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Resources and guidance for supporting employees, customers, and partners during this unprecedented health crisis.

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How has the pandemic changed the trajectory of 5G?

The impact of COVID-19 on 5G pushes us to adjust our plans according to where we are today, not where we were yesterday. It’s no secret that telcos around the world did an absolutely fantastic job in keeping us all connected, productive and entertained through the crisis. Generally, their networks worked flawlessly even though this event crept up on them without any warning. But rather than flaunt the success, it seems they are going on their humble way. Why? Now, suspended in time as we are, there are choices to be made. Businesses of all types need to adapt and quickly. Change isn't optional. They are at an inflection point where they can revert back or galvanize real, meaningful change in terms of business models, services, and monetization. As an industry, we can no longer say “we need five years to exact real change or transformation.” Now is the time because people, enterprises, societies are primed for digital transformation, now. I am disappointed so many of the 5G discussions today mirror those from seven months ago. How can that be, since this event has changed the trajectory for 5G? COVID-19 has triggered an evolution in our collective thinking, with all of us more aware of the interdependencies among us as people, as communities, as nations in tackling and responding to this challenge. We have reconsidered what really matters most to us— the way we work, the way we learn, the way we connect with our friends and loved ones. For these reasons, 5G has to be touted as a revolution in telecommunications and not just because of its speed, lower latency, or broadband capabilities —although these in themselves are game changers — but rather because of the Cloud and the eSim factor. The application, distribution and multiplicity of uses for eSims will be the enabler of the IoT explosion, and the capability of 5G to manage all of this is the real revolution. The possibilities are boundless and there appears to be no shortage of ideas to exploit the 5G capabilities. For telcos, it will mean letting go of some past obstacles to forge ahead. Yes, your OSS/BSS have hamstrung you; yes, people’s mindsets weren’t ready yet. Sure, enterprises didn’t believe in new use cases. But now they do! We all need what only you can offer, and you have the brainpower to do as the scientific community is in rallying to condense 10 years of vaccine development into perhaps one year. Rather than look at 5G through a pre-crisis lens, we have to realize the use cases we thought would lead the way no longer matter as much, and the use cases we thought would trail might be the ones that lead. Our perspectives have to truly change. Consider how pre-crisis we thought voice was “dying,” and now it’s reborn as a comfort app, helping all of us to connect in a more human way during this era of physical distancing. Voice is up with call volumes increasing about 25 percent and call durations about 33 percent. As a result, operators are no longer looking to reduce their investment in fixed line, but rather to maintain and perhaps even grow it. As people work, learn, and seek entertainment at home, they grow more dependent on fixed lines, and the operators’ networks have unquestionably been reliable, secure and sustainable throughout. Even as traffic patterns have changed, networks have worked remarkably well, with traffic distribution spread much more evenly throughout the day from the evening peaks, making much more efficient use of network resources. Pre-crisis, we also thought enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) would be a fixed mobile replacement, long predicted to be an early deployment strategy for 5G. But the past few months shows this is unlikely to be the focus, in the short term at least. The major questions are “Will we return to working and learning as we did before? Will we carry on as we are now? Or, will we live a hybrid of both? I suspect the answer is the latter. We will someday go back to seeing large crowds of people, packed on trains, streaming their favorite shows, music or podcasts on their afternoon commutes from work. And drivers will once again need real-time congestion updates in bumper-to-bumper traffic. But for now, the more important use cases for 5G and IoT will have to do with other things, such as the logistics for the transport of goods during periods when manufacturers and factories are slowed or limited by employees sheltering in place. Or perhaps IoT and smart city use cases that have more to do with the delivery of healthcare services, public safety and smart utilities rather than traffic congestion management or in-car entertainment. Online medicine will also continue to grow during the pandemic, and as wearables like smart watches evolve to provide personal health information, 5G will become the medium to collect, analyze and direct pertinent information to the medical world. Will telcos step up to the plate and offer SLAs to consumers who are working from home, or who are steeped in virtual learning from home. This is a must-have in our new normal, as “the internet was down” will become the new “dog-ate-my-homework” and enterprises and consumers alike will want there to be some accountability and be willing to pay for it. For enterprises, 5G’s impact may shift more toward security and network management amid more widely dispersed workforces and complex digital ecosystems, driving the early use of edge computing to support real-time applications like augmented reality (AR) and IoT-connected sensors. Enterprises will also consider how the combination of 5G-enabled networks, collaborative platforms and applications will continue to improve not only their employees’ and customers’ lives despite disruption, but the planet as a whole. Already they see a profound impact on the measurement, monitoring and control of CO2 emissions, wildlife forest management, sea levels, weather, and drinking water. What can 5G in the context of our “new normal” truly accomplish? Other questions to ask revolve around customers’ changing locations. Borderless homes and offices are freeing certain demographics of people to move away from densely populated locations toward the suburbs and even rural areas. Should this shift change where 5G investment is concentrated, or the timing of it? 5G’s ability to improve mobile broadband and support the IoT made it an ideal investment for densely populated cities and urban settings where small cells could be deployed. But if the people and businesses telcos initially wanted to target with 5G move out to areas covered by 4G, what should they do? How will demographic shifts affect the rightful demand for universal coverage? As these questions are asked, telcos will have to reassess network configurations, as well as the spectrum and sites needed to meet consumer and enterprise connectivity demands. Similarly, enterprises will have to reassess what they’ll need from networks and also from the communications-driven tools on which they rely to keep their employees productive and service outcomes positive. And last but not least, we must all recognize that 5G networks have become as essential as water and electricity to global social and economic development. Broadband networks support public health and safety, crisis management, financial markets, supply chains, and so much more. As networks become national assets, what impact will there be on competition, regulation and net neutrality?  Also, how can we address the digital divide, particularly with the aforementioned demographic shift from cities to suburbs and rural areas so that everyone has access to the benefits of 5G technology. These are just some of the questions operators and all of us in the industry should be asking when determining how the path toward 5G should change. The answers to these questions will guide our evolution within the revolution, informing decisions about where 5G networks will be needed, and what products and services should ride on top of those networks to help people keep in touch with loved ones and to optimally work, learn and thrive in increasingly virtual settings. If 4G is any indication—not considered extraordinary until the transformation happened on top of it from the likes of Uber and YouTube—there is so much we can do with 5G during these historic and unprecedented times. There is tremendous opportunity to exact meaningful change in the areas that matter most to all of us. We are in the middle of a true telecommunications transformation, beyond the vague concept that had been discussed for years in numerous papers and endless conferences. The crisis has imposed this transformation on the industry and so far, it’s been superbly handled on the fly. But now we must accelerate the pace of this imposed transformation and reevaluate with urgency the network strategies and application strategies, across the OSS/BSS world, to reflect this rapid change toward the new digital world. If we don’t, someone else will. Please feel free comment below as I want to hear people’s thoughts and start a conversation on this. Also, be sure to watch my recent discussion at 5G Realised with CTOs Brendan O’Reilly (O2 UK), Howard Watson (BT) and Ibrahim Gedeon (Telus).  

The impact of COVID-19 on 5G pushes us to adjust our plans according to where we are today, not where we were yesterday. It’s no secret that telcos around the world did an absolutely fantastic job in...

How we pivoted to support the elderly when they were most vulnerable

By Hector Alexander, Co-Founder and COO at Yokeru How AI calls can support the most vulnerable Lockdown changed everything. The restrictions placed on vulnerable people in response to Covid-19 has hurried the integration of technology and care. When we started Yokeru a year ago, the world was a different place - and the adoption of tech into care services was, while still happening, slow and steady. Now it's blisteringly fast. We launched Yokeru to support vulnerable individuals, and in March this year we saw the disruptive impact strict societal changes would have on the most vulnerable. It became immediately apparent that AI calls would be part of the solution. It's true; great technology can enable human connection; it shouldn't to replace humans altogether. So why then was our shielded mother only communicated with via letters? And why was she responsible for reaching out - often too overwhelmed council services - if she needed support? We needed to find a better way that was both fast to implement and, even better, used existing communication infrastructure. We thought creatively about how best to connect digitally excluded people, without visiting them at home. It was at this point that we began to appreciate that we would need to partner with the right people. We needed the best expertise and support; fast. This little detail would end up making a big difference. Supporting the digitally excluded It became more important than ever to maintain connections to the most vulnerable people in our communities. It was vital to coordinate relief efforts despite reduced physical interaction, and notwithstanding local authorities limited time and resource availability. The result was an AI-powered call centre that makes AI calls. These AI calls helped local authorities identify potentially at-risk people during the outbreak – those that required medicine, groceries, or were struggling with loneliness, for example. The small gesture of checking in on people - understanding their needs, anxieties and fears, and making them feel connected to the resources that could help - has made a big difference during the lockdown. However, as a small start-up, we needed expertise and the ability to scale-up fast. Oracle helped to make this happen. With our implementation of Oracle Digital Assistant and Oracle Autonomous Database, we rapidly developed a system that has been rolled out in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, monitoring 9,000 vulnerable people. The platform freed-up 100 working days for staff to focus on those identified with the most need. The most significant factor in successfully helping Hammersmith and Fulham was the speed in which Oracle enabled us to get up and running. The most vulnerable in our society didn't have time to wait for a lengthy, complicated implementation of cloud technology. They needed help immediately, and together we made it happen. The great human connector In these trying times, it's more important than ever to support one another and care for the most vulnerable among us. Through the partnership with Oracle, we have been able to create a lifeline for so many digitally excluded people. Although this year has proved the most difficult for many, the need for connection will always be there. Moving forward, as we continue to utilise technology as the great human connector we should remember that it is often the little things – a short phone call, for example – that can make the most significant impact.

By Hector Alexander, Co-Founder and COO at Yokeru How AI calls can support the most vulnerable Lockdown changed everything. The restrictions placed on vulnerable people in response to Covid-19 has...

Tips for Building a Resilient Supply Chain

Recent political and social upheavals have spotlighted the fragilities of supply networks and magnified some of the instabilities. Here are some strategies to help enterprises build a more resilient supply chain to navigate through uncertainty. As a recent Accenture study reveals , 94% of Fortune 1000 companies are experiencing supply chain disruptions because of Covid-19 and 75% of the companies have experienced a negative impact on their business. Discussing our upcoming webinar on how to achieve higher supply chain efficiency through disruptive technology, Francesco Cuccia, Strategy & Consulting SCM, Accenture Switzerland, confirmed "This is not a typical risk event. The scale of the impact eclipses anything most supply chain leaders will have anticipated. The speed of the escalation requires continuous end-to-end assessment, optimization and monitoring. Companies need to respond rapidly and confidently to shape and execute a short-term tactical plan that will mitigate the risks to human health and protect the functioning of global supply chains. In doing so, strong data and analytics capabilities are crucial in understanding complexity, anticipating potential disruption, and quickly developing a response.” Build a resilient and agile supply chain Companies are focusing on adaptability, speed, risk reduction, and sustainability whilst adopting more flexible sourcing and distribution strategies as regionalization has become a trend. A good example is Oracle, which has migrated part of its multi-billion-dollar manufacturing operations from China to Texas. Organizations will need to realign operations and supply chains to thrive in this new reality. They will need to securely support remote workers, for instance, and learn to engage with customers in new – often virtual – ways. Omnichannel ordering and fulfillment will help provide alternate pathways to work through unforeseen bottlenecks. Emerging technologies and methods will underpin the new era of resiliency. What-if business scenario modeling in the cloud will help companies choose from available courses of action amid an ever-changing market landscape, factoring in variables like costs, risk, and growth. New technologies such as blockchain can connect people across supply networks, locking in the trust companies require to negotiate risk-laden trading environments. Plan (and execute) continuously Aligning plans with customer demand will continue to make sense, but to stay nimble in the face of rapid change, companies will need to update forecasts and strategies almost continuously. This will call for a deeper level of insight and collaboration among trading partners and suppliers – as well as among company planners themselves. Drawing from a single set of enterprise data in the cloud, companies now have the ability to continuously plan, forecast, close the books, and adjust course with unprecedented speed and precision. Planners are harnessing new technologies to meet potential disruptions head-on. With AI, machine learning, and predictive intelligence, companies can intelligently anticipate and plan for what comes next. Predictions from machine learning can help guide the planning process, providing recommendations and “guided resolutions” for optimizing supply chains. Oracle’s Planning Advisor relies on predictive and cognitive technologies to take the guesswork out of planning decisions and save planners the burden of manually culling data and spotting patterns. These and other advanced technologies like digital assistants are making humans smarter and the planning and decision-making process faster and more efficient. Innovate (and scale) faster It is now crucial to bring new products to market faster, and we are seeing companies innovating and flexing in record time. Car manufacturers are pivoting to build ventilators. Pharmaceuticals are quickly shifting research programs to find COVID-19 vaccines. And retailers are finding ways to virtually engage and sell to customers. Accelerating innovation requires an integrated view of the product lifecycle, from ideation to commercialization. The days when companies ran product development and supply-chain planning as separate functions are coming to an end. The cloud helps companies innovate faster by providing ongoing access to fresh capabilities. In order to build brand loyalty and enable consumers to make conscious choices, Retraced is using the Oracle Blockchain Platform to verify the authenticity and responsible sourcing for CANO handmade Mexican huaraches. Oracle Transportation Management and Oracle Warehouse Management help Mazda Motor Logistics map its entire supply chain. Thommen-Furler AG specializes in chemical and lubricant distribution, environmental technology, and the disposal and recycling of industrial waste. Today, the company relies on Oracle solutions for all business processes, from procurement to warehouse management, planning and sales to logistics and finance. This means that they have been able to increase efficiency and customer centricity. Mazda Motor logistics are able to measure KPIs for their European distribution center and their regional warehouses by combining Oracle Transportation Management with Oracle Business Intelligence. This allows them to compare the performance of their warehouses in the same way, with the same KPIs. Gain total visibility (and trust) Agility requires rapid access to all the information and insights in order to make the right choices in the most complex operating environments. Access to a unified data model across business functions helps enormously in this effort, providing planners with the multi-tiered visibility that’s key to deciding where to source materials, make products, and deliver goods. The single source of truth also gives companies confidence in their what-if scenarios so they can plan for multiple outcomes. Global operating visibility enables trading partners to work together with less friction and build trusting relationships. New blockchain-based applications, such as Oracle Intelligent Track and Trace, takes visibility a step further, allowing companies to monitor the flow of goods and services between enterprises down to individual lots or items. The technology can be integrated with every link in the supply chain to cement trust and speed transactions between business partners as well as consumers who increasingly demand full traceability of the products they buy. Build in sustainability Every supply chain has its environmental and social consequences. From the carbon emissions of transportation networks, to the industrial waste from factories, to the ethics practiced by suppliers, all the issues surrounding sustainability do not go away during times of global disruption. Indeed, sustainable supply chain practices are even more relevant in a world where resources may be harder to come by. The best strategy is to embed principles of sustainability in your supply chain, using them to guide decisions ranging from product design and factory floor configuration to sourcing and logistics. Companies like U.S. food processor LiDestri is doing just that, leveraging cloud-planning solutions to cut food waste in half and trace ingredients from the field to the individual jar. It’s proving what more companies are discovering: that sustainability and a healthy bottom line are perfectly compatible – even in the toughest of times. Learn more about customers who have moved their supply chain operations to the cloud.

Recent political and social upheavals have spotlighted the fragilities of supply networks and magnified some of the instabilities. Here are some strategies to help enterprises build a more resilient...

How I Fell in Love with My Cable Company in the Time of COVID-19

I have a confession. I’ve fallen in love with my cable company. Over the last six months, I’ve become increasingly dependent on my internet connection. It’s become absolutely fundamental to my work-from-home, social-distanced existence. Without my WiFi, I couldn’t work, given that my office is now in my home. And if I couldn’t work, I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills and buy food. Without my WiFi, I couldn’t watch all of those shows and documentaries everyone is talking about around the proverbial Zoom water cooler every Monday morning (although did we all really need to watch Tiger King?). Like any good love story, though, our relationship had a moment of doubt. When my cable company sent me a letter and an email to say that my modem would be proactively disabled on July 16, I panicked. To replace the old modem, they would send a new one that I would self-install. I began checking my mail daily for the package. As the days ticked by and I hadn’t received my modem, I started to worry. Let the affair begin As July 16 came and went, I couldn’t wait any longer. I reached out to their service team across every digital channel I could think of. I went to the website and engaged with the virtual assistant and scrolled through their knowledge base. I only found general information that wasn’t specific to my case. So, unwilling to pick up the phone (because who really wants to use the phone?), I went to the social sphere and direct messaged them on Twitter. And wouldn’t you know it, within minutes, I had a response. The rep confirmed that my package had been shipped on July 2, and they had emailed me with the tracking number. Something was obviously amiss, but I couldn’t go back and forth endlessly knowing that impending doom was near because my modem was going to be disabled and my virtual world would come crashing down any moment. Understanding the urgency of the situation, the cable company’s Twitter rep suggested they send a field technician to install the new modem free of charge that very afternoon. BINGO! I was given a one-hour service window. As the appointment time approached, I received a text message with a link to track my technician. The app showed an estimate of how long it would be until the technician arrived. It also had a map so I could watch in real-time as he got closer to my home. It was genius. Lo and behold, the technician arrived at the top of my one-hour service window, armed and ready with my new modem in hand. Bet you didn’t see that plot twist coming. Within 20 minutes of his arrival, I was back up and running with my new trusty modem. No downtime…no waiting…no disconnection from the outside world. I could watch Tiger King on repeat, if I wanted. Instead, I celebrated that night by streaming Hamilton for the third time. What are you streaming now? Learn more about Oracle Field Service.

I have a confession. I’ve fallen in love with my cable company. Over the last six months, I’ve become increasingly dependent on my internet connection. It’s become absolutely fundamental to...

How Institutions are Building Resiliency in Higher Ed’s "New Normal"

People often say that the higher education industry is change-resistant, whether that be in terms of business operations, teaching models, or the adoption of new technologies. But what happens when a sudden, major event like the COVID-19 pandemic necessitates a dramatic alternation? How did schools carry out the large-scale shift to virtual operations – not in the technology and tools they use, but their workforce culture? How are schools managing these changes now, and how are they planning for the fall semester and beyond? We explored these questions in our August 2020 webinar, Building Resiliency in Higher Ed’s New Normal, where Nicole Engelbert, Oracle’s VP of Higher Education Development, spoke with leaders from three Oracle Cloud schools: Jo Ellen DiNucci, Boise State University’s AVP of Finance and Administration; Cheryl Gochis, CHRO of Baylor University; and Ellen Law, Rutgers University’s AVP of OIT Enterprise Application Services. Surveying the webinar’s attendees, we found that most schools were somewhat equipped to manage a crisis on the scale of COVID-19. 53% felt their institutions were “prepared enough to get there in an orderly way,” while 32% found they experienced some shortcomings, and “learned a lot about where they need to focus in the future.” Only 11% of respondents felt their institutions were “exceptionally well-prepared” to handle the impact of the pandemic. But throughout the webinar, a common thread emerged: the determination of each institution to increase their resilience and agility to meet their staff and students’ needs. A modern cloud platform played a key role in helping these institutions move to virtual operations.  In fact, Baylor was in the middle of their Ignite (their Oracle Cloud HR and ERP) implementation this spring – and succeeded in hitting their targeted go-live date of June 1. Having to migrate their staff to remote working operations proved tricky, as their previous systems lacked easily accessible and accurate data. “The amount of steps it took us just to access normal data that was correct was incredible,” says Cheryl Gochis of Baylor. “When we were working to pull some of those things together, I think it motivated my team [and showed them] we need Ignite more than we’d ever needed Ignite before. They were ready to do whatever it took to get to go-live.” One of the most interesting takeaways was how these schools’ cloud implementations had prepared them for many of the challenges stemming from COVID-19: collaborating across multiple departments, managing large-scale communications, and perhaps most of all, acclimating to the rapid pace of change. “Our campus, after being live [on Oracle Cloud ERP] for four years, is now used to constant quarterly improvements,” Jo Ellen DiNucci of BSU says. “We’ve refocused our culture from upgrading every ten years to quarterly enhancements. [Our university is] not so married to their business processes; they trust that we’re going to [give them] something better than what they have today. It really facilitated adaptation that probably wouldn’t have existed for us four years ago.” Nonetheless, these leaders stressed their transition to virtual operations would not have been nearly as successful without investment in their staff and their cross-departmental relationships. Thanks to the Ignite implementation, Gochis says that “luckily finance, IT, and HR had locked arms for a long time before [the pandemic], and we’d developed relationships where we could give each other very straight feedback and help each other understand the different contexts we were in. and that was a great benefit.” To hear more from these schools about their communications strategies, their plans to support a remote workforce in the future, and how Baylor’s Ignite project included a fun tie-in to NBC’s The Office, click here to access the recording.

