Friday Jul 31, 2015

Can EPM Go Fully Cloud?


By Guest Blogger Muthu Ranganathan, Director, EPM Product Management at Oracle

There is no denying the fact that the world is moving towards “the cloud”, and CFOs and CIOs have come to the point where they can’t avoid recognizing the many benefits of the cloud. While finance took more time than their peers in Human Resources or Sales to go to the cloud, recent trends indicate that more CFOs are open to “getting on the cloud”.


Let’s explore the benefits that CFOs are receiving from moving to the cloud.

Opex vs Capex

Given CFOs care a lot about cash flow and ROI, the biggest advantage for them with cloud is the “Opex" (Operational expense) element, as cloud systems are not “Capex”(Capital expense) types. The cloud certainly helps them with profitability and cash flow as a justification to move to the cloud.

Beyond Organizational

Boundaries
– You just need a URL and your cloud applications can be easily rolled out to your customers, vendors and other stakeholders in your business network. This is a huge advantage for finance, especially when they can exchange information through the systems. Imagine getting sales forecast data from your distributors, or project finance data from your subcontractors.

No Shelfware – One of the biggest pains of the past was that a lot of software was purchased, but not used. The unused “shelfware” became a sunk investment due to the lack of resources available to get the application installed and working. Cloud completely eliminates this issue as it’s managed by the cloud vendor.

No Hardware
- other big benefit is that you don’t have to worry about hardware costs - and more importantly maintaining hardware - the installed applications, and having to consider different test and production environments.

New Features Rapidly
– As we login to Gmail or LinkedIn every day, we often see that there are a lot of new features added. This is the power of the cloud. The same is also true for enterprise applications – you no longer have to wait for a long upgrade process to see new features, because in the cloud they appear rapidly.

EPM and the Cloud
Enterprise Performance Management (or Management Accounting / Information Management) systems have evolved with different generations of software. Reporting, planning, profitability and consolidations have evolved from spreadsheets to desktop applications, to the web, and now to the era of cloud and mobile. While the above benefits are relevant for EPM systems, there are even more that make it clear it is time for EPM to move to the cloud.

Tapping the Unserved Business Users 
While EPM systems have existed for over a decade, it has still been a highly corporate finance affair for many years. Still, many Business Unit level users rely on spreadsheets and other unstructured ways of creating and seeking information. There are several reasons for this, one of the main being difficulty in maintaining IT systems, costs, and lack of technical consultants to support their pursuits. With cloud, we see a change where we can now roll out these systems just via a url to anyone in the company at a very affordable subscription-based price. It starts to really tap into the departmental use cases for Business Unit CFOs and other business users such as HR, Marketing, Sales Ops etc. With Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Services, as well as Oracle Enterprise Reporting Cloud Services, departmental business users are also better served. 

Business Calls the Shots 
Traditionally, Business users, especially coming from finance, have owned the EPM systems. Often in the past, due to heavy Capex and upfront investments as well as infrastructure/upgrade needs, IT was heavily involved in EPM projects. With the cloud, business users are able to make quick decisions and call the shots for EPM systems. They can be live in just a few days or weeks. This is certainly an exciting reason for business and finance to move to the cloud for EPM. We are seeing faster adoption due to Business being in charge for Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud services.

People as the Focal Point 
Cloud brings with it the benefit of receiving new features rapidly, as mentioned earlier. As users have now experienced consumer grade cloud applications like Facebook, they will expect enterprise applications also to act in the same way; so the focus is mostly on user experience, flexibility and keeping it very simple for the users. Also, for EPM systems, users have been great fans of spreadsheets; so it’s very important to have the user experience to be like a great consumer grade application combined with the flexibility and simplicity of spreadsheets. The great advantage with cloud is, engineers who build these systems get really close to seeing how users use the solution and roll out changes more frequently.

Oracle Planning Budgeting Cloud Service has been very well received by users because of the great user experience and spreadsheet-like flexibility on the web, and because it is supported by SmartView for the Microsoft Office interface - for the Excel lovers.

The Case for Hybrid EPM 
But, with the benefits and value mentioned above the question still remains - Can all of the EPM systems go fully into the cloud? The answer is yes!But, it may take more time since many companies have mission critical financial consolidation and reporting systems, as well as corporate planning systems in which they have invested over the years, and cannot be replaced in a short period of time.
This is where Oracle provides a hybrid EPM strategy for companies to combine on premises and cloud based EPM systems. What we see is that customers are continuing to leverage their existing on premises deployments for the corporate finance needs, and using cloud applications and infrastructure to surround these for new Departmental and Business Unit needs.


As both on premises and cloud run on the same best-in-class Oracle Hyperion technologies, it is as seamless and integrated as a suite of hybrid EPM solutions. While EPM systems provide significant benefits to warrant moving to the cloud in the medium term, hybrid EPM is the best strategy for the short term; and Oracle is the best equipped to provide the best of both worlds.

