Wednesday Apr 23, 2014

A Two-Way Street for Software Vendors?


by Jim Lein, Oracle Midsize Programs

As I examined software review sites, my search results varied greatly from site to site. Many Oracle products weren’t represented or had very few or no reviews.

“How can that be?” I wondered out loud.

A Two Way Street for Vendors

Oracle offers applications spanning all business functions and over a thousand published customer references. Why aren’t all these products listed on every software review site?

When an IT buyer encounters a similar and counter intuitive situation it can typically be explained by one of the following reasons.

  • Lack of Collaboration—the vendor hasn’t proactively worked on the review provider’s terms to make sure the profile for every product is complete

  • Focus—Very few software review sites can or want to boil the ocean by attempting to cover all products within all categories

  • Vendor Cheerleading—Some vendors are more proactive in encouraging their users to review their products as a form of grass roots awareness marketing

  • Revenue Sources—If a vendor won’t pay for leads, it could adversely impact the likelihood of their products being recommended

A Comprehensive and Balanced Approach

Oracle is successful not because we work closely with software reviewsites but instead because we have helped hundreds of thousands of customers become more successful.

Like it or not, software review sites aren't likely to replace RFPs. But without a doubt, they are replacing some stages of the traditional buying process, especially for lower cost, less complicated products. With so much at stake, caveat emptor still applies – selection managers & IT buyers must be diligent in assessing the veracity, objectivity, and completeness of any online advice they choose to follow.


In this series:

  1. The (R)Evolution of IT Buying Behavior--including steps in the traditional software buying process
  2. The Death of the RFP?- the basics on software review sites
  3. How Software Review Sites Are Like Apples-including how such sites are not all the same
  4. A Two-Way Street for Software Vendors?-including why you won't find every product on every software review site

Jim Lein

I evangelize Oracle's enterprise solutions for growing midsize companies. I recently celebrated 15 years with Oracle, having joined JD Edwards in 1999. I'm based in Evergreen, Colorado and love relating stories about creativity and innovation whether they be about software, live music, or the mountains. The views expressed here are my own, and not necessarily those of Oracle.

The Death of the RFP?

by Jim Lein, Oracle Midsize Programs

IT buying processes have evolved over the last decade to leverage the power of the internet. For many, it has not evolved fast enough or far enough. The traditional software buying process (as I describe in "The (R)Evolution in IT Buying Behavior) is ponderous, expensive, and produces variable results. Buyers and vendors alike are frustrated.

The Role of Enterprise Software Review Sites 

Enterprise software review sites—such as Software Advice, G2 Crowd, and TrustRadius—are to IT buyers as sites like Amazon, Yelp, and Expedia are to consumers. Online advice & reviews—with some caveats—works exceptionally well for consumers. The question many IT buyers are asking now is, “What role should software review sites play in my buying process?”

To find answers to that question, I interviewed experts in the Oracle community as well as the founders of several software review  sites. I learned they can serve as a valuable source of information and influence as part of a comprehensive and balanced selection process. Buyers seeking fundamental knowledge during early stages can save time and money when trying to get to a short list of vendors. Likewise, user reviews can swing the pendulum one way or another when everything else looks equal. And the weight placed on any advice will vary based on each IT buyer’s circumstances.

The Basics

Not that long ago, vendors, industry analysts, and consulting firms were seen as the exclusive gatekeepers to knowledge.Now, software review sites are intended to bring the power of knowledge to all IT buyers by providing access to vast resources of online product information and reviews.

But buying enterprise software is not the same as renting a hotel room for a night. With the power of knowledge comes responsibility. IT buyers seeking online advice need to understand how these sites work.

Buyers want three types of information:

  • Functional—what does the solution do and not do?
  • Comparative—how does one solution differ from another?
  • Experiential—did the solution deliver value to users as expected?

