Tuesday Oct 22, 2013

Keeping Your Employees Engaged Requires More Than Bright Shiny Objects

by Jim Lein | Sr. Principal Product Marketing Director | Oracle Midsize Programs | @JimLein

If you are experiencing the challenges of hiring and retaining the best talent then you understand how important it is to keep employees engaged. An engaged employee is "one who understands his/her place in the organization and fully comprehends how they contribute to and participate in the firm's execution of its Mission and Vision".

It goes deeper than just what I call "bright shiny objects". During my ski bum days, all my boss at the ski shop had to do was say, "If you put all these boots away before noon you can make a few powder runs and come back for the afternoon rush". That's as bright and shiny as it gets.

Pamela Stroko heads up Oracle's HCM Sales Enablement and Development and is Talent Management and Expert and Evangelist. Our Oracle Accelerate quarterly newsletter features a Q&A with Stroko on the Current State of Employee Engagement.

Stroko provides perspective on how to keep employees engaged when hiring managers are challenged to find and retain top talent.

Read the entire Q&A here.

Click here to see the entire newsletter. Remember to subscribe.



Monday Oct 21, 2013

Changes to IT and culture bring new health to MedicAlert.

Karen Lamoree, COO at MedicAlert Foundation, is featured in this new article, "Changes to IT and Culture Bring New Health to MedicAlert", on Oracle Profit Online. Lamoree also provided perspective on the Growing IT Labor Shortage, posted last month, "The MedicAlert Story: Sustaining Modern IT & Overcoming the IT Labor Shortage in Small Town America." 

It's wonderful to see an organization like MedicAlert continue to grow and remain relevant. The company was founded on doing good locally in a small California farming community. It now provides services to 2.3 million members in the United States and another 1.7 million members through its affiliates worldwide.

Wednesday Oct 16, 2013

Talent Mobility: Drive Employee Satisfaction and Company Success

By Steve Viarengo, Vice President Product Management, Oracle Taleo Cloud Services

Does your organization have a formal program in place for Talent Mobility? If you’re like most midsized businesses the answer is “no,” and it’s more likely you are asking yourself “What does Talent Mobility mean?” Talent mobility is the movement of employees from one position to another within an organization and whether you are aware of it or not is a critical component to employee satisfaction and corporate success.

Over the years, studies have revealed a significant correlation between internal employee mobility and corporate performance. Seminal research conducted over the course of a decade found that the top 10 percent of companies with “high-performance work systems” had four times the amount of sales per employee. Remarkably, these companies filled more than 60 percent of jobs from within. In contrast, the bottom 10 percent of these companies filled just 35 percent of jobs internally. In addition, research has shown that many great leaders have emerged from within organizations’ ranks.

With a strong internal mobility program, companies can leverage their employee base to achieve corporate goals, shifting resources where they’re most suited. Best of all, they can do so without the costs and delays associated with a conventional external recruiting process. Without such a program in place, top talent will be more likely to disengage or depart. After all, if they can’t see a career path within the organization, or they realize that other employees are being promoted or recruited without the skills and competencies to do the job, your top talent will likely go elsewhere. And if leadership pipelines are clogged with employees lacking the appropriate mix of skills and experience to step into pivotal roles, business growth will suffer.

Benefits you can expect your organization to see from a strong talent mobility program include:

  • Shorter time to productivity
  • Greater employee engagement and retention
  • Lower talent acquisition costs
  • Streamlined information flow
  • Limited competitive-intelligence leakage
  • Stronger leadership teams
  • Better financial performance

To implement a successful talent mobility program you must make sure your employees are aware of open positions and opportunities, proactive match good candidates to open roles, and establish talent pools in your employee base to clearly understand where your star performers are in the organization. This may sound like a lot of work, but getting started is easier than you think and the rewards are very compelling.

To learn more about Talent Mobility read our complete whitepaper.   

Tuesday Oct 15, 2013

Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Release 9.1 Update 2 Makes Life Easier for Growing Midsize Customers

by Jim Lein | Sr. Principal Product Marketing Director | Oracle Midsize Programs | @JimLein

Imagine taking a picture of your hotel bill with your smartphone and uploading it as an attachment to an expense report you are creating on the same device. That scenario is now a reality for Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne customers.