For more information on Oracle EPM on premises applications, click here
For more information on Oracle EPM Cloud, click here

Tuesday May 05, 2015

Enterprise Performance Clearly Explained With a Collaborative, Intuitive, Reporting Solution

In today’s Digital Age, the ability for management to clearly explain the quality and sustainability of corporate performance has become more important than ever.  Increasingly, the ability to value and explain the value of intangible assets is becoming a competitive differentiator.  Global and regulatory mandates around narrative reporting are also emerging, with the EU Directive on Non-Financial Reporting and SEC interest in making financial disclosure more effective.  

While there is a clear need for increased commentary and narrative in reporting, most performance reporting processes remain manual and ad-hoc.  The effort is time consuming, lacking process rigor and collaboration.  Errors are made in combining ‘data’ (what) with ‘narrative’ (who, when, why), especially with re-keying data.  In addition, organizations lack the ability to analyze the data to validate the narrative.  The disconnected nature of the process means it is difficult to bring subject matter experts into the process for centralized commentary.  Finally, there are auditability concerns and weak security around supporting “need to know” access to content.

In fact, in a recent survey, 90% of respondents agreed that expanding qualitative commentary in management reporting processes was critical to their organization. Yet, more than half of respondents were not confident in their tools to provide sufficient collaboration to produce that qualitative commentary.   

Oracle Enterprise Performance Reporting Cloud,  the newest offering in Oracle Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) Cloud, helps address these challenges.  It uniquely combines management, narrative and statutory reporting needs in a single, secure, and collaborative solution.  Complete authoring, collaboration, commentary, and report delivery capabilities streamline the process.  You can easily combine system of record data for more accurate reporting.  Secure, role-based auditable access on desktop and mobile devices enables the delivery of faster, meaningful insights to all stakeholders, anytime, anywhere.

Oracle Enterprise Performance Reporting Cloud combines data and narrative, providing a single web interface for report package contributors.  Report package owners define, manage, monitor and interact with content through this interface, while assigned users see only the content applicable to the role they have been assigned. In addition, users can easily take a deeper dive into the data without leaving the application.  Oracle Enterprise Performance Reporting Cloud includes the ability to perform multi-dimensional and other analysis on financial data.

The solution enables business users to participate in the narrative reporting process through the web interface on a variety of devices, including desktops and tablets.  Collaboration throughout the process is key to getting the most accurate picture possible, and helps shrink the time it takes to define, produce and deliver reports.

Increased demand, both internally and externally, for information, plus many data sources can make it challenging to have confidence in the results reported.  Oracle Enterprise Performance Reporting Cloud enables you to easily combine system of record data into your narrative reporting.  Authors can integrate both on-premises and cloud-based EPM and BI data sources directly, as well as integrate data from Oracle and other ERP systems, thereby leveraging existing IT investments.  This helps provide trust and reliability that the numbers and information are accurate.

We have seen tremendous interest from customers looking to “standardize” on a platform for narrative-based performance reporting.  Reporting needs range from quarterly or annual reports for external stakeholders, to internal management and business performance reviews, as well as periodic reports submitted to industry agencies, sustainability reporting, and more.

“We find Oracle Enterprise Performance Reporting Cloud extremely intuitive and easy to use.  The cloud-based nature of this solution, along with strong collaborative and security features, will help streamline the time it takes our clients to produce and deliver reports.”  Neil Sellers, Director Qubix

Stay tuned for more exciting news around customer adoption in the coming months!

To learn more about Oracle Enterprise Performance Reporting Cloud, click here.

Tuesday Apr 21, 2015

Great Oracle EPM Content at Collaborate15 in Las Vegas


Last week, the Oracle Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) Product Management and Product Marketing teams went to Las Vegas for the combined US User Groups (OAUG, IOUG and Quest) Collaborate15 conference. Overall, there were some 73 Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) sessions delivered by Oracle, partners and customers covering all aspects of the subject and a wide range of Oracle Enterprise Performance Management solutions. In addition, there were three Oracle demo pods for Enterprise Performance Management, Business Intelligence and Big Data.

The Oracle sessions included updates on Oracle Hyperion Financial Close Suite from product manager Rich Wilkie, and Oracle Hyperion Enterprise Planning Suite from product manager Shankar Viswanathan. There were also sessions on current and forthcoming Oracle Cloud products – Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service presented by Shankar Viswanathan, and Oracle Enterprise Performance Reporting Cloud Service presented by Jennifer Toomey from Oracle EPM Product Marketing. Al Marciante, from product management, gave an update and an outline of the roadmap for the entire Oracle Enterprise Performance Management suite.



Jennifer Toomey

While at the conference, the Oracle Product Marketing team worked with customers, partners and staff to organize and record short videos based on the presentations they gave so that the great information they presented can be shared with a much wider audience. In total, 22 videos were recorded and will be released via the Oracle Business Analytics YouTube channel (link) over the next few weeks. There are some great stories in the videos on how organizations have implemented and benefited from Oracle Enterprise Performance Management. For example, one customer was able to reduce budget calculations and aggregations from weeks to minutes with Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service and another customer, using Oracle Hyperion Accounts Reconciliation Manager, was able to reduce their time to close from 15 days to 8. Watch for links to these videos published via our social media channels - @OracleAnalytics, LinkedIn - Official Oracle Business Analytics group. We will also post a selection of links here in a few weeks.

Finally, thanks to all the customers and partners who made the effort to prepare and deliver presentations at the conference and for the many attendees who went to the sessions. There were some great EPM discussions and complements at the sessions, in the exhibition area, and in the conference halls. Hope to see you at Collaborate next year.

To learn more about Oracle Enterprise Performance Management (EPM), click here
To watch videos from Collaborate 2014, click here


Nigel Youell (left) speaking with Al Marciante 



Nigel Youell (left) speaking with Shankar Viswanathan



Nigel Youell (left) speaking with  Rich Wilkie


Friday Apr 10, 2015

Gartner Positions Oracle as a Leader in CPM Suites


On April 2, Gartner released its 2015 Magic Quadrant for Corporate Performance Management Suites report. In the report, Oracle was recognized as a Market Leader for the ninth consecutive year.

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant reports position vendors within a particular quadrant based on their completeness of vision and ability to execute. In this year’s report, among the market leaders, Oracle is positioned with the highest ability to execute and the strongest in completeness of vision.

Gartner has the following observations about the Corporate Performance Management space this year:

“Each year, Gartner emphasizes the most impactful market factors when considering each vendor's scores. This Magic Quadrant stresses capabilities in three primary areas of market evolution. The first is the cloud. The CPM suite market is shifting toward cloud-based solutions that deliver a shorter time to value and improved ease of use. The ability to provide cloud-based solutions and vendor experience with supporting these solutions factored heavily in this market study. The second primary area of market evolution reflects vendor ability to provide more comprehensive strategic financial planning support. The third primary area of market evolution is analytics.”

Oracle enterprise performance management applications are an integrated, modular suite that supports a broad range of strategic and financial performance management processes and helps organizations drive digital transformation and generate value for the business. 

Click here to learn more:  Report

For more information about Oracle’s Enterprise Performance Management Applications please go to www.oracle.com/epm.


Monday Apr 06, 2015

Oracle's Top EPM Trends for 2015

Modern CFOs are successfully leveraging digital technologies in their Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) processes to transform their finance organizations and generate value for the business.  Which EPM priorities are at the top of the Finance agenda? What are the most compelling developments in big data, analytics, mobile technology, and cloud computing that motivate Finance leaders to undertake new technology initiatives?

Oracle surveyed hundreds of decision makers to learn more about their EPM plans for 2015—both within the Oracle customer base and the industry at large. We asked your colleagues to provide specific feedback on EPM technologies and practices—past, present, and future. From this extensive data set we compiled the following views and outlook—along with a bit of advice.  

For details on each trend, download the entire report here.

Trend 1 – EPM Embraces the Cloud; Speed is Key
EPM Cloud is planned to nearly double in 2015 vs. 2014. Compared to last year’s EPM Trends survey, speed and agility overtook cost considerations as a top cloud benefit. 

Trend 2: Mobile Goes Beyond Convenience to Strategic
Nearly half of respondents indicated that mobile technology adoption is providing growth opportunities and competitive advantage.



Trend 3: Big Data is Creating a New Signal for Finance
Over half of respondents expect to leverage big data in planning and forecasting processes in 2015 and 62% of CFOs around the world cited big data as hugely important to the future of business.

Trend 4: Modern Planning Practices are Becoming a Reality
More than 50% of respondents currently use, or are planning to use, driver-based budgeting and planning in the next 12 months. Rolling forecasts are in use or will be used in the next 12 months by 70% of respondents.

Trend 5: Detailed Costing Practices are Needed to Stay in the Game or Get Ahead
There was a 71% increase over last year in companies planning to cost individual customers, 133% more for costing invoices and 136% more for transactions. The desire to understand detailed costing practices has grown significantly. Meanwhile, many companies are still over-burdening their General Ledger with management reporting calculations.

Trend 6: Finance Departments need Literacy as well as Numeracy
Over half of respondents expect external stakeholders will require greater explanation of the numbers in financial reports, and 90% agree that expanding qualitative commentary in management reporting processes is critical.  It’s not just about the numbers – stakeholders want them put into context.

