Friday Feb 21, 2014

Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service -- What's All the Buzz About?

Earlier this week, Oracle announced the general availability of our first EPM application in the Oracle Public Cloud, Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service, thereby extending our existing portfolio of on-premises and managed /hosted applications with a SaaS offering.

I had the pleasure of speaking and demo’ing our solution to a group of customers that day at an event in Dallas, and there was clear enthusiasm about the ability to access world-class planning functionality in a SaaS-based model.  Our announcement also generated excitement in social media and news articles.  In addition, existing Oracle EPM partners, as well as partners who have worked with us in other product areas, are lining up and are in the process of becoming specialized for Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service.  Some have already launched their rapid start offerings.

So, why are customers and partners excited about Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service?  What’s new and differentiated about this offering?

Fast Adoption

This application is built for SaaS adoption to meet cloud user expectations around ease of use and self-service.  It includes a number of cloud-specific capabilities that make it easy to roll out planning and forecasting to your lines of business across the enterprise.  These include:

+ Extensive online help and video tutorials
+ Best practice design templates and guides that are based on years of experience with Hyperion Planning implementations
+ Guided application navigation features that literally take a new user through the whole process of building an application
+ Plus diagnostics and governors that assist with building and monitoring an application from the administrative side

During the 3-month customer and partner preview program that we ran last year, we received very positive feedback about how users could get up and running with virtually zero training needed.



First-in-Class Functionality

While Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service is a new product, it leverages the code base of the market-leading Hyperion Planning application, which has seen rapid adoption over the past 10 years, with close to 4K organizations implementing it.  Many of these deployments have become quite large with over 1000, and some even over 5000 users globally.  This is what sets Oracle apart in the marketplace -- proven on-premises technology, now optimized for the cloud.

+ Powerful multi-dimensional analysis capabilities and sophisticated rules framework for fast processing of complex calculations
+ Collaborative workflow and plan management capabilities, including powerful annotations, commentary, document attachments, task, workflow and burst reporting capabilities
+ Intuitive web interface with full MS office integration for driver-based modeling, rolling forecasts and analytics
+ On the fly models that can be created and shared collaboratively and validated against sophisticated predictive capabilities
+ Built-in management reporting capabilities

Flexible Deployment

Many companies today are assessing cloud options in parallel with traditional implementations of on-premises solutions.  They are concerned about potentially locking themselves into a single approach from vendors that can only offer either a cloud solution or an on-premises solution with no way back.

For most organizations today, flexibility of deployment holds the key to the way forward.  That is, the ability to adopt mixed mode deployments (public, private and hybrid clouds) as desired and to alter the mix when business circumstances dictate it.  Moreover, the Oracle Cloud offers security and encryption at every layer of the tech stack, utilizing the latest physical and logical data security and protection solutions. Oracle is the only vendor who can deliver this, leveraging our own hardware, database, and applications technology, plus the Oracle Cloud infrastructure.

Customers I’ve spoken with welcome this flexibility of deployment and see the Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service as an additional option to meet their planning and forecasting needs.  Customers have the ability to move applications back and forth between Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service and Hyperion Planning on premises, through Lifecycle Management (LCM) packages, which is proven technology from the Hyperion applications portfolio.

And, unlike niche cloud vendors, Oracle lets you decide when upgrades happen, so you don’t have to go through planned downtimes at a critical time. With Oracle’s flexible upgrade schedule, you can choose an upgrade window that best fits your business. Customers also have the ability to specify the 1-hour slot for daily maintenance and backups performed by Oracle.

So what’s all the buzz about?  Simply put, Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service offers world-class functionality with the simplicity of the cloud.


For more information about the Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service click here.

Friday Jan 31, 2014

Planning and Budgeting in the Cloud

Oracle’s Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service is a new cloud service based on the functionality of the latest release of Oracle Hyperion Planning, which is the global market-leading packaged application for Planning and Forecasting. Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Toomey, a Senior Director of Product Marketing for Business Analytics at Oracle, on a podcast, and she relayed a lot of useful information to our listeners about the types of companies that are turning to the cloud for budgeting and planning, and the kinds of benefits they can experience. 

But first things first. I asked Jennifer to explain to our listeners why companies are moving to the cloud -- what are some of the challenges with planning, budgeting and forecasting that can be addressed with a cloud-based solution?  She relayed to our listeners that planning extends far beyond the walls of the finance organization. “Pretty much every department in your company is involved with planning and budgeting.” The vast majority of planning and budgeting work is done outside of the Finance, Planning and Administration group by line of business users. Jennifer further explained that while common wisdom suggests that more inputs can help lead to more accurate forecasts, the problem is often that these inputs are done via disconnected processes – often using spreadsheets.  There is a huge amount of inefficiency and a general loss of productivity in the planning process done this way.  

According to industry studies, on average:

20% of employees are involved for at least three weeks to create the annual plan
This can add up to 3% of a company’s revenue, or
$1,000 per employee!


So how can Cloud help? Jennifer explained that using a cloud-based model, a planning solution can be quickly and flexibly rolled out across the organization, enabling you to easily gain the input and intelligence of line of business managers as part of the planning process. Moreover, up until a couple of years ago, we still saw reluctance in the Finance department around adopting cloud applications, largely driven by security and data confidentiality concerns. However, this reluctance is vanishing rapidly.    Analyst studies indicate that Finance executives are increasingly buying into the SaaS model, and in a recent survey that we conducted, three quarters of respondents indicated that they are currently using or will consider deploying EPM in the cloud. So what is happening with Oracle’s Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service?  Jennifer explained to our listeners that “Oracle’s been moving aggressively towards the SaaS model across its application suite and, as we’ve seen our customers’ attitudes shift in favor of cloud, we are now moving our EPM applications into the Oracle Cloud.” She also described some of the functionality being offered:

It is based on the functionality of the latest release of Hyperion Planning, which is the market-leading packaged application for Planning and Forecasting, and it is optimized for the cloud.
Ability to migrate from on-premise
Data integration
Financial and management reporting
Full MS Office Integration
Same security, operations and infrastructure as all applications that are part of Oracle Cloud

It is important to note that this is not simply a hosted version of Hyperion Planning, but rather, it is a new application that has been completely optimized for the cloud.  We chatted about some of these cloud-specific enhancements to accelerate usage and minimize administration, including online help, guided tutorials, and diagnostic tools.

What are the key benefits for customers with this cloud offering and who can benefit? Jennifer explained to our listeners that mid-size companies have a lot to gain, especially if they don’t have the resources to implement an on-premises solution. Hyperion customers with a custom-based Planning application in Essbase also have the opportunity to modernize and have a fully workflow-enabled application. But really any customer looking to quickly roll out a departmental or line of business-based planning solution, outside of finance would benefit greatly. They can all expect:

Fast Adoption
First-in-Class Functionality
Flexible Adoption (it is exactly the same software whether in the cloud or on-premises– so organizations can change the deployment method in the future with minimum effort if they need to) 

In summary, Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service offers world-class functionality with the simplicity of the cloud.

To listen to the entire podcast, click here.
To learn more about Oracle’s Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service, click here.












Tuesday Jul 09, 2013

Beware of Competitive EPM Migration Offers

Recently, one of the upstart, cloud-based EPM vendors announced a migration program for Hyperion EPM Application customers.  This was surprising to see since a number of EPM vendors have tried these programs in the past and they are rarely successful. The reason is that while on the surface software license fees, maintenance or subscription services seem like the largest cost components, much of a customer's investment in EPM applications is actually represented by implementation of the software and training of the users and administrators. 



At Hyperion and Oracle, through more than 30 years of working with Finance applications, we have found that when finance users have deployed a solution that works and addresses their needs, they will stick with the tried and true and are resistant to switching applications and, in many cases, even upgrading to new releases of the same application. In addition, EPM applications used for the financial close and reporting process, or ongoing forecasting and planning, have become mission critical so upgrades need to be carefully planned to avoid disruption.



From my perspective, Hyperion EPM application customers who are satisfied with their solutions (and most are) will be unlikely to switch to another vendor’s cloud-based solution. In fact, such a move could represent a step backwards in functionality. And, if a Hyperion EPM customer wants to move from an on-premise deployment to a cloud-based solution, Oracle provides options here. This includes Oracle Managed Cloud Services where the customer retains their software license, but Oracle hosts the EPM applications (and others) in our data center. Hundreds of Oracle customers are already using this service. In addition, Oracle recently launched a Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service which makes Oracle Hyperion Planning available as a Cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) offering.



The Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service speeds implementations and reduces the barriers to adoption for new customers. It also provides existing customers the option of moving their existing Hyperion Planning applications to the Oracle Cloud. If a cloud-based approach is of interest, moving Hyperion Planning from on-premise to the Oracle cloud will be a lot easier than moving to a competitor's offering – which requires a re-implementation and re-training of users and higher costs. But more importantly, the Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service will be most attractive to new customers who have outgrown spreadsheets and low-end planning applications and are ready for a world-class solution that’s part of a broader set of cloud-based applications.



Oracle is the market leader in EPM and is committed to meeting the current and future needs of our customers - with world class applications that can be deployed on premise, in the cloud, or via a hybrid approach.  
For more information about the Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service, and other Oracle Cloud solutions, click here.



Thursday Jun 13, 2013

Three Technologies CFOs Need to Know About

Big Data, the cloud and mobile computing are reshaping the office of the CFO. 

Today’s fiercely competitive global economy demands more from finance organizations than ever before. In addition to fast and accurate planning and forecasting, finance is being challenged with managing growing data volumes, evolving regulations and compliance requirements, and the need to deliver real-time insights to senior staff. Progressive CFOs and finance executives are increasingly leveraging transformative technologies to enhance the effectiveness of their organizations—driving new efficiencies, innovation and a competitive advantage in the business.

Click here to read an article I recently wrote for Business Finance on this topic.   

The article examines three technologies transforming finance—Big Data, the cloud and mobile computing—and how the office of the CFO can incorporate these technologies to better forecast and plan for profitable growth, report with confidence and accelerate business value for the organization.

Let me know what you think!  Thanks. 

Wednesday Oct 03, 2012

Planning in the Cloud - For Real

One of the hottest topics at Oracle OpenWorld 2012 this week is “the cloud”.  Over the past few years, Oracle has made major investments in cloud-based applications, including some acquisitions, and now has over 100 applications available through Oracle Cloud services. 


At OpenWorld this week, Oracle announced seven new offerings delivered via the Oracle Cloud services platform, one of which is the Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service.  Based on Oracle Hyperion Planning, this service is the first of Oracle’s EPM applications to be to be offered in the Cloud.    This solution is targeted to organizations that are struggling with spreadsheets or legacy planning and budgeting applications, want to deploy a world class solution for financial planning and budgeting, but are constrained by IT resources and capital budgets. With the Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service, organizations can fast track their way to world-class financial planning, budgeting and forecasting – at cloud speed, with no IT infrastructure investments and with minimal IT resources.


Oracle Hyperion Planning is a market-leading budgeting, planning and forecasting application that is used by over 3,300 organizations worldwide.  Prior to this announcement, Oracle Hyperion Planning was only offered on a license and maintenance basis.  It could be deployed on-premise, or hosted through Oracle On-Demand or third party hosting partners.  With this announcement, Oracle’s market-leading Hyperion Planning application will be available as a Cloud Service and through subscription-based pricing. This lowers the cost of entry and deployment for new customers and provides a scalable environment to support future growth.


With this announcement, Oracle is the first major vendor to offer one of its core EPM applications as a cloud-based service.  Other major vendors have recently announced cloud-based EPM solutions, but these are only BI dashboards delivered via a cloud platform.   With this announcement Oracle is providing a market-leading, world-class financial budgeting, planning and forecasting as a cloud service, with the following advantages:


·                     Subscription-based pricing


·                     Available standalone or as an extension to Oracle Fusion Financials Cloud Service


·                     Implementation services available from Oracle and the Oracle Partner Network


·                     High scalability and performance


·                     Integrated financial reporting and MS Office interface


·                     Seamless integration with Oracle and non-Oracle transactional applications


·                     Provides customers with more options for their planning and budgeting deployment vs. strictly on-premise or cloud-only solution providers.


The OpenWorld announcement of Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service is a preview announcement, with controlled availability expected in calendar year 2012.  For more information, check out the links below:


Press Release


Web site


If you have any questions or need additional information, please feel free to contact me at john.orourke@oracle.com.

Friday Aug 03, 2012

What CFOs Need to Know About the Cloud

“The Cloud” has become one of the hottest buzz topics in the industry this year, and what started out as a topic mostly of interest to IT executives is quickly moving to the radar screen of CFOs and Finance Executives.  To help companies understand “the cloud”, as well as the advantages and considerations of cloud computing, Oracle has recently published a number of articles, white papers and videos on this topic. 


Some of the advantages of cloud-based applications include improved time to value, reduced up-front costs, leveraging 3rd party skill sets and having a scalable environment to support future growth.  Some of the considerations and risks include security, performance, integration of cloud-based applications with on-premise systems and long-term costs of ownership.


Here are some links to articles, case studies and videos covering what CFOs should know about the cloud on Oracle C-Central:


Partner Perspectives video: What CFOs Should Know About the Cloud


CFO Market Watch article: What CFOs Should Know About the Cloud


Essex County Council Adopts Cloud Computing for Payroll to Save US$ Millions & Offer Shared Services


Here’s a general link to Oracle C-Central/CFO in case you want to start there:


www.oracle.com/c-central/cfo


Here’s an article from Profit Magazine that might be of interest:


Five Ideas: Finance - What CFOs need to know about cloud and other technology solutions


Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need additional information:  john.orourke@oracle.com


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This blog will highlight key EPM market trends, recent events and other news of interest to our field, customers and partners.

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