Last month at Oracle OpenWorld, Oracle announced the general availability of JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Release 9.1. Update 2. This update offers great new capabilities and once again validates Oracle’s commitment to enhancing the popular product line. Oracle’s continuous delivery model delivers more JD Edwards EnterpriseOne enhancements and new modules on a much more frequent basis—months, not years apart. Most of the enhancements delivered in the update had previously been made available to customers as they were developed, via ESU’s (Electronic Service Updates) provided within customer support agreements.

In recent years, the majority of JD Edwards EnterpriseOne customers have upgraded to the latest version of the software and adopted a "configuration over customization" deployment approach. Thus, it’s now much easier, less costly, and less risky for those customers to stay current with their software investments. Oracles JD Edwards EnterpriseOne retains its reputation as a Top Tier, low risk option for both growing midsize companies and global enterprise organizations.


Mobile Device Integration Highlights:

  • No more misplacing crumpled up receipts: Take a picture of your hotel bill with your smartphone and upload it as an attachment to an expense report you are creating on the same device.
  • Less time in the office for field service and project professionals: Enter your service time for a job via your smartphone instead of having to head back to the office late in the day.

User Interface/Productivity Improvement

  • Fewer clicks to a deeper dive: Drill down from a One View Reporting screen to source data or other information such as a supplier profile
Deeper Industry functionality
  • Focus on exceptions: Belly up to the new inventory reconciliation workbench to focus more on what’s out of whack and less on what’s running smoothly
  • Spend less time running around the warehouse: Take advantage of improved putaway and picking processes for Warehouse Management
  • Spend less time keying in data: Deploy the new integration to Oracle Value Chain Planning for Configured items


Dig Deeper

Click here to read the announcement and find links to the Oracle Product and Technical catalogs for Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne.

Thursday Oct 10, 2013

New Study Reveals SMB Companies Are Increasing Adoption of Modern Marketing Techniques

Survey Highlights Business Value of Modern Marketing Techniques and Factors Driving Increased Adoption

Click here to read the press release.

Giving HR a seat at the table

by Jim Lein | Sr. Principal Product Marketing Director | Oracle Midsize Programs | @JimLein

Interesting recap in Forbes by Steve Banker regarding PL Developments presentation at Oracle OpenWorld, "PL Developments Wins With S&OP".

I interviewed Tom Crowe, CIO at PL Developments, for my blog series on The Growing IT Labor Shortage. Tom provided his perspective on the challenges of hiring and retaing the best talent in today's market. For the wholesale/distribution industry, finding and keeping good labor is a challenge across the board.

From Banker's piece:

'Including finance in this process is a sign of a maturity – S&OP is morphing into Integrated Business Planning. However, giving HR a seat at the table is rare. PL Developments chose to do this because as their business scales up and down, they need to balance hiring new hourly workers with turnover. As a highly regulated industry, labor is a key constraint. FDA regulations lead to long training cycles, it takes them 60 days to train people and put them on the line."

To learn more about PL Developments Oracle deployment check out their Oracle customer snapshot.


Wednesday Oct 09, 2013

When It Comes to ERP-Nobody Likes Surprises

by Jim Lein | Sr. Principal Product Marketing Director | Oracle Midsize Programs | @JimLein

I joined JD Edwards in 1999 and quickly learned a few ground rules. Think thrice before using the word “easy” to describe anything about ERP. The only constant in ERP is change. And customers hate surprises.


Syntax—Specializing in Oracle JD Edwards and Oracle Accelerate From the Get-Go

From the beginnings, Oracle JD Edwards enterprise applications have been known for having deep industry functionality and for being THE low risk and low TCO Top Tier option. Recently, I caught up with Gary Shaffran, Sr. Vice President and Co-Owner at Syntax, an Oracle Accelerate Partner and Platinum level partner in Oracle PartnerNetwork.

Syntax was founded in Toronto in 1972. Gary joined the company in 1981 and was part of the executive team that made the decision to hitch its ERP consulting wagon exclusively to JD Edwards in 1996. The company was also one of the original Oracle Accelerate Partners dating back to when the program was launched in 2007.

"The most consistent themes we're hearing from our customers are that they want cost certainty and industry best practices," says Shaffran. “They don’t want to reinvent the wheel. From the start, the Oracle Accelerate approach has given our customers a reason to select Oracle’s JD Edwards with the confidence that they will get return on their investments quickly.”

Rigid Template--Bad. Configurable Template—Good.

Syntax’s clients want best practices but not at the expense of flexibility. They need assurance that the solution of choice will bring best practices to their organization but not shoe horn them into a stagnant template that locks them into one version of industry best practices.

“One company’s definition of best practices is different than another’s,” says Shaffran. “Smaller companies are smaller—not simpler. An old-fashioned template approach based on rigid industry best practices is misguided because it won’t take into account that every company is different.

In Shaffran’s experience, that’s why Oracle Accelerate Solutions and Oracle Business Accelerators are unlike anything else in the market. Syntax leverages the embedded best practices to get customers set up on starting point based on the experiences of similar companies. But from there, each company has the ability to tweak their processes within the system—without customizations—to meet their changing needs as they grow and adapt their businesses to changing market conditions.

“Today, customer expectations are more complex because their businesses are more complex,” adds Shaffran. “The Oracle Accelerate approach gets our customers to that starting point more quickly and with more cost certainty.”

The Oracle Accelerate Resource Library Helps Customers Visualize Success

Syntax’s consultants leverage the thousands of assets in the Oracle Business Accelerators Resource Library not just for the implementation but also as tools to help each customer understand what life will be like with their new solution. The end result, Shaffran says, is that the project teams aren’t blindsided by unexpected barriers to success.

“We use assets in the Resource Library starting with our first presentation and all the way through post go-live training,” says Shaffran. “Those assets—such as business flow models and videos—help customer visualize what the solution will look like when it goes live. They gain confidence that the Oracle applications and the project team can handle all the complexity thrown at them. They know they will get to a great starting place and that, as they get their hands on the software and start working with it over time, they will have the knowledge and skills to expand, adapt, and configure as need be.”

Staying One Step Ahead of the Curve

For decades, Syntax has closely paid attention to the needs of their clients and strives to stay one step ahead. They continue to augment their Oracle applications services with complementary tool sets and industry specific add-ons developed, maintained, and enhanced by their consultants for their industries they focus on. They become trusted advisers to their clients, helping them to develop actionable strategies for adopting new technologies such as Cloud solutions for which important factors like an integration strategy can be overlooked.

Shaffran emphatically believes there’s never been a better time to be an Oracle JD Edwards customer than now. The same can be said for being an Oracle Partner dedicated to a JD Edwards practice.

“Adopting the Oracle Accelerate approach has made us better able to demonstrate to customers that they can have best of breed software—leading edge, top right side of the quadrant—without incurring the risk and cost uncertainty normally associated with going that route,” says Shaffran. “We now have offerings that fit the needs of any company—compelling solutions delivering rapid time to benefit rolled up with industry specific capabilities. Plus, we offer managed services, hosting, SaaS—the entire gamut of solutions. No surprises; all from one provider.”


Thursday Oct 03, 2013

The MedicAlert Story: Sustaining Modern IT & Overcoming The IT labor Shortage in Small Town America

by Jim Lein | Programs Management Sr. Principal | Oracle Midsize Programs | @JimLein

Post 6 in the series, "The Growing IT Labor Shortage"

It’s one thing to hire and retain top IT talent in a major urban area teeming with knowledgeable and experienced IT professionals. Imagine trying to accomplish those same goals in a small city known for top notch dairy milk and almond production rather than as an incubator for developing and nurturing top tier IT talent.

Such was the major challenge facing Karen Lamoree, Chief Operating Officer for The MedicAlert Foundation (MedicAlert), as she led the organization’s executive team in modernizing their information technology systems. MedicAlert, based in Turlock, California, is well known as the originator of iconic silver bracelets engraved with potentially life-saving personal medical information. Today, the organization offers diversified medical information and emergency services to over four million members worldwide.