Each software review site provides some blend of these via a combination of three formats:

  • Directory—a repository of vendors and product information gathered from publicly-available data, vendors, and reviewers
  • User reviews—a crowdsourced forum reflecting the experiences of product users
  • Analysis—validation and assessment applied by the resources of software review sites, both people and technology
Ultimately, software buyers will determine the fate of each site. One way or the other, their actions will or will not drive revenue to each site and determine its financial viability.

In this series:

  1. The (R)Evolution of IT Buying Behavior--including steps in the traditional software buying process
  2. The Death of the RFP?- the basics on software review sites
  3. How Software Review Sites Are Like Apples-including how such sites are not all the same
  4. A Two-Way Street for Software Vendors?-including why you won't find every product on every software review site

Jim Lein

I evangelize Oracle's enterprise solutions for growing midsize companies. I recently celebrated 15 years with Oracle, having joined JD Edwards in 1999. I'm based in Evergreen, Colorado and love relating stories about creativity and innovation whether they be about software, live music, or the mountains. The views expressed here are my own, and not necessarily those of Oracle.

How Software Review Sites Are Like Apples


by Jim Lein, Oracle Midsize Programs

Walk into the market and you can buy a dozen different kinds of apples. We each pick a fruit based on its color and flavor. And we don't always choose the same apple because our tastes can change from day to day based on what we're looking for and what mood we happen to be in. 

No Two Sites Are the Same

Software buyers are likely to review more than one software review site and choose based on their own personal preferences and buying habits. G2 Crowd, Software Advice, and TrustRadius all provide reviews and advice but they differ in "color" and "flavor". Each  provide software buyers with free access to user reviews. All three gather information from vendors and publicly available sources.

G2 Crowd and TrustRadius primarily interact with vendors via self service mechanisms. They also advise vendors that the best way to get their products accurately represented is to encourage user reviews. With Software Advice, vendors who are willing to pay for leads can actively interact with Client Success Coordinators.

With Software Advice, founded in 2005, buyers never pay. Buyers are encouraged to work with an analyst over the phone to match their needs to a product. G2 Crowd, launched in February of 2013, and TrustRadius, launched in March of 2013, rank and compare products almost entirely based on end user reviews. Currently, G2 Crowd generates revenue from buyers who pay for reports that rank products within a category based on all user reviews. TrustRadius is pre-revenue but expects to generate sales through some combination of premium user products and vendor services.

Information is Only As Good As the Source

Credible software review sites take great care in validating both vendor information and user reviews. IT buyers should understand how any given site validates its vendor information and user reviews or be prepared to take that advice with some grain of salt

Validating vendor information is to some degree self governing. If a vendor provides bad information, the outcome is not going to be favorable, in the long run, to anyone involved. Some sites (including G2 and TrustRadius) validate user reviewers via their LinkedIn credentials. Ideally, there is also some degree of scrutiny applied by a human being for both validity and quality.

For example, TrustRadius rejects about 5% of submitted reviews as junk or false. Buyers can also assess the quality of reviews based on the richness and structure of the content. For context, the average TrustRadius reviewer spends eighteen minutes on their first review and is encouraged to return in order to keep their reviews fresh and update.Likewise, G2 Crowd rejects 3-4% of reviews in addition to algorithmic checks based on reviewer LinkedIn data. Some reviews are flagged as "business partner" if submitted by, for example, a solution integrator, in order to identify any potential conflicts of interest. 

Sticking with the analogy...it's certainly possible that there are "bad apples" amongst the myriad software sites available. But the diligence shown by the good ones ensure that one bad apple won't spoil the whole bunch.


In this series:

  1. The (R)Evolution of IT Buying Behavior--including steps in the traditional software buying process
  2. The Death of the RFP?- the basics on software review sites
  3. How Software Review Sites Are Like Apples-including how such sites are not all the same
  4. A Two-Way Street for Software Vendors?-including why you won't find every product on every software review site

Jim Lein

I evangelize Oracle's enterprise solutions for growing midsize companies. I recently celebrated 15 years with Oracle, having joined JD Edwards in 1999. I'm based in Evergreen, Colorado and love relating stories about creativity and innovation whether they be about software, live music, or the mountains. The views expressed here are my own, and not necessarily those of Oracle.


