women's Leadership programme. Getting to know them a little...

Oracle Africa

Women who lead within Oracle South Africa: Sandhya Ramdhany

This women's month we set out to work with a few of our colleagues who are actively engaged in the Oracle South Africa Chapter of Oracle's Women's Leadership programme. Getting to know them a little better, to understand how they do what they do and why they do it. Sandhya Ramdhany is the Legal Director at Oracle South Africa. What do you love about your job? The constant learning. Doing something scary each day and growing from it. What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made? Joining a multinational corporation. I imagined my future self; by placing myself in the future rather than the present, I had a better way of understanding how my decision will impact my goals. Working at a multinational corporation has enabled me to capitalise off the most sound business and legal minds on a global scale. What’s the worst career decision you’ve ever made? Becoming a “Jack of all Trades”. At the outset of my career, I naturally developed a wide range of skills. However, if the job was varied across a range of different industries, I most likely would not have perfected one specific skill, but rather would have had a general understanding of a number of them. I was able to identify this and it became imperative for me not to become a generalist but to find my niche’ and specialise in my desired field. How do you organise your time? I work smarter instead of harder. I rarely say “I don’t have enough time” as it reflects poorly on my time management ability. We all have the same amount of time in a day. I am always mindful about being efficient, productive and simplifying how I work. What do you think is your greatest strength? I am approachable. My amenable attitude has enabled me to build relationships with my colleagues, managers and directs reports. People usually feel comfortable around me – this helps with contributing ideas and making the workplace a safe environment in which to do so. What do you think is your greatest weakness? I am independent and enjoy working quickly therefore, it can be difficult for me to say no. I have learnt that it is more beneficial, both for me and the business, to ask for help when I do not understand something or feel burnt out from my workload. There are many experts around me who have specific knowledge and skills that can enhance the task on hand. While I am still working on it, I have been able to produce more high-quality work as a result of the assistance from those around me. How do you make decisions? There is no science to making a decision. I work through a decision making process systematically and this reduces the likelihood of overlooking important factors. I think its also important to take informed, educated risks. What do you read? Since I read for work, I could not read for pleasure. However recently, through a colleague, I discovered an author - Chetan Bhagat. His writing is simple and relatable. What do you think are the secrets behind getting to where you are today? There are no secrets. If you work smart there is no need to work hard.   What would your message be to a younger you? Life has different stages. Pair your actions with the stage of life that you are at!  

This women's month we set out to work with a few of our colleagues who are actively engaged in the Oracle South Africa Chapter of Oracle's Women's Leadership programme. Getting to know them a little...

Oracle Africa

Women who lead within Oracle South Africa: Gugu Madela

This women's month we set out to work with a few of our colleagues who are actively engaged in the Oracle South Africa Chapter of Oracle's Women's Leadership programme. Getting to know them a little better, to understand how they do what they do and why they do it. Gugu Madela is the Oracle Cloud Education Sales Representative in SA. We asked her some questions about what she does, who she is and to impart some advise for our readers: What do you love about your job? I have always been passionate about education and believe that even if I did not work in IT (which I also love) I would be in the field of education.  Fortunately I get the opportunity to mix Technology and Education, for me that is enough. What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made? Admitting that as much as I am good with numbers, I hated working in finance.  So I left a job in finance that paid far more than a job in IT simply because I was not passionate about the field of finance. My motto is: Love It or Leave It Alone.  I believe in giving 100% into whatever you do as a person. What’s the worst career decision you’ve ever made? Leaving a company before I had learned all I could.  Taking on more than I could.  How do you organise your time? Being a working mom means stretching a 24 hour day into a 25 hour day, fortunately working for a company, like Oracle, that embraces flexibility and mobility has made that possible for me.  What do you think is your greatest strength? My ability to adapt and grow wherever I am planted. What do you think is your greatest weakness? My first mentor mentioned that I am addicted to innovation and unable to stay stagnant/ in a place where there is no movement/growth which means that I sometimes miss the lessons that come with being stagnant.  At the time I did not see it, but 2 jobs later I actually can finally see that it is a bad thing. How do you make decisions? I normally look at the impact of the decision.  Is it long term, short term and who else will be impacted by the decision. What do you read? I am an avid reader and I am also part of a Book Club, so I read a LOT.  Our theme for the Month of May was Motherhood since it was mother’s day in May so I was reading “This is Motherhood” by Jill Koziol and Liz Tenety What do you think are the secrets behind getting to where you are today? Honestly having a great mentor can take you very far.  I equate it to the foundation of a house, if the foundation is strong you can build something as high as the Burg Khalifa on it.  My mentor understood my weaknesses and strengths, gave guidance, gave criticism, listened and gave me a wealth of emotional intelligence that is very much needed in our work environment. What would your message be to a younger you? It is ok to fail.

This women's month we set out to work with a few of our colleagues who are actively engaged in the Oracle South Africa Chapter of Oracle's Women's Leadership programme. Getting to know them a little...

Cloud

Kenyatta University and Oracle collaborate to arm 7000 students with skills of the future

Kenyatta University and Oracle Kenya have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to equip 7000 Engineering and Science students with technology, communication and interpersonal skills to advance their careers for the future workplace.   “We feel incredibly privileged to partner with Oracle on this initiative. The agreement signed with Oracle aims to bolster the mandate set out by the University to provide quality education to students and promote knowledge creation and dissemination through research and innovative teaching while responding to the developmental needs of the country and the global community,” says Prof. Paul Wainaina, Vice-Chancellor Kenyatta University.  “In order to ensure that these students are empowered with the right skills for the future workforce, Oracle will provide training, and information sharing sessions that focus on emerging technologies, cloud technology and various personal career mentorship streams; developing person skills to enhance resume writing, career strategy, presentation skills and financial management etc.,” explains David Bunei, Managing Director Oracle Kenya. Further to the training provided, this collaboration will also introduce the Oracle Student Ambassador Club to the select students. This student-led Oracle Ambassador Club will connect student’s requests for learning sessions, events, contests, suggestions, feedback and ideas with Oracle. Providing Oracle led technical and business knowledge transfer sessions, workshops, guest lectures and mentoring of students,” explains Bunei.      

Kenyatta University and Oracle Kenya have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to equip 7000 Engineering and Science students with technology, communication and interpersonal skills to advance...

News

Oracle Ghana Team Achieves Amazing Award Recognition

Congratulations to the Oracle Ghana team under the leadership of Franklin Asare for the awesome recognition during the 9th edition of the prestigious Ghana Information Technology & Telecom Awards (GITTA) on June 28th, 2019 in Accra! Oracle Ghana won an award for ‘Supporting Ghana Digitization Project Award’ for the Ghana Oracle Digital Enterprise Program (GODEP) initiative. The Ghana-Oracle Digital Enterprise Program (GODEP) is a collaboration between the Government of Ghana and Oracle Corporation to develop and scale up 500 technology startups in Ghana. The Oracle Global Start-up Ecosystem is a start-up enablement and acceleration programme for entrepreneurs and innovators across the globe. The programme serves start-ups at the stage of expansion by building a thriving global start-up community based on mutually beneficial partnerships that enable next-generation growth and business development and drive cloud-based innovation for start-ups, consumers and Oracle using Oracle’s technology. Franklin Asare, Country Leader was awarded the ICT Professional of the Year 2019; for excellence in promoting Government Digitization. This special award for leadership was conferred on Franklin by the Vice President of Ghana, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia. Speaking after the event Franklin said he was grateful for the recognition and thanked the entire Oracle Ghana team for their support and commitment.  GITTA is the most celebrated ICT awards which has grown to be the ‘Oscars’ of the ICT and Telecom industry attracting the crème de la crème and top decision makers in the sector. The GITTA awards reward and recognize not only the products and diverse innovations that keep the ICT & Telecom sector thriving but also the companies and people who make the industry great.

Congratulations to the Oracle Ghana team under the leadership of Franklin Asare for the awesome recognition during the 9th edition of the prestigious Ghana Information Technology & Telecom Awards...

HR

Oracle Named Best HR Tech Service Provider of the Year

Topco Media, organiser and host of the Future of HR Awards in association with Careers24, bestowed the coveted Best HR Tech Service Provider of the Year award to Oracle South Africa! Ronnie Toerien and Robert Bothma attended the prestigious event to collect this coveted title. "Oracle's HCM Cloud solution brings together simplicity and intelligence to prepare organisations for the future of work. Through an AI-first approach, our solution is complete, intelligent, personal and adaptable which allows us to make work more human and to deliver the meaningful and agile insight required to drive continuous improvement," Ronnie Toerien, HCM Sales Dev & Strategy Leader for Oracle Africa. " It’s a new world for employees and  HR professionals. Expectations are changing inside and outside the office, and the pace of change is accelerating. In less than 10 years, social media and mobile technologies have transformed both our personal and our professional lives. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are found in more of the tools we use daily, and who knows what tomorrow will bring? Managing a workforce in the midst of digital transformation requires a human capital management (HCM) solution that’s not only smart but agile. And because engaging employees is a higher priority than ever, it must be intuitive and simple. Oracle has the solutions to these business challenges," Robert Bothma, Master Business Solution Consultant.    

Topco Media, organiser and host of the Future of HR Awards in association with Careers24, bestowed the coveted Best HR Tech Service Provider of the Year award to Oracle South Africa! Ronnie Toerien...

News

Student artwork brings local flair to the Oracle building

Oracle in 2018 commissioned a project amongst the Universities in Gauteng to propose artwork for the new Oracle South Africa Johannesburg building, in Woodmead. After a lengthy process, two universities were selected to commission artwork amongst their art students: University of Pretoria and the University of Johanneburg. "Oracle is passionate about incorporating a local feel in the Oracle spaces across our African continent. Art they say, says things with colour and shapes that couldn’t be captured any other way –the artist creates from his own soul and portrays his own nature into art. It is the soul of the regions we are looking to capture and share in harmony with the business," Emma Orgazume, Oracle Architect. There are several pieces throughout the building which we will feature in time, however we wish to share with you the two pieces that hang in our reception hall. The first from the University of Johannesburg: this piece seeks to embody the energy of Johannesburg as a whole in conjunction with Oracles' values. The artwork depicts a mixed media piece on wood, of a  woman whose large head wrap becomes the scene in which the cityscape emerges. Encapsulating the hustle and bustle of the City of Gold. This work incorporates elements which collectively define the diverse City of Johannesburg in its uniqueness today. The black and white pattern of the cow hide which forms the woman’s face and upper torso embodies the diversity of Johannesburg’s people. While various other elements such as the Soweto towers, Vilakazi street and railway evoke a sense of our cities history and future opportunities formed by Oracle. At the pinnacle of the cityscape a crowd cheers, representing the communities that Oracle creates. The title of this work being Masihlanganeni a Zulu phrase which means “Let us come together” further evokes the kind of convergence and community which Oracle represents. Overall this work aspires to inspire the viewer eliciting a sense of joy and pride in both Oracle and the City of Johannesburg. The second piece from the University of Pretoria: this piece aims to represent Oracle’s contribution towards South-Africa, by incorporating Oracle’s mission statement to Simplify, Standardise and Automate. Oracle is one of the world’s leading cloud companies, offering various data management solutions, and creates a vast interconnection between filtered information, the populace and the nation. This piece, inspired by Oracle's contribution and interconnectedness, provided the framework to explore how these qualities shape and unite individual lives and society.      

Oracle in 2018 commissioned a project amongst the Universities in Gauteng to propose artwork for the new Oracle South Africa Johannesburg building, in Woodmead. After a lengthy process, two...

News

Oracle Boosts Presence in South Africa

We have moved, and we are ready to move you with us! The Oracle South African HQ, based in Woodmead, Johannesburg has relocated. Moving a building down the road in Woodmead North Office Park, the new purpose-built facility is equipped with future proof technology to deliver an exceptional experience and better support the digital transformation journeys of South African public and private sector entities. “Digital transformation is on the rise in South Africa and with an unmatched portfolio of solutions and support infrastructure, Oracle is poised to lead the country’s digital revolution”, said Niral Patel, Managing Director and Technology Leader, Oracle South Africa. “The new office facility in Johannesburg is our latest investment and solid evidence of our commitment to South Africa. At Oracle, we are focused on expanding our presence to help organisations explore the full potential of digital technologies to drive economic growth and deliver seamless and transparent citizen services”. Leading South African businesses are choosing Oracle Cloud solutions to drive efficiency and innovation for creating a competitive advantage. South Africa’s mobile telecommunications major, MTN has embarked on one of the largest digital transformations in the global telecom industry across all its core business operations with Oracle Cloud.  A recent Oracle study also highlights that South African companies plan to further invest in disruptive innovation as they expect incremental technology to play a more significant role in their businesses over the next three years. “Our new workplace is an investment in the future of our customers, employees and the next generation workforce of South Africa. We have created an inclusive space that will encourage innovation, foster learning and inspire organisations to achieve more”, added Patel.  Some Green Facts about the building can be found below: The building is currently a 4 Green Star rated building, with our intent set to be a 5 star building in the coming year The technology built into the building enables the active monitoring of energy, water and waste consumption to drive efficient use of resources and limit waste. The acoustic paneling in the canteen zone, which doubles up as an open collaboration space, was assembled by the Johannesburg Society for the Blind. The use of plastic, including cutlery and straws in the canteen area will also be reduced. A slightly higher ceiling throughout the building helps with heat management inside, minimizing the use of the air conditioning and HVAC systems. An attenuation pond that catches rain water will be used to water the landscaped gardens surrounding the building For more information, contact Natassia Badenhorst, Corporate Communications – South Africa & Sub Saharan Africa Oracle tash.badenhorst@oracle.com

We have moved, and we are ready to move you with us! The Oracle South African HQ, based in Woodmead, Johannesburg has relocated. Moving a building down the road in Woodmead North Office Park, the new...

Cloud

Oracle Teams Up with the Government of Ghana to Support Local Entrepreneurs

Oracle’s global startup program will support 500 startups in collaboration with the Ghanaian Government and local innovation hubs.   Oracle Global Startup Ecosystem and the Government of Ghana have announced the Ghana-Oracle Digital Enterprise Program, a new collaborative effort to support technology-enabled startups and entrepreneurs across Ghana. The Oracle Global Startup Ecosystem, Oracle’s program for entrepreneurs and innovators worldwide, has committed to support 500 local startups through access to Oracle Cloud technology, mentoring and workshops, and business-enablement and support resources.                         Backed by the vast global technology and business resources of Oracle, the program will include: Support and enable 500 local startups and entrepreneurs Engage with local innovation hubs to execute Open to B2B and B2C startups of all sizes and all stages of growth Oracle Cloud credits, mentoring, workshops, and deep discounts after credits expire World-class mentoring and curriculum resources (virtual and on-site) Migration credits and technical support Local Oracle program representatives for assistance Qualifying startups can have the opportunity to access Oracle’s marketing and customer ecosystems to further boost their business Oracle Global Startup Ecosystem is a unique acceleration program for startups that puts the vast technology and business resources of Oracle behind emerging businesses to help them scale and succeed. The global program, which does not take equity, serves startups at scale by enabling next-generation growth, business development, and drives cloud-based ingenuity for startups, our customers, and Oracle—creating a virtuous cycle of innovation. To read the full story visit our press office.  

Oracle’s global startup program will support 500 startups in collaboration with the Ghanaian Government and local innovation hubs.   Oracle Global Startup Ecosystem and the Government of Ghana...

Innovation

KonMari: How businesses can find joy

John Abel, Head of Innovation and Cloud at Oracle, shares his thoughts on how businesses can learn from Marie Kondo's KonMari approach. When Marie Kondo released “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” in 2011, it became a sell-out hit. Clearly, the KonMari approach – the notion of removing anything from our homes that doesn’t bring us joy – resonates. Kondo is now taking Netflix by storm with her TV show, encouraging more people to get purging. Whether you’ve been swept away by Kondo or not, it’s hard to downplay the strength of a motto: get rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy. So what can businesses learn from the KonMari tidying principles? Thanks to automation, companies are now in a position where they can ‘remove’ processes that don’t bring staff joy. But how can businesses make sure they’re taking the right approach? Here are some KonMari-inspired steps to help ‘declutter’ businesses: 1. Commit to the approach The first step to the KonMari method is to commit fully. It might feel like a lengthy process, but complete dedication will make the situation better in the long run. For businesses, that means commitment from everyone. Driven by the leadership team, cultures will need to change to ensure minimal barriers to the approach. Kondo says imagining your ideal lifestyle can drive this motivation, which is helpful for businesses. If staff understand ideal outcomes from automation and what’s expected of them, that’ll support the cultural shift towards a “more joyful” business. 2. Follow the plan The KonMari method relies on tidying by category, not location. For businesses, this means working out what to implement, not where. All areas of the organisation should get the same level of the ‘tidying’ approach at the same time, with the same tasks automated.  Once this is decided, a clear plan needs to be determined, demonstrating how it’ll be rolled out step-by-step across the whole organisation. 3. Tidying How to decide which tasks to automate? Kondo says we must look at each item and decide whether it brings us joy. If it doesn’t, we discard it. In a single organisation, there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of business operations that aren’t bringing staff joy. However, just because a process doesn’t bring an employee joy, doesn’t mean it’s not imperative. For example, while security updates and patches might be time-consuming and boring for staff, they are integral to businesses who must keep data secure. And while payroll might seem mundane to the finance team, it needs to happen! The easiest way to free staff from having to do these business-critical processes while still ensuring they happen is to automate the processes. Following the example above, implementing a self-patching and self-updating system could be a way of bringing joy to staff by reducing mundane processes, but still aligning with business objectives. Through automation, staff are free to pursue activities that bring them joy and allow innovation. That might be developing original ideas, better engaging teams, or winning new business. 4. Folding and Storing Kondo argues you should fold and store the items you’re keeping in a way so that you can see them at the same time. Businesses should think of the cloud as their easily visible drawer – you have easy and real-time access to data across the business. The KonMari method dictates a streamlined approach for a happy home environment, but it’s something businesses should achieve as well. Now’s the time for businesses to think how they can automate the processes that don’t need staff attention to reap the benefits of a more joyful and engaged workforce.  

John Abel, Head of Innovation and Cloud at Oracle, shares his thoughts on how businesses can learn from Marie Kondo's KonMari approach. When Marie Kondo released “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”...

Customer Stories

"We believe in God, but for everything else we need data”

“One out of 140 children born anywhere in the world has a heart problem. In India 26 million babies are born in a year so one can guess the number of children who are born with heart ailments. I see about 60 to 100 patients every day and nearly half of them are kids. Each day I have the heart wrenching job of telling many mothers that their children have heart issues and require surgery. The mother usually has only one question, “How much is it going to cost?” If I tell her it is going to cost $2,000, which she does not have, then I am putting a price tag on a child’s life. If she does not have that kind of funds, then the child’s life may be lost. This is what doctors in most developing countries do all day – put a price tag on human life. This is unacceptable. Something has to be done. And nothing will happen unless people like us take initiative. Only then will things change. I am a doctor. My job is saving lives and helping people. But when you run a hospital with wafer-thin margin, you need to be careful about your financial health. We need to have reliable data. Real-time. So, you can take major decisions. We believe in God, but for everything else we need data.” - Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty, Chairman & Executive Director, Narayana Health. This quote from world renowned cardiologist Dr. Shetty resonates with me at various levels - as a human being, as a father and as a representative of a technology giant, Oracle. It would be heart wrenching for any parent to see their child in pain and not being able to afford treatment. But it is equally, re-assuring to see that doctors like Dr. Shetty are taking initiatives to help such parents by leveraging technology.    Over the years, I have seen technology changing every aspect of our lives and nothing warms my heart more to see how it has transformed the healthcare sector, where people in life-and-death situations are benefiting. It makes all our efforts worthwhile to see hospitals like Narayana Health, which happens to be one of Oracle’s marquee customers, using technology to deliver world-class healthcare to everyone irrespective of their financial status. Narayana Health was started with a single mission - to build a hospital that would never have to turn anyone away for lack of funds. Headquartered in Bengaluru, it operates a network of hospitals across the country. Today, they have 23 hospitals, 7 heart centres, 19 primary care facilities across India and an international hospital in the Cayman Islands. Narayana Health operates on a model of cross-subsidy. Its hospitals get patients from all strata of the society – from some of the most affluent families to underprivileged ones. Patients who come from wealthy backgrounds, help in subsidising procedures done for the needy. Mr Viren Shetty added, “What technology allows Narayana Health to do is to bring in standardization and that can reduce error, improve quality of delivery and ultimately make healthcare safer. Narayana Health sees 20,000 patients a day across the country. We generate billions of lines of data and all this data is managed by ERP solutions provided by Oracle. This enables us to crunch data and aids decision-makers to run a very cost-efficient organization.” Oracle ERP can help streamline enterprise business processes and with better analysis, they have the strength to shape the future. Finance can become the change agent of business to guide better, smarter, faster decision-making across the company. Leveraging technology with the help of Oracle ERP, they can now drive innovation and success. Original LinkedIn post can be found here.

“One out of 140 children born anywhere in the world has a heart problem. In India 26 million babies are born in a year so one can guess the number of children who are born with heart ailments. I see...

Innovation

5 facts about Blockchain; it is more than just cryptocurrency!

Blockchain is one of the most widely-discussed and hyped technologies in recent times. Most industries, if not all, should be either excited or worried, or both about its potential. Use cases, proof-of-concepts, and full-fledged businesses based on blockchain technology are emerging at an increasing pace. When a new technology hits the market, misperceptions and myths often pop up right alongside of it. This is certainly the case with blockchain. Here are some frequently asked questions around the technology with simple answer to explain why it is regarded as one of the most disruptive emerging technologies with the possibility of affecting most if not all industries in some shape or form. 1. Let’s start somewhere simple.  What is blockchain? Blockchain is an innovative technology that can drive innovation, accelerate business, and reduce risk and costs associated with common business processes. It builds a growing list of unalterable records (called blocks) that are linked together to form a chain and securely distributed among participants. These allow organisations that might not fully trust each other to agree on a single, distributed source of truth. Blockchain minimises the cost and delays of using third-party intermediaries for financial transactions. It also eliminates manual, error-prone processes, and information redundancy. 2. Why should you care? Blockchain has the potential to fundamentally transform global businesses across multiple industries. It enables a trusted business network to transact directly over a peer-to-peer network—without the delays and cost of third parties—while still ensuring the validity and integrity of the transactions. It offers a ready-to-go, enterprise-grade solution that enables businesses to increase business velocity, extend enterprise boundaries, and reduce operational costs. 3.  Is bitcoin blockchain? Simply put, bitcoin is not blockchain. The only connection between bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) and blockchain is simply this: blockchain is just one of several technological components and constructs used to manage cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. Bitcoin works because it leverages blockchain to manage values and transactions. Blockchain is the underlying technology—but it has many other potential uses across all enterprise activities, including finance, supply chains, and human resources. 4. Is blockchain about managing money? While blockchain can (and is) being used to manage financial transactions, that’s just one of many applications of the technology. A blockchain can track any type of transaction—from the movement of goods through a supply chain, to the completion of courses a student needs to earn a degree. The remarkable value of blockchain technology is its potential to streamline transactions while increasing insight into transactional activity. Without blockchain, transactions of all types—whether they are financial or supply chain-related—require data flows in and out of central information systems. With blockchain, ownership is easier to follow and any associated party can confirm event activity. Transaction transparency, trust, and tracking are comprehensive and very efficient. 5. What are some of the real-world use cases for blockchain? Blockchain is contributing to many promising advances in the areas of food safety and authenticity. The technology has the potential to provide traceability as part of a digitised food system. It can also take us beyond traceability to transparency, where we have a complete and interconnected view of the supply chain. This will lead to new insights that can further improve supply chain efficiencies, promote sustainability, and reduce food waste. Take for example Certified Origins, a producer of extra virgin olive oil from fruits grown in small family farms in Italy. The company wanted to trace its product that it sells in the United States market across the entire supply chain - from the tree to the shelf. Blockchain simplifies the implementation and collaboration of all parties included and represents a real competitive advantage for the company. It adds a further level of transparency and information that is valuable for consumers looking for quality products and helps the company to support the excellence of the small farms. There are many benefits that are to be derived from the implementation of a blockchain solution. These include, but are not limited to cost savings and greater efficiencies. The most compelling benefit however is how blockchain can address the challenges related to trust. It is typically quite difficult to establish trust quickly in business partnerships. Trust inspires confidence and confidence will ultimately translate into significant investment and growth across all industries. Authored by Craig Nel, Mobile & Cognitive Experience (MCX) Leader at Oracle Middle East, Africa and Turkey

Blockchain is one of the most widely-discussed and hyped technologies in recent times. Most industries, if not all, should be either excited or worried, or both about its potential. Use cases,...

News

Oracle Accelerates Digital Transformation in South Africa with New Innovation Hub

Reinforcing its commitment to South Africa, Oracle today announced the opening of an Innovation Hub in Johannesburg, a first for Oracle in Africa that will help drive the adoption of emerging technologies across the country’s corporates, public sector and academia. In line with South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP) 2030, Oracle’s Innovation Hub is aimed at furthering digital transformation in South Africa by raising awareness about the impact of emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Bots and Machine Learning (ML) to help drive economic growth and support the delivery of innovative and transparent services to citizens and customers alike. The new hub will act as a platform for Oracle customers, partners and other stakeholders to better understand the potential of emerging technologies and co-create industry specific innovations with top Oracle experts.   “There is now widespread recognition that a digital revolution is an imperative for South Africa’s socio economic growth; including by the Honourable President Cyril Ramaphosa”, said Niral Patel, Managing Director and Technology Leader, Oracle South Africa. “As a leading cloud solutions company, we are focused on supporting South Africa’s public and private sector drive impactful transformation with latest digital technologies. Oracle’s new innovation hub in Johannesburg will act as a catalyst to help drive awareness, experimentation and implementation of transformational initiatives that will be customised to address local challenges and create new opportunities.” “Forrester predicts that businesses that leverage Artificial Intelligence, big data and the Internet of Things (IoT) to uncover new business insights will outperform less informed peers by $1.2 trillion per annum by 2020[1]. Oracle research also shows an increasing interest in Artificial Intelligence capabilities, with nearly a third (29 per cent) of cloud users citing the inclusion of Artificial Intelligence as a key requirement of cloud”. “However making Artificial Intelligence easy to adopt is critical – a key challenge for organizations is that they can’t afford to wait. The Oracle Innovation Hub will aim to address this challenge by engaging with key South African audiences by raising their awareness levels, helping drive an innovative approach and also supporting the skills development of next generation of African leaders”, added Derek Bose, Senior Applications Directors for South Africa and the SADC regional cluster at Oracle.     Oracle’s Innovation Hub is based at the company´s Johannesburg office and will relocate to the new state of the art Oracle building that is currently being built, and expected to be ready mid- 2019. In keeping with the theme of innovation, the new building is all about ‘right sizing’ the space to empower the way that the world is moving, towards a mobile workforce, with open spaces to facilitate collaboration and carefully controlled light and sound levels for increased productivity. The building will also have a 4-star green rating. “Oracle has been present in South Africa for nearly 30 years, and we have consistently invested in driving skills development and empowering local communities. The Oracle Ponelopele Secondary School in Johannesburg, which has now been delivering quality education free of cost to South African students for more than 10 years is a stellar example of this commitment. The new innovation hub is yet another initiative by Oracle to support skills development and further the country’s digital economy”, concludes Patel. [1]Forrester Predicts Investment In Artificial Intelligence Will Grow 300% in 2017, November 2016

Reinforcing its commitment to South Africa, Oracle today announced the opening of an Innovation Hub in Johannesburg, a first for Oracle in Africa that will help drive the adoption of...

News

Oracle Academy & Federal Ministry of Education Nigeria to Advance Computing Education

Nigeria, Abuja- October 16, 2018 —Today, Oracle Academy announced a collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education of Nigeria (FMoE) to create new computing education pathways for local students. Through the agreement, FMoE plans to integrate Oracle Academy computer science curriculum and resources across 10,000 academic institutions across the country, reaching over 1.5 million students within the region. Over the next three years, Oracle Academy will also facilitate the training of 4,000 educators at the Secondary and Higher Education levels to teach computer science. “As we are all aware, ICT has become the driver of competitiveness in the world today. It has redefined efficiency and productivity, and changed the dynamics of the world of work.  Oracle Academy is well-known globally for the advancement of Computer Science Education. There is therefore, no doubt that our partnership with Oracle will bring great improvements to the education sector and Nigeria as a whole,” says Permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Arch, Sonny S.T Echono. “As technological innovation increasingly drives our global economy, computer science skills become even more critical,” said Adebayo Sanni, Managing Director Oracle Nigeria.  "We look forward to continuing our collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education in Nigeria through Oracle Academy, and advancing our collective educational mission to support students and teachers in computer science and drive diversity in technology.” Oracle Academy will facilitate a ‘Train-the-Trainer’ course to prepare teachers and faculty members as instructors for the following Oracle Academy courses: Database Foundations Database Design and Programming with SQL Programming with PL/SQL Java Foundations Java Fundamentals Java Programming Supporting Resources Join Oracle Academy Follow @OracleAcademy on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook

Nigeria, Abuja- October 16, 2018 —Today, Oracle Academy announced a collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education of Nigeria (FMoE) to create new computing education pathways for local...

Cloud

3 quick things you should know about ERP in the cloud

We asked Sarah George Oracle ERP/EPM Cloud Applications Business Development Manager and Product Leader, 3 questions about ERP in the Cloud, this is what she shared with us: 1. What are the cost benefits of moving into the cloud? ERP often requires expensive and lengthy implementation to upgrade - meaning that the organisation enjoys the benefit of upgraded software only every two to five years (or more). The cloud eliminates all that with 3.2 x higher ROI and 52% lower running costs. Already, almost half (49%) of agile businesses have evolved their business models. We see organisations moving away from siloed, inflexible technology solutions to a single, connected cloud that is always up-to-date, costs less, and is easier to manage. ERP, built on machine learning, can automate day-to-day operations, so that the team can focus on guiding the business, instead of processing transactions and running reports. 2. How will moving to the cloud affect an enterprise’s risk profile? Cloud provides a secure platform, the environment is robust and continuously updated to reflect the latest technology innovations. Businesses’ data is secure in the cloud; however cloud requires policies and processes to be adhered to by both the vendor and customer for effective security. At Oracle we recognise the shift in the security landscape and in our customers’ needs. Not only do we need to protect our own cloud, but our customers are looking for modern techniques to help them provide consistent security controls across cloud and on- premises environments. More than ever, coordinated security management is needed.  With security at the core of modern organisations; good governance for managing systems and people effectively is critical, while strong authentication and encryption becomes a necessity. Industry estimates put nearly half of all security breaches down to human error, and educating employees on how to spot suspicious emails can help cut down on phishing, whaling and other attacks that rely on unsuspecting end-users to click on links to infected websites, or open attachments that install malware or ransomware. Backup, archiving and storage help to further protect against ransomware, and mobile device management becomes an instrumental means of controlling information at the edge. The cloud is always up-to-date with the latest features, as well as legislative and regulatory requirements in a market. It also provides enterprises with true continuous innovation, rolling out new modern best practices and capabilities on a regular basis. 3. What impact does it have on a company’s business processes? As companies produce and receive a seemingly unending amount of data from internal and external sources, it’s the finance specialists who are best positioned to radically improve productivity, and connect historical and predictive insights to strategic planning and goals. Cloud-based ERP applications with built-in machine learning capabilities are critical to this reset of the finance function. Not only do they continuously execute labour-intensive tasks in the background, they learn as they do, continually finding new ways to improve efficiency. At the same time, they feed rapid-fire responses to “what-if” questions posed through chatbots, rich-context dashboards, and other tools at the team’s fingertips. We are seeing organisations moving away from a single-target operating model with end-state goals to the adoption of multiple, simultaneous, dynamic business models. They’re also moving away from labour-intensive transaction processing, to the relentless automation of routine processes - freeing up finance professionals to focus on strategic activities Organisations are leaving behind the copying of agile models to building agile business systems that enable anticipation of and response to change. They’re no longer managing stores of data, but are creating and sharing meaningful insights with leadership across the organisation. We’re seeing a a clear move from siloed, inflexible technology solutions to a single, connected cloud that is always up-to-date, costs less, and is easier to manage. If you wish to learn more about ERP in the Cloud and the various benefits visit our ERP page on our website.

We asked Sarah George Oracle ERP/EPM Cloud Applications Business Development Manager and Product Leader, 3 questions about ERP in the Cloud, this is what she shared with us: 1. What are the cost...

News

Andrew Sordam appointed as New Vice President for sub-Saharan Africa

It gives us great pleasure to announce the appointment of Andrew Sordam as Vice President for sub-Saharan Africa with immediate effect. Sordam takes on his new role after over 20 years at Oracle in various leadership roles, most recently that of Vice President for Oracle’s Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) business across EMEA. Sordam brings with him a keen understanding of what is required by both enterprise and public sector customers to transform their businesses in the digital era and how to drive Oracle’s emerging technology solutions to the next level in the region. “Oracle is serious about Africa and having a vice president, based on the continent, heading African operations demonstrates our continued commitment to the continent, partners and our customers,” says Abdul Rahman Al Thehaiban, Oracle senior vice-president for technology Middle East and Africa (MEA). “Oracle has been present in Africa for the last thirty years and has been investing into the continent aggressively for the last ten years thereof. I am eager to be a part of the Oracle Africa team, watching them transform the face of business on the continent, as they drive digital transformation success for our customers across the region,” says Andrew Sordam, Vice President for sub-Saharan Africa at Oracle. “We believe that Andrew will enable us to bolster our African footprint; helping lead the Oracle business and our continental focus forward, further developing critical relationships and partnerships across the Oracle eco-system,” says Corine Mbiaketcha Nana, Managing Director Kenya Hub covering East, Central and West Africa at Oracle. Oracle operates 13 dedicated offices across Africa; these include two each in Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa and single offices in Algeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco, Mauritius and Senegal. For more information on our African operations, and the team to contact visit our contacts page.

It gives us great pleasure to announce the appointment of Andrew Sordam as Vice President for sub-Saharan Africa with immediate effect. Sordam takes on his new role after over 20 years at Oracle...

Innovation

Chatbots don’t drink tea!

How do we do more with less for business using autonomous technologies? This is a key question lingering in the minds of executives who try hard to solve the puzzle. Let us first define and explain the term “Autonomous”. A quick reference to Google reveals that generally, the difference between automatic (or automated) and autonomous is the degree of human intervention. An automated car does not have the level of intelligence or independence that an autonomous car has. “Autonomous” – a natural evolution of Digital Technologies further disrupts traditional business models. It goes without saying that we are witnessing an era of digital disruption, where existing business models are being challenged giving rise to new opportunities and channels – which actually contribute towards enhancing the “Customer Experience” – Mantra for survival and growth! We are all familiar with the concept of Artificial Intelligence, which basically refers to intelligence demonstrated by machines on the basis of a combination of logic and information, fed in. Let’s park these terms for a bit. Turning towards the reality of today’s after-sales service delivery environment, we can already feel the pain of customer complaints regarding the quality and speed at which customers can have even the first conversation with a company’s tele-staff – for which the customer has paid and is legitimately expecting an acceptable service level. Business leaders are therefore challenged not only to keep customers satisfied, but also to absorb the cost of running these tele-services – services which exhibit various areas of improvement. E.g. Know Your Customer (KYC), availability of information, number of rings, waiting time, picking the right option on the interactive voice system. In emerging markets with limited factors for service differentiation, executives need to think more creatively. Since IT systems and communication lines are up 24/7, can we not have an “Intelligent Agent” which can answer service requests and deliver support services to customers 24/7, with no tea-coffee breaks? Truly 24/7 service! Besides reducing pressure on the balance sheet, this “Intelligent Agent” will also help in enhancing the customer satisfaction levels. The agents are able to automatically read customer profiles, products purchased, timelines, earlier service requests and create an almost 360 degrees view of the customer (Note Garbage-In-Garbage-Out). Now, why do we then limit our thinking only to customer support arena, there are several other areas of any sector of the economy (online quotes – insurance, distribution, energy, booking appointments, availability of products, up-sell, cross-sell…) that can be addressed by such “Intelligent Agents”. Now let’s return to technology. This “Intelligent Agent” is born where Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous meet and is named “Chatbot”. And she/he does not drink milk, either! A chatbot (also known as a talkbot, chatterbot, Bot, IM bot, interactive agent, or Artificial Conversational Entity) is a computer program or an artificial intelligence which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods. (Wikipedia) Gartner predicts that by 2021, more than 50% of enterprises will spend more per annum on bots and chatbot creation than traditional mobile app development. There is clearly a shift in the way customers are and will be using mobile devices. Chatbots are predicted to dominate this eco system as it extends the platform for more innovation. No surprise to anyone that every company is either innovating, or wants to innovate. The real differentiator therefore is not whether companies are innovating or not, but the speed at which they are innovating. Chatbots allow you to quickly do more with less! Authored by Avinash Ramtohul, Technology Sales Consulting Leader, African Operations Oracle

How do we do more with less for business using autonomous technologies? This is a key question lingering in the minds of executives who try hard to solve the puzzle. Let us first define and explain...

Marketing

Big Data + Analytics = Irresistible Customer Experiences

In 2013, a research by Walker predicted that by 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the main differentiator. While most organizations and marketers have prioritized customer experience as top business priority for a few years now, they don’t always know how to get customer experience right. Marketers who are delivering optimal customer experience know that data is king. True customer understanding requires collecting, analysing, understanding and using customer data to help deliver personalised experiences. Extreme analytics—analytics driven by context—creates the potential to hyper-personalise these experiences and drive customer loyalty. Natural language processing with analytics running in the background, for example, will make consumers feel that they are receiving a unique personalized experience, even though they may not communicate voice-to-voice or face-to-face with anyone from the company. No matter what device the customer uses to initiate contact, the technology will be in place to translate, interpret, understand behaviours, and anticipate needs. This is extreme analytics in action: using new sources of data to ensure every customer receives a unique and rewarding experience, no matter which channel - human or digital – they choose to use. While big data and data analytics are a part of almost everything we as marketers do today, both are still overhyped and misunderstood. In our hyper-connected world, it’s amazing how disconnected our approaches to serving our customers has become. Many organizations have still not figured out how to create clean, powerful linked data assets. Digital marketers need to be able to leverage data to optimize customer experience in terms of these six key areas:  1.    Unlimited Scale and Flexibility: An analytics solution must be built from the ground up with big data technologies to handle the inevitable scale that Internet of Things (IoT) will demand. 2.    Individual Level intelligence: A unified and intuitive user experience to support completely different tasks, roles and people – making it easy to learn and manage. 3.    Accuracy at Scale: Analytics data must advance beyond approximate trends to an accurate source of digital performance that is trusted by the business for decision making 4.    Cross-Channel Insights: Collect and connect all customer brand engagement regardless of any connected device.  The ability to collect and connect all customer engagement data is key in transforming your marketing from a series of independent interactions with a “visitor” to a single conversation with an “individual.” 5.    Data activation and Openness: Analytics data should be open and available for easy extraction and integration into your marketing ecosystem Strategic data collection and use had the power to create competitive business advantages for your organization. Keep ahead by exploring the five steps to integrate extreme analytics into your customer experience strategy. You’ll find these steps and more within Extreme Analytics Customer Experience with Artificial Intelligence.

In 2013, a research by Walker predicted that by 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the main differentiator. While most organizations and marketers have prioritized customer...

HR

5 Ways Machine Learning Transforms Employee Engagement

In the first of a two-part series, Andy Campbell, HCM Strategy Director at Oracle, explores how machine learning has the potential to transform the employee experience and engagement.   You can’t help but feel some sympathy for machine learning (ML). Too often, it is maligned for being a disruptive threat to employees, automating processes and potentially devouring jobs at an alarming pace.    They need not be alarmed. In truth, ML—whether it’s in the form of natural language processing, conversational agents, or decision support—has a significant role to play in transforming the employee experience, increasing engagement, and improving career progression. So, let’s examine five ways that HCM solutions incorporating ML can positively impact the lifecycle experience of the employee.   1. Performance development   ML can map employees’ career paths and set them up for career progression, providing guidance on the opportunities and actions others in similar positions may have taken to progress within the organization. ML can support employees with customized training and learning recommendations, based on what other candidates have undertaken to be successful—information that a supervisor may not always provide. With ML, organizations can actually democratize learning and development initiatives for each employee at appropriate timelines. ML can also examine past performance trends of individuals, teams, or departments, allowing steps to be taken to improve future outcomes.   2. Remote guidance and learning   Remote guidance is an area where ML can make a marked difference. From innovative, interactive learning to real-life simulated scenarios for skill assessment, ML can provide targeted advice for remote problem solving based on past experiences, and the opportunity to collaborate and share advice. Analytics can also be used to identify areas/personnel where training/reskilling may be necessary or to deliver customized training and development programs for employees.   3. Reducing bias in appraisals and career progression   One of the many challenges for supervisors during performance reviews is to remain impartial. ML can evaluate performance data without any personal bias for the candidate. The tools can remove human prejudices, building a more equitable, diverse, and unbiased workplace.    4. Managing Rewards and Benefits   Benefits and Rewards administration can be tedious, especially in complex, hierarchical organizations. One of the biggest gainers from the use of ML would be this component of employee engagement. For example, ML can help predict which benefits will have the greatest positive impact on the workforce, or how reward strategies correlate with indicators such as performance, leadership effectiveness, or profitability. Modern HCM solutions incorporating ML also enable the seamless integration of innovative employee benefits with traditional incentive packages—creating a novel and compelling employee experience.    5. Streamline and accelerate decision making   By removing the manual ‘number crunching’ and facilitating predictive analytics, ML supports more informed and timely decision making. Unhampered by location and time zones, applying ML can enable a more quantifiable, trusted decision regarding employees, based solely on comprehensive content analysis. Far from being the threat to employees it is often perceived to be, ML has the potential to innovate and transform employee engagement. While it’s important to balance the human factor with technology-enabled solutions, ML moves HCM into a new dimension—one that puts you a step ahead of your competitors.   To learn more, read the Oracle Artificial Intelligence Digibook.

In the first of a two-part series, Andy Campbell, HCM Strategy Director at Oracle, explores how machine learning has the potential to transform the employee experience and engagement.   You can’t help...

Finance

What is the Future of Finance Leadership?

In the digital age, what does the future of finance leadership look like? Today’s CFOs are on high alert, as they need to reimagine their role in direct response to digital disruption, ever-increasing volumes of data, closer stakeholder scrutiny, and ongoing regulatory change. CFOs must use this moment to design a future state for the finance function and define technology’s role within it. It’s widely acknowledged that automation — made possible by the cloud and machine learning, in particular — will eliminate many rote tasks that finance staff currently spend much of their time performing. Account reconciliations, which are often done using spreadsheets, can already be performed automatically in the cloud. In the near future, it’s expected that intelligent process automation can automate the entire financial close, making it an ongoing process where staff only intervenes to manage exceptions.   Does this mean that accounting jobs will soon become obsolete? In our work with professional bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), we’ve found that — while certain tasks will be eliminated — finance professionals with the right skill sets will be needed more than ever.   Becoming Data Gurus “The historical, transactional part of finance is really a commodity, not a competitive advantage,” said CIMA vice president Nick Jackson in a recent webcast. “Part of the investment CFOs should be making is in real-time data, and the other part is in real-time analytics.” Jackson stressed the value of real-time data as a strategic asset, one that finance professionals can understand and analyse to get answers to the organization’s most important questions. “Data alone cannot solve our problems, no matter how good we get at automating and cleaning it. The finance department is perfectly placed to be the human interface needed to make this process work properly.” Because of their training with numbers and mathematical formulae, finance professionals are perfectly positioned to be the “human interface” that interprets the data, makes recommendations, and guides the business forward on its next strategic step. Rather than being made redundant by technology, the explosive growth of data puts the analytical skills of finance professionals at a premium. “There’s always another question to ask,” said Jackson. “It’s evolving the finance function as a business partner role, to interpret what drives the insight from the number that comes out from the report, to what is actually happening within the part of the organisation it relates to. “I believe finance leaders will become change agents for the business,” he adds. “With the tools and people in place, the next key component for driving effective change is how you manage the business data that results.”   Where does the cloud fit in? The ability to effectively manage real-data is where the cloud becomes essential. By leveraging a shared data model across cloud systems — including finance, HR, supply chain and customer experience — organizations gain a single source of truth across the organization, and can build a reliable view of each customer. Once established, a connected cloud delivers innovation across the enterprise on a continuous basis, with new capabilities and best practices rolled out regularly by the cloud provider. This continuous innovation is one of the key benefits of cloud. In a recent Oracle survey, a whopping 85% of respondents cited “Staying current on technology” as the top benefit of finance in the cloud. Leveraging new technology (such as machine learning) to automate and scale people-intensive processes and create new services is much easier when you have immediate access to these capabilities as they evolve.   People, Process and Technology As with any transformation, however, it’s not just about technology. When considering the future of your finance organization, you must consider it hand-in-glove with your organization’s business strategy. Look at the goals of the business first; identify where your organization wants to go, and what skills your finance team will need to support that journey. Then identify the tools, technologies and processes that will help give finance the right answers — as well as automate as many rote tasks as possible, so that your people have more time to focus on what really matters.

In the digital age, what does the future of finance leadership look like? Today’s CFOs are on high alert, as they need to reimagine their role in direct response to digital disruption,...

IT

What CIOs need to know about the 2018 game changers

It is no secret that cloud is a major game changer, acting as a catalyst for the arrival and adoption of a whole host of disruptive new emerging business technologies and models.  Chatbots, artificial intelligence and blockchain promise new opportunities for businesses growth by driving personalized engagements, delivering new sources of revenue, and reducing service and infrastructure costs. With so much change happening so rapidly, what do CIOs need to know about the key emerging technologies as they seek to ensure they successfully support the business? The Artificial intelligence (AI) bubble Humans are being challenged to keep up and make sense of the rapid proliferation of data - across Finance, HR, Sales or Marketing systems or in Operations around systems management and security. While AI promises an answer, serious implementations are currently few and far between; according to McKinsey only 20 percent of AI-aware firms say they are currently adopters of the technology, and as Forrester says in its Predictions 2018: The Honeymoon For AI Is Over report, moving beyond the hype will require hard work around planning, deploying and governing it correctly.   As an alternative, companies should consider the 25 percent of enterprise applications and other cloud tools that we believe will include a custom AI-based capability by 2020[1].  These will allow organisations to take advantage of all the benefits of AI, without having to develop the specialised skills to develop it. Automation, everywhere One of the topics that often comes up in conjunction with AI is automation: Forrester predicts this market will accelerate faster in 2018 as firms look to squeeze performance and insights out of previously commodity operations.   Automation will help organisations to spot performance irregularities and identify security risks in real-time and potentially, entirely remove human error; Expectations are that operations currently experiencing 20,000 human-managed interventions per year to soon fall to just 20 human-managed interventions each year and more than half of all enterprise data will be managed autonomously in the cloud by 2020[2]. Chatbots take over customer support Chatbots have evolved to full conversational interfaces for accessing information and conducting business transactions, and are proving a fantastic tool for enhancing customer service and increasing productivity. With increasingly sophisticated conversational platforms arriving, it is expected that most customer support interactions will be handled by intelligent chatbots by 2020[3]. Blockchain will disrupt, and more than just finance Another disruptive technology force, blockchain, is transforming the global financial industry, amongst others. Already, more than 2,500 new blockchain-related patents have been filed, and its financial impact is predicted to top US$176 billion by 2025[4]. It’s still early days though.  At the end of 2017, Deloitte reported that only 8 percent of 27,000 new blockchain projects that surfaced in the market in 2016 remained active.  Things are changing.  Enterprise class cloud services are arriving and 30 percent of blockchain proof-of-concepts are expected to get approval[5], showing it certainly has the potential to become the disruptive standard in multi-party and complex agreement commerce. Financial services and supply chains will lead the way, followed by healthcare, retail, and the public sector. IoT will finally get integrated Gartner’s technology predictions for 2018 foresaw the proliferation of intelligent objects , driving a ‘shift from stand-alone intelligent things to a swarm of collaborative intelligent things’. While more than 50 billion connected devices are already in circulation today, only 1 percent of IoT data is currently analysed and utilised and the focus is on devices and connectivity—not business outcomes and action[6]. This trend is fast changing. In fact, businesses should be burning with excitement about the opportunities ahead in 2018, with products and tools around technologies such as blockchain, chatbots, and machine learning becoming mature enough for real-world projects.  To learn more about how you can prepare your business for AI, IoT and blockchain -and empower your organization to exploit them now and in the future, read our Transformational Technologies for Today brief[WT1] . You’ll discover how cloud acts as both an enabler and an accelerant and explore Oracle’s capabilities in AI, IoT and blockchain—powerful on their own, but transformational when combined.   [1] http://www.oracle.com/us/solutions/cloud/2018-cloud-predictions-4242085.pdf Page 9 [2] http://www.oracle.com/us/solutions/cloud/2018-cloud-predictions-4242085.pdf Page 4 and 3 [3] http://www.oracle.com/us/solutions/cloud/2018-cloud-predictions-4242085.pdf Page 10 [4] http://www.oracle.com/us/solutions/cloud/2018-cloud-predictions-4242085.pdf - Page 12 [5] http://www.oracle.com/us/solutions/cloud/2018-cloud-predictions-4242085.pdf - Page 12 [6] http://www.oracle.com/us/solutions/cloud/2018-cloud-predictions-4242085.pdf - Page 11    

It is no secret that cloud is a major game changer, acting as a catalyst for the arrival and adoption of a whole host of disruptive new emerging business technologies and models.  Chatbots, artificial...

IT

Collide Technologies to Change Your Business Universe

The word collide conjures up in my mind the 1 billion particles that CERN collides every second at the large Hadron collider in Geneva. A 27km ring of superconducting magnets that speeds up particles to near the speed of light and causes them to collide and hence discover new and amazing things about the universe. It's an example of the incredible ability of humans to strive to learn more about the world that we live in and find new ways to improve ourselves. I loved this concept of colliding things together to try and create something new, as I looked across some of Oracle customers and the amazing things they were building. I noticed that many of the most innovate projects were created by colliding different technologies and business problems together to produce something new. Most of our customers do not have a 27km particle collision machine for their experiments. However, they do have something just as revolutionary and previously unimaginable.They have access to Oracle’s hyper-scale, next-generation cloud platform. A platform that gives businesses access to power that was previously unobtainable and a set of technologies that can be switched on or off at will. These technologies can be collided together to create results that transform the way that businesses operate. For example, what happens when you take Trust and collide it with technologies like Big-data, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and IoT? Customers all over the world are struggling to understand whom to trust. Consumers are demanding that companies selling goods prove where their raw materials come from and that they comply with specific certifications. Leveraging IoT, suppliers and manufacturers are digitising their manufacturing processes and logistics operations; more data is captured about a product's journey than ever before. Blockchain has created a way of storing and sharing this information to improve transparency, traceability and trust. Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, the Group Chairman and CEO of DP World, one of the most significant global logistics companies in the world, said "Supply chain intelligence, blockchain and artificial intelligence will make the global supply chain faster, cheaper and more productive." Oracle is working with DP World to help them transform their industry and give theircustomers unprecedented transparency and trust. Blockchain is becoming a critical enabling technology for them. Continuing with this theme of traceability, Oracle is working with some organic food producers who are using blockchain to record the movements of their produce through the supply chain so they can showcase  to end consumers where it has been and where it came from. As well as trust, customers and fans  are also demanding better service. Many forward-thinking companies are looking to AI to help deliver on these demands. As an example, organisations like the Mutua Madrid Open are building chatbots in partnership with Oracle to help their fans get access to information. The Mutua Madrid Open, one of the leading tennis tournaments in the world held in Madrid between May 4 and 13 this year, launched a chatbot equipped with Artificial Intelligence to speed up communication with tennis fans. The chatbot, a computer program that uses artificial intelligence to maintain natural conversations with users, offers information on the development of the event, players and results, as well as details on services, access and parking. It is also a channel for the sale of tickets and gets discounts on merchandising products. The MatchBot, as the tournament has baptised it, is available in the mobile application of Mutua Madrid Open, as well as on the tournament website. It is also possible to exchange information through Facebook Messenger and Twitter with the direct message system. This innovation makes the Mutua Madrid Open become the first ATP Masters 1000 or WTA Premier tournament to incorporate a chatbot, whose purpose is to enrich the user experience to facilitate at all times the information you are looking for, becoming a virtual assistant to answer all the questions of the fans. Incredible things are happening today as customers take the technologies that we provide and collide them with the hardest problems that their businesses face, allowing them to innovate and access greater value.

The word collide conjures up in my mind the 1 billion particles that CERN collides every second at the large Hadron collider in Geneva. A 27km ring of superconducting magnets that speeds up particles...

Finance

Is technology obsolescence over for finance systems?

They came for the cost reduction. They stayed for the innovation. That’s the key finding of a recent Oracle survey looking at trends in ERP (enterprise resource planning) and EPM (enterprise performance management). In a survey of more than 400 finance and IT leaders, 79 percent of respondents said they have either moved their finance applications to the cloud, or plan to do so over the next two years. The reasons behind the move are primarily economic—including the desire to avoid infrastructure investments (45%) and on-premises upgrades (33%), as well as lower TCO (38%). A strong majority of respondents (63%) achieved the economic benefits they initially set out to attain. But something surprising emerged from the survey results. When asked about the top benefits of ERP in the cloud, an overwhelming 85% of respondents cited, “Staying current on technology”—far outpacing any of the other advantages cited. The ability to keep up with the unprecedented pace of business change—implementing the latest best practices and innovations on a regular basis—is an entirely new phenomenon. In this model, new capabilities are rolled out to the finance function several times a year (similarly to IOS updates with a mixture of compulsory and optional enhancements). In the traditional world of on-premises systems, it is unthinkable to update ERP at such a breakneck pace. Years often pass between upgrades—and with every passing year, the risk of the business falling behind competitors grows, as well as the risk of exposure to security breaches. With cloud, the risk of technology obsolescence drops to zero—putting the business on a more solidly competitive footing. The move to finance cloud applications is the last upgrade you will ever do. And the capabilities available in the cloud today can immediately add more value to the finance function. When asked what they could do in the cloud that they could not do with their on-premises applications, the responses included: Connected enterprise planning Produce full monthly reporting packages within 4 days of month end Easily generate reports that meet customer needs Generate a P&L at the press of a button Emerging Technologies Are Set to Transform Finance The cloud is also the primary delivery mechanism for new and emerging technologies: blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cognitive computing, intelligent process automation, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Finance professionals are exhibiting a keen interest in these technologies. Roughly 4 out of 10 are already exploring these areas—in keeping with their desire for innovation and new capabilities. Many of these emerging technologies fall squarely into the charter of the finance function. For example, blockchain has a number of use cases that could impact finance and the supply chain, while AI and machine learning can detect patterns in huge data sets that a human being could never uncover, potentially reducing and even correcting for material risks. These technologies have the potential to automate routine transaction processing, eliminate manual tasks, and reduce the likelihood of errors. Such automation will free up finance professionals to spend more time providing forward-looking guidance, uncovering and recommending new opportunities to senior management. It’s Not “Cloud First, it’s “Cloud Now” With the benefits clearer than ever, finance in the cloud has become the new standard for the office of finance. The discussion is no longer about when to make the move. It’s now. As the pace of business change accelerates, finance leaders recognize that the technology of the past won’t help them keep up with the competition. Moving to the cloud is an opportunity for companies to re-invent and transform their business processes. With the regular cadence of innovation delivered by the cloud, and zero risk of technology obsolescence, finance leaders will be well positioned to help build the business of tomorrow, today. Learn the top ERP trends you need to know.  

They came for the cost reduction. They stayed for the innovation. That’s the key finding of a recent Oracle survey looking at trends in ERP (enterprise resource planning) and EPM (enterprise...

Marketing

The Marketing Case for A Chief Data Officer

Our approaches to serving customers have become so disconnected that it’s stunning. There’s a real opportunity for companies to gain a competitive advantage by providing superior customer experiences. They can do this by taking a more strategic approach to how they manage their data assets. Failure to do this risks damaged reputations, revenues and hinders the ability to succeed in new markets. The role of data within organizations must change from being departmentally siloed, to being centrally managed. Breaking down these siloes is more of an organizational challenge than a technical one, requiring a data strategy, the correct level of ownership, and corporate governance. This means having a C-level supported, organization-wide understanding of the customer, broad executive level ownership, and a well-managed change control process to ensure ongoing data quality and trust in the data across the organization. Capitalizing on your data requires you to re-orient the whole organization around the customer, and likewise, how your customer interacts with your brand throughout the entire customer journey. It’s only at this point that you can do the kind of analysis that generates genuine insights and can drive personalized customer experiences.  Forward-thinking organizations will add advanced natural language processing to their analytics strategy to translate actions, interpret behavior, and anticipate needs – even if it’s the first contact between the customer and the business. This is extreme analytics in action: using new sources of data to ensure every customer receives a unique and rewarding experience, no matter which channel - human or digital – they choose to use. CX = The Case for a Chief Data Officer Data-centric use cases mainly focus on customer acquisition, whether increased website visitors, optimized purchase funnels, targeted remarketing programs or personalized advertising. This only scratches the surface. Data can be used to impact every touchpoint for the customer beyond sales and marketing, including customer support, service and loyalty. Once data is connected to form deep meaningful customer intelligence, you use that insight to provide relevant and seamless customer experiences (CX). These are the opportunities waiting for companies that think more broadly about their data assets. Companies that provide CX leadership are creating a new position called the Chief Data Officer. I consider it more of a persona than a job title. However you define it, this person is responsible for breaking down data siloes and figuring out what it means to turn data into a competitive, proprietary business asset. Dynamics Driving Change – Get on or Get Out of the Way! Data as a business asset is hardly new.  So, what’s the urgency to accelerate this?  Customers demand highly relevant, contextual experiences: Consumers are savvy, well informed, and demand top-notch, relevant brand experiences. This challenges brands to better understand the discreet needs of individuals and to use that intelligence to deliver the most personalized experiences possible. Enterprises that embrace a data-driven culture by harnessing all data at every opportunity in order to differentiate itself across the complete customer experience will be rewarded by their customers. Channel proliferation and the Internet of Things (IoT): The volume of digital interactions and their complexity keeps growing. The way customers engage with your brand almost always involves a variety of channels and devices. IoT expands the definition of a digital touchpoint beyond a human to any network-enabled object. Companies must rethink how to leverage all this new data to drive real-time decisions and avoid the creation of more data siloes. Data security concerns: A data breach can immediately destroy a brand’s reputation. As software is increasingly delivered as a service over the cloud, and behavioral data volumes grow and fragment, data security rises to the top of executives’ priorities. Companies must re-consider how they manage their customer intelligence with the clear recognition that the data chain is only as strong as its weakest link. When data is considered a business asset, it has the power to create competitive business advantages for your organization. It will require a cultural shift for many organizations, but now is the time to start. The alternative is to be left behind and lose your most valuable customers to your competitors. Stay ahead by exploring the five steps to integrate extreme analytics into your customer experience strategy.  *This article originally appeared on the Oracle Customer Experience blog  

Our approaches to serving customers have become so disconnected that it’s stunning. There’s a real opportunity for companies to gain a competitive advantage by providing superior customer experiences....

HR

The Changing Role of HR in an AI World

The Changing Role of HR in an AI World   We live in an era where there’s perhaps more focus than ever on how an organization treats its employees. Stories about gender-based pay gaps, lack of diversity, and sexual harassment are front-page news around the world. The ensuing outrage from stockholders and the public have pummeled share prices and reputations, with more than a few top executives going from C-suite to unemployment line as a result.   If there were ever a time when HR leaders needed to be more actively involved at the highest levels of the enterprise, it’s now. The value that a great HR executive can bring to an organization is enormous, from preventing that loss of reputation to boosting worker engagement and productivity, to being the moral compass of an organization.   To do that effectively, HR executives will need to develop a deep understanding of technology, both in terms of how it’s changing the workplace, and in how it is changing the nature of the HR function itself.   Technology as a Workplace Driver   Technology is pervasive in everyday life, and that creates expectations on the part of employees that they will have the same convenience and flexibility with technology in the workplace. This isn’t just about ease of use and mobility, either: They expect to have a strong social component as well that lets them see, share, like, innovate, and engage across organization, time and distance.    Much of the time, though, the technology in the workplace fails to measure up to what employees own and use themselves. When people find themselves using technology they find limiting, and that cuts off that constant social contact, it can lead to frustration and demands for companies to rethink workplace technology.   Given the competition for the best employees, it’s important for both retention and productivity for executives to listen to those demands. After all, these technologies are challenging our established norms engagement, and are the key to making a workplace less hierarchical, more open, and thus more likely to be innovative. HR is the channel for that message to reach executives, along with strong counsel on how to meet those demands (and the consequences for not doing so).   At the same time, some of the cutting-edge technology that’s becoming part of the workplace also creates uncertainty and stress for employees. If you think about what’s going on with artificial intelligence, with robotics, and how those will change the workplace and people’s jobs, you can see why employees would be concerned. They are asking themselves if there will be a place for them in that workplace, how they should prepare for those changes.   Again, the place workers (and their managers) will expect to provide those answers is HR. That means having a solid understanding of the implications of this technology and provide information and guidance to employees.    Technology as a Value Tool   It’s just as important for HR to have the technology it needs to provide the data and insights that will help leaders understand what’s happening with the workforce and how to increase performance.   It’s no longer enough to have a “gut feel” about how things are going – just like other parts of the organization, HR needs to be data led. There are opportunities to gain insights from internal company data as well as by mining things like social media posts, using Oracle’s Human Capital Management products. We’re applying our long expertise in technology as well as working with partners to deve lop specific tools to help develop, sustain and measure the productivity of great employees.   Because this is becoming a data-driven function, HR directors need to build great relationships with people who know technology in their organizations, and with experts outside as well. They need to have conversations with their peers in IT and operations, so that decisions about technology across the organization are made in ways that ensure HR’s needs are included. In short, the skills an HR director needs are changing, and if you don’t understand data, you’re in the wrong job.    There’s another powerful reason for HR leaders to build those relationships and have those conversations, especially with peers in marketing. Why? Marketing is in the business of listening to customers and using data to do it. HR likewise needs to be in the business of listening to employees and learn how to use data for the purpose – and be as innovative and challenging in what they offer to employees as marketing is for customers.   Maintaining the Moral Compass   Beyond its role in recruitment, retention, and engagement – or, perhaps more accurately, because of this role -- HR is the natural provider of the moral compass at the board level.    HR leaders are in a position (and have the obligation) to  speak truth to power, and always to be conscious of, consider, and raise issues of ethical behavior. Again, this requires a deep understanding of and ability to articulate the impact of technology on an organization and particularly its people – and asking hard questions about what data we are capturing and how we use it.   Technology can enable companies to monitor productivity with incredible precision, tracking activities to the second. Just because that is possible, though, doesn’t mean that it is either desirable or humane. Do we really want, for example, to be measuring how long people take for toilet breaks and then using that as part of measuring their productivity or value to the organization? While flexible work arrangements are good for the employee and their work- life balance, zero- hour or on-call only contracts are potentially exploitative – how do you provide ethical flexibility? As we put more robotic devices into place, how do we make sure that how and where we do so are not reinforcing unconscious bias?    Given the importance of HR to keep the organization running efficiently and effectively – and with the tools and data to make the right decisions and demonstrate value -- HR directors are now some of the most vital people in the C-suite. With a deeper understanding of data, they can make huge contributions to creating and maintaining a productive and ethical workplace.

The Changing Role of HR in an AI World   We live in an era where there’s perhaps more focus than ever on how an organization treats its employees. Stories about gender-based pay gaps, lack of diversity,...