People often say that the higher education industry is change-resistant, whether that be in terms of business operations, teaching models, or the adoption of new technologies. But what happens when a...

How I Fell in Love with My Cable Company in the Time of COVID-19

I have a confession. I’ve fallen in love with my cable company. Over the last six months, I’ve become increasingly dependent on my internet connection. It’s become absolutely fundamental to my work-from-home, social-distanced existence. Without my WiFi, I couldn’t work, given that my office is now in my home. And if I couldn’t work, I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills and buy food. Without my WiFi, I couldn’t watch all of those shows and documentaries everyone is talking about around the proverbial Zoom water cooler every Monday morning (although did we all really need to watch Tiger King?). Like any good love story, though, our relationship had a moment of doubt. When my cable company sent me a letter and an email to say that my modem would be proactively disabled on July 16, I panicked. To replace the old modem, they would send a new one that I would self-install. I began checking my mail daily for the package. As the days ticked by and I hadn’t received my modem, I started to worry. Let the affair begin As July 16 came and went, I couldn’t wait any longer. I reached out to their service team across every digital channel I could think of. I went to the website and engaged with the virtual assistant and scrolled through their knowledge base. I only found general information that wasn’t specific to my case. So, unwilling to pick up the phone (because who really wants to use the phone?), I went to the social sphere and direct messaged them on Twitter. And wouldn’t you know it, within minutes, I had a response. The rep confirmed that my package had been shipped on July 2, and they had emailed me with the tracking number. Something was obviously amiss, but I couldn’t go back and forth endlessly knowing that impending doom was near because my modem was going to be disabled and my virtual world would come crashing down any moment. Understanding the urgency of the situation, the cable company’s Twitter rep suggested they send a field technician to install the new modem free of charge that very afternoon. BINGO! I was given a one-hour service window. As the appointment time approached, I received a text message with a link to track my technician. The app showed an estimate of how long it would be until the technician arrived. It also had a map so I could watch in real-time as he got closer to my home. It was genius. Lo and behold, the technician arrived at the top of my one-hour service window, armed and ready with my new modem in hand. Bet you didn’t see that plot twist coming. Within 20 minutes of his arrival, I was back up and running with my new trusty modem. No downtime…no waiting…no disconnection from the outside world. I could watch Tiger King on repeat, if I wanted. Instead, I celebrated that night by streaming Hamilton for the third time. What are you streaming now? Learn more about Oracle Field Service.

I have a confession. I’ve fallen in love with my cable company. Over the last six months, I’ve become increasingly dependent on my internet connection. It’s become absolutely fundamental to...

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...

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 –...

Oracle Enhances Oracle Digital Assistant with Multilingual Capabilities

New conversational AI capabilities enable customers to interact via channel of their of choice across the enterprise By Suhas Uliyar, Vice President, AI and Digital Assistant, Oracle   Call them chatbots, virtual assistants, or simply bots. Whatever the name, AI-powered conversational interfaces are becoming mainstream staples for consumers and enterprise alike. In fact, leading analyst firm Gartner believes that “by 2022, 70 percent of white collar workers will interact with conversational platforms on a daily basis.”1 When Oracle unveiled its chatbot platform at OpenWorld 2016, it helped set the pace for automation in the enterprise. Automation is a means for increasing scale and efficiency and accelerating efforts to digital – and considering that recent global events and challenges have forced a restructuring of how we work, AI and digital assistants are fundamental to that transformation. Oracle Digital Assistant has been solving the needs of the enterprise since 2016, and analyst firm Omdia recently noted, “By offering full integration with its software as a service (SaaS) applications, Oracle made it exponentially easier for end users to command and control the capabilities of these applications.”2 Today we are announcing a new set of updates to enhance the multilingual capabilities of Oracle Digital Assistant. These features are helping customers such as Loyola University of Chicago and communications startup Yokeru provide their users with the information they need through the channel of their choice. The new features include: New Deep Learning Models: Customers can leverage the power of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure’s native GPU and CPU architecture to improve the ability to distinguish nuances in customer queries, such as: Similar vs. Unrelated phrases: “Can I get some flatbread?” vs. “Can I get some flowers?” Additional context within long sentences: “I have a large party later this afternoon, and I have several guests coming over. I’d like to order some large pizzas.” Closely related sentences: “I want to cancel my order” vs. “Why was my order cancelled?” Distinguishing names that sound like locations: “When will Devon Arlington come to Stratford-upon-Avon?” or “Find Paris Hilton from the Paris office”  Distinguishing number vs. currency: “Lunch with 3 for 60 bucks” Colloquial terms: “I have a budget for 20M bucks” (colloquial usage) Currency formats: “Please add a tip for 2,50 €” (different currency formats) Versatile Data Shapes: Customers can use both large as well as small datasets to train their skills without concern that an imbalance would impact the NLU performance. Custom Domain Vocabulary: Customers can expand the assistants understanding to their own custom domain vocabulary. Data Manufacturing Pipeline: Data is critical to achieving high accuracy in deep learning models. The data manufacturing pipeline provides a cohesive set of tools providing all stakeholders, from technical to line-of-business, the ability to generate, refine, curate, and evaluate conversational data. Combining human sourced intelligence with advanced machine learning delivers better, more nuanced results that only humans can offer. Native Multilingual: With Native Multilingual NLU, customers can add training data in different languages, eliminating the need for external translation services to understand users who do not speak English – and customers can provide multilingual outputs directly using resource bundles. Key Phrase word clouds and Multilingual retrainer: Digital Assistant now features intent and key phrase clouds to help business analysts quickly understand common themes of engagements. The business analyst can quickly drill down into the details of a specific phrase. Since its introduction, Oracle Digital Assistant has offered valuable features and capabilities, including: Digital assistants for FAQs: When considering B2C call centers and B2E help desk, it’s easy to see how a bot can field common incoming questions and requests, providing customers the satisfaction of an instant response 24/7, while offloading staffing resources to work on other tasks. Automated bot-to-agent transfer: Oracle Digital Assistant offers prebuilt integration to Oracle Service Cloud, offering a seamless experience for customers during handoff to a live agent, while providing agents historical information about the recent customer engagement. Enterprise assistant skills: From cloud applications such as Oracle Cloud ERP, Oracle Cloud HCM, and Oracle Cloud CX to on-premises applications like PeopleSoft and JD Edwards, Oracle teams have developed prebuilt assistant skills and templates to meet customer demand. Popular conversational channels: With support for well-known smart speakers to popular text-based channels including SMS, WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook Messenger – plus collaboration tools like Slack and Teams – Oracle Digital Assistant is ready. Oracle Voice: Oracle invested in its own AI-powered voice capabilities bringing together an end-to-end, secure, and private solution (GDPR, PII), while providing a customizable framework to support terminology that is unique to different industries and businesses.  One digital assistant: Oracle Digital Assistant can unify all assistant skills into one digital assistant, making it easy for users to interact with multiple systems from one conversation. Conversations are contextual and personalized to individual users and roles. Chatbots and conversational AI are quickly becoming integral tools for enterprise communication and information sharing, in addition to automating traditionally manual tasks. With the new updates to Oracle Digital Assistant, we are delivering the innovative features users are seeking – such as multilingual capabilities – to further weave digital assistants into the fabric of the enterprise. As a result, customers are able to offer automation across their entire organization, using a highly secure AI-powered voice assistant that stores their business’ sensitive data in Oracle’s second generation cloud infrastructure.    Customer Quotes Loyola University of Chicago “With more than 17,000 students demanding more timely, more modern engagement, we established a five year plan to advance the Loyola Digital Experience (LDE) strategy. The Transformational Theme of LDE includes leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and deployment of ‘LUie,’ an AI digital assistant running on the Oracle Digital Assistant with automation and integration from IntraSee,” said Susan M. Malisch, VP & CIO, Loyola University of Chicago. “LUie currently provides hundreds of answers to common questions. Early results have been great with initial accuracy rates of 86%. Feedback has been encouraging with 91% positive comments and we are now looking to broaden LUie to handle even more questions for more audiences. We’re excited about LUie’s future potential.” Yokeru “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, millions self-isolated to protect their health and the wellbeing of the community – but for many, the extended period of self-isolation resulted in negative impacts on mental and physical health. In response, Yokeru developed an AI-enabled call centre to contact and identify vulnerable members of the community using the phone line,” said Monty Alexander, CEO, Yokeru. “Through Oracle Digital Assistant and Oracle Autonomous Database, we were able to rapidly develop this system to enable the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham to monitor 9,000 Shielded households – resulting in the elimination of over 100 working days of traditional call centre time. The flexibility of Oracle's software on the underlying Oracle Cloud Infrastructure is incredible, and we’re looking forward to understanding how we can develop this technology to support our community in the future.”  State of Oklahoma “In eight days Oracle built and delivered two applications,” said Jerry Moore, CIO, State of Oklahoma. “Not only was this an impressive feat, but showed Oracle’s commitment to helping us and our communities run more smoothly in this difficult time.” To learn more, check out What's New in the Oracle Digital Assistant documentation. 1Smarter with Gartner, “Chatbots Will Appeal to Modern Workers,” 31 July 2019, https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/chatbots-will-appeal-to-modern-workers/ 2Omdia, “Analyst Commentary: Oracle Digital Assistant democratizing Oracle apps,” Mark Beccue, Q3 2020, https://tractica.omdia.com/research/analyst-commentary-oracle-digital-assistant-democratizing-oracle-apps/

New conversational AI capabilities enable customers to interact via channel of their of choice across the enterprise By Suhas Uliyar, Vice President, AI and Digital Assistant, Oracle   Call them...

Cloud Accelerates with Urgency

New research – Cloud 2020: Cloud Accelerates with Urgency This post was contributed by Fred Kost, Global VP Cross Platform, Security and Analytics With COVID-19 impacting nearly every industry, businesses are finding cloud capabilities to be at the forefront of how they build, run, and adapt to global shifts from this pandemic. Many forward-looking organizations have already begun to standardize on a new generation of cloud services that position them for the future. As explained in a recent Oracle research report, commissioned in collaboration with Longitude, these second-generation clouds are intelligent, self-governing, and powered by AI and machine learning (ML) technology. Second-generation clouds build on the capabilities of first-generation clouds, such as pay-as-you-go pricing and instant elasticity. They have been architected to accommodate a new set of cloud native applications and most importantly offer autonomous capabilities. Oracle’s second-generation cloud can run all your workloads while giving you cloud native options for everything from application development and business analytics to data management, integration, security, AI and blockchain. Each layer of the cloud technology stack—compute, network, storage, database, and apps—has been engineered for the cloud and designed to meet the needs of mission-critical applications. How important is this to today’s organizations? To find out, Longitude surveyed 1,150 senior executives whose firms are at various stages of cloud implementations. The report analysis reflected four key advantages that are motivating organizations to adopt a next generation cloud. Autonomous Operations According to the survey, “cloud leaders”—organizations that consider cloud native as a core part of their strategy—are more than twice as likely to use autonomous technologies and nearly four times as likely to use AI and ML. Oracle’s second-generation cloud is the only one built to run the first and only Autonomous Database. Built with machine learning capabilities, Oracle Autonomous Database automates tasks related to the configuration, tuning, scaling, and patching. It dramatically lowers the cost of running a system, while increasing data security and reliability. Automated Security Once seen as an inhibitor to cloud deployments, security has now become a compelling reason to move to second-generation cloud as a way to exert greater control over your data and systems. Oracle’s cloud security philosophy is simple: focus on your most valuable asset—your data—and build a security strategy that protects data at its source. Oracle’s always-on full encryption, self-securing and self-repairing capabilities help cybersecurity professionals stay ahead of external attacks. Serverless and Elastic – Only Pay for What You Use According to Longitude’s research into cloud usage patterns, the share of applications developed in the cloud is set to double by 2025. Cloud-native strategies have already taken hold at almost a quarter of the firms that participated in the survey, and the trend shows no signs of slowing. To maximize cloud-native deployments, Oracle’s second-generation cloud has been architected to take advantage of the innate scalability of serverless computing. Oracle Cloud is not only serverless, but elastic. If you need to scale from two cores to twenty cores, you can do it instantaneously, while your database and information systems are still running. Next Generation of Cloud - Enabling the Autonomous Enterprise Cloud adoption rates are continuing to accelerate as the global pandemic has shifted how organizations adopt new ways of working - collaborating, and keeping their businesses up and running. Intelligent automated systems are quickly taking hold in many industries, driving shifts in systems design, logistics, manufacturing, infrastructure, and more. It’s providing more-productive ways to develop applications, gain predictive insights, and bring new revenue-producing services to market. With Oracle Autonomous capabilities and systems - we’re enabling a generational shift in technology where the systems are more secure, data loss is preventable, risk is reduced, and labor costs are eliminated. To learn more, read the Oracle iPaper that highlights our take on the Longitude findings, and download the complete report to see how leading companies are transforming their businesses. To learn how you can benefit from Oracle Cloud, visit Oracle.com/cloud, and follow us on Twitter @OracleCloud.    

New research – Cloud 2020: Cloud Accelerates with Urgency This post was contributed by Fred Kost, Global VP Cross Platform, Security and Analytics With COVID-19 impacting nearly every industry,...

Market Panel Weighs-in on Current and Future State of M&A in Latin America Amid Covid-19

Claudia Leite, Sr. Director for Software Investment Advisory in Latin America, recently sat down with three panelists - industry leaders in their respective fields - to discuss M&A trends in Latin America amid the Covid 19 pandemic. In this replay, you will hear from: Venus Kennedy, Head of Deloitte’s Strategy, Analytics and M&A Consulting practice in Brazil  Mario Anseloni, CEO & founder of IN.BUSINESS, former President of Itautec and former Managing Director of HP Brazil Diego Stark, Partner at the Southern Cross Group This lively and engaging conversation explores a range of timely questions and topics such as:      How has M&A activity been affected in the region?      What challenges and unexpected opportunities are being seen?      Can IT due diligence be an M&A game-changer? (Spoiler alert - it can!)      How M&A is being be used to drive digital transformation      Looking to the future of M&A Following the discussion, don’t miss an informative Q&A session where the panelists take questions from webinar participants and offer additional insights and best practices in the current M&A landscape.  While the conversation centers on the Latin America market, the keen observations and expert commentary from the panelists make this a worthwhile discussion for anyone working with customers in IT and M&A.  Your browser does not support the audio player For more information on Oracle SIA, please visit Oracle.com/goto/sia.   Learn more about Oracle SIA and how we can support your business: How Oracle Software Investement Advisory supports during a major merger or acquisition

Claudia Leite, Sr. Director for Software Investment Advisory in Latin America, recently sat down with three panelists - industry leaders in their respective fields - to discuss M&A trends in Latin...

7 Ways to be an Inclusive Leader while Social Distancing

Throughout my career, I have always appreciated that people are the most critical resource and determinant of whether our initiatives will be successful. New technologies, processes, and strategies will only work if team members are motivated and appreciated. As we navigate these uncertain times, we must challenge ourselves to further develop and enhance our talent management strategies. Inclusive leadership is important whether in person or working remotely.  Being inclusive at a distance can absolutely be challenging, but I am confident we can figure it out. Almost overnight, many businesses moved to remote operations and began using web conferencing. YES! But, let’s not stop there. Online meetings are a great first start, but more effort is needed. For leaders who are accustomed to onsite employees, the dramatic shift to employees who are remote takes a shift in mindset. Many studies have reported that employees are actually more productive at home. I have been a virtual team member at Oracle for almost my entire career here, and I absolutely love that there is no traffic between my bedroom and office. Yes! If there is any good news about the challenges we are facing, it is certainly that my colleagues have reduced their commute by as much as three hours a day. However, one of the many down sides of mandatory shelter-in-place order is the anxiety and worry that jobs could be in jeopardy since “out of sight” could also mean “out of mind.” Fearful employees may even take extreme measures by creating and working on many “busy” projects and also by sending volumes of unnecessary emails. Avoiding and reducing this level of stress is why managers and leaders at all levels must develop or enhance inclusive leadership techniques to promote cohesion, collaboration, expectations, and cooperation as we collectively navigate this new uncharted territory.   What is Inclusive Leadership? It’s a verb … an action … in which leaders intentionally create an environment where the entire team is comfortable and confident in bringing forth their respective ideas and recommendations. This goes above and beyond usual techniques that focus on the outcome more than the process. In outcome-focused leadership, the team is almost singularly focused on getting the task completed without room for discussion about different approaches for completing the task or even evaluating whether the approach will yield the best results. Inclusive leadership means understanding the strengths of each person on the team and what is needed to maximize their contributions—starting with making sure that everyone on the team understands the importance of their role within the context of the larger organization. It also involves creating opportunities for team members to build relationships. This doesn’t change just because everyone is in a different location. In a normal work environment, effective leadership is challenging. But now, as the ground seems to be shifting under our feet from week to week, inclusive leadership can make the critical difference between a team that’s just hanging on and one that’s thriving. Here are my tips for practicing inclusive leadership: 1. Communicate, communicate, communicate Leaders cannot communicate enough when everyone is juggling different priorities at work and at home. Challenging schedules intertwined with work and home responsibilities, like managing children while working from home or caring for family members, may mean that each person receives communications differently and at different times. Thus, leaders must use all appropriate communication mechanisms at their disposal to reach the team—email, text, video conferencing, and chat. In sharing details about new business initiatives, strategies, customer engagements, or partnerships, leaders must carefully consider the overall communication plan to reduce the grapevine and rumor mill. 2. Provide clear, consistent communications In times of uncertainty, team members need frequent and direct communication—almost to the point of over communication in order to stay focused. In communications, please consider that if the team members know what to expect and how any news impacts them directly, they will be less stressed. This may include details about how the company is doing as a whole, how the team is tracking against goals, new business models, pivot strategies, new technology roll-outs, etc. Incomplete details and unanswered questions can escalate challenges and uncertainty. 3. Create frequent, proactive touch points to connect your team In team meetings, it is a good idea to build in time for short round-robin discussions to check in on team members, foster comradery and promote networking. Each meeting could have a different topic and team members can suggest creative discussion topics. Here are a few ideas to get you going: •    Mindfulness Mondays—encourage each person to share something they do to promote self-care, for example, recommending their favorite wellness app, online exercise class, or podcast •    Happy Hour Tuesday—ask everyone to share some good news … it can be work-related or personal •    Recognition Wednesday—each person acknowledges someone on the team who helped them recently •    Thankful Thursday—encourage people to share something they appreciate … again, it can be about work or in their personal lives •    Funday Friday—ask people to share something they are looking forward to that weekend Other ideas: •    Binge Mondays—what did you binge-watch over the weekend? •    Throwback Thursday—remember when … there were no iPhones, there was no email, there was no social media, etc. •    Reimagine Friday—what would you do about xyz initiative if you were in charge? 4. Share boundaries for the day or the week In the current environment, team members are juggling many priorities that may not coincide with the typical work day. If team members aren’t going to be available for specific segments of work day, ask them to share their availability by email or via another collaboration tool so that the entire team knows when to connect and/or when to expect a response. 5. Avoid accidental exclusion Inclusive leadership means no one is left out. This means paying extra attention to emails and posts that could unintentionally forget someone. For instance, if leaders hold a call about a particular topic, excluding someone from a meeting related to their responsibility only serves to alienate them and result in their worry about their roles. Another example is related to LinkedIn posts where the leader creates a post thanking specific people who worked on a project. Please be sure not to forget anyone by accident. Further, if leaders like and share posts on LinkedIn or other social media outlets, be sure to mix it up so you’re following, liking, and sharing posts from people across the organization. Optics are important. Trust me, team members notice if leaders only like the posts of upper management. A few unintentional slights like these can cause the team to feel completely marginalized. 6. Welcome new employees Usually when a new team member joins, they are taken around the office and introduced to all of the other team members. We can’t forget the benefits of a having a network and a few “go to” team members we can ask questions. In a remote environment, we must mirror this process as much as possible. Everyone must make an extra effort to get to know new team members by engaging them, inviting them to a virtual coffee, helping them get to know others in the organization, and also sharing context to get acclimated to the team as soon as possible. 7. Strike a balance between managing and micromanaging Demographic characteristics of the team must also be considered. There is a difference between Gen Y and Baby Boomer team members just as there are differences between new team members and seasoned ones. Each team member requires a different level of interaction, guidance, and autonomy—especially in remote environments where the inclination is to ask for daily reports and over-managing. And while it’s important to remember that everyone may be different, a new team member in a remote environment will require much more engagement than a tenured employee who knows the organization. At the same time, seasoned team members still need help and guidance from time to time. Although these team members typically prefer autonomy, leaders must not ignore them since there is a risk they could feel adrift within the organization. "Pay-it-forward" for employees and customers In closing, every leader has the ability to be an Inclusive leader. With intentional effort, leaders can enable and promote an inclusive environment in a virtual setting that is just as effective as the physical office space. I think the saying that “customers will never love you, until your employees do first” is 100% true. The benefits of new and strengthened alliances, collaboration, and comradery are well worth the effort. Customers and business partners will see and absolutely recognize these efforts. It’s a win-win! For more information about how Oracle Cloud Applications can help you and your team work remotely, go to www.oracle.com/applications. To learn more about Kimberly Ellison-Taylor you can access her Oracle Executive Biography here and also follow her on Linkedin.    

Throughout my career, I have always appreciated that people are the most critical resource and determinant of whether our initiatives will be successful. New technologies, processes, and strategies...

Addressing Your Disrupted Supply Chain

This article was co-written by Peter Armaly and Vijay Virmani. Peter heads up training and enablement for the North America Customer Success organization and Vijay is his peer in the same org. Vijay's role as a supply chain management SME (Subject Matter Expert) is to create and execute strategies for improving the ability for Oracle's customers to achieve their desired business outcomes through Oracle SaaS applications.   Consumer spending choked, business travel hobbled, restaurants trying and often failing, and sporting events operating with no semblance to their previous forms. These are Covid-19 business outcomes. And although less visible, weakened supply chains are arguably experiencing the biggest impact of all. Demand for some goods and services has sky rocketed creating shortages while demand for some goods and services has declined as stores struggle to adapt to the need to sell in an environment where you cannot conduct business in person.  As the pandemic plays out at different speeds and ferocity around the globe, companies find that suppliers may not be available or are only able to supply at much lower capacity. Trade tariffs and the constraints of established trade agreements have complicated the ability for businesses to respond.  The flip side A hockey mask manufacturer diverts resources to make protective medical shields. A running shoe manufacturer converts a factory to making non-surgical grade masks. An athletic apparel manufacturer goes all out and makes masks, face shields, medical fanny packs and protective gowns. A couple of automobile manufacturers start manufacturing ventilators. A toy company redirects resources and supplier capability to manufacture disposable surgical masks. Distilleries and craft breweries start making hand sanitizer. How to approach societal challenges if you’re a business Should these real examples inspire businesses to transform their products and services as a way to survive the pandemic’s significant disruption? Should companies transform not simply for the survival of their business but, also, for a greater societal good? And if they decide they should change, for whatever reason, would they know how to start? First, they should ask themselves the following questions: Am I able to quickly analyze my product mix to identify what is working? And for what isn’t working, does it mean I need a change in strategy? Am I able to offer my goods or services on line but am missing vital and appropriate technology to support that commerce model?  My approved suppliers do not have enough capacity to keep up with surged demand and I need to quickly qualify and approve new suppliers.  Are my people trained and using the right features available in our systems? Am I able to quickly explore if I can use our current resources to create goods and services that are in short supply? I might have raw materials, sub-assemblies and finished goods items in stock that are not moving. Raw materials may be easy to diversify for something that is in demand but converting sub-assemblies and finished goods items into new items can be more challenging and require more creative thinking and collaboration with customers & suppliers. Do I have the resources I need to carry out this type of analysis? Am I able to look into short term and long term demand with the recent changes and identify changes that are required in the supply plan to meet the demand? How quickly can I source required new products or services? Sourcing includes qualifications, request for information or proposals, bids and awarding a contract.  Am I able to check goods availability in different locations if not on hand at my location for the requested items? Can I answer questions regarding the length of time it will take me to procure out of stock goods and commit to promised delivery dates?       Am I up to date on logistics status of all shipping ports, shipping networks and related costs?  My existing preferred pre-negotiated shipping methods and carrier may not be available and that might require me to source new carriers.    Tariffs and trade restrictions have been changing fast.  Am I able to analyze how they are impacting my suppliers, customers, costs and margins? A robust supply chain software application should be capable of addressing all the changing requirements for such challenging times and help prepare a company for the future.  Short, Medium, and Long-term Start with a supply and demand evaluation using the application. It should help company executives identify the shortages and overages in the next 4-8 weeks for short term action plan and a further 8-24 weeks out for a medium term plan. Anything outside of 24 weeks out can be treated as a longer term plan.  The short term action plan would include: Substitution for items in short supply Conversion of items into something else or back into components using a feature of an application that manages a product’s lifecycle Accelerate the plan for offering products and services online As part of an order management best practice, use built-in functionality to promise the order shipping dates Use order management and trade management functionality to make sure all customs and regulatory requirements are covered for executing and shipping the order Use transportation functionality to optimize shipping for shortest routes and best price  Identify supplies from different locations to meet demand For the medium term plan: Develop new qualified suppliers for the short supply items or get ready for transforming existing items into new products   Set up new initiatives to develop supplier qualifications, RFI/RFP/RFQs, bid evaluations and awarding the contracts.  Make item transportation-related engineering changes and get change approvals on product structures, bill of material and routing changes Transform existing items in inventory into new items or convert finished items back into components   In the long term plan: Look into future demand by using collaborative planning features based on corporate revenue/margin plans Make decisions on product plans using financial analysis Develop new suppliers and ready internal workforce skills and equipment for the upcoming new product requirements Focus on improving planning, budgeting, strategic modelling, enhanced narrative business & tax reporting, and account reconciliations Is this operating rhythm the new normal? The supply chain is both a wondrous and fragile apparatus. Normally, it delivers efficiencies and lower cost but our normal way of conducting business has been disrupted. The supply chain’s fragility has been exposed. Things may not be the same again and if you’re a business leader, you must now move fast to survive and to hope to meet customer expectations in the same way you effortlessly managed to do before the pandemic. But some things are true outside and inside of a pandemic. You can still plan. You can still choose how you respond. You can execute with intelligence if you assess and leverage your strengths. Consider those flip side examples mentioned earlier, the companies that pivoted and managed to transform their business to varying extents in response to the crisis. They didn’t wait for things to clear and get back to normal. They moved. Want to learn more about Supply Chain Management? Check out Oracle's industry-leading application.

This article was co-written by Peter Armaly and Vijay Virmani. Peter heads up training and enablement for the North America Customer Success organization and Vijay is his peer in the same org. Vijay's...

Reviving Focus on Innovation to Ignite Growth

Cloud and SaaS-based solutions can help organizations reimagine customer and user experiences I was struck by a recent insight piece by McKinsey that showed executives who considered innovation a top priority pre-crisis, rate it as much less important today. This was particularly true of respondents in the Communications industry, probably because of the exigent need to meet the demands of both critical industries like emergency services and health care, as well as the day-to-day communications needs of businesses and individuals struggling to stay connected and productive while sheltering in place and social distancing around the globe. A half year into this “new reality,” we must regain our focus on innovation to ignite new growth. With the fundamental changes taking place around the world, Cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) will democratize technology, resources and capabilities so that all organizations will be able to reimagine their customer and user experiences. The possible 10 GB/s speeds of 5G will bring exponential gains in capacity, connections and device connectivity, as well as greater customization and personalization through automation, mobility, collaboration, and analytics. The IoT will transform not only business, industries, education, and governments, but the human condition—for the greater good—if we truly innovate and think about what’s possible with autonomous, VR/AR/MR, wearables, smart cities and so much more. The challenge for our CSP customers is building out networks so they perform better without incurring crushing overhead costs. Now more than ever, they need suppliers and partners with the expertise and resources to maintain the performance and reliability of networks with immediate insight into problems and rapid fixes. The multi-vendor world in which they operate no longer has to result in costly integration. With SaaS, the operational constraints and overhead of integration can give way to multi-vendor network services and agile delivery of services. With cloud native, there can be faster software development and more resilient, scalable and manageable applications.   Oracle Communications is committed to partnering for tomorrow and for best-of-breed deployments enabled by cloud- and SaaS-based 5G and IoT. Contact us to find out what we are doing with cloud-based/SaaS-based solutions and see how we can help you build out open, interoperable and secure networks that support a diverse supply chain critical to the market success of 5G.  

Cloud and SaaS-based solutions can help organizations reimagine customer and user experiences I was struck by a recent insight piece by McKinsey that showed executives who considered innovation a top...

Claiming the Empty Playground in a Post-COVID World

This post was written by Michael Dermer of The Lonely Entrepreneur and cohost of the upcoming live session called "How to Drive Interest in a Hyper-Competitive Climate."  Watch the webinar replay.  Many opportunities will emerge post-COVID. There will be new innovations in online learning, events, and social activities. There will be opportunities in the home office market like never before. Childcare services will undergo massive innovation to serve new work models.   The greatest risk (and the greatest opportunity) in a post-COVID world is finding the right playground. What do I mean by that? It’s about finding a space that isn’t too cluttered with competitors. You can find your own swing or a prime spot on the climbing wall.  I know more about this crisis than most. If you don’t know my story, I saw the business I built for 10 years nearly get destroyed overnight by the 2008 financial crisis. The specific things we did during the crisis became the difference between success and failure. My story had a happy ending: we went on to sell the company that is considered a pioneer in the health rewards movement. And it led me to create The Lonely Entrepreneur, a non-profit with a mission to empower entrepreneurs.   There are many challenges that will be faced by companies in a post-pandemic world. But we believe the most significant ones – for entrepreneurs especially – will be competition. Prior to COVID-19, the world was hypercompetitive. Every buyer – whether it was a consumer or a business – believed that virtually everything could be bought for free. This is not completely true of course. But don’t we all believe that regardless of what we are buying, there is probably a free version out there.    After COVID, this competition will intensify. With so many companies and individuals competing for scarcer dollars, it will be increasingly difficult for one provider of a product or service to stand out from the crowd. And here is the reality – anyone that is trying to compete on price will lose. If the tendency to find and use the ‘free version’ was prevalent before COVID, it will be even more so going forward. So how do you compete with free?  You don’t.  As Matthew Broderick said in the movie War Games, “the only way to win is not to play the game.”  We have all heard the cliché “sell on value, not on price.”  While true, in a post-COVID world, the stakes will be even higher.   So, what are the things that companies must do in a post-COVID world? Find a Playground Where No One Else is Playing We believe that traditional unique selling propositions will fall on deaf ears. Every company will have to find their own niche  – a market, a positioning approach, or a segment where they are the only game in town.    Take my old business – rewards for healthy behavior. At the time we started our company, there were tons of points and loyalty programs. All we did was find a playground – rewards for healthcare – where no one else was playing. And once we did, we defined the rules for how the product should be bought, priced, and delivered. All others, including the major loyalty companies running the credit card, bank, hotel, and airline loyalty programs, were now competing on our set of rules if they wanted to break into the space. Define the Criteria Where You Win No one pays attention to the details. We live in such a cluttered world that there could be a million dollars in your inbox and there is a 99% chance you would never see it. If a company tries to line up its products and services against another, there is a good chance the buyer won’t even take the time to see the differences.   You have to define a criteria where you win – even (and maybe especially) if it is a criteria that no one was paying attention to.   Take Budweiser. For the 2018 Super Bowl, they ran an ad about “corn syrup.” A Medieval times soldier drove a chariot up to the Budweiser castle and proclaimed, “We have delivered your corn syrup.” The sentry from the castle retorted, “you must be mistaken, we don’t use corn syrup. You must be looking for the Miller Lite or Coors Lite castles down the road.”   Did you even know that beer had corn syrup? I didn’t. Even if you did, did you ever buy or not buy beer because it had corn syrup? I didn’t. Budweiser picked a criteria – corn syrup – that no one even cared about and made it the criteria for winning.  And in a hypercompetitive industry like beer, it made all the difference.   Entrepreneurs will have to pick (or create) a criteria they can win at. Know-How and The Risk of Not Having It Entrepreneurs are competing against a price of $0. In a post-COVID world, companies will have far fewer sales and marketing dollars to position products or services. Every vendor says it provides great service and great prices, has loyal customers, and lots of references, but businesses and consumers have largely tuned out.    What they won’t tune out is the risk of not knowing something they should know.   I once did a consulting session for about 30 international travel public relations professionals. As you may know, public relations is an incredibly competitive field. Every PR firm says they have great clients, lots of relationships, and great insights. The challenge is to win against the clutter.    I asked them if they knew that no Americans are allowed to stay overnight on the seventh floor of the Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world in Dubai. They mumbled amongst themselves and then started asking questions of each other and of me. After the chatter settled, I asked “do you know why no Americans can stay on the seventh floor?” I paused and said, “I just made that up. It isn’t true.”    But for a few minutes, everyone in the room thought I knew something they didn’t and that they would lose business if they didn’t know.    Obviously, you don’t want to make stuff up, but you do need to bring clients the knowledge they don’t have. If you do, they will walk away from a meeting thinking, “I better hire them.” Excelling in Tough Times Post-COVID, we will see changes to market dynamics like we have never seen before. But in the end, if a business does not carve its unique place in the world -- and do so in the time it takes to put on a mask -- the world will pass it by.    This is the greatest risk, and the greatest opportunity, of a post-COVID world. Watch the Replay    Michael Dermer is an author, entrepreneur authority, and the founder and CEO of The Lonely Entrepreneur.  Michael is a consultant and speaker who has keynoted over 100 events serving entrepreneurs in the United States, Mexico, China, India, the UAE, Croatia, Singapore, Spain, and Israel.

This post was written by Michael Dermer of The Lonely Entrepreneur and cohost of the upcoming live session called "How to Drive Interest in a Hyper-Competitive Climate."  Watch the webinar replay.  Many...