Thursday Apr 17, 2014

People First! The Priority for Midsize Companies


by Jim Lein, Oracle Midsize Programs

Early in my technology career, I conducted an ROI assessment to help a very large customer update their HCM business processes across seven operating entities and tens of thousands of employees.

Their HR department was a room full of desks, each covered with stacks of blue paper cards. A legion of clerks each spent forty hours a week transferring hand written data from the cards into a main frame system. The scary part? The decision was to be based entirely on anticipated cost savings, not benefits. That was only a dozen years ago!

HR used to be at the bottom of the totem pole when it came to IT spending. Today, Human Capital Management and Talent Management solutions are surging to the top of the priority list at both midsize and enterprise companies. Finally, everyone seems to agree that people are a company's most important asset.

I asked Richard Atkins, EVP of Oracle Cloud applications for UK based Certus Solutions, what is driving investments in Oracle's Human Capital Management.

 "Cloud has changed everything," says Atkins. "We used to work almost exclusively with large enterprises. Now, most of our new clients are growing midsize companies with global operations. Our Cloud solutions enable them to deploy best practices fast and affordably. It's that simple."

Certus works with clients in the UK, Europe, the Middle East, and India. Most are either replacing a Tier 2 solution or have never had an HCM solution in place. In some regions, best practices for recruitment are a priority while, in others, the focus is on internal talent management.

"Our clients with global operations often need to cover both these scenarios,” says Atkins. “On the recruitment side, with social media and other options, it's almost becoming harder to find the right talent because there is just so much information out there. In areas where there still isn’t budget for hiring, internal talent management—like learning—is the priority. Oracle’s HCM cloud solutions covers all these needs for recruitment, social sourcing, learning, and core talent management. Clients have so much more information to make hiring decisions and to more easily spot the right people internally and retain the skills they need."

Growing Midsize Companies Want HCM Best Practices and Mobile

Certus clients are also eager to adopt best practices. "We rarely do requirements gathering anymore," says Atkins. "To our customers, the word 'standardization' is music to their ears. They want an out of the box system that delivers best practices quickly. They are encouraged by the ability of cloud solutions to deliver on that."

And mobile applications have massive appeal. “The kind of company looking at cloud solutions usually has a very mobile workforce,” says Atkins. “Senior management and, often, the entire workforce are working off smartphones and tablets. Oracle’s solutions work beautifully across those devices.”


Find out more about Oracle’s HCM Cloud And Taleo Cloud Service solutions if you’re ready to go mobile, enhance your learning programs, source talent socially, recruit more efficiently, or just replace your version of the blue card. See what Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has to say about managing your most precious assets.


Jim Lein evangelizes Oracle Accelerate, Oracle's Applications Strategy for growing midsize companies. He recently celebrated 15 years with Oracle, having joined JD Edwards in 1999. He is based in Evergreen, Colorado and loves relating stories about creativity and innovation whether they be about software, live music, or the mountains. 

Tuesday Apr 15, 2014

Impatient Customers Make Flawless Service Mission Critical for Midsize Companies


by Jim Lein, Oracle Midsize Programs

At times, I can be an impatient customer. But I’m not alone. Research by The Social Habit shows that among customers who contact a brand, product, or company through social media for support, 32% expect a response within 30 minutes and 42% expect a response within 60 minutes! 70% of respondents to another study expected their complaints to be addressed within 24 hours, irrespective of how they contacted the company.

