Tuesday Feb 04, 2014

Oracle CloudWorld: The Recap

There was a buzz in the air at Oracle CloudWorld in San Francisco last week at the Westin on Market Street.  It was a great opportunity to hear Oracle's strategy for the Cloud across Applications such as ERP, HCM, Eloqua and other as well as Oracle's strategy for Mobile.  There was something for everyone with a floor dedicated to demos and numerous sessions for all interested.  CloudWorld in San Francisco is just one of several locations worldwide where this event is being held.  CloudWorld is slated to take place in Melbourne, Moscow, Beijing and Chicago - so if you missed last week, not to worry, it's coming to a city near you!

CEO, Larry Ellison delivered an energizing keynote in the afternoon to a packed audience.  He focused on Oracle's investment in HCM and why it sees this is an important initiative and one that requires additional staff resources and greater innovation in order for us to maintain our leadership position in the market.  Following his keynote, there was a good amount of time set aside for Q & A from the audience.  Among the many sessions, the one not to be missed was delivered by Ray Wang, Principal atConstellation Research. He had a very well attended session that covered what a sales cloud-related product should entail (feature, function and address which business needs) . 

Still want to attend CloudWorld?  To register for a CloudWorld near you, click here.

Monday Jan 13, 2014

Business Value vs. ROI

Author: Rick Beers


Rick Beers is Senior Director of Product Management for Oracle Fusion Middleware. Prior to joining Oracle, Rick held a variety of executive operational positions at Corning, Inc. and Bausch & Lomb.

With a professional background that includes senior management positions in manufacturing, supply chain and information technology, Rick brings a unique set of experiences to cover the impact that technology can have on business models, processes and organizations. Rick will be hosting the IT Leader Editorial on a regular basis.

I still remember a conversation that changed the way I looked at enterprise systems as if it occurred last week, even though it was 17 years ago.

I was on the balcony of a convention style resort in Phoenix during an annual conference held by a large manufacturing technology research organization. I had recently been given responsibility for the supply chain technology portion of a global ERP program and was at the conference to learn more of an emerging (and at the time heavily hyped) technology known as Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS). Systems such as PeopleSoft’s newly acquired Red Pepper and SAP’s APO were promising to replace the manual processes at the core of existing supply chain planning systems with automated modeling, detection and response technology. I was easily convinced. It was sexy, compelling and carried with it ROI’s in excess of 30%.

While at the conference I was pulled aside after dinner by a marketing executive at the research organization after he heard me in a panel discussion extolling the promise of APS. Out on the balcony, over a glass of wine, he advised “Be careful. Just because you have a system to tell you what to do doesn’t mean that you should do it, or even can in the first place. Your legacy manufacturing equipment and business processes must change to keep pace with the shorter run lengths and more frequent changeovers that the system will require.” This one piece of advice opened my eyes to three dynamics that have stayed with me ever since, and have guided my recent work with Oracle on AppAdvantage:

  1. That enterprise technology alone is rarely a determinant of value; rather it is the business value that technology enables.

  2. That enterprise technology rarely achieves its potential unless it is harmonized with its business surroundings: people, processes and physical assets.

  3. That the ROI of enterprise technology itself cannot be calculated because it is an enabler of a business outcome, not the outcome itself.

It’s the last one that was the most profound and is an issue still today. Our industry (providers, partners and practitioners) is still in search of quantifiable ROI from enterprise technology. It’s like the search for the Holy Grail: a worthy mission that cannot succeed because its basic premise is flawed.

Instead we should focus on business value. In effect, a contract with business leadership that identifies the outcomes that a technology project will be measured upon and the steps necessary to deliver them. This has five key components:

  • The Project itself described in terms of the business outcome rather that the specific systems involved. This creates a culture of business ownership and the identification of business owners.

  • An agreement on the measurable outcomes that have clear line of sight to the project.

  • An agreement by business owners of the processes that need to change and the investments required in skills and physical assets that the technology will require.

  • Line of sight metrics for both the delivery of the technology and the agreed upon business outcomes.

  • Clear accountability for those outcomes.

Oracle AppAdvantage, and the layered framework that it comprises, has been developed around the delivery of Business Value as opposed to more traditional technology ROI. In particular, its seven Entry Points are designed to facilitate Business Value discussions between IT leaders and Lines of Business leadership. Its visual similarity to a compass is deliberate; it provides directional guidance based upon desired business outcomes.

During February and March we will be conducting Oracle AppAdvantage Executive Roundtables in Asia, the Americas and Europe that will prompt such dialogue amongst the audience. I will discuss these in my blog next month.

Monday Nov 25, 2013

Keep Your Applications Agile with Business Process Management

Author: Ajay Khanna, Senior Principal Product Marketing Director, Oracle

Applications are the backbone of your business. To run your business, you need many applications and systems like ERP, SCM, CRM, and Billing. Since companies acquired these applications during different time periods, they end up with disjointed applications and rigid silo'ed departmental processes locked inside the applications. Many applications were implemented years ago and selected for very specific business needs but with time the needs change. At that point companies tend to make point changes to the software to meet those needs. Such changes to applications not only take time to implement but are extremely hard to maintain.

With time, the needs of business keep changing, and applications fail to keep pace with the changing needs. This creates impedance mismatch between the business needs and application capabilities. The result is decreasing business performance, less profit, waste in R&D or lower market share because of delays in time-to-market of new products and services.

Business Process agility refers to the speed and flexibility with which process based applications can keep up with the needs of changing business conditions and minimize the gap between business needs and IT systems. Oracle Business Process Management Suite delivers such agility.

With Oracle BPM Suite you can create process based applications that help you orchestrate human and system activities across departmental and applications silos. It provides the necessary visibility and agility to manage and run your business efficiently.

Using BPM to extend your existing applications has following key benefits:

  • Better visibility into the end-to-end processes and KPIs
  • Enhanced Agility. Since BPM is all model driven, business managers can design and update the process as and when required without spending months on modifying underlining applications.
  • If you move your customizations to BPM layer, rather than in the application itself, it keeps your applications clean, better performing and easy to upgrade.
  • You can add additional capabilities like social or mobile to existing applications as BPM suite supports those capabilities too.
  • Last but not least, BPM is not a rip-n-replace of your existing applications. It is enhancing them with newer capabilities.

Let the applications do what they are designed to do the best. Move the rest of extensions in BPM layer for better visibility, agility and efficiency.

For more information visit www.oracle.com/appadvantage  and download resources on BPM suite at www.oracle.com/bpm.

Friday Oct 25, 2013

Global Perspective: Oracle AppAdvantage Does its Stage Debut in the UK

Global Perspective is a monthly series that brings experiences, business needs and real-world use cases from regions across the globe. This month’s feature is a follow-up from last month’s Global Perspective note from a well known ACE Director based in EMEA.

Author: Debra Lilley, ACE Director

My first contribution to this blog was before Oracle Open World and I was quite excited about where this initiative would take me in my understanding of the value of Oracle Fusion Middleware.

Rimi Bewtra from the Oracle AppAdvantage team came as promised to the Oracle ACE Director briefings and explained what this initiative was all about and I then asked the directors to take part in the new survey. The story was really well received and then at the SOA advisory board that many of these ACE Directors already take part in there was a further discussion on how this initiative will help customers understand the benefits of adoption.

A few days later Rick Beers launched the program at a lunch of invited customer executives which included one from Pella who talked about their projects (a quick recap on that here). I wasn’t able to stay for the whole event but what really interested me was that these executives who understood the technology but where looking for how they could use them to drive their businesses.

Lots of ideas were bubbling up in my head about how we can use this in user groups to help our members, and the timing was fantastic as just three weeks later we had UKOUG_Apps13, our flagship Applications conference in the UK. We had independently working with Oracle marketing in the UK on an initiative called Apps Transformation to help our members look beyond just the application they use today. We have had a Fusion community page but felt the options open are now much wider than Fusion Applications, there are acquired applications, social, mobility and of course the underlying technology, Oracle Fusion Middleware. I was really pleased to be allowed to give the Oracle AppAdvantage story as a session in our conference and we are planning a special Apps Transformation event in March where I hope the Oracle AppAdvantage team will take part and we will have the results of the survey to discuss.

But, life also came full circle for me. In my first post, I talked about Andrew Sutherland and his original theory that Oracle Fusion Middleware adoption had technical drivers. Well, Andrew was a speaker at our event and he gave a potted, tech-talk free update on Oracle Open World. Andrew talked about the Prevailing Technology Winds, and what is driving this today and he talked about that in the past it was the move from simply automating processes (ERP etc), through the altering of those processes (SOA) and onto consolidation. The next drivers are around the need to predict, both faster and more accurately; how to better exploit the information that we have available. He went on to talk about The Nexus of Forces: Social, Mobile, Cloud and Information – harnessing these forces of change with Oracle technology. Gartner really likes this concept and if you want to know more you can get their paper here.

