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

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AI & Machine Learning – What’s really in it for your business?

Businesses today are realizing only a fraction of their artificial intelligence (AI) potential. But when, leaders leverage the potential of AI systems to transform not just how businesses do work, but also what they actually do, AI is becomes an agent of change. Consumer-focused businesses use artificial intelligence to help increase sales. Technology can more successfully suggest products that online shoppers end up buying and AI has also been successfully deployed to handle increased numbers of service calls. Chatbots based on AI handle 60 percent or more of incoming calls autonomously. Intelligent advisors also help service agents to be more efficient – all to the satisfaction of the customers. Let’s take a look at what AI enabled technology can do for the HR and finance functions. In HR AI can support talent acquisition by considerably reducing time to hire whilst improving the candidate experience. Another area which is being impacted is learning & development where companies are piloting Virtual Reality (VR) to train employees. And the most interesting use cases are about the use of virtual reality for compliance training. Chatbots gave a significant impact on the HR function. A great example is FedEx who is renowned for how it uses tech-fuelled innovation to constantly improve the delivery of packages and the information customers have about their package. In addition to focusing on excellence for customers, they also want enterprise functions like finance and HR to feel as innovative as the experiences it delivers to its customers, so the company drove a transformation using Oracle Cloud. They completely virtualized their model for deploying software and training people on new systems, enabling the team to stand up nine new local instances of Oracle Cloud ERP during the COVID-19 crisis with no interruptions to timelines. In the past, the company would send teams to a country deploying a major new system, staying there for weeks to set it up and train employees. The crisis eliminated travel to those countries, inspiring the successful shift to virtual deployments. There is consensus about the benefits of AI in the financial field. It enables transformational automation, freeing employees from mundane and repetitive tasks. Virtual agents, for example, can help increase the productivity a department carrying out tasks such as account reconciliation and compliance. Secondly, AI not only allows the extraction of new information but also provides so-called predictive elements. Third, AI can help CFOs improve their performance in areas such as cash surplus operations for early payment discounts, or supplier selection. More specifically, with AI, the company’s technology applications can be equipped with new functionalities that systematically and automatically check invoices for offers of early payment discounts and signalling these opportunities, so that the financial teams can better prioritize payment operations. Hearst Communications, one of the largest media and information services companies, needed to consolidate onto a state-of-the-art cloud financial, HR, and inventory management application platform to support the iconic media company’s strategy and growth ambitions. Their implementation of Oracle Cloud applications allowed it to improve financial reporting and gain insights in near real time while reducing IT support costs. Meantime, it reduced more than 15 unique charts of accounts down to a single one, enabling delivery of reports to senior leaders in a matter of minutes, improving decision-making. AI hasn’t always fully lived up to its expectations and even when it comes to improving less advanced algorithms, researchers can struggle with limited datasets and a lack of saleable computing power. But the pandemic accelerated the need for AI, and we have demonstrated how useful AI can be in fighting Covid-19, for example. In Switzerland companies are preparing to embrace AI across functions. During several dedicated sessions moderated by journalists from Finanz und Wirtschaft, we will be deep diving into what this means for executives and for financial institutions with WiseKey, one of Oracle’s first external trusted identity providers, allowing clients to securely add data onto the Oracle Blockchain Platform. This session will be about using emerging technology to meet trust, data and AI and how mathematics can support the financial system. As we enter 2021, the global workforce is still adapting to the new workplace. HR leaders see challenges in remote work, younger employees are seeking support, and countries are feeling the impact in different ways. But one thing is universal: people need more support and they're turning to their employers for help. Oracle expert Joachim Skura will decipher facts from fiction when it comes to turning technology into real productivity. With heritage hotels, luxury holiday resorts, business, and spa hotels around the world, Kempinski hotels are designed for guests who value five-star holidays and luxury getaways. Thanks to the Cloud, the group has embarked on a journey to empower its HR managers to attract and recruit talent, and all of its people to tap into global opportunities, increasing internal mobility to develop and grow within the group. This can only be made possible by setting a strong foundation through a state-of-the-art global HR information system. Diego Trupiano, Director of HR Information Systems, will share his insights on how our HR technology is helping Kempinski Hotels to empower and connect people whilst offering a continuous journey towards efficiency and excellence. To find out more about how companies in Switzerland make the most of AI, register here.    

Businesses today are realizing only a fraction of their artificial intelligence (AI) potential. But when, leaders leverage the potential of AI systems to transform not just how businesses do work, but...

2021 will be the year of the cloud startup

No one can predict what the weather holds for 2021, but the forecast for businesses is almost certainly "cloudy."  Forrester predicts CIOs will spend less overall as the pandemic keeps budgets under close scrutiny, but will embrace cloud-first platform strategies in a bid to streak ahead of competitors in the ‘new normal.’ This means startups using Oracle Cloud infrastructure (OCI) are well-placed for the uncertain year ahead, thanks to OCI’s high-performance computing power and real-time elasticity for enterprise applications. What’s more, members of Oracle for Startups can access OCI at a 70% discount, and enjoy free credits and other perks of the startup program. The forecast calls for clouds   The impact of Covid-19 in the workplace reinforced the value and necessity of cloud computing to the world’s economy and workforce, according to Forrester. The research firm noted that without cloud, businesses could not have maintained supply chains, pivoted business models, or let employees work from home. Its trend report says the pandemic has exposed ‘stark contrasts’ between companies that embrace cloud technologies and those that have yet to invest and are now lagging behind.  It predicts the global public cloud infrastructure market will grow 35% to $120 billion in 2021, with three in ten firms accelerating their spend on cloud in 2021. This includes companies that are struggling to survive, as well as others “looking to leapfrog less wily competitors and gain advantage coming out of the pandemic.” “Leading CIOs will embrace cloud-first and platform strategies for speed and adaptiveness, eschewing stovepipes for end-to-end solutions,” the report says. How startups are using OCI Members of Oracle’s startup program are already enjoying the benefits of OCI at a 70% discount. For example, Oracle Cloud has helped Televindu financially. Øystein Hansen, cofounder of the Norwegian video platform, says, “The alternative would be to buy expensive computers right away so we would have had to set aside capital for that. With the virtual machine, it’s more pay-as-you-go, which brings flexibility in terms of scaling.” BotSupply cofounder Francesco Stasi praises OCI’s solidity. “We can be certain our customer’s data is always safe and private—that’s all taken care of,” he says, while Amro Shihadah, founder and COO, IDenTV likes that it’s low maintenance. “How everything seamlessly all integrates with the Oracle Analytics Cloud and capabilities is hugely beneficial for us and requires very low engineering on our part,” he says. Can OCI help your business, too? Embracing Oracle Cloud could help startups get ahead during turbulent times, by lowering costs, giving companies the power and security they need, and by helping startups to scale up. Compared to AWS and Microsoft Azure, OCI offers a lower cost in most products, particularly storage and networking, making it ideal for companies that want to save money. (Isn't that everyone?) Furthermore, Oracle for Startups gives growing businesses  a 70% discount plus free credits to get started.  Startups are discovering that OCI is also simpler to use and set up than alternatives, with hands-on migration assistance and consistent pricing worldwide, plus a flexible monthly credit model. See how OCI compares to AWS and Microsoft Azure. OCI is built to handle workloads from DevOps to high-performance compute including AI, machine learning, analytics, and data modeling. With per-second billing for bare metal and VMs, it offers enterprise power at a startup price tag.  While any company will be focused on surviving, adapting, and thriving in difficult times, using OCI means there is no need to worry about cloud security and performance. Startups that switched to OCI have experienced huge savings for outbound bandwidth, 2x better compute price and performance, plus 44% lower compute costs for HPC. Startups that are pivoting or taking advantage of new opportunities will also appreciate OCI’s enterprise-ready technology that’s built for scale. It means cloud resources that scale to meet demand, integrate with enterprise suites, and solve pain points for the big brands, making startups more likely to snag a dream enterprise customer that wants to take a chance on a smaller firm with major potential.  In short, Oracle Cloud helps startups move towards a bright future. Get started today.  

No one can predict what the weather holds for 2021, but the forecast for businesses is almost certainly "cloudy."  Forrester predicts CIOs will spend less overall as the pandemic keeps budgets under...

Optimizing Online Experiences to Address Accelerating Change: Lessons Learned from Motorola Solutions and Hyster-Yale

There’s a lot that can be said about COVID-19 and how it’s upended our lives, especially for those of us accustomed to regular business travel. However, without it, we likely wouldn’t have gotten the CX Virtual Summit, which brought us hours of educational content on the importance of leveraging data to maximize every customer interaction, and what role new technologies can play in supporting that effort. What made this latest summit on Responsive Selling in the Experience Economy so unique is that it opened with Larry Ellison’s predictions on what the future of CX holds. Following this headliner performance, was a Women in Leadership Panel featuring two Oracle CX customers, Susan Fisher, Senior Manager of Global CRM & CPQ Platform Development at Hyster-Yale Group,  and Susan Andreeff, Senior Manager and Agile Product Manager of Digital Commerce at Motorola Solutions, Inc. Both are reimagining how customers engage and purchase in complex B2B environments.  As Hyster-Yale and Motorola Solutions continue on their path of transforming the digital customer journey, they learned a few lessons, particularly during this time of business upheaval caused by COVID. While these lessons are relevant in today’s current climate, they really should be applied to the way we work every day, pandemic or not. Think about the customer, not just the technology As the impact of COVID-19 took hold, Hyster-Yale, a global manufacturer of fork-lift trucks with over 900 made-to-order models, experienced a shift in customers, both in who was buying, and what they were buying. This shift pushed digital plans to the forefront. Luckily, Hyster-Yale already had a configuration and quoting solution in place and was in the process of connecting it to a digital storefront for customers. Hyster-Yale sales reps too have turned to digital selling solutions as an alternative to their traditional face-to-face selling methods, and these tools are now working shoulder-to-shoulder with the reps, selling right alongside them.  Plan ahead, even if you don’t know what the future holds Putting the right solutions in place ahead of time will help prepare you for the unknown. In the case of Motorola Solutions, a leader in mission critical communications and services, this meant having a flexible digital solution. Oracle Commerce, in combination with Oracle Configure, Price, Quote, allowed them to pivot and react quickly as they witnessed rapidly changing market conditions. With their integrated solution, Motorola Solutions was able to shift business priorities and open a completely new route to market for business radios in just six weeks! Disruption happens, embrace it As COVID has shown, disruption happens, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. Instead, embrace it and reevaluate your plans to prioritize the digital imperative today. But, don’t proceed with these new plans too hastily. Market leaders will be those who minimize interruptions to the day-to-day business while achieving their digital transformation objectives.   Susan Fisher and Susan Andreeff serve as great examples of what it means to be proponents of change. We will continue to monitor progress in their digital transformation journeys, and I expect to see more from them in the future.  That’s a wrap on the Women in Leadership Panel. Be sure to catch VP of Product Strategy Katrina Gosek and VP of Product Management Ian Davis’s session on Buying Signals and the Future of Sales and Commerce followed by a session with Director of Product Strategy Jeri Kelley and Senior Product Marketing Manager Shad Stalians where you will learn to Visualize Your Path to Digital Commerce Excellence

There’s a lot that can be said about COVID-19 and how it’s upended our lives, especially for those of us accustomed to regular business travel. However, without it, we likely wouldn’t have gotten the...

The Rising Importance of Visual Engagement During COVID-19

As the world continues to grapple with the global pandemic and social distancing guidelines, companies of all sizes are identifying innovative ways to keep their employees, customer service representatives, and end users seamlessly connected to ensure business continuity and growth.  Business leaders across industries have rapidly shifted their mindset as a result, emphasizing the need to expand remote collaboration, ensure contactless delivery of services, and reduce physical presence at local banks, offices, and stores. A vast majority of companies are looking to adopt visual engagement solutions that not only enable modern real-time digital and visual engagement with high efficiency at low cost, but also retain that seamless omnichannel customer experience. What is Visual Engagement? Visual Engagement is a powerful real-time collaboration concept that combines video, co-browsing, screen sharing, and/or screen annotations experiences. By adopting visual chat, agents can drive personalized, precise, and rapid problem resolution with end users. Let’s explore various industry use cases that are driving the need for remote collaboration using Visual Engagement tools and how Oracle Cloud CX addresses this market demand. Industry drivers for visual engagement initiatives In the financial services sector, many banking firms are now keen to transition to processes that let them verify their customers through facial ID verification software. Once verified, banks can provide invaluable services and complete transactions for customers using video, screen sharing, and e-signature. Banks see this as an important measure to prevent health risks for both employees and customers. This enables the banks to remotely and visually assist with account registration, loan applications, wealth management, portfolio guidance, retirement plan rollovers, home or group lending plans, and funds transfers while ensuring security and compliance for all shared content.  In the retail industry, stores and online retailers are striving to maximize remote support to prospective buyers, and remote support to customers for the assessment of damaged goods or for the return of merchandise. Thankfully, these online services can be executed effectively through the combination of video and screen sharing too, enabling visual assistance and quicker inventory walk-through. The end goal? To ultimately limit the need to physically visit the stores and encourage in-home delivery or curbside pickup. In the high-tech and manufacturing industries, customers often need remote support for electronics repairs. Additionally, field technicians are frequently required to visit sites to perform complex diagnostics and repairs for high-tech machinery and large equipment. For field technicians, particularly, reducing service time at the remote site is imperative during COVID-19. The good news is that remote support for customers and field technicians can efficiently be handled by in-house agents through video. Using powerful tools like visual annotations to pinpoint problems over video and drive faster diagnostics limits exposure and reduces overall service time and cost. In the healthcare industry, demand for telehealth soared during the pandemic. Patients now frequently exercise the option to schedule video appointments with healthcare service providers and doctors, using visual engagement methods to discuss questions on prescriptions or medical reports. In the public sector, state and local agencies now actively provide residents of local municipalities with online mental health services during the pandemic to manage stress and anxiety, provide social security services, resolve home or office space concerns, and process online applications for funds from unemployment claims. Visual engagement can play a vital role in providing remote support for these critical needs. And finally, as is already widely reported in response to COVID-19, most companies are facilitating virtual employee communication and collaboration through online meetings, video, and chat without the need to aggregate at the physical workplace, and serving as an effective replacement to the physical conference room. Oracle Cloud CX empowers digital and visual engagement Oracle CX’s modern real-time digital and visual engagement solutions not only enable powerful remote collaboration with consumers but also quicker agent-to-agent and agent-to-supervisor communication. As part of Oracle CX’s omnichannel suite, these solutions help sales and service agents provide a seamless and personalized experience as companies adapt to the new normal.

As the world continues to grapple with the global pandemic and social distancing guidelines, companies of all sizes are identifying innovative ways to keep their employees, customer service...

New York State Builds Rapid Contact Center Solution in Four Days

When the coronavirus hit New York hard in March 2020, the state realized citizen services would quickly be swamped and critical constituent needs would not be met. State leaders needed a way to quickly add new call center agents, and also needed to divert a significant percentage of calls to self-service. With information changing day to day, it was critical that the call center agents and self-service channels offer accurate real-time information. This included COVID-19 related information from the World Health Organization, the National Institutes of Health, the CDC, and financial and social services information from the NY Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services. And the state needed to execute all of this with a remote workforce spanning multiple departments and agencies in mere days. To create a scalable, reliable platform that would support its goals, the state’s Department of Taxation and Finance leveraged their existing instance of  Oracle Fusion Cloud Customer Experience (CX) to serve as the foundation for the Consolidated Contact Center Department which would enable 4,000 workers to act as call-center agents, even though doing so was not their core job responsibility. Given the rapidly expanding crisis, New York State needed all hands on deck.  An intuitive elegant interface activates thousands of new call center agents Within hours, Oracle partner Speridian, who was already engaged with the Department of Taxation, helped  the Coronavirus Hotline team created 4,000 new accounts for the new workers who would be joining the front line response team. Designing an interface that was elegant and intuitive was essential, as the state did not have much time to train its employees on the system. Agents and self-service channels needed to field inquiries spanning a range of areas: COVID-19, other healthcare concerns, unemployment, financial assistance programs, mental health services, and even driver’s license renewals, trash removal, and more. Lastly, to be complete, the portal needed to enable online application support so that programs with eligibility requirements, such as supplemental nutrition assistance (SNAP), temporary assistance for families in need, unemployment -  could be run and managed online from start to finish. To get started, call center agents just needed an internet connection and a web browser. From there, they could securely access the Agent Interface and begin assisting with constituent inquiries.  From concept to completion: Four Days On March 15, New York State launched the New York Coronavirus Hotline. With Oracle CX Service as the foundation of the new hotline, the state was able to offer citizens and employees with access to key services via the communication channel of choice:  mobile phones, land lines, text, chat, email and the web portal. Robotic Processing Automation and Bots were deployed to constantly scan for new information from the CDC, World Health Organization, National Institutes of Health, Department of Labor and Department of Health and Human Services. Learn more about how three levels of government responded to COVID-19.

When the coronavirus hit New York hard in March 2020, the state realized citizen services would quickly be swamped and critical constituent needs would not be met. State leaders needed a way to...

The Rising Importance of Visual Engagement During COVID-19

As the world continues to grapple with the global pandemic and social distancing guidelines, companies of all sizes are identifying innovative ways to keep their employees, customer service representatives, and end users seamlessly connected to ensure business continuity and growth.  Business leaders across industries have rapidly shifted their mindset as a result, emphasizing the need to expand remote collaboration, ensure contactless delivery of services, and reduce physical presence at local banks, offices, and stores. A vast majority of companies are looking to adopt visual engagement solutions that not only enable modern real-time digital and visual engagement with high efficiency at low cost, but also retain that seamless omnichannel customer experience. What is Visual Engagement? Visual Engagement is a powerful real-time collaboration concept that combines video, co-browsing, screen sharing, and/or screen annotations experiences. By adopting visual chat, agents can drive personalized, precise, and rapid problem resolution with end users. Let’s explore various industry use cases that are driving the need for remote collaboration using Visual Engagement tools and how Oracle Cloud CX addresses this market demand. Industry drivers for visual engagement initiatives In the financial services sector, many banking firms are now keen to transition to processes that let them verify their customers through facial ID verification software. Once verified, banks can provide invaluable services and complete transactions for customers using video, screen sharing, and e-signature. Banks see this as an important measure to prevent health risks for both employees and customers. This enables the banks to remotely and visually assist with account registration, loan applications, wealth management, portfolio guidance, retirement plan rollovers, home or group lending plans, and funds transfers while ensuring security and compliance for all shared content.  In the retail industry, stores and online retailers are striving to maximize remote support to prospective buyers, and remote support to customers for the assessment of damaged goods or for the return of merchandise. Thankfully, these online services can be executed effectively through the combination of video and screen sharing too, enabling visual assistance and quicker inventory walk-through. The end goal? To ultimately limit the need to physically visit the stores and encourage in-home delivery or curbside pickup. In the high-tech and manufacturing industries, customers often need remote support for electronics repairs. Additionally, field technicians are frequently required to visit sites to perform complex diagnostics and repairs for high-tech machinery and large equipment. For field technicians, particularly, reducing service time at the remote site is imperative during COVID-19. The good news is that remote support for customers and field technicians can efficiently be handled by in-house agents through video. Using powerful tools like visual annotations to pinpoint problems over video and drive faster diagnostics limits exposure and reduces overall service time and cost. In the healthcare industry, demand for telehealth soared during the pandemic. Patients now frequently exercise the option to schedule video appointments with healthcare service providers and doctors, using visual engagement methods to discuss questions on prescriptions or medical reports. In the public sector, state and local agencies now actively provide residents of local municipalities with online mental health services during the pandemic to manage stress and anxiety, provide social security services, resolve home or office space concerns, and process online applications for funds from unemployment claims. Visual engagement can play a vital role in providing remote support for these critical needs. And finally, as is already widely reported in response to COVID-19, most companies are facilitating virtual employee communication and collaboration through online meetings, video, and chat without the need to aggregate at the physical workplace, and serving as an effective replacement to the physical conference room. Oracle Cloud CX empowers digital and visual engagement Oracle CX’s modern real-time digital and visual engagement solutions not only enable powerful remote collaboration with consumers but also quicker agent-to-agent and agent-to-supervisor communication. As part of Oracle CX’s omnichannel suite, these solutions help sales and service agents provide a seamless and personalized experience as companies adapt to the new normal.

As the world continues to grapple with the global pandemic and social distancing guidelines, companies of all sizes are identifying innovative ways to keep their employees, customer service...

The Subscription Model: The Way Forward for Every Business

The subscription economy, consisting of the recurring payment for products or services, has been around for ages and is more prevalent now than ever before. When we talk about subscription, what may come to mind is online streaming, newspapers, cable service, and our milkman. The subscription model is not limited to retail or media. It’s used to drive revenues across many different industries. If your organization uses a traditional one-off purchase model, it's time to evaluate the benefits of recurring subscription models. What makes subscription services a successful and thriving model is how it can be adopted by any business to create connections with customers. Salient features of subscription models  Smart brands appreciate the many features of subscription models, such as: Sustainability: Subscription models give the organization a steady volume of recurring revenue, which helps management plan into the future with a certain level of confidence. The sustained relationship with the customer gives organizations an edge in understanding their customers' needs and behaviors and consequently allows them to serve their customers better and form deeper bonds. Scalability: Armed with a better understanding of their customers and the ability to accurately predict customer lifetime value, organizations can upsell and cross-sell with a higher success rate. Subscription models provide organizations the right data to gauge customer interest for new offerings and new price models.  Convenience: Subscription models give customers greater control over what they use, altering their service plans as needed, and choosing the desired offerings from a wide variety of options.  Challenges subscription models face The subscription model's inherent flexibility brings with itself complex challenges that organizations should plan for while deciding on the scope and features of their offerings.  Customer experience: Customer inclination towards subscription can be partly attributed to its flexibility in browsing the various plans, selecting what fits them best, and personalizing the offerings. To continuously maintain a premium customer experience can prove a daunting task.  Revenue management: As the service offering moves from one-off transactions to recurring and consumption-based transactions, accurate billing challenges increase. Different rates for different tiers of usage, overage fees, and custom plans make tracking and billing difficult to manage with outdated billing systems or spreadsheets.  Contract management: Subscriptions can be renewed, suspended, and amended by customers at any time during the billing cycle for a particular product, service, or for the entire subscription. These changes must be incorporated in your billing and revenue recognition solutions.  Finding the right technology partner  Subscription models impact customer-facing systems, billing solutions, invoicing, and order fulfillment systems. This calls for a shift in how customer lifetime value is identified, and what parameters should be tracked to define business success. The technology systems in place to handle subscriptions must provide complete sales information to billing support by assisting in:  Customer experience: A self-service solution where the customer can easily select and start subscriptions, modify products, term, and frequency, and upgrade & after subscription easily in one place is needed. Organizations should be able to check on usage and performance of different offerings and determine the lifetime value of customer Revenue management: Complete control of your billing and revenue recognition by having an automated invoice creation mechanism and consolidated revenue recognition. The system should be capable of handling the complex pricing logistics of subscriptions. Organizations need easy access to reports on recurring and consumption billing to have better control over revenue. Contract management: Amendments, renewals, and suspension logic are enabled in the system to allow flexibility to customers. Automated renewal creation capability ensures that no revenue is lost and the sales rep’s time is not consumed in looking for working for direct renewals. The system must allow organizations to view pending contracts and review current subscriptions. Conclusion Subscriptions have seen continuous revenue growth in recent years and have stood the test of the recent COVID-19 crisis. While choosing the right subscription model, organizations must be mindful of: • The customer-centricity and experience of the offering • The financial impact of price flexibility and billing complexity • Having the right technology ecosystem in place to support creation to fulfillment flow Organizations require a partner that understands the complexity of moving from an ownership model to subscriptions. Learn more about Oracle’s subscription management solution here.

The subscription economy, consisting of the recurring payment for products or services, has been around for ages and is more prevalent now than ever before. When we talk about subscription, what may...

5 Aces to Overcoming the Pandemic for CMOs

The global pandemic has changed nearly everything for CMOs, forcing them to scramble as consumers shift even more to online shopping. Meanwhile, CEOs are pressuring their marketing chiefs to find strategies for recovery.  At our recent CX Virtual Summit for Asia, I had an insightful conversation with Jojo Concepcion, CEO of our customer Concepcion Industrial Corporation (CIC), about the intersection of customer experience software and the need for businesses to make decisions more nimbly. CIC has been incredibly successful at striking the right balance, especially during a very challenging year. The Philippines-based appliance distributor has managed to give customers what they need when they need it while creating new business opportunities.  What’s helped CIC are the “five aces” that CMOs must establish in their companies while leveraging – with intention – critical emerging technologies to modernize their interactions.   The five aces are:  Adaptability: The world has changed, but businesses still need to keep going, whether through finding new ways to reach cash-strapped households or helping customers visualize products from the comfort and safety of their homes. Marketing organizations must become comfortable with change. Accountability: Businesses expect marketers to help deliver quantifiable business impact with the help of modern technology. As the measurement of campaigns has become more sophisticated, CMOs must embrace accountability.  Authenticity: Modern marketers need to know and use data they collect from customers to engage them in highly personalized communications across their devices, print, and broadcast media.  Action: Customers expect companies they do business with to respond quickly and at all hours. Meeting them on their terms helps foster brand relationships.   Alignment: This doesn’t just mean coordination between sales and marketing; it also means aligning the organization so that customers’ needs dictate the businesses’ activities.  Jojo and I agreed that experiences are everything – we know they’re often more important than the product or service we’re delivering. Uncertainty and not knowing how the world will evolve creates a huge opportunity for marketers to define their companies. There’s hard evidence behind the proscriptions. 83% of 260 global CEOs surveyed by management consultancy McKinsey last year said they expect marketing to be a major driver for their companies’ growth. To do so, marketing departments need to move faster, collaborate better, and focus more sharply on customers.  Yet McKinsey estimates making such changes can cut 10% to 30% of marketing costs while adding 5% to 15% to sales growth. And about 23% of CEOs say marketing isn’t delivering on the growth agenda. Often, executives pour time into a few initiatives, “then grow frustrated when the promised value doesn’t appear,” according to the study.  CIC is consolidating sales, customer service, and e-commerce systems with its back-office software to understand its customers better. That’s helping the air conditioning, and refrigeration company simplify online ordering, sell directly to consumers, and forge new business models -- such as renting cool air time “as a service,” rather than selling an appliance outright, Jojo said.  “For 90 days, we had no place to sell our products – stores were closed nationwide,” he said. “Manufacturing, distribution, and most e-commerce stopped for three months during the pandemic’s height this year. CIC adapted by emphasizing products for kitchens tailored to people staying and cooking at home and developing new ones for those who wanted a cool environment without the upfront cost”.  Vince Abejo, chief sales and marketing officer at property developer Filinvest Land, spoke during our conference about capturing data points during and after the sale of a house or condo so the company can retain buyers it sells to over time. Filinvest is holding online house tours, inspecting properties by drone aircraft, and courting prospects to ensure the pipeline stays stocked after the pandemic ends.  Not only is the company attuned to its customers’ needs, but it has also adopted its behavior to stay authentic. “Booked sales are now back to pre-Covid levels,” Abejo said. These are just a few fresh ideas that can be brought to life using the five aces and modern cloud technology. I’d love to hear directly from you about other ideas you might have, so be sure to reach out to me in the comments to let me know how I can help.  To learn more about the trends impacting marketing leadership today, visit the CMO Corner. 

The global pandemic has changed nearly everything for CMOs, forcing them to scramble as consumers shift even more to online shopping. Meanwhile, CEOs are pressuring their marketing chiefs to find...

How Northern Illinois University moved to Oracle Cloud during COVID-19

Many universities have successfully moved on-premise workloads to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. But what’s it’s like for a large institution to move their critical PeopleSoft application to the cloud, during the COVID-19 pandemic? Two Northern Illinois University (NIU) IT professionals told their story in a webinar that described their successful migration strategy, despite the shuttered campus. Although migrating enterprise applications to a cloud platform can be demanding, the implementation was successfully completed with minimal disruption, thanks to the partnership between the university and Oracle Consulting Services. Located in Dekalb, IL, NIU is a medium-sized public institution with 17,000 students, 2,100 staff, and 1,200 faculty members. NIU is also a full-suite PeopleSoft customer (Campus Solutions 9.2, HCM 9.2., Financials and Supply Chain Management 9.2, and PeopleTools 8.57), but their need to replace their Exadata servers motivated the institution to begin modernizing in 2018. NIU considered and eliminated a variety of options: refreshing with on-premises hardware or exercising the Oracle’s Cloud@Customer option would still require the institution to rely on aging local infrastructure, while a do it yourself VMWare RAC deployment option was eliminated because of the need for highly-skilled employees to build and support the project. In the end, Oracle Cloud was “the solution that offered the best of all worlds,” said Ruperto Herrera, NIU’s Manager of Database Administration and Architecture. “Choosing Oracle as our cloud vendor and partner made a lot of sense.” Their decision to move to OCI was motivated by a variety of other factors: Reducing costs: eliminating the need to replace costly hardware every few years. “By choosing Oracle Cloud, we were able to save 13% on infrastructure-related costs over a three-year period,” Herrera says. “we’re very happy [with] that number.” Improving reliability and scalability:  NIU was looking for improved performance, availability, and protection from DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks. “Being able to scale up during times of peak load, such as during student registration periods or finals was a priority for us,” Herrera says. “Bare metal gives us the flexibility to scale up [and down] in a very seamless manner, which we’ve already done a number of times without any issues.” Streamlining IT operations: by moving core administrative systems into the cloud, NIU has freed up a large amount of on-premises resources. Herrera adds that OCI’s cloud automation tools allows NIU’s IT team to simplify processes like maintenance and patching. NIU partnered with Oracle Consulting Services (OCS) for the implementation, lasted from October 2019 through May 2020. The speed and success of the implementation can be credited to the careful planning and design work undertaken by NIU and OCS, from requirement gathering to building out the architecture (and redesigning, as needed). Herrera credits OCS for putting together realistic design blueprints and cost estimates for running their workloads in the cloud; “we’re still well within those limits today,” he says. In addition, following Oracle Consulting’s lead and expertise in cloud migrations was key. “early on we were too concerned with trying to recreate the architecture we had on-premise, and it took us a little while to let go of that and trust our partner,” Herrera says, “[but] adopting best practices [will put us] a better position to manage our environment in the long run.” To hear more about the lessons NIU learned during the implementation, their cloud/SaaS plans for the future, and how the university managed the shift to remote operations, click here to access the recording. And to learn more about how higher education is changing, Access the eBook “New Realities for Higher Education” Register for “Igniting Research with Oracle High Performance Computing”

Many universities have successfully moved on-premise workloads to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. But what’s it’s like for a large institution to move their critical PeopleSoft application to the cloud,...

Is Direct-to-Consumer the Future?

By Gerald Poncet, Senior Director, Industry Strategy Group, Oracle. Disruption is both rapid and profound across the consumer goods industry, often resulting in dramatic and sudden changes in consumer shopping habits. The uncertainty, speed, and frequency of unpredictable events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, are prompting brands to re-assess their operating environment, reduce costs, and increase agility in response to market requirements. Connecting with Consumers Directly, Digitally, is More Important Than Ever With the constantly evolving, technology-driven world of digital commerce, consumers are more mobile, have unprecedented power, and control information in the palm of their hands—leading to ever-increasing expectations. Shopping behavior is adapting, as shoppers discover new opportunities for finding what they want at a price they’re willing to pay, delivered to them at the time and place of their choosing. Consumers now expect new and better experiences—through recognition, personalization, and innovation—at every moment in the purchase cycle. Mass manufacturing and push marketing no longer suffice. The ability to seamlessly connect the digital and physical worlds to deliver personalized experiences define the companies that thrive with today’s consumer. Re-inventing Traditional Models, Offering Multiple Paths to Purchase New entrants are introducing outside-in thinking and entirely new ways to serve. Survival depends on the ability to rapidly adapt and think outside the box—as disrupters have done all along. Increasingly, products are being offered as a service through subscription models, with just-in-time delivery, informed by and optimized with sophisticated analytics and machine learning. Doing the same thing in a new way is no longer seen as true innovation. “As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, brands of all kinds are looking to shore up their own DTC [direct-to-consumer] efforts as more consumers seek authentic and engaging brand relationships in increasingly digital spaces.” – Forrester Brands must now sell what today’s increasingly connected consumers can more easily find—not by running to a store and gazing at a shelf but from the convenience of their personal devices, used anywhere at any hour. The direct-to-consumer model is becoming an important alternative to traditional retail channels, providing companies with an opportunity to rewrite the playbook on how to engage customers and consumers. Direct-to-consumer, high-end home products, or companies shilling disposable products, are examples of businesses seeing a boom as consumers seek out alternatives to fill their needs and manufacturers navigate this new unpredictable reality. Recent Trends in Direct-to-Consumer 80% of consumers plan to make purchases from DTC brands by 2023 (Retail Dive) 4 in 10 global online consumers said they were already using online shopping subscriptions, and a further 36% said they were willing to do so in the next two years (Nielsen) 11% annual forecasted growth rate of DTC in the 2018-22 period (Barclays) 77% of manufacturers plan to invest in DTC during 2020 (Barclays) The global fresh and packaged food meal kit service market, which was worth an estimated $2.5B in 2017, is forecasted to grow to almost $8B by 2024 (Statista) Direct-to-Consumer in the Cloud Cloud adoption, coupled with advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, blockchain, and digital assistants, can help brands by enabling fast, intuitive, self-service. Likewise, the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data are producing valuable insights for those with the power to interpret and act on them. Transitioning from legacy systems—that in many cases are well past their functional life—requires that brands look for models that not only improve their current situation, but are future-proof to keep up with ever-changing demands. Next Step Brands need to quickly transition from a product-centric focus and pivot to a consumer-centric focus. They need to put the consumer at the very core of every business decision and process, which will enable them to better anticipate expectations and needs, both now and in the future—fostering lasting trust and loyalty.  Oracle provides a complete line of applications specifically designed to create frictionless, omnichannel engagement, combining planning and merchandising with supply chain capabilities.  For more information on how you can stand out from the competition—delivering rewarding experiences to consumers and modernizing the front and back office, visit Oracle CX for Retail and Consumer Goods.  

By Gerald Poncet, Senior Director, Industry Strategy Group, Oracle. Disruption is both rapid and profound across the consumer goods industry, often resulting in dramatic and sudden changes in consumer...

Learn how Oracle used APEX to quickly launch its COVID-19 therapeutic app

  Register for the webinar on October 20 at 10:00 am PT.   As the coronavirus started spreading worldwide in March of this year, a large cross-functional team at Oracle was charged with building a system, called the Therapeutic Learning System (TLS), to track the efficacy of treatments then in the early stages of development. The purpose was to help healthcare providers gather data from patients being treated and track their status as they proceeded through various regimens. Ultimately, this information would be shared with U.S. health officials to help them make better-informed decisions about coronavirus therapies. The initial deadline to build the TLS—from scratch, as no code had been written—was four calendar days. It was all conceptual at the time. We had no choice but to use Oracle Application Express (APEX), the low-code platform our company already had used to develop thousands of applications, many of them at enterprise-scale. Oracle APEX enables developers to quickly build and deploy applications with far less code than a hand-coded solution. The developers of a low code platform can be citizen developers, line of business developers, or even simply power users. Low code platforms are easier to learn and more approachable by a broader domain of people. You can enlist more people in your enterprise to help contribute solutions, all the while maintaining governance over the applications and platform. The first night, we stayed up until 2:30 a.m., collaborating with health science professionals within Oracle, crafting a data model for the information we wished to capture. Over the next three days, we developed the first set of APEX applications to register healthcare practitioners, enable them to manage their patients and treatments, and notify the patients (via email or SMS) with updates on their status. After the first demonstration on Day 4, we were afforded more time to complete the solution, and we iterated these applications over the next five days, improving the flow, revising the user interface, and developing other applications for support, system monitoring, and an executive dashboard. All in all, we created seven applications comprising more than 200 pages. While our APEX product development team was busy developing these APEX applications, other Oracle teams were preparing the necessary cloud services, performing testing, doing scalability analysis, assessing security, architecting and testing failover, and much, much more.  Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of all of those teams, we were able to go from a mere concept to a suite of applications on planetary-scale infrastructure—in just 12 days. I firmly believe that no other company besides Oracle could have pulled off this monumental effort. I also believe that our choice of Oracle APEX was essential to our success in developing such a sophisticated system in as short amount of time. At Oracle, we use our own cloud applications (SaaS) to run our enterprise. Like many companies, most lines of business have needs which aren’t completely addressed by the corporate enterprise systems, and developers often turn to APEX. There are literally thousands of Oracle APEX applications used throughout Oracle, almost exclusively developed by the respective lines of business. Oracle APEX empowers developers to easily build compelling apps with superior functionality, performance, and end user experience. Oracle APEX can be used to build a wide variety of apps for any industry - from the simplest app that "webifies" a spreadsheet, to mission-critical apps which are used daily by tens of thousands of users. Developing secure, scalable, attractive and functional applications usually requires many complex skills across the technology stack, including data management, performance, security, user experience, responsive design, and web. The goal of APEX is to provide you with all the tools you need to build deploy apps, in a secure and performant fashion, without requiring full stack development knowledge. APEX is an included feature of Oracle Database and is also available on Oracle Cloud, in Autonomous Database, Exadata Cloud Service, and Database as a Service. Oracle APEX is also available on other clouds and from other hosting providers. Oracle APEX is “cloud-ready”. Your on-premises applications today are tomorrow’s cloud applications. The development and runtime experience are virtually identical. At Oracle, there is an internal IT-managed corporate instance of APEX available for free to every employee at Oracle. Why do lines of business within Oracle turn to Oracle APEX for their internal application development needs?  Simple. They are provided access to a new service in minutes, they are provided an environment where they can load and manage data, develop and deploy applications, and monitor and manage these applications using nothing but their Web browser. APEX is easy to learn, and they are able to build functionally rich applications in far less time, and requiring far less knowledge of the complexities of full-stack Web applications. If you would like to learn more about how we’re using Oracle APEX at Oracle, including how we developed our TLS in less than two weeks, please register for the webinar on October 20. Register for webinar on October 20 at 10:00 am PT.      

  Register for the webinar on October 20 at 10:00 am PT.   As the coronavirus started spreading worldwide in March of this year, a large cross-functional team at Oracle was charged with building a...