I was intrigued when I read a recent blog post by David Vap, Group Vice President of Product Development for Oracle Service Cloud. It’s about “Three Secrets to Innovation” in customer service. In David’s words:

1) Focus on making what’s hard simple

2) Solve real problems for real people

3) Don’t just spin a good vision. Do something about it 

I believe midsize companies have a leg up in delivering on these three points, mainly because they have no other choice. How can you grow a business without listening to your customers and providing flawless service? Big companies are often weighed down by customer service practices that have been churning in bureaucracy for years or even decades.

When the all-in-one printer/fax/scanner I bought my wife for Christmas (call me a romantic) failed after sixty days, I wasted hours of my time navigating the big brand manufacturer’s complex support and contact policies only to be offered a refurbished replacement after I shipped mine back to them. There was not a happy ending. Let's just say my wife still doesn't have a printer. 

Young midsize companies need to innovate to grow. Established midsize company brands need to innovate to survive and reach the next level.

Midsize Customer Case Study: The Boston Globe

The Boston Globe, established in 1872 and the winner of 22 Pulitzer Prizes, is fighting the prevailing decline in the newspaper industry. Businessman John Henry invested in the Globe in 2013 because he, “…believes deeply in the future of this great community, and the Globe should play a vital role in determining that future”. How well the paper executes on its bold new strategy is truly mission critical—a matter of life or death for an industry icon.

This customer case study tells how Oracle’s Service Cloud is helping The Boston Globe “do something about” and not just “spin” it’s strategy and vision via improved customer service. For example, Oracle RightNow Chat Cloud Service is now the preferred support channel for its online environments. The average e-mail or phone call can take three to four minutes to complete while the average chat is only 30 to 40 seconds.

It’s a great example of one company leveraging technology to make things simpler to solve real problems for real people.

Related:

Oracle Cloud Service a leader in The Forrester Wave™: Customer Service Solutions For Small And Midsize Teams, Q2 2014


Jim Lein evangelizes Oracle Accelerate, Oracle's Applications Strategy for growing midsize companies. He recently celebrated 15 years with Oracle, having joined JD Edwards in 1999. He is based in Evergreen, Colorado and loves relating stories about creativity and innovation whether they be about software, live music, or the mountains. 

Wednesday Apr 09, 2014

Yummy! KIND Snacks selects Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and Demantra to Support Business Growth


by Jim Lein, Oracle Midsize Programs

Oracle and KIND Healthy Snacks issued a press release yesterday, "KIND Healthy Snacks Selects Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and Oracle’s Demantra to Support Business Growth".

That's delicious news for several reasons.

First, KIND's  Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants bar (pictured above) happens to be my favorite hiking, biking, and skiing snack. It's scrumptious and when you bite into it you see exactly what it's made of, unlike so many other energy foods on the market. You have to be careful how you pack it though, as I've melted a couple in my backpack on hot sunny hikes.

The press release states, "After evaluating more than a dozen different solutions, KIND selected Oracle's JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 9.1 and Oracle's Demantra to help drive efficiencies and achieve the flexibility required to capitalize on the opportunities presented by fast growth and an ever-changing marketplace". Since I'm writing a blog series on “The (R)Evolution in IT Buyer Behavior” I look forward to learning about how KIND went about their selection process.

And finally, I'm excited that this is an Oracle Business Accelerator project. Again, from the press release, " KIND used Oracle Business Accelerators and the Syntax Accelerate Methodology to reduce the overall project risk and increase the speed of their JD Edwards EnterpriseOne application deployment".

That's a lot of good news from one press release. I'll enjoy a KIND bar at the top of Evergreen Mountain on my mountain bike ride in Alderfer Three Sisters Park this evening, along with a few sticks of red licorice and maybe a micro-brew beer. I know...there's no accounting for personal taste.


Jim Lein evangelizes Oracle Accelerate, Oracle's Applications Strategy for growing midsize companies. He recently celebrated 15 years with Oracle, having joined JD Edwards in 1999. He is based in Evergreen, Colorado and loves relating stories about creativity and innovation whether they be about software, live music, or the mountains. 