All this has made me think, and I hope it will make you too. Technology can help us drive our businesses better and understanding your needs can be the first step on your journey, which was the theme of our event in the UK. I spoke to a number of the delegates and I hope to share some of their stories in later posts.

If you have a story to share, the survey is at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/P335DD3

About the Author:

Debra Lilley, Fujitsu Fusion Champion, UKOUG Board Member, Fusion User Experience Advocate and ACE Director.

Debra has 18 years experience with Oracle Applications, with E Business Suite since 9.4.1, moving to Business Intelligence Team Leader and then Oracle Alliance Director. She has spoken at over 100 conferences worldwide and posts at debrasoraclethoughts

Editor’s Note: Debra has kindly agreed to share her musings and experience in a monthly column on the Fusion Middleware blog so do stay tuned…

Friday Oct 18, 2013

SOA, Empowerment and Continuous Improvement


Rick Beers is Senior Director of Product Management for Oracle Fusion Middleware. Prior to joining Oracle, Rick held a variety of executive operational positions at Corning, Inc. and Bausch & Lomb.

With a professional background that includes senior management positions in manufacturing, supply chain and information technology, Rick brings a unique set of experiences to cover the impact that technology can have on business models, processes and organizations. Rick will be hosting the IT Leader Editorial on a regular basis.

I met my twin at Open World. We share backgrounds, experiences and even names.

I hosted an invitation-only AppAdvantage Leadership Forum with an overcapacity - 85 participants: 55 customers, 15 from the Oracle AppAdvantage team and 15 Partners. It was a lively, open and positive discussion of pace layered architectures and Oracle’s AppAdvantage approach to a unified view of Applications and Middleware. Rick Hassman from Pella was one of the customer panelists and during the pre event prep, Rick and I shared backgrounds and found that we had both been plant managers and led ERP deployments prior to leading IT itself. During the panel conversation I explored this with him, discussing the unique perspectives that this provides to CIO’s. He then hit on a point that I wasn’t able to fully appreciate until a week later.

First though, some background. The week after the Forum, one of the participants emailed me with the following thoughts: “I am 150% behind this concept……but we are struggling with the concept of web services and the potential use of the Oracle Service Bus technology let alone moving into using the full SOA/BPM/BAM software to extend our JD Edwards application to both integrate and support business processes”. After thinking a bit I responded this way:

While I certainly appreciate the degree of change and effort involved, perhaps I could offer the following:

  • One of the underlying principles behind Oracle AppAdvantage is that more often than not, the choice between changing a business process and invasively customizing ERP represents a Hobson's Choice: neither is acceptable. In this case the third option, moving the process out of ERP, is the only acceptable one.
  • Providing this choice typically requires end to end, real time interoperability across applications and/or services.
  • This real time interoperability, to be sustainable over time requires a service oriented architecture. There's just no way around this.
  • SOA adaptation is admittedly tough at the beginning. New skills, new technology and new headaches. But, like any radically new technology, it has a learning curve that drives cost down rather dramatically over time.
  • Tough choices to be sure, but not entirely different than we face with every major technology cycle.

Good points of course, but I felt that something was missing. The points were convincing, perhaps even a bit insightful, but they didn’t get at the heart of what Oracle AppAdvantage is focused upon: how the optimization of technology, applications, processes and relationships can change the very way that organizations operate. And then I thought back to the panel discussion with Rick Hassman at Oracle OpenWorld.

Rick stressed that Continuous Improvement is a fundamental business strategy at Pella. I remember Continuous Improvement well as I suspect does everyone who was in American manufacturing during the 80’s. Pioneered by W. Edwards Deming in Japan (and still known alternatively as Kaizen), Continuous Improvement sets in place the business culture that we must not become complacent with success and resistant to the ongoing need for change. Many believe that this single handedly drove the renaissance in American manufacturing through the last two decades, which had become complacent during the 70’s and early 80’s. But what exactly does this have to do with SOA? It was Rick’s next point.

He drew the connection that moving those business processes that need to continually change over time out of ERP and into edge applications and services enables continuous improvement by empowering people to continually strive for better ways of doing things rather than be being bound by workflows that cannot change.

A compelling connection: that SOA, and the overall Oracle AppAdvantage framework of which it is an integral part, can empower people towards continuous improvement in business processes and as a result drive business leadership and business excellence. What better a case for technology innovation?

Tuesday Oct 01, 2013

Oracle GoldenGate AppAdvantage in Action at Land O’Lakes, Smuckers, and Veolia Water

Author: Irem Radzik, Senior Principal Product Marketing Director, Oracle

Originally Published on Data Integration Blog

On Tuesday at OpenWorld we had the honor to host a panel with GoldenGate customers: Land O’Lakes, Smuckers, and Veolia Water. Besides giving us yummy nutrition and healthy water, these companies have another aspect in common. They all use GoldenGate to boost their ERP application.

Veoila Water’s Pierre Kerrinckx came from their HQ in France for this panel and spoke to us about the database migration project for their JD Edwards ERP system. Using GoldenGate Veolia was able to migrate from Oracle Database 10gR2 on AIX 5.3 Oracle 10g R2 to Oracle Database Aix 7.1 Oracle 11g R2 and did so with only 2 hours of interruption to JD Edwards end users. Pierre mentioned, the other benefit of GoldenGate was the ability to switch back to the old environment if needed.

Land O’Lakes’ Mark Kohls talked about their use of GoldenGate for their JD Edwards ERP system supporting the Purina business line. Land O’Lakes had to migrate enterprise-wide JDE Xe ERP system to new database and application server platform with minimal downtime to the business. While their goal was to have less than 8 hours of downtime, with GoldenGate they limited downtime to 30 minutes.

Both Veolia and Land O’Lakes used GoldenGate in an Active-Passive fashion, meaning that the new environment was not used simultaneously with the old one, and the users migrated all at once. GoldenGate provides Active-Active migration model too, if the company prefers to do a phased migration and truly zero downtime.

Smuckers's Neal Indermuhle had a different story to share. He talked about operational reporting for their critical Oracle E-Business Suite and how using Oracle GoldenGate helped the company to achieve the near real-time data they need in making critical business decisions. Neil shared that the replication latency averages less than 10 seconds and Oracle GoldenGate Veridata is leveraged to validate synchronization.

I would like to thank Pierre, Mark, and Neal for sharing their best practices, and taking tough questions from the audience. If you would like to learn more about Oracle GoldenGate’s solutions for JD Edwards, E-Business Suite and other key Oracle Applications please check out our new resource center with recorded video presentations and detailed white papers.

Thursday Sep 12, 2013

Business is Changing, Can Your Applications Keep Up? The AppAdvantage Story

Author: Ajay Khanna, Director, Oracle

To do business organizations depend on various kinds of enterprise applications. Over time organizations acquire many such applications including ERP systems, CRM systems, SCM applications, Contact Centers, Customer Service applications. They may also have many home grown applications, and some of them are even running in the main frame systems!

It is not uncommon for businesses actively pursuing mergers and acquisitions to end up with several of applications for the same purpose. They accumulate many ERP, CRM, HRM systems.

While applications are getting dated, business environment is changing, regulations are changing, and customer needs are changing. How can we make sure that we can keep our applications agile and equip our businesses with most advanced technology without rip-n-replace of legacy systems?

In this webinar “Business is Changing, Can Your Applications Keep Up?” on Sep 12th 2013 (today!), I am going to discuss some of the challenges that companies face due to aging applications and how Business Process Management (BPM) Suite helps address these. I will discuss how organizations can use BPM to do more with their applications including:

  • Make processes more consistent by removing whitespaces between applications
  • Eliminate the need of brittle customizations
  • Enhance business visibility into transactions across applications
  • Extend applications with social and mobile capabilities
  • Improve the user experience by streamlining navigation

Register now.

Oracle AppAdvantage strategy helps enterprises to leverage their existing enterprise investments like legacy applications while offering new and unique capabilities that the business requires. It is not a rip-and-replace strategy. With Oracle BPM Suite, enterprises will be simultaneously delivering short term business value and begin the journey to create the next generation intelligent process applications.

We will be exploring this more in our AppAdvantage session at Oracle Open World coming up in just a couple of weeks. To provide real world evidence of the same, Fred Stern from Flextronics will join us on stage to discuss how the company enabled business agility with Oracle AppAdvantage. So, if you are planning to come to OpenWorld, do stop by and connect with us.

CON9284: Five Easy Steps for Modernizing Business Applications with BPM
Thursday, Sep 26, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Moscone West - 2014

Friday Jul 12, 2013

My 15 Year Journey to The Truth

Editorial by Rick Beers


Rick Beers is Senior Director of Product Management for Oracle Fusion Middleware. Prior to joining Oracle, Rick held a variety of executive operational positions at Corning, Inc. and Bausch & Lomb. With a professional background that includes senior management positions in manufacturing, supply chain and information technology, Rick brings a unique set of experiences to cover the impact that technology can have on business models, processes and organizations. Rick will be hosting the IT Leader Editorial on a regular basis.

Yogi Berra, the great New York Yankee catcher and prognosticator once uttered: “You can observe a lot by watching”; a wisdom that can easily be adapted to “You can hear a lot by listening”. I was reminded of that during a recent CVC with an Oracle customer, a leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider. For those not familiar with CVC’s, an abbreviation of ‘'Customer Visitor Center’, they are executive level sharing sessions between Oracle and individual customers. They are ideal opportunities for us to not only present Oracle’s vision, strategy and direction but also to sit back and listen to our customers’ perspectives and learn from them. And at times, pick up some insights we may have forgotten that can still be of value, which I was soon to learn.

The focus of this particular CVC was on Supply Chain Management, and it brought me back to my roots, before my career took an unexpected and welcome shift towards IT. I did a bit of research on this particular customer before the CVC and noticed that they were members of the Supply Chain Council, a global nonprofit organization whose ‘framework, improvement methodology, training, certification and benchmarking tools help member organizations make dramatic, rapid, and sustainable improvements in supply chain performance”. Organized in 1996 by Pittiglio Rabin Todd & McGrath (PRTM) and AMR Research, the SCC initially included 69 voluntary member companies, and I was fortunate to be among them as the SCC took shape. The SCC developed, and still maintains, the Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) model, which describes the business activities associated with all phases of satisfying a customer’s demand.

SCOR consists of 5 supply chain steps: Plan, Source, Make, Deliver and Return. The model itself is organized around primary supply chain management processes, and public and enterprises use the model as a foundation for global and site-specific supply chain process and technology projects, and for measuring their effectiveness.

Source: SCOR 10 Overview, Supply Chain Council

Which brings me back to the CVC. During my presentation I mentioned the SCOR model and I was asked my opinions of it. Not the type of question I had expected, given my current focus on Fusion Middleware as a transformational capability. But I listened, paused, dusted away the cobwebs and took a stab at it and in the process learned where I had been wrong 15 years ago.

I was a charter member of the SCC and had early input on SCOR’s ‘Plan, Source, Make and Deliver’ framework (‘Return’ wasn’t added until a later version). I had a fundamental disagreement which led to my eventual disinterest. I felt that Order Management’s front end processes were under-represented; that SCOR focused too heavily on the Fulfillment side and not enough on the Customer-Facing side (for example: the term ‘Deliver’). The response was that Supply Chain Management needed to focus on ‘execution’, not ‘customer management’. I thought this a big disconnect considering the way organizations were constructing their Order to Cash end to end processes through Enterprise Resourcing Planning systems (ERP), which were just beginning their proliferation in those days.

Within ERP, ‘Order to Cash’ encompassed both order management and order fulfillment (logistics). To illustrate, I found a logical reference model I created then to make my case:

In this view, customer facing processes such as Order Promising and Customer Response were part of Supply Chain Management; they simply had to be. Our direction at the time in creating tightly integrated end to end processes within ERP required it. There was no other way for these processes to be architected. This was short sided of course, as Tom Siebel would soon illustrate with Salesforce Automation and then CRM, but I didn’t realize it at the time.

The Supply Chain Council held firm though in their belief that the focus of SCOR should be on execution, and in the case of Order Management, only on those processes that lead to the creation and delivery of the product or service. I thought this wrong and essentially checked out of the SCOR creation process.

Well, I now see that the SCC was right on all levels. Customer facing activities should not be part of an end to end order management process; as we all found out, this creates an ‘inside out’ approach to customer management rather than ‘outside in’. Customer management became defined and limited by internal execution rather than by the need to develop and nurture healthy, sustaining customer relationships.

This condition gave rise to CRM in the late 1990’s. It was slow going for a while, since most of the enterprise systems industry was focused upon ERP’s broad-based roll-out in advance of Y2K. The next decade saw steadily increasing interest in CRM for relationship management as well as for customer marketing but there was one major flaw that prevented its practical usefulness within a supply chain fulfillment process: the lack of open integration through which processes could transact across CRM and ERP. Finally though, Service Oriented Architecture technology developed to the point where cross platform process transactions and information flows permitted the process rationalization of CRM and ERP’s order fulfillment processes.

Creating customer friendly and agile order management processes outside of ERP and integrating them in an orchestrated way into a single ERP system can be achieved by leveraging Oracle Service Oriented Architecture. But Oracle’s ERP (E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, JDEdwards) customers have the opportunity to achieve their future state now, with ‘Distributed Order Orchestration’, a Fusion Application, integrated through Fusion Middleware into their Oracle ERP.

The Supply Chain Council was right all along, and it only took me 15 years to understand. And all I had to do was listen to a valued customer to know the reason.


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