Trend 7: Organizations are not Realizing the Wider Benefits of Enterprise Data Governance
Over half of respondents already have Enterprise Data Governance (EDG) in place to help align reporting from multiple systems and in 2015, EDG is expected to reduce the use of spreadsheets and email by half again. Finance has felt the pain, seen the need, and has taken action, but the front office is yet to act.

The focus of Modern Finance is evolving from governance to guidance. Predictive, data-driven analysis, continuous planning and budgeting, and real-time decision making are what’s needed now. 

Modern EPM tools leverage cloud, mobile, and big data technology and are changing how Finance organizations are run and the best practices they use to measure contribution to the business.  Armed with fresh, accurate, enterprise insights from EPM tools, the Finance department can confidently drive digital transformation.

To download the entire report on Oracle EPM Top Trends for 2015, click here
To learn more about Oracle EPM, click here


Wednesday Feb 25, 2015

How EPM and Six Sigma Intersect

There are so many wonderful business tools and methodologies out there that can help us monitor, analyze, set strategy and improve efficiency, etc., but can they all work together? Where do they connect? In this post I will focus on how EPM and Six Sigma intersect.


Six Sigma is a disciplined, data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects (driving toward six standard deviations between the mean and the nearest specification limit) in any process – from manufacturing to transactional and from product to service.  The principals of Six Sigma were originally were created by William Deming in his rebuilding of Japanese manufacturing industry post-WWII by applying statistical methods to measure, test, and improve design, quality and service.  By the 1980s, Six Sigma management techniques had been adopted more broadly for business process improvement and U.S. manufacturers such as Motorola, GE, Honeywell, and Dow competing in the global market.  By the 1990s, Six Sigma transcended manufacturing as Ritz Carlton Hotels applied total quality management and process improvement techniques to delivering five-star luxury service for their guests and were recognized twice with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The Six Sigma method, when employed properly, aligns your organization and processes to achieve efficiency and a standard quality (whatever the standard should be).

Enterprise Performance Management is focused on

* Setting strategy for the company, including
        - Which products/services should be the focus in order to be competitive
        - Who are the desirable customers
        - Which markets to play in
        - What are the short and longer term goals
* Setting budgets, simulating forecasts
* Monitoring strategy execution
* Adjusting the strategy based on outcomes
* Reporting on the financial outcomes
* Repeat

To be very successful, the two methods should be employed together – EPM setting the desired strategy, Six Sigma providing the optimal processes and products/services to achieve the strategy; Six Sigma reporting on the outputs of the company and EPM reporting on strategic and financial outcomes.

Six Sigma’s job is primarily focused on lean operations, eliminating waste and inefficiencies  from monitoring feedback to knowing what’s working and what’s not, and when to ask what-if, making adjustments  based on that feedback for continuous improvement, etc. – where Enterprise Performance Management has both an internal and external view. It is simply not possible to set your near or long term strategy successfully without having an understanding of the external markets, external  customer sentiment, competitors’ movements and of course R&D on new products and services.

Without getting too philosophical, EPM typically functions assuming products and services are being made well and focuses on setting strategy and executing the strategy. Six Sigma focuses on making the products and services well and assumes that they are the right products and services to be made and delivered. In my opinion, they need to work hand-in-hand to successfully achieve your strategy.

For more information about Oracle Enterprise Performance Management (EPM), click here






Tuesday Feb 03, 2015

TOP 10 EPM MOMENTS OF 2014

2014 was a busy year for Oracle EPM, with new product launches, research studies, as well as customer events like Oracle OpenWorld. Let’s look back at the top highlights.


1. Oracle released Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (PBCS). No longer are organizations constrained by their hardware and IT resources – organizations embraced the idea of SaaS for company-wide planning and budgeting in 2014. With Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service, companies can access world-class planning with the simplicity of the cloud. Find out more about PBCS in this ebook or get details here.

2. Oracle released its 2014 EPM Trends report
. Oracle surveyed hundreds of IT and finance decision makers to learn about their Enterprise Performance Management plans for 2014—both within the Oracle customer base and the industry at large. Respondents provided specific feedback on their current use and plans for financial planning, budgeting, forecasting, costing, financial close, use of technology and the cloud, sustainability reporting and more. From this data set we compiled the following trends link.

3.
Oracle was again recognized as a Market Leader in the 2014 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Corporate Performance Management Suites .  For the eighth consecutive year, Gartner recognized Oracle as a Market Leader in its 2014 Magic Quadrant for Corporate Performance Management Suites.  In this year’s report, among the market leaders, Oracle is positioned with the highest ability to execute and the farthest in completeness of vision. To view the report, click here.

4. Oracle published The OVUM EPM ROI Study.
This comprehensive study of large, experienced EPM customers provided very tangible best practices and results. For example, Oracle Enterprise Performance Management delivers >200% return on investment. Oracle Enterprise Performance Management delivers +NPV by the end of Year 1. For more details and results, click here

5. Oracle published the CFO Research Report: Modern Finance in the Digital Age.

In the new era of cloud, social, mobile, and big data technologies, the CFO is uniquely positioned to create modern, technology-enabled business models and stronger C-suite collaboration. Learn more about the best practices CFOs must apply to create an effective modern finance organization. Click here.

6. Oracle announced B/E Aerospace as the 2014 EPM Innovation Award Winner.
In just nine months, B/E Aerospace completed a full-scale implementation that was delivered on time and under budget. As a result, they were able to reduce by 80 percent the amount of time it takes to mine data from more than 30 sources, plus, they can acquire new companies and integrate their financials in three to four weeks instead of six months—dramatically speeding assimilation and reinforcing their acquisition strategy. All strategic and financial goals were met on time and, in some cases, under budget. To learn more about our winner, watch this video
.
7. EPM goes Mobile!
Today’s businesses need to identify business performance insights and optimize decisions anywhere, anytime. The mobile capabilities in Oracle’s EPM System deliver these insights and unlock productivity gains and business value across the enterprise. View EPM Mobile capabilities in this video or click here for details.

8. Oracle announced its new Operational Transfer Pricing solution.
Operational Transfer Pricing is a profit allocation methodology required of multinational corporations. Specifically, the ultimate goal of transfer pricing is to ensure that intercompany allocations result in true economic profitability by legal entity. In today’s global economy, profitability can be significantly impacted by goods and services exchanged between the related divisions within a multinational company. For more information, listen to this podcast, or click here for more details.

9. Oracle OpenWorld video series published on YouTube.
There are so many excellent presenters at Oracle OpenWorld each year, but it is impossible for some to attend the event, and impossible for those that do attend to get to every session. Many of our Business Analytics speakers agreed to share some of the highlights of their presentations so that everyone would have a chance to learn. To view videos, click here.

10.
Collaborate 2014 video series published on YouTube.
Collaborate is a North American conference comprised of the three major Oracle User groups – IOUG, OAUG and Quest. For those that missed a session or the conference, several speakers shared their Business Analytics presentation stories with us on video, and they were published on our Business Analytics YouTube channel. To view videos, click here.

As we move into 2015, there are many exciting developments in store, and you can expect to see us talking more about cloud and new digital technologies in EPM.

Friday Jan 30, 2015

Oracle Enterprise Performance Management Cloud and Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning Cloud Are Platforms of Choice for CFOs Worldwide

In an Oracle press release, it was revealed that more than 600 customers have selected Oracle’s rich, integrated suite of EPM and ERP cloud services to drive growth and innovation.

On January 30, 2015, Oracle announced that in the second quarter of its fiscal year 2015,  sales for Oracle Enterprise Performance Management Cloud (Oracle EPM Cloud)  increased by 80 percent, and 250 new Oracle ERP Cloud and Oracle EPM Cloud customers were added during the quarter. This growth reiterates customers’ confidence that Oracle is best positioned to offer CFOs a complete, integrated suite of financial management and enterprise performance management cloud services, all designed to work seamlessly and securely together.

“Our financial information has become transparent subsequent to our 2013 initial public offering,” notes Karri Callahan, acting chief financial officer and corporate controller, RE/MAX. “To support our ambitious growth strategy, we needed a more efficient finance system with embedded controls and extensive reporting capabilities. Oracle offered us pre-integrated, state-of-the-art cloud services. This was a compelling value, since we prefer to invest in technology innovations for our brokers and agents rather than maintaining separate systems.”

 “Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service will enable us to significantly reduce the time and effort needed to perform our daily P&L forecasting process, which is our most critical business management practice,” said Paul Cardell, vice president, Corporate Operations, CTDI. “In addition, the real-time analytical data and comprehensive reporting that we can generate from Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service will enable us to make timely and well-informed decisions in order to run our business better”

To view the entire press release, click here.
To read more about Enterprise Performance Management in the Cloud, click here.

Friday Dec 05, 2014

B/E Aerospace Wins Business Analytics Innovation Award!

Todd Renard, Senior Manager - Financial Planning & Analysis for B/E Aerospace was very excited to receive the Oracle Business Analytics Innovation Award at Oracle OpenWorld 2014 for the company's impressive results achieved with Oracle Enterprise Performance Management solutions.



B/E Aerospace is the worldwide leading manufacturer of aircraft passenger cabin interior products for commercial and business jet aircraft. The company, which was growing rapidly through a series of acquisitions, decided to adopt Oracle Enterprise Performance Management solutions to drive innovation and organizational change.

They took a three phased approach:

*PHASE I – Prove the value of the Hyperion solutions to senior management by leveraging the applications to meet company goals
*PHASE II – Build a superior financial end-to-end solution for monthly, quarterly, and annual reporting
*PHASE III – Build scalable daily financial reporting & analysis applications in order to make better decisions faster

In just nine months, the company completed a full-scale implementation that was delivered on time and under budget. As a result, B/E Aerospace has reduced by 80 percent the amount of time it takes to mine data from more than 30 sources. And the business can also acquire new companies and integrate their financials in three to four weeks instead of six months—dramatically speeding assimilation and supporting their acquisition strategy. 

Click here to watch the short video.

Friday Dec 20, 2013

Déjà Vu? Oracle EPM in 2013


As the year winds down, I wanted to share some of the highlights from EPM in 2013 and give a sneak peak about where we’re going next year. 2013 was a busy year with new product developments, new research studies, as well as customer events like Oracle OpenWorld. Let’s look back at some of these happenings and their associated blog posts.


New Product Developments 

Early in 2013, we announced a new release of Oracle Enterprise Performance Management with new integrations and product capabilities and updates to user experience that help companies to Unlock Business Potential – by unlocking business potential, companies are able to drive to the desired business outcomes of Aligned Objectives, Accurate Forecasts, Confident Close and a more Accountable Enterprise.

We also released new product modules, including Oracle Hyperion Tax Provision to help with aligning tax information and financial reporting, and Oracle Data Relationship Governance for improving financial master data governance and managing change.  In addition, we certified Oracle Hyperion Planning and Oracle Hyperion Profitability and Cost Management on Oracle Exalytics In-Memory Machine to help organizations Plan at the Speed of Business.  

For the sixth consecutive year, Gartner recognized Oracle as a Market Leader in its 2013 Magic Quadrant for Corporate Performance Management Suites report.  In this year’s report, among the market leaders, Oracle is positioned with the highest ability to execute and the strongest in completeness of vision.

New  Research

We conducted several interesting research studies in 2013.  Over the past several years, as we have gone through and emerged from the Great Recession, the role of the CFO has transitioned to one of catalyst for change.  New technologies and shifts in skill sets are also contributing to this changing role.  To understand these issues more deeply, we partnered with Accenture and released new research about the CFO’s changing role from financial overseer to corporate strategist and change agent.

To learn more about how Oracle customers perform Business Analytics processes (which includes Enterprise Performance Management, Business Intelligence and more), we launched the Oracle Business Analytics Customer Value Index (CVI) program in 2011, through which we collect valuable business process information from our customers.  The EPM Blog featured some compelling results from the CVI around Enterprise Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting Processes.

Customer Events and Videos 

One of the highlights of the year was Oracle OpenWorld, and winning the America’s Cup during that week certainly added to the excitement!  The Business Analytics program this year was our strongest ever, with over 200 EPM, BI, Analytics, Big Data and Exalytics sessions delivered by Oracle, our customers and partners.   We had the opportunity to catch up with a number of these customers and partners after their sessions, and you can view the interviews here

In one of our blogs about Scorecards, we featured forward-looking DC Courts and their process for managing strategy and KPIs.  DC Courts are making some great strides in setting strategy and executing on it, and are really setting the bar for other US Courts. 
On the topic of Profitability and Cost Management, we interviewed Ida Quamina of Oracle about the great strides being made in mastering the cost of Higher Education, and how these institutions can now address the issues of low or no visibility into individual programs, degrees and course costs, or the cost per student.
Next up – Cloud and Mobile!

As we head into 2014, there are many exciting developments in store, and you can expect to see us talk a lot about Cloud and Mobile technologies next year. Our blog called, “Taking your Business Scorecard Golfing” is just a preview.  

Wishing you a very Happy Holiday and New Year!




Wednesday Aug 28, 2013

What’s Happening in Business Analytics at Oracle OpenWorld 2013

Oracle OpenWorld 2013 is rapidly approaching on September 22nd when we take over the city of San Francisco for five days.  The Business Analytics program this year is our strongest ever, with over 200 EPM, BI, Analytics, Big Data and Exalytics sessions delivered by Oracle, our customers and partners.  We'll also have Hands-on Labs, Theater sessions, 23 demo pods dedicated to Business Analytics products, and more than 30 partners exhibiting their solutions.

So what's hot in Business Analytics at OpenWorld 2013?  Here are some of the "can't miss" sessions at this year's conference:

+ Monday Keynote:  Transforming Business with Big Data and Analytics,
led by Oracle President Mark Hurd, will discuss how to harness the value of big data.  You will hear about crafting an IT strategy and leveraging big data to make decisions about business operations and products and services for transforming your business.


+ The EPM and BI General Sessions
, led by SVP of Product Development, Balaji Yelamanchili, will highlight the latest innovations and product directions for Oracle EPM, BI and Analytics.  Both sessions are scheduled on Monday, September 23.

+ Customer Success:  EPM on Oracle Exalytics.  In this session, customers present case studies of how they have deployed Oracle Hyperion EPM applications on Oracle Exalytics and the benefits they have achieved, including extreme performance and scalability, all at a lower total cost of ownership than traditional systems.

+ New:  Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service.  Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service is the first of Oracle's EPM applications to be offered as a public cloud service and makes it much easier for businesses of any size to deploy a world-class planning and budgeting solution in a matter of weeks.  Learn about this new offering and hear about early customer experiences.

+ What's New with Oracle Exalytics In-Memory Machine?  Attend this session to learn about the latest and greatest in the hardware and software evolution of Oracle Exalytics In-Memory Machine.  Also learn how customers have obtained value from Oracle Exalytics and listen to a customer case study.

+ Oracle Endeca Information Discovery:  Customer Panel.  This session features a panel of customers that have adopted Oracle Endeca Information Discovery and achieved exciting results.  The customers' stories span various industries and demonstrate the broad applicability of data discovery tools and the competitive advantages customers can realize with Oracle Endeca Information Discovery.

Customer Panel:  Real-World Value with Oracle Business Intelligence Applications.  This session features a panel discussion that presents customer perspectives and best practices for implementing Oracle Business Intelligence Applications with Oracle E-Business Suite; Oracle Fusion; Oracle's PeopleSoft, Siebel and JD Edwards EnterpriseOne product families; SAP; and other application environments.

+ Oracle Fusion Middleware:  Meet This Year's Most Impressive Innovators.  In its seventh year, the Oracle Excellence Awards for Oracle Fusion Middleware Innovation honors organizations from around the globe that are using Oracle Fusion Middleware to achieve significant business value.  Attend this session to learn how leading-edge Oracle customers are successfully transforming their organizations with Oracle Fusion Middleware technology, including Business Analytics.


For more details on these and other Business Analytics sessions at OpenWorld, download the Focus On Business Analytics program guide at: 
https://oracleus.activeevents.com/2013/connect/focusOnDoc.do?focusID=22725

We look forward to seeing you in San Francisco!




Friday Aug 02, 2013

Report from OpenWorld Shanghai

Oracle OpenWorld Shanghai 2013 was held July 22nd – 25th at the International Expo Center in Shanghai, China. The conference drew over 19,000 attendees from 44 countries. In addition, 580 CxOs attended the Executive Edge program, and 430+ partners attended the Oracle Partner Network Exchange. The conference included a number of sessions on Big Data, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence and Enterprise Performance Management delivered by Oracle, our partners and customers. 


Shanghai Skyline
I had the pleasure to attend the conference and delivered three sessions focused on Oracle’s Hyperion Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) applications. Each of my sessions was well-attended, and in a few cases was standing room only, so there is clearly a lot of interest in the China market in EPM. The EPM and BI demo pods in the DemoGrounds at the conference also received a lot of traffic. In addition to the conference sessions I delivered, I had several meetings with customers and partners in Shanghai.

These sessions and meetings I attended made clear the interest that customers in China have in improving their planning, management reporting, financial reporting, and profitability management processes. In fact, with the China Ministry of Finance now standardizing on XBRL for annual reporting across multiple agencies in China, there is a great opportunity here for our disclosure management application. One interesting finding is that the China market may not be ready for cloud-based applications as many companies are state-owned and have security concerns, so on-premise applications are likely to see continued demand.  

For more information about the Oracle OpenWorld China 2013 conference, please check the web  site: 

http://www.oracle.com/events/apac/cn/en/openworld/index.html

And don’t forget, Oracle OpenWorld San Francisco 2013 is just around the corner in September of 2013. Please check the web site for registration and content information: 

http://www.oracle.com/openworld/index.html


Shanghai Demo Grounds

Thursday Jul 11, 2013

The CFO as Catalyst for Change - Part 3

Over the past few months, we’ve taken a microscope to the role of the CFO. The changing economic environment is creating new demands and opportunities for CFOs around the world. At Oracle, we are committed to helping CFOs navigate and succeed, and recently partnered with Accenture on a global research study, “The CFO as Catalyst for Change.”

As the Wall Street Journal’s CFO Journal summarized, the study highlights the evolution of the CFO’s role from financial overseer to corporate strategist and change agent. I discussed the main findings in a previous blog post, but wanted to share some great insights on the study from industry influencers.

InformationWeek’s Doug Henschen discussed the increasing role CFOs are playing in the technology department, highlighting the similarity between what has also been happening with CMOs. I think the CFO’s role in technology decisions can have a bigger impact and is worth noting.

Without a doubt, CFOs are taking technology seriously! CFO Magazine highlighted the skills perspective in their article on the study, pointing out that when asked about where CFOs could improve their skills and capabilities, technology knowledge was ranked second only to industry knowledge. Now, that’s saying something!

But they are not just focusing on ways to enhance their knowledge base -- CFOs also understand the importance of new technology. A Wall Street & Technology article on the study stressed how CFOs are increasingly citing disruptive technology as critical for success. In fact, 79 percent of respondents viewed access to information as a key driver of organizational agility, while 57 percent viewed investments in big data and analytics as a key source of competitive advantage.

The study shows that the role of the CFO has dramatically changed and it continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Now, CFOs must be catalysts for change and help their organizations transform and thrive in today’s global economy. 



Oracle’s Business Analytics Customer Value Index Program – Part 1

To learn more about how Oracle customers perform Business Analytics processes (which includes Enterprise Performance Management, Business Intelligence and more), we launched the Oracle Business Analytics Customer Value Index (CVI) program in 2011, through which we collect valuable business process information from our customers, and share the results with them. This article will be the first in a series to share with you some of the results from each subject area.


Enterprise Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting


The first subject area being studied is Enterprise Planning, Budgeting and Forecasting. Our interim results, presented here, reflect the first 130 completed surveys of which approximately half use Oracle Hyperion Planning. Here is what we found out. Of the total population of members (those with and without Oracle Enterprise Planning solutions):

+
63% perform monthly forecasting
+
40% perform rolling forecasts
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63% perform quarterly forecasts
+
33% perform event-based forecasting (or re-forecasting)
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59% perform driver-based planning and/or forecasting

The use of rolling forecasts has been steadily increasing each year and driver-based planning is also up significantly from previous years. Both of these processes have been shown to improve accuracy in forecasting and planning. One reason for the increase in organizations using rolling forecasts might be attributable to having efficient software to enable the process. For example, of the companies that now use Oracle Hyperion Planning, 79% of them did NOT perform rolling forecasts prior to implementing Oracle Hyperion Planning. It is a complex process made easier by capable software.

There was also a notable drop (31% fewer FTEs)  in the amount of administrative time needed for the budgeting and planning process for those members that adopted Oracle Hyperion Planning.  In addition, organizations with Oracle Hyperion Planning spent 38% less time per month in manual processes supporting monthly forecasts than they did prior to adopting the solution. Again, having capable software helped create a more efficient process.

In our survey, although Oracle Hyperion Planning is the solution of choice for budgeting (59%), forecasting (50%) and rolling forecasts (46%), spreadsheets still play a part for some companies for forecasting (18%) and rolling forecasts (25%). While the choice of using spreadsheets for these important processes may be acceptable for small companies, it can prove troublesome or even detrimental for medium, large and very large companies. Large and complex spreadsheets, broken links, dependency on the creator of the spreadsheet, and errors due to manual data entry and formula changes all contribute to the potential challenges faced from using them for these purposes. These results are not shocking as spreadsheets have been around for a long time, but they do confirm that organizations are slow to move away from spreadsheet technology for these important processes.

According to our survey, spreadsheets are also being used often for workforce planning (38%) labor costing (43%) and operational planning (39%). Although these numbers are reasonably low, they show that there are still a significant number of companies using them for very important processes that contribute significantly to accuracy in planning, budgeting and forecasting. This is troubling as disconnected spreadsheets can lead to more fragmentation in the planning process. Another significant change our customers experienced after implementing Oracle Hyperion Planning was that of the percent of time they spent in gathering data to analyze versus time spent actually analyzing the data.



Figure 1: Time to Gather and Analyze Data


From the graph it is apparent that, on average, our customers experienced a 23% decrease in the time it took to gather data and a 35% increase in time now available and used to analyze data, after implementing Oracle Hyperion Planning.

Although the average change for some of these processes may not seem overwhelmingly significant, average numbers tend to understate some of the dramatic changes individual organizations experience. For example one Oil and Gas company told us that they had experienced an increase in their forecast accuracy from 50% to 90% after adopting Oracle Hyperion Planning. A wholesale distribution company experienced a positive change in data gathering from 90% of their time to only 50% of their time leaving them with more time for valuable analysis. A Financial Services company experienced a 75% reduction in the time needed for administering their budgeting and planning process after adopting Oracle Hyperion Planning.

Stay tuned for more results in Part 2.

If you would like to become a member of the Oracle Business Analytics Customer Value Index Program (a free program), please contact me at toby.hatch@oracle.com. Please keep in mind that you must be an Oracle customer to become a member, however you do not have to be using any specific Oracle software to become a member.

To learn more about Oracle Business Analytics including EPM and BI, 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.



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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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