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

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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.”   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...

The Global Comms Industry Fosters Human Connections When Needed Most

Recently I wrote about the role Communications Service Providers (CSPs) are playing globally to connect people in critical ways through wide-ranging communications and digital services. There are many more examples of how industry leaders continue opening new channels—and pushing the boundaries of existing networks—for extraordinary levels of human connection when they are needed most. I am inspired to see so many examples of expanded data and premium service access being offered, at no charge, to help billions of people connect to each other and to critical information. The industry is helping us all be more productive, whether for business or educational purposes. And global, regional and smaller telcos have worked relentlessly to find solutions around challenging infrastructure limitations. While by no means an exhaustive list, here are a few examples of operators who have risen to the current challenge: United States: As outlined in the ‘Keep Americans Connected’ pledge, most operators will not terminate service to any residential or small business customers. They’ll waive late fees incurred by residential or small business customers, and open up Wi-Fi hotspots free of charge. Additionally: Verizon: With a commitment of $45 million in contributions and donations to nonprofits, Verizon is helping them remain active during the crisis. Nurses on the front lines and teachers who are keeping students engaged will join military and first responders in benefiting from up to $40 off when combining Verizon unlimited wireless and FiOS internet plans. T-Mobile: To ensure its network continues to perform for all customers, the company announced agreements with multiple spectrum holders to light up an additional 600 MHz spectrum for 60 days. This expands network capacity for customers across the country. Additionally, it will expand roaming access for Sprint customers to use the T-Mobile network and it will offer more flexible payment arrangements for customers who need more time to pay their bills. AT&T: In addition to offering bonuses to frontline employees, the operator is offering a $15 plan with 2 GB of data and unlimited talk and text, as well as an automatic 10GB per month of additional data for all phone plans. European Operators: As reported, operators are providing increased voice and data usage increases at no cost and pushing out COVID-19 information, among other meaningful measures, such as: Telecom Italia (TIM): By teaming up with Google G-Suite and collaboration platform WeSchool, TIM is responding to a call from the Ministry of Education to boost access to e-learning tools. Telefonica: At no charge, Telefonica will increase all quadplay Fusion and Movistar mobile plans by an additional 30GB per month until end of May. It will also offer more children’s programming and sporting events to TV customers’ entertainment packages, at no cost. Telefonica Group: Its Spanish business unit announced it will add 30 GB of mobile data to all Fusion and Movistar convergence customers for the next two months. Vodafone UK: NHS workers who are existing customers will be given 30 days free unlimited mobile data, affecting approximately 125,000 NHS staff. That’s in addition to a 30-day unlimited data offer to 500,000 vulnerable customers, and additional capacity that will support the growing voice and data usage in European markets. The company also is working with government agencies to help them deliver targeted text messaging. Virgin Media: Postpaid customers are being offered unlimited minutes to landlines and other mobile numbers. Additionally, Virgin Media is offering a free 10 GB data boost for the month, while removing data caps on legacy broadband products. LATAM operators: Many operators, like Claro, Oi, Tim e Vivo, opened TV channels for all customers, along with free access to news channels with information on COVID-19. Others like Seaborn and Edge Uno are offering free Internet connectivity across their respective Americas networks to non-profit/not-for-profit organizations, educational programs, state and municipal governments, and public health. TIM Brasil: In partnering with Rio de Janeiro’s city hall for data analysis, the company will enable authorities to track displacement and concentration of people in areas affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Telefonica Brasil: Leveraging Big Data and AI, the operator is helping authorities slow the spread of the virus in Sao Paulo state by detecting trends in aggregated cellphone data; Oi: Exemptions are being given to all corporate customers for Oi Smart Office 4.0 to offer relief during the crisis. MEA Operators: Telecom operators in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) are responding to the pandemic crisis by supporting governments, businesses, individuals and households. For example: Etisalat: Granted businesses three months of free access to its online collaboration platform, Etisalat CloudTalk Meeting, in addition to providing free mobile data allowances to households without fixed Internet connectivity. It has also launched its ‘Business Edge’ platform for small and medium-sized enterprises. STC: Announced zero-rated browsing for selected educational platforms and the temporary suspension of fees for small and mid-sized enterprises that wish to suspend their services by April 30. Ooredoo: Offered data allowances for 5G customers and data top-ups for prepaid customers, doubling internet speeds for multi-play fiber customers, free access to premium content on its IPTV service, and boosting internet access speeds for all academic and educational entities for free. APAC Operators: Major Chinese carriers—China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom—worked to provide equipment and 5G services to hospitals in Wuhan, and 5G-enabled remote video diagnostic centers to help medical staff with remote, online consultations. Telstra: Business customers are getting additional data for free, and pensioners are getting unlimited standard home phone calls for free. The data will expire after 30 days but customers can apply for another 25GB of data up until end of June. SK Telecom: Free of charge, the company is providing Geovision big data-based real-time floating population analysis service to help police stop the spread of the virus. NTT Docomo Japan: With drive-through testing sites at its headquarters, removal of data caps, unlimited data, and bill payment relief, NTT is helping mitigate the effects of the epidemic. We are proud of operators’ efforts worldwide to keep people connected during these trying times. To learn about our Oracle’s commitment to customers and partners during the COVID-19 crisis, go here or email us at oraclecomms_ww@oracle.com with any questions you have.  