Monday Mar 31, 2014

“The (R)Evolution in IT Buyer Behavior”


by Jim Lein, Oracle Midsize

To understand how IT buyer behavior is changing, we need to remember where we’ve been. Put yourself in a time machine and imagine life in 1999--not that different to life in 1963 and the office of Don Draper in Mad Men. Men still wore suits to the office every day; women wore dresses. Except I don't think Don had casual Fridays. 

BTW- the image above is inspired by, "Mod Men : The World of Mad Men Through a 21st-Century Lens", by Doug Levy, Staff copywriter and editor for the Shutterstock blog.

Just like Don's office demeanor would not be appropriate today...IT managers shouldn't be making software selection decisions like they did in 1999. Back then, everyone was worrying about Y2K like it was the resurgence of the Black Death.

Back in the last century, Don Draper might have thought it was OK to knock back three martinis at lunch. And sometimes IT managers thought it acceptable behavior to spend a hundred grand and six months picking a software solution. 

Back then, here’s how the IT buying process proceeded:

  1. Appoint a Selection Manager
  2. Gather Requirements
  3. Write An RFP (Requirements Document)
  4. Circulate the RFP
  5. Review Responses
  6. Build a Short List
  7. Vendor presentations
  8. Negotiate
  9. Purchase

The trouble with this software selection process: takes too long, costs too much , and may produce inconsistent results.

IT buyers today have so many more resources at their command--social networks, online peer groups, software review websites, and-most important of all-years of experience. Yet everyone I speak with tells me that RFPs are getting bigger, harder to produce, and harder for vendors to respond to.  Shouldn't the process be easier?

Next up...Enterprise Software Review Sites - What Role Will They Play?”

Next week, ll be sharing what I learned from conversations with the founders of three of the most popular and innovative software review and advice web sites:



Jim Lein

I evangelize Oracle's enterprise solutions for growing midsize companies. I recently celebrated 15 years with Oracle, having joined JD Edwards in 1999. I'm based in Evergreen, Colorado and love relating stories about creativity and innovation whether they be about software, live music, or the mountains. The views expressed here are my own, and not necessarily those of Oracle.

Monday Mar 24, 2014

Optimism in American Manufacturing-Not Just a Pony in a Dung Heap


by Jim Lein, Oracle Accelerate for Midsize Companies

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) recently released their annual trends report, "2014: Manufacturing's New Momentum". This momentum is not just a Pony in a Dung Heap, that is, not just a tale of false optimism. The number of manufacturing jobs and the value of manufacturing exports are increasing.

The report cites that the trends driving this momentum are:

  • Energy-the strength of the oil and gas exploration industry
  • Demand-post recession organic growth
  • Green-investment by companies in materials and other technologies that reduce their carbon footprint
  • And my favorite, Innovation-driven by software-enabled manufacturing technologies, machines, and tools

Sure, there are many different types of software involved in manufacturing including CAD/CAM/CAE for design, Product Lifecycle Managment, and ERP for the business side. As this report states, modern ERP, "enables plant management personnel to easily check the status of factory floor equipment via smartphones, and these systems also are becoming more tightly intertwined with manufacturing execution systems to allow viewing machine status virtually in real time and to adjust as needed to changing conditions". 

Over the years, I've learned about many great examples of growing American manufacturing companies who have leveraged Oracle's industry solutions to innovate, grow, and be more competitive. 

Here are a few of my favorites:

Radio Flyer-the world's first Build-a-Wagon and Build a Trike Websites


United Streetcar-the only Made in America Modern Streetcar

Trex-the iconic designer and manufacturer of composite decking systems

Aerovironment-an innovator in unmanned flight and electric vehicles

Amonix-manufacturer of the world's most efficient solar power systems solar energy pioneer







Thursday Mar 20, 2014

The Fastest Oracle HCM Cloud Implementation Ever?


by Nandita Vijay Sinha, Principal Consultant, Manufacturing Unit, Infosys

Growing midsize companies need fast time to value from enterprise application projects but they usually don't set out to break any speed records. In 2013, The Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group (The KOJ Group) deployed Infosys’s Oracle Fusion HCM RapidStart Solution for Oracle Accelerate in 32 days start to finish. At the time, it was the fastest implementation of Oracle Fusion HCM known to mankind.