In 2012, MedicAlert deployed DAZ Systems, Inc.’s Oracle Accelerate Solution for Non-Profit Organizations along with eVerge’s Oracle Siebel CRM solution. Combined, these solutions replaced about thirty legacy solutions, including ERP that was last updated over Y2K concerns.

Adapting to Ever-changing IT Talent Pool Realities


Lamoree has worked with many major companies, especially in the area of business transformation. She recognized that by leapfrogging ahead to a modern IT system would require almost a complete retraining of MedicAlert’s IT staff. Several existing IT staff members would transition to other roles and these positions were backfilled with new hires that had Oracle-specific skills and knowledge.

“It was a nightmare whenever there was a problem with our legacy systems,” recalls Lamoree. “We needed help from lots of outside vendors. Individuals on our IT staff were cross trained across many of our custom solutions, yet there were times when people would look at each other, shrug their shoulders, and just dive in to figure out how to fix the problem. They couldn’t wait to get a new system.”

A key component during the analysis of and review of potential solutions was sustainability: the ability to deploy, adopt, and maintain systems with limited internal and remote resources.

“Yes, there is a shortage of qualified IT resources but there really always has been,” says Lamoree. “Costs will continue to go up. It’s always going to be hard to find top talent, especially outside an urban area. And companies will continue to strive to be more efficient with their IT resources. Consequently, there will continually be demand for people who are highly qualified, well trained, and knowledgeable about specific products.”

During her career, Lamoree has observed how changing technologies have impacted the IT talent pool.

“IT systems in general used to be less complex,” says Lamoree. “It used to be that a single person could handle system security, development, and administration roles. Now those are specialized fields. Technology graduates today understand IT concepts and approaches but they are missing the practical application of everything they have learned. Companies need to recognize that if they bring a Computer Sciences graduate on board without a previous internship or IT job, they are going to have to teach them how to apply what they’ve learned to their new job requirements.”

Building a Cost-Effective IT Team Outside an Urban Area


Lamoree’s approach to restructuring MedicAlert’s IT staffing strategy began with selecting a Top Tier, modern solution.

“We wanted job candidates to know we are focused on the future,” says Lamoree. “We are remaking the company. We have a cool new system and people should want to work here.”

MedicAlert has adopted an IT mantra of “configure, not customize”. The Oracle solutions were deployed in alignment with the industry best practices embedded in the applications. Candidates recognized that MedicAlert’s new systems are clean and chock full of capabilities. They won’t have to worry about tackling one off requirements that might be challenging and distracting to individual career aspirations.

Finally, the MedicAlert team worked with the Oracle partners during the pre-project phase to identify training needs. This time was also spent in determining where support contracts would be required to provide IT roles and support in a cost effective model beyond what the internal IT staff could sustain. Those contracts are provisioned remotely with partner resources located in multiple global locations to meet MedicAlert’s 24/7/365 uptime and customer service requirements.

Exploring a New Normal


MedicAlert’s ambitious project of ERP, Master Data Management, CRM, and Business Intelligence was deployed on budget and on time in seven months. IT support costs are predictable and in line with industry standards. In Lamoree’s assessment, the cost to replace their outdated systems is far outweighed by the benefits of interoperability, system capabilities, efficiency, team dynamics, and the ability to better service customers.

“Our legacy systems had stopped the growth of our company,” says Lamoree. “Thanks to our new IT systems, MedicAlert can now offer different levels and types of membership to a far more diverse group of people than ever before. We know have a 360 degree view of our membership and are excited to explore what more we can offer to our membership well into the future.”

Wednesday Oct 02, 2013

Now Available: A Podcast Teaser for the Blog Series "The Growing IT Labor Shortage"

by Jim Lein, Programs Management Sr. Principal, Oracle Midsize Programs

We just released an Oracle Accelerate for Midsize Companies AppCast that is a 9 minute teaser/summary of our ongoing blog series, "The Growing IT Labor Shortage: Are You Feeling It?"

I'll be wrapping up the series later this month.  It's been fun because I've had the opportunity to speak with many smart, dedicated, and impassioned professionals--partners, customers, and Oracle subject matter experts--on the subject of how to attract and retain the best talent.

Meanwhile listen to the AppCast for the gist of the thought leadership and advice in the series.

Each of the posts in the series are accessible via links on the right side of this blog.

And...to listen to more Oracle Accelerate for Midsize Companies AppCasts go here


Tuesday Oct 01, 2013

Making your Move to the Cloud

By Steve Viarengo, Vice President Product Management, Oracle Taleo Cloud Services 


While Cloud based business applications have been around for more than a decade, there have never been more options for customers. There are solutions in the Cloud for almost any area of business need, from CRM to HCM to Supply Chain to ERP. The number of vendors has grown dramatically, with thousands of small as well as large software companies selling cloud-based solutions. For small and midsize businesses, the promise of the Cloud can be very enticing because letting someone else host and manage the solution spares you the expense and burden of having to staff your own internal IT resources.

According to CedarCrestone’s 2012-2013 HR Systems Survey, deploying a Cloud solution requires 75% less staff to support than an on premise solution. Additionally, with many solutions you can subscribe and pay “by the drink,” only paying for the amount of the service you need and increasing or decreasing your subscription as your business changes. Moreover, you are also always on the latest version of the software, never having to worry about upgrades, backward compatibility or upgrading your hardware to support the latest version. Everything is managed and supported for you, just like your telecommunications or utilities.

However, the move to the Cloud understandably generates a number of questions and concerns. Common questions tend to be:

  • How do I know my data is secure with the vendor I choose?
  • Will Cloud solutions integrate and work with my existing applications and IT infrastructure?
  • How can I make sure I am getting the maximum ROI?
  • Is it better to go with a single vendor or piece together best of breed solutions?

Many, if not all, of these concerns can be addressed by selecting the right solution from the right provider. Selecting a solution from a vendor with robust and complete capabilities is crucial when moving to the Cloud.

Critical things to look for when evaluating solutions and their providers are:

  • A clear picture of the vendor’s security model and hosting capabilities which includes:
    • The physical security of the data center
    • The network security that will block hackers and malicious parties
    • The application security that ensures your data and information is separate from other users
  • The integration capability of the solution. Well developed solutions have very well defined interfaces that allow you to:
    • Easily and quickly pull information out and push information into other solutions
    • Use web services such as REST and SOAP to allow information to be easily callable via well know web standards
  • Quick, fast and easy implementation.
  • Flexible and configurable to accommodate the special needs of your business without expensive customizations or waiting for a future release
  • A vendor who can provide a broad but deep solution. Just like you are not likely to hire one gardener to mow the lawn, another to edge and another to cleanup after, you want one vendor who can provide you a complete service
  • Not required to manage many different logins, store data across different solutions, and navigate different support models

So while the leap into the Cloud can be daunting, the benefits are compelling and selecting the right partner with the right solution can make the difference between achieving your business goals and a painful crash landing!

For more information on your move into the Cloud go to http://www.oracle.com/us/solutions/cloud/overview/index.html

Wednesday Sep 18, 2013

If You’re Going to San Francisco…


By Jim Lein, Senior Principal Product Marketing Director-Midsize

San Francisco is my favorite city in the world... And, as a musician and music lover, I get goose bumps every time I play this song on YouTube. Scott McKenzie recorded and released it in 1967 to promote the legendary Monterey Pop Festival. His soulful performance spurred a mass migration to The Bay Area of Hippies seeking enlightenment.

 Next week, at Oracle OpenWorld, all those Hippies will have to scoot over and make room for thousands of inquisitive professionals descending upon The City by the Bay. They seek not musical or spiritual enlightenment but, rather, more knowledge about Oracle’s solutions. About two thirds of those seekers will be part of Oracle’s Midsize community.


We’ve dialed in the agenda for Oracle’s Midsize customers, prospects, and partners…

Over the years we’ve learned what Oracle’s Midsize community wants to see and hear at Oracle OpenWorld. Here are our three top recommendations:

#1Best Session For EVERYONE: Grow With Oracle: Strategies From Oracle Customers Using IT To Support Growth”

    Hosted by Steve Cox, Vice President, Oracle Midsize Programs, this session features executives from three midsize companies who each share their experiences in rapidly deploying Oracle enterprise applications and complementary solutions.

 Details, details, details…

#2 Best Session for Learning About RAPID TIME TO VALUE: Oracle Business Accelerators: Changing the Game—Rapid Implementations Since 1997”

This session is a deep dive and demonstration of Oracle Business Accelerators— powerful, cloud-based rapid implementation tools developed and maintained by Oracle to get you up and running on a wide range of Oracle Applications, both quickly and reliably.

Details, details, details…

  • Session ID: CON8067
  • Speaker: Steve Cox, VP, Oracle Midsize Programs
  • Date/Time: Wednesday, September 25, 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
  • Location: Moscone West, Room 3003


#3 Best session for PARTNERS: “The Oracle Accelerate Partner CEO Panel: Winning New Customers  & Generating Better Margins In A Challenging Implementation Market”

This partner-only panel discussion will feature the insight, advice, and perspective from executives of three of Oracle’s top partners delivering Oracle solutions to midsize companies today.

 Details, details, details…


As always... you can see an interactive demonstration of Oracle Business Accelerators in the Oracle DemoGrounds, Moscone West (Station ID: W-127). And, visit our Oracle OpenWorld 2013 - Oracle Midsize Programs website for more details on sessions and events of interest to everyone in the Oracle Midsize community.

Don’t forget about... the Customer Appreciation Night on Wednesday. Don’t expect to hear much Hippie music but this year’s headlinersMaroon 5 and The Black Keys—have won a combined nine Grammy awards.

And if you’re feeling nostalgic, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.

Friday Sep 06, 2013

Don’t Miss the Oracle Midsize Sessions at Oracle OpenWorld 2013

Click here to see the Oracle Midsize sessions and activities taking place during Oracle OpenWorld in San Fancisco, September 22-26.

Thursday Aug 01, 2013

For Oracle's JD Edwards Customers--IT's Getting Better All The Time

By Jim Lein, Programs Management Sr. Principal, Oracle Midsize Programs.

The annual JD Edwards Oracle Profit Magazine Special Edition was released this week. Look for the print copy in your mailbox or access the online version here.

I entered the software industry when I joined JD Edwards in 1999. The next six years were a wild roller coaster ride for employees, partners, and--most unfortunately--for many of our customers. (Not entirely my fault BTW).

In this Special Edition, I immediately gravitated to Aaron Lazenby's interview with Lyle Ekdahl, Group VP and General Manager of Oracle JD Edwards, "Better All The Time". 

I met Lyle in 2003 when he joined PeopleSoft to guide JD Edwards' CRM development. He dropped by my cube (it was a double-wide cube, mind you) to explain his strategy. It was an intense first impression. Passionate, competent, personable.

From my discussions with partners and customers, it is clear that for Oracle's JD Edwards customers it is getting better all the time.

Now I've got that darn Beatle's song stuck in my head...



Wednesday Jul 31, 2013

Natus Medical Soothes Growing Pains by Teaming with Oracle Partner NTT DATA

By Jim Lein, Programs Management Sr. Principal, Oracle Midsize Programs.

We published a partner spotlight today on the Oracle Accelerate for Midsize Companies resources page about how Natus Medical deployed Oracle E-Business Suite using Oracle Business Accelerators.

For this spotlight, I interviewed Jayanta Samanta , VP of Enterprise Services at NTT DATA, and Bharat Poria, VP of Information Technology at Natus Medical. NTT DATA exemplifies what it's like to be an Oracle Accelerate Partner, and Oracle Accelerate Solution Provider, and an expert in using Oracle Business Accelerators. The partner helped Natus Medical deploy a very broad footprint of Oracle applications in just ten months. Natus Medical leveraged Oracle Business Accelerators to also adopt industry best practices across their entire growing organization. I also interviewed Bharat for my blog series on The Growing IT Labor Shortage.



Friday Jul 19, 2013

Mastering the New Recruiting "Game" with Taleo Social Sourcing

Attend the July 23rd webcast with Qualcomm to find out how Oracle's Taleo Recruiting with Social Sourcing Cloud Service can help you unlock hidden connections to top talent, improving recruiting and hiring efficiency by as much as 50%.

Register today.

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