Recently I wrote about the role Communications Service Providers (CSPs) are playing globally to connect people in critical ways through wide-ranging communications and digital services. There are...

The Unprecedented Ways We are Now Connecting & Communicating

As people around the world are currently homebound, networks have taken on a whole new level of importance. People now more than ever need to connect virtually, and businesses need to continue to operate and perform. Where technology in some ways distanced us before, it is now bringing us together:  Friends and families are video conferencing for virtual Get-Togethers, Happy Hours, Coffee Breaks and Game Nights. Pope Francis live streamed from his home last week, as did other churches, temples and mosques. Businesses are hosting frequent live webcasts and video calling sessions to keep work human, and schools are creating virtual classrooms to keep students up to speed. I am amazed at how communications and digital technologies are fostering the type of “distanced socializing” that can make “social distancing” more bearable, and more doable in a time where we must resist our human instinct to be physically close. And so, I thought I’d take this moment to acknowledge what Communications Service Providers such as Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Vodafone and Telefonica, as well as the small and mid-sized operators across the world are doing to help ensure communications infrastructure holds up under the surge in messaging and voice calling on mobile networks, not to mention explosions in gaming and VPNs. Operators around the world have vowed to help residential and small- and medium-sized businesses with free hot spots and in several cases are waiving late fees and service terminations. One of Europe’s hardest hit countries launched a Digital Solidarity Campaign where operators, companies and associations are signing up to offer pro bono services. In the United States, operators have made a collective pledge to “Keep Americans Connected.” They are actively moving capacity, monitoring networks and changing traffic patterns to ensure critical applications perform, especially when it comes to health care and first-responder requirements for ever-more access and data. The same is true around the globe, as Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Vodafone and Chinese operators continue to boost network performance where it is needed the most. These efforts to keep the world connected, and to empower businesses large and small, are helping us remain united and productive in what would otherwise be nearly unbearable circumstances. I’m impressed and humbled by how all the Operators and Enterprises around the world have come together and risen to the challenge in very short order. To learn about our Oracle’s commitment to our customers and partners during the COVID-19 crisis, go here or email us at oraclecomms_ww@oracle.com with any questions you have.  

As people around the world are currently homebound, networks have taken on a whole new level of importance. People now more than ever need to connect virtually, and businesses need to continue...

Meeting the Need for Increased Connectivity in These Trying Times

The ongoing efforts to keep people safe and informed have revealed how interconnected we all are, even during this time of social distancing. Data, video and voice service providers such as AT&T, China Telecom, Comcast, Oi, Shaw, SaskTel, Verizon, Vodafone and others have risen to the challenge by supporting millions of people as they log in remotely for work, telemedicine, emergency services and the all-important connections to socially distanced family and friends. As a result of efforts to modernize mission-critical operations in their back offices, many CSPs are seeing first hand that automation and process integration have helped to readily engage customers with an online experience that is real-time responsive, available 24x7 and fully functional. They are supporting requests without human intervention in these times of social distancing. It’s great to see the degree to which remote vs. in-person operations are being carried out, for example, intuitive customer self-installation processes or remote trouble shooting and resolution of technical issues that eliminate the need for physical proximity of customers and technicians.   With so many businesses and families changing their services, pricing and throughput thresholds in their efforts to work and socialize from home, the modernized back office and its connection to digital channels has taken on a greater importance. Carriers with automated and integrated OSS/BSS can offer flexible rates and tiers, as well as new products and offers for not only existing customers, but people who need crisis-based offers for commerce and mobile access to important apps and web sites. They are also accommodating B2B needs for highly configured “special orders.” The key is low-latency interactions supported through intelligent activation, fulfillment and orchestration, as well as billing and customer care for continuous availability and real-time interactions. An integrated approach to transforming CX and automating the back-office required that operators identify and automate workflows that today help them rapidly reconfigure the network and accommodate new patterns in gaming, streaming and video conferencing activity. This helps them in their pledges to boost data allowances and expand channel coverage, without raising prices and without pursuing payment in cases involving businesses or individuals hard hit by the crisis. By fulfilling and managing services automatically, at scale and with agility, and by offering compelling, experience-driven customer engagement even in these toughest of times, operators around the world are differentiating their brands, inspiring customers and driving what will be sustainable future loyalty. In these challenging times, Oracle Communications is here to help in any way we can. Feel free to contact me on LinkedIn or oraclecomms_ww@oracle.com.

The ongoing efforts to keep people safe and informed have revealed how interconnected we all are, even during this time of social distancing. Data, video and voice service providers such as AT&T, China...

Predictive Intelligence Takes on Greater Importance

AI-based scenario modelling is taking on a whole new level of importance amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as business leaders across finance, HR, supply chain, and sales make difficult decisions for the sake of continuity, impacting employees, customers, suppliers, and partners.  The pandemic has upended “business as usual” so quickly that we lack historical data to guide our decisions. Scenario modelling can fill in those gaps, helping business leaders anticipate the future. As a CXO, you’ll want to look at your key stakeholder groups, identify their benefits and risks, and create models for the best, worst and most likely outcomes of the business decisions you could make. You can then weigh up the costs and make a final decision with confidence. Start by deciding the scope and issues you need to address immediately, while defining your key drivers – it may have been growth a week ago, but now it’s continuity, for example. Next, collect and analyse the quantitative and qualitative data you’ll need to make your key assumptions. Once you have the foundation in place, you can start developing the different scenarios. Consider what scenarios are most important or likely for your line of business, and start there. Define what the impacts of each will be on sales, cash flow and expenses, then decide what metrics you’ll use to measure each. Finally, monitor the plan constantly (or use an AI approach for smart thresholds) and consider if you’ll need more frequent reporting to respond to changing metrics. Current disruption can make accurate scenario modelling a tall order. CXOs have a huge number of stakeholders to consider, and the data they need is often scattered across different data environments. In Switzerland, we have been partnering with executives to help them become more strategic about the way they use and interpret data. Recently, we partnered with HESso, the University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland to improve traceability and transparency in their finance operations with our Enterprise Resource Planning applications. Pulling together data quickly in a standardized way and allowing to access it real time is game changer for scenario planning and cash flow modelling. This also empowers the finance teams to communicate the information in a simplified way to the management allowing for faster and more strategic decision making. Similarly, SGS, the worldwide leader in testing and certification, headquartered in Geneva with operations in over 140 countries, also partnered with Oracle to do business online and to create a seamless experience for their employees and customers through technology. They recently decided to move E-Business Suite & the Oracle Integration Platform to the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure which allows us them scale and connect over 34.000 while reducing cost, as well as securing the lowest risk thanks to the One Oracle approach.  To make the task easier, business leaders need to involve fewer people in the process and limit the number of scenarios they consider. In fact, model no more than four, but be sure to spend equal time on each, even if you think certain models show less likely scenarios.  Oracle is offering free access to strategic modelling capabilities through its Oracle Planning Cloud for the next year. Customers will benefit from improved agility, more accurate forecasting and decision-making, with the power to run detailed what-if scenarios for many potential scenarios. Evaluating all options ensures you’re ready for the unexpected – a constant in this ‘new normal’.   Making the most of AI Of course, scenario modelling is only one part of the solution. Unprecedented amounts of data can be a blessing and a curse without the right support. CXOs can be overwhelmed by masses of new data alongside the many data management responsibilities that come with them. Data collection, cleansing and security can drag business leaders away from prediction and strategizing. Without assistance, they can’t work at the speed required. To help carry the load, CXOs should consider what they can streamline and automate with AI. AI solutions can analyse and interpret vast quantities of data in little time, making it invaluable for scenario planning. It can also automate the many repetitive but necessary tasks associated with data management. However, it’s worth tempering expectations and being realistic with where the technology is deployed. Companies often struggle to deploy the technology at scale and have unrealistic expectations for it. The last thing you want now is to embark on a costly and ambitious moon shot that fails to meet your objectives. To make the most of your AI investment, you should both buy and build applications. You don’t need to build everything from scratch, and doing so could create compatibility issues later on. What you need is a strategic approach that delivers interrelated solutions that maximise AI’s benefits rather than rolling out a series of disparate solutions. Special attention should also be paid to data quality. It needs to be complete, cleansed and up-to-date for an AI solution to deliver accurate insights. Fortunately, AI-driven data engines can cleanse and enrich data records before they are served up for analysis, to a certain extent. Another important consideration is tuning. AI ‘maintenance’ is usually performed expensively and manually by data scientists, but it’s hardly feasible when your organisation has hundreds of AI models to maintain. Applying machine learning to this process helps automate this expensive task, keeping costs under control.   There’s no silver bullet against business disruption. However, scenario modelling and AI intelligence can help organisations weather the storm. When detailed, comprehensive models are combined with AI efficiency and human judgement, businesses will make better, more impactful decisions that help shine a way through the crisis. 

AI-based scenario modelling is taking on a whole new level of importance amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as business leaders across finance, HR, supply chain, and sales make difficult decisions for the...

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...

Digital Experience: ‘Being Digital’ is Not Enough

There’s no doubt carriers sit on a veritable treasure trove of customer data but figuring out which data is actionable to unlock value is where true ‘digitization’ starts to differentiate itself from just “being digital.” It’s the difference between just putting a digital version of a bill online or really diving into a customer’s usage in an online channel to tailor an offer that provides real value. As I wrote previously, COVID-19 has accelerated the drive to digitization to meet the demands for remote working, telemedicine, emergency services and the very human need to connect to socially distanced family and friends. Self-installs to keep technicians out of people’s homes, or expanding online bill pays have also led to a new way of thinking. In a recent TM Forum “Hard Talk” debate, we asked the audience whether telcos can deliver a valuable digital experience (DX) to consumers—on the customer’s terms, in a manner that is relevant and meaningful to the customer. We discussed whether CSPs can leverage what they’ve accomplished recently to possibly accelerate transformation to DX. By the end of the debate it was determined that more needs to be done. Digitization should really be about creating an experience that will drive customers to a digital app and to an interaction that will deliver the value of resolving an issue faster or getting a reward otherwise unavailable through non-digital channels. This means the customer experience can no longer be “stovepiped” in legacy systems that have become ’baggage’ to carriers competing against each other and against new entrants. More established players, which traditionally lacked the type of customer interaction prevalent in banking, retail and other industries, will have to increasingly work to create simplified, contextual, easy-to-understand digital experiences. This is very possible in our increasingly automated, mobile industry, but to succeed, they will need robust ecosystems and forethought about the ways in which people, processes, devices and things interconnect and affect one another. It’s no longer enough to just get the customer to download a mobile app to check data or credit. It’s important to really engage customers in a meaningful way, with a proactive DX that opens the door to cross selling and upselling, as well as reducing overall retail footprints and costs. It has to become a big enough priority that investments are made not only for cost reduction, but also to create a fantastic user experience in which customers can fulfill and manage service automatically. Over the next few years, the industry will make strides in going digital, and we are striving to help by working with customers to leverage TM Forum’s Open Digital Architecture and  including open APIs in our OSS as an early step to enable an omni-channel, compelling customer experience. To learn more, watch a replay of the debate here and check out Oracle Digital Experience for Communications and our new eBook “Modernizing CSP Back Office Operations with Agility, Cost and Control.” Feel free to contact us at oraclecomms_ww@oracle.com.  

There’s no doubt carriers sit on a veritable treasure trove of customer data but figuring out which data is actionable to unlock value is where true ‘digitization’ starts to differentiate itself from...

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...

City of Vallejo Delivers Online Citizen Services with Oracle Community Development Solution

Across the nation, cities and states are harnessing the power of the latest innovations in cloud computing, the Internet of Things, analytics and big data to create a better future for citizens. To take advantage of these innovations and deliver a better user experience, the California City of Vallejo Planning and Development Services Department selected Oracle Community Development  to implement online permit services for constituents.   Oracle's  Community Development solution is helping the city of Vallejo manage the entire planning entitlement, building permit, and code enforcement process. This includes filing applications, final inspection and enforcement action. These new online services will greatly expand the ease of doing business with Vallejo’s Planning and Development Services department, while also allowing for projects to be completed and code cases to be resolved faster and more accurately.   During the implementation of this project, the COVID-19 crisis impacted California, but that didn’t stop the city from moving forward as everyone shifted to work remotely. Initially, the project go-live was delayed to the fall, anticipating a return to in-person work. However, the pandemic brought an added incentive to make self-service permits available online, as manual processing by the city was even more difficult with employees working remotely. And the new cloud platform would allow inspectors, contractors and others to be able to continue to conduct their business with the city while working from home. The city of Vallejo adjusted rapidly, analyzing the permit types in highest demand during the crisis. They identified one frequently used trade permit, and made it available for use in June.  This specific, accelerated go-live was possible due to the iterative approach used for the implementation; a number of permits were fully configured and ready for use, and could be deployed immediately, in response to the city’s need.   “Our citizens expect more from their government than ever before. Transacting with us needs to be easy, intuitive, and connected. Public agencies must meet these evolving needs without being limited by our own systems and capacity,” said Anne Cardwell, assistant city manager,  city of Vallejo. “Oracle is a true partner for us, making it easier for our staff to install, manage, and modify these new systems while also ensuring both the systems, and the people who operate them, are future-proofed.” The city expects that the online self-service portal will result in improved financial and operational efficiencies as it increases their ability to facilitate more requests while allowing staff to focus on processing applications instead of assisting customers with routine requests at the permit counter. The remaining permit types will be made available on a phased basis, culminating in the fall. We are investing in our community development solution in order to help our customers keep pace with today’s digital expectations of constituents. Our solution is reliable, extensible, and easy-to-use, but most importantly is designed to enhance the customer’s experience, offering tools that make the journey through the permitting or service request process predictable and intuitive. Today, thousands of public sector organizations use Oracle to transform how their constituents engage with government. By providing a full Community Development platform, Oracle provides local governments with a seamless solution to serve all front-office, back-office, and permitting needs. For more information, go to oracle.com/communitydevelopment.

Across the nation, cities and states are harnessing the power of the latest innovations in cloud computing, the Internet of Things, analytics and big data to create a better future for citizens. To...

State of Oklahoma Employs Digital Assistants to Help Government Telework

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Oklahoma, like every other state, had to figure out a way for its mostly office-based government employees to work from home. Oracle was there to help. Within eight days of receiving a call for help, the local team and members of Oracle’s Austin-based Cloud Solutions Hub were able to design and deploy a chatbot to help Oklahoma’s newly home-based workers get productive as quickly as possible. Office workers unfamiliar with configuring IT gear without hands-on support invariably have questions, and that can lead to bottlenecks. Before COVID-19, the Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise IT desk fielded about 500 support calls a month. Overnight, that number spiked to more than 1,500 calls per day, says Jerry Moore, CIO, State of Oklahoma. To eliminate the resulting backlog of IT support calls, the Oracle Cloud Hub engineers built a chatbot that lets users ask basic questions, such as how to reset a password, how to set up a VPN, or how to download workplace applications. The chatbot was instrumental in reducing the volume of calls to the IT helpdesk and getting approximately 30,000 state employees up and running from home so they could keep providing vital constituent services. During that same period, Oracle also built a mobile app for the state’s Department of Human Services that tracks time and purchases related to COVID-19 work. “If an employee buys 12 cases of hand sanitizer, they can take a picture of the purchase and upload it to the app that tracks all activities specific to the pandemic,” Moore says. “Overall, in eight days Oracle  built and delivered two applications.” And those applications ensure that Oklahoma government workers can keep providing important services despite having to shelter in place. Find out  more about Oracle’s state and local government solutions. Learn more about Oklahoma and other public sector agencies who are leading in crisis.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Oklahoma, like every other state, had to figure out a way for its mostly office-based government employees to work from home. Oracle was there to help. Within eight days...

Meeting the Need for Increased Connectivity in These Trying Times

The ongoing efforts to keep people safe and informed have revealed how interconnected we all are, even during this time of social distancing. Data, video and voice service providers such as AT&T, China Telecom, Comcast, Oi, Shaw, SaskTel, Verizon, Vodafone and others have risen to the challenge by supporting millions of people as they log in remotely for work, telemedicine, emergency services and the all-important connections to socially distanced family and friends. As a result of efforts to modernize mission-critical operations in their back offices, many CSPs are seeing first hand that automation and process integration have helped to readily engage customers with an online experience that is real-time responsive, available 24x7 and fully functional. They are supporting requests without human intervention in these times of social distancing. It’s great to see the degree to which remote vs. in-person operations are being carried out, for example, intuitive customer self-installation processes or remote trouble shooting and resolution of technical issues that eliminate the need for physical proximity of customers and technicians.   With so many businesses and families changing their services, pricing and throughput thresholds in their efforts to work and socialize from home, the modernized back office and its connection to digital channels has taken on a greater importance. Carriers with automated and integrated OSS/BSS can offer flexible rates and tiers, as well as new products and offers for not only existing customers, but people who need crisis-based offers for commerce and mobile access to important apps and web sites. They are also accommodating B2B needs for highly configured “special orders.” The key is low-latency interactions supported through intelligent activation, fulfillment and orchestration, as well as billing and customer care for continuous availability and real-time interactions. An integrated approach to transforming CX and automating the back-office required that operators identify and automate workflows that today help them rapidly reconfigure the network and accommodate new patterns in gaming, streaming and video conferencing activity. This helps them in their pledges to boost data allowances and expand channel coverage, without raising prices and without pursuing payment in cases involving businesses or individuals hard hit by the crisis. By fulfilling and managing services automatically, at scale and with agility, and by offering compelling, experience-driven customer engagement even in these toughest of times, operators around the world are differentiating their brands, inspiring customers and driving what will be sustainable future loyalty. In these challenging times, Oracle Communications is here to help in any way we can. Feel free to contact me on LinkedIn or oraclecomms_ww@oracle.com.

The ongoing efforts to keep people safe and informed have revealed how interconnected we all are, even during this time of social distancing. Data, video and voice service providers such as AT&T, China...

The Unprecedented Ways We are Now Connecting & Communicating

As people around the world are currently homebound, networks have taken on a whole new level of importance. People now more than ever need to connect virtually, and businesses need to continue to operate and perform. Where technology in some ways distanced us before, it is now bringing us together:  Friends and families are video conferencing for virtual Get-Togethers, Happy Hours, Coffee Breaks and Game Nights. Pope Francis live streamed from his home last week, as did other churches, temples and mosques. Businesses are hosting frequent live webcasts and video calling sessions to keep work human, and schools are creating virtual classrooms to keep students up to speed. I am amazed at how communications and digital technologies are fostering the type of “distanced socializing” that can make “social distancing” more bearable, and more doable in a time where we must resist our human instinct to be physically close. And so, I thought I’d take this moment to acknowledge what Communications Service Providers such as Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Vodafone and Telefonica, as well as the small and mid-sized operators across the world are doing to help ensure communications infrastructure holds up under the surge in messaging and voice calling on mobile networks, not to mention explosions in gaming and VPNs. Operators around the world have vowed to help residential and small- and medium-sized businesses with free hot spots and in several cases are waiving late fees and service terminations. One of Europe’s hardest hit countries launched a Digital Solidarity Campaign where operators, companies and associations are signing up to offer pro bono services. In the United States, operators have made a collective pledge to “Keep Americans Connected.” They are actively moving capacity, monitoring networks and changing traffic patterns to ensure critical applications perform, especially when it comes to health care and first-responder requirements for ever-more access and data. The same is true around the globe, as Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Vodafone and Chinese operators continue to boost network performance where it is needed the most. These efforts to keep the world connected, and to empower businesses large and small, are helping us remain united and productive in what would otherwise be nearly unbearable circumstances. I’m impressed and humbled by how all the Operators and Enterprises around the world have come together and risen to the challenge in very short order. To learn about our Oracle’s commitment to our customers and partners during the COVID-19 crisis, go here or email us at oraclecomms_ww@oracle.com with any questions you have.  

As people around the world are currently homebound, networks have taken on a whole new level of importance. People now more than ever need to connect virtually, and businesses need to continue...

The Global Comms Industry Fosters Human Connections When Needed Most

Recently I wrote about the role Communications Service Providers (CSPs) are playing globally to connect people in critical ways through wide-ranging communications and digital services. There are many more examples of how industry leaders continue opening new channels—and pushing the boundaries of existing networks—for extraordinary levels of human connection when they are needed most. I am inspired to see so many examples of expanded data and premium service access being offered, at no charge, to help billions of people connect to each other and to critical information. The industry is helping us all be more productive, whether for business or educational purposes. And global, regional and smaller telcos have worked relentlessly to find solutions around challenging infrastructure limitations. While by no means an exhaustive list, here are a few examples of operators who have risen to the current challenge: United States: As outlined in the ‘Keep Americans Connected’ pledge, most operators will not terminate service to any residential or small business customers. They’ll waive late fees incurred by residential or small business customers, and open up Wi-Fi hotspots free of charge. Additionally: Verizon: With a commitment of $45 million in contributions and donations to nonprofits, Verizon is helping them remain active during the crisis. Nurses on the front lines and teachers who are keeping students engaged will join military and first responders in benefiting from up to $40 off when combining Verizon unlimited wireless and FiOS internet plans. T-Mobile: To ensure its network continues to perform for all customers, the company announced agreements with multiple spectrum holders to light up an additional 600 MHz spectrum for 60 days. This expands network capacity for customers across the country. Additionally, it will expand roaming access for Sprint customers to use the T-Mobile network and it will offer more flexible payment arrangements for customers who need more time to pay their bills. AT&T: In addition to offering bonuses to frontline employees, the operator is offering a $15 plan with 2 GB of data and unlimited talk and text, as well as an automatic 10GB per month of additional data for all phone plans. European Operators: As reported, operators are providing increased voice and data usage increases at no cost and pushing out COVID-19 information, among other meaningful measures, such as: Telecom Italia (TIM): By teaming up with Google G-Suite and collaboration platform WeSchool, TIM is responding to a call from the Ministry of Education to boost access to e-learning tools. Telefonica: At no charge, Telefonica will increase all quadplay Fusion and Movistar mobile plans by an additional 30GB per month until end of May. It will also offer more children’s programming and sporting events to TV customers’ entertainment packages, at no cost. Telefonica Group: Its Spanish business unit announced it will add 30 GB of mobile data to all Fusion and Movistar convergence customers for the next two months. Vodafone UK: NHS workers who are existing customers will be given 30 days free unlimited mobile data, affecting approximately 125,000 NHS staff. That’s in addition to a 30-day unlimited data offer to 500,000 vulnerable customers, and additional capacity that will support the growing voice and data usage in European markets. The company also is working with government agencies to help them deliver targeted text messaging. Virgin Media: Postpaid customers are being offered unlimited minutes to landlines and other mobile numbers. Additionally, Virgin Media is offering a free 10 GB data boost for the month, while removing data caps on legacy broadband products. LATAM operators: Many operators, like Claro, Oi, Tim e Vivo, opened TV channels for all customers, along with free access to news channels with information on COVID-19. Others like Seaborn and Edge Uno are offering free Internet connectivity across their respective Americas networks to non-profit/not-for-profit organizations, educational programs, state and municipal governments, and public health. TIM Brasil: In partnering with Rio de Janeiro’s city hall for data analysis, the company will enable authorities to track displacement and concentration of people in areas affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Telefonica Brasil: Leveraging Big Data and AI, the operator is helping authorities slow the spread of the virus in Sao Paulo state by detecting trends in aggregated cellphone data; Oi: Exemptions are being given to all corporate customers for Oi Smart Office 4.0 to offer relief during the crisis. MEA Operators: Telecom operators in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) are responding to the pandemic crisis by supporting governments, businesses, individuals and households. For example: Etisalat: Granted businesses three months of free access to its online collaboration platform, Etisalat CloudTalk Meeting, in addition to providing free mobile data allowances to households without fixed Internet connectivity. It has also launched its ‘Business Edge’ platform for small and medium-sized enterprises. STC: Announced zero-rated browsing for selected educational platforms and the temporary suspension of fees for small and mid-sized enterprises that wish to suspend their services by April 30. Ooredoo: Offered data allowances for 5G customers and data top-ups for prepaid customers, doubling internet speeds for multi-play fiber customers, free access to premium content on its IPTV service, and boosting internet access speeds for all academic and educational entities for free. APAC Operators: Major Chinese carriers—China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom—worked to provide equipment and 5G services to hospitals in Wuhan, and 5G-enabled remote video diagnostic centers to help medical staff with remote, online consultations. Telstra: Business customers are getting additional data for free, and pensioners are getting unlimited standard home phone calls for free. The data will expire after 30 days but customers can apply for another 25GB of data up until end of June. SK Telecom: Free of charge, the company is providing Geovision big data-based real-time floating population analysis service to help police stop the spread of the virus. NTT Docomo Japan: With drive-through testing sites at its headquarters, removal of data caps, unlimited data, and bill payment relief, NTT is helping mitigate the effects of the epidemic. We are proud of operators’ efforts worldwide to keep people connected during these trying times. To learn about our Oracle’s commitment to customers and partners during the COVID-19 crisis, go here or email us at oraclecomms_ww@oracle.com with any questions you have.  

Recently I wrote about the role Communications Service Providers (CSPs) are playing globally to connect people in critical ways through wide-ranging communications and digital services. There are...

3 Tips for Using Emotional Intelligence When #WFH Working from Home

I’ve worked as a trainer for the Oracle sales organizations in EMEA and Asia Pacific regions for four years. I’ve coached more people than I can count, ranging from entry-level sales reps to executives. Back in 1995 when Daniel Goleman, published his book, Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More than IQ, I became fascinated with the subject of emotional intelligence. Simply put, emotional intelligence (EQ) describes a new way of being smart that is at least equally important to achieving success as IQ or technical expertise. It’s become popularized over the last two decades as researchers have uncovered key findings that emotional intelligence can impact success in business and leadership more than IQ. I have been so intrigued by the field of emotional intelligence that I am a certified EQ coach.             Why is EQ important now? It’s because we all find ourselves in uncharted territory in which our daily routines have been upended. We’ve had to adjust to the public transformation of social distancing where we can’t interact on a personal level, and face-to-face interactions are very limited. Many of us are working from home, when we’re used to going to an office. We’re shifting to video conferencing instead of in-person meetings and trying to accomplish tasks by phone, email, and text when we’re used to walking down the hall to discuss projects. For people in sales and consulting roles who are used to in-person presentations, negotiations, deployment planning and status meetings, we find ourselves trying to read the room, if you will, across a computer monitor. At the same time, many of us are juggling young children who are usually in a day care setting or kids schooling at home who demand and need attention. Emotional intelligence is more important now than ever so that we can successfully navigate these unprecedented times—both professionally and personally.  Empathy is key Without getting too deep in the weeds about EQ, a critical competency is empathy. We’ve all heard the adage, “Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.”  In other words, walking in someone else’s shoes means you put yourself in the other person’s place to understand their circumstances, experiences, challenges, thoughts, and emotions. Think about that for a moment in the frame of our current collective circumstances of stay-at-home orders, dogs barking on conference calls, and kids walking into video conferences asking for help with school work. Empathy has become so important to create a human connection and shared understanding as we adjust to our new world of social distancing. It involves three key behaviors: •    Active listening - Fully concentrating on what the speaker is saying so you understand, respond appropriately, and remember what they are saying. •    Curiosity - A genuine desire to gain knowledge and information by asking the right questions. •    Emotional connection - Creating a genuine bond by communicating your understanding. Building emotional intelligence and empathy in our new way of life A well-known clinical psychologist, Dr. Martyn Newman, reviewed more than 100 of Goleman’s research papers and developed a structure of 10 emotional competencies based on the commonality he observed across Goleman’s different studies. His thorough review of that body of research established clear links between the 10 specific emotional and social competencies and outstanding leadership and professional success. The good thing is that you can develop and improve all these competencies/skills. One of my favorite concepts from Goleman is the Triple Focus Model, and it’s one I like to teach and follow myself. At a high level, it involves these three clusters: Focusing on Yourself It’s your ability to understand and moderate your own emotions so you can keep cool under pressure, strive toward goals despite setbacks or major changes that may have occurred in the last few weeks, and stay motivated day after day in an uncertain world. If you’re feeling overly stressed or anxious on a particular day, maybe it’s best to reschedule an important call with a customer. Focusing on Others This is your ability to adapt to changes, remain resilient and optimistic, demonstrate empathy for others, communicate clearly, foster teamwork and collaboration, and persuade others. These skills are crucial to creating connections as we social distance and work remotely. Focusing on Systems It’s your understanding of the organization, an industry, or a particular system. As you work remotely, knowing how to navigate an organization can be very helpful to accomplish tasks and build rapport with key colleagues. Tips for optimizing interactions while working remotely As our work world shifts to online technologies, keep these 3 high tech tips with EQ in mind: •    Video conferences - It can be overwhelming and exhausting to be on camera for hours every day. It can also be distracting to look at ourselves on camera, as if we’re looking at a mirror. Sometimes your colleagues may not want to be on video. They would prefer an audio call, and that’s okay.   •    Texts and emails - We all know it’s difficult to read emotions in written communications like texts and emails. The situation is compounded now as people work from home and juggle many different priorities. If you don’t get a response immediately, don’t assume that someone is ignoring you. They may just be busy and not able to respond as quickly as you’d like. A trick I like to use is the send-receipt notification on emails. When I receive a response, I know my email has been received and read. Then, I can give the person the time they need to respond. •    Social media - Be mindful of what you post, how it might impact others, or whether it appears as negative. If you want to share, be sure that it’s uplifting, inspiring, or motivating. Emotional intelligence is not an innate or finite skill. You can improve your skills as you practice them. With every call, email, text, or video conference, you can build your skill set to listen more actively, ask questions with a genuine curiosity for the answer, manage your emotions, become more resilient despite bad news, set-backs, or significant changes, and demonstrate empathy as others juggle their personal situations. We’re in the midst of unprecedented times and focusing on your emotional intelligence is a great skill set to help you manage your circumstances. For more information about how Oracle Cloud Applications can help you work remotely, go to www.oracle.com/applications      

I’ve worked as a trainer for the Oracle sales organizations in EMEA and Asia Pacific regions for four years. I’ve coached more people than I can count, ranging from entry-level sales reps...

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...