At Infosys, we strive to continually discover innovative, ground-breaking ways to deliver Oracle Fusion Applications so that our customers will benefit from best practices in both Cloud and on-premise deployment models.

The KOJ Group is a rapidly growing chain of 660+ retail outlets in the Middle East. Their operations span multiple franchises carrying beauty, fashion, healthcare and children’s learning and development products. 12 brands, 6 countries, 3,500 employees.

Their executive team has long realized that a talented and happy workforce is the key to their continued success and growth. In 2013, during a time of rapid growth, they decided it was business critical to automate their appraisal system  in order to reward workers appropriately and make sure the right management progression processes were in play. The end of that appraisal cycle was less than two months in the future.

The only solution that fit both their HCM requirements and  time constraints was Infosys’s Oracle Fusion HCM RapidStart Solution for Oracle Accelerate. Oracle Cloud HCM in 2013 had everything The KOJ Group needed at the time and it fit seamlessly into their all Oracle IT strategy they had embarked on in 2006.

Based on a long relationship with Oracle, The KOJ Group trusted that Oracle was committed to HCM. And they trusted that Infosys had the experience and expertise to complete the project successfully in the tight time frame. The keys to success were strong executive commitment enabled via a steering committee and the formation of a highly efficient and collaborative project team consisting of The KOJ Group, Infosys, and Oracle experts.

An Accelerated Project Drives Fast Time to Benefit

Accelerated project components consisted of:

  • An Oracle Cloud instance available on Day 1,
  • Pre-built Configuration Templates used for data collection during the workshops,
  • A detailed business processes performance requirements document used for enabling the product processes a pre-built data migration solution, and
  • 800+ pre-built System Integration Test (SIT) scenarios.

Some of the results include:

  • A single HCM solution for 3,500 employees, spanning 650+ stores (today) and 6 countries, integrated to core ERP,
  • Establishment of specific and measurable employee performance goals,
  • The ability to identify and reward top performers,
  • The real time ability to check evaluation (performance appraisal) status,
  • A considerable improvement in business analytics available to managers,
  • Multi language support, and
  • Significant reductions in administrative cost.

Synergies Drive Success

The synergies between Oracle Fusion HCM Cloud and Infosys's methodologies and rapid implementation tools resulted in The KOJ Group achieving the goals the needed from this project.

“This is an amazing project," said Rizon after the go live in 2013. Exceptional teamwork between KOJ, Oracle, and Infosys. The 1st milestone of go live in Performance Appraisal is achieved!"

"The most challenging of deadlines,” added Martin Alexander, Group Human Resources Director at KOJ. “Yet with great commitment, professionalism, teamwork, and hard work we achieved a successful implementation of the new appraisal system. I am proud to be part of this project."



The KOJ Group Hitches Its Wagon to Oracle

By Jim Lein, Oracle Accelerate for Midsize Companies

"Hitch your wagon to a star," is an American expression that translates loosely as "aspire to the highest goals and ideals". I'm sure there is a Middle Eastern version of this advice. I'd like to learn what that is.

After Nandita submitted her post, I did a little research on The KOJ Group. The company embarked on an all-Oracle "Red Stack" strategy in 2006. That decision was made based on the industry best practices in Oracle Retail, the end-to-end strength of Financials in Oracle E-Business Suite, our commitment to building a complete suite of modern applications, and the integration between applications and the platform itself.

All-Oracle strategy has served The KOJ Group well. As Mohammed Thameem Rizvon, Group IT Manager, explains in this video,  the KOJ Group has improved the experiences of their customers. Equally important, they have realized increased workforce efficiency and productivity by empowering end users through best practices.

This video was recorded in 2012. At that time-and since deploying the integrated Oracle IT platform-The KOJ Group had almost doubled their number of stores (300-500+) while decreasing the number of warehouse workers (155-135) and IT staff (51-27).

Like Oracle, The KOJ Group aspires to the highest goals and ideals. They have-and continue to-achieve great success. Like many growing companies, they have trusted their continued success to that of Oracle's. They leverage our expertise, experience, breadth and depth of solutions, partners, and financial strength. In short, they have tied their reputation to ours and that of our key partners such as Infosys.

Since The KOJ Group deployed Oracle HCM Cloud in 2011, Oracle has released Cloud HCM enhancements and new modules as well as acquiring best of breed solutions such as Taleo Talent Management. As Larry Ellison said recently at Oracle CloudWorld, "My focus now is on people, and that means taking care of your employees, and taking care of your customers...HCM is the app that manages your most precious asset-your people".

The combined KOJ Group and Infosys project team wasn't trying to make it into The Guinness Book of World Records. They implemented the solution at laser speed because the business demanded it.  Is 32 days still the fastest Oracle HCM Cloud implementation ever? I don't know. Some things aren't meant to be a race.


Jim Lein

I evangelize Oracle Accelerate, Oracle's Applications Strategy for growing midsize companies. I recently celebrated 15 years with Oracle, having joined JD Edwards in 1999. I'm based in Evergreen, Colorado and love relating stories about creativity and innovation whether they be about software, live music, or the mountains. The views expressed here are my own, and not necessarily those of Oracle.


Wednesday Mar 12, 2014

"Spreadsheets are Perfect for Planning & Budgeting," said no one. Ever.


by Jim Lein, Oracle Accelerate for Midsize Companies

I started using spreadsheets for planning and budgeting a loooooooooooooong time ago when I was controller for a chain of ski shops. Pretty simple stuff. A couple of dozen lines.  I can't imagine what it must be like to use them today for complex budgeting, forecasting, and planning functions. It would give me an ice cream headache.

My colleague Jennifer Toomey, Sr. Director of Marketing in our Business Analytics Product Group, tells me that 75% finance managers still rely on spreadsheets for financial planning and budget control.

You want to hear something really scary?

Research studies have showed that vast majority of spreadsheets-88% in this study--have errors and those errors are costing companies billions

Thousands of growing companies have replaced spreadsheets with Oracle's top rated Hyperion planning and forecasting solutions. As of February 18, Oracle customers now have another option,  Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (PBCS).

Oracle PBCS is not simply Oracle Hyperion in the cloud. It’s a next generation SaaS solution that reflects a major architectural rework and a vastly improved user experience. Oracle PBCS delivers on the cloud's promise of simplicity, low upfront cost, and fast time to value expected of a cloud solution while delivering the enterprise level functionality previously found only in on premise planning and budgeting products. It runs on an Oracle Engineered Systems platform, and enables fast processing of complex calculations for large volumes of data through optimal use of Cloud memory and resources. 

I encourage you to download Jennifer's recently published whitepaper, "Accelerating EPM Deployment with Planning in the Cloud" or watch this video to learn more.


UK-based Oracle partner Qubix Now Offers an Oracle Accelerate Solution for Oracle Planning Cloud

This week, I also spoke with Paul Johnston, GM at UK-based Qubix International, about their Oracle Accelerate Solution for Oracle Planning Cloud. Qubix was the first company to implement Hyperion Planning in the UK and has completed more than 150 Hyperion and related customer engagements

Johnston says there is a large, under-served market of growing companies that don’t yet know about Oracle’s great story for planning and budgeting. Qubix’s new solution unlocks a pricing and delivery model that both provides a fresh way of communicating that story and makes robust planning and budgeting capabilities accessible to companies of any size.

“Our clients will see a 30-40% cost savings when compared to a traditional on premise deployment,” says Johnston. “Plