By Cara Vollmer, Oracle senior content strategist
Cloud-enabled emerging technologies are changing the way companies operate and compete—and the finance function, specifically, is ripe for disruption. Finance teams spend 85% of their time on labor-intensive, manual tasks, leaving little time for innovation, says Juergen Lindner, vice president of product marketing for Software as a Service at Oracle. But with advancements such as AI, machine learning, robotic process automation, and blockchain, that’s quickly changing.
“Finance is the sweet spot where new technologies can really make a difference in the near future,” says Lindner. “The next three to five years will be fundamental to the trajectory of business growth.”
In fact, CFOs who embrace cloud technologies now could lead a predicted $2 trillion US productivity boom over the next decade—if they have an ERP cloud solution that can go the distance. According to a new report from Aberdeen Research Group, “The Future-Ready ERP Cloud: What to Expect,” companies are making it a priority to modernize their business systems, realizing “technology is the engine for success in all other areas.”
Not all ERP cloud providers, however, are equal when it comes to emerging technologies. When assessing current and potential cloud partners, finance leaders should consider three questions:
1. How quickly can you leverage new cloud technologies?
Your ERP cloud should not only incorporate emerging technologies, it should make them immediately available. “When selecting a business innovation partner, you need more than a toolset,” says Maria Jimenez, vice president of cloud competitive intelligence for Oracle. “You need instant business value, from day one.”
Many providers fall short, providing only the platform to enable new technologies. To make a viable application, users must spend time and money on system integrators, consultants, and even their own data scientists.
With Oracle ERP Cloud, emerging technologies are natively embedded in applications, providing instant access to the benefits of AI, blockchain, and more. “We think blockchain, in particular, will be a game changer for finance,” says Lindner. “It offers tremendous transparency, completely transforming processes such as the financial close.”
2. Is the ERP cloud’s engine running smoothly?
Most people wouldn’t buy a new car made of parts from different vehicles, or one that is essentially last year’s model with a shiny new coat of paint. The same consideration should be given to your ERP cloud, says Jimenez, who urges finance leaders to “look under the hood” before committing.
“Some providers have become good at talking the talk,” she says, “but when you dig into their ‘next-generation’ solution, you find a lot of legacy applications cobbled together, or a legacy application that’s simply hosted in the cloud.”
That won’t fly for best-in-class companies, who are seeking true SaaS ERP solutions with built-in integration—and are 76% more likely to consider this as a critical element in their purchase decision, says Aberdeen. “Companies don’t want a hodgepodge of older technologies connected through middleware to multiple integration points,” says the Aberdeen report. “They want a single provider with a complete solution developed for the cloud.”
Take Textron, a global multi-industry company that needed a modern, scalable financial management system. After moving from a 20-year-old, highly customized on-premises system to Oracle ERP Cloud, Textron has 20-plus components residing on a seamless integration platform, and is ideally positioned for growth.
3. Is the cloud provider really invested in emerging tech?
To ensure an ERP provider can keep you current on technology, pay attention to how much they’re investing in research and development. (With an annual R&D spend of $6 billion, Oracle’s investment surpasses most of its competitors.)
Furthermore, seek a partner who’s financially secure, highly regarded in the analyst community, and can provide long-term guidance and support to take you where you need to go. That means looking beyond the back office, says Lindner. “Finance is a central element of today’s intelligent business, but have the foresight and choose a provider based on how they apply emerging technologies within all lines of business, across the enterprise.”
For more about what to look for in an ERP cloud provider, watch the on-demand webinar with Aberdeen Research, “The Future-Ready ERP Cloud: What to Expect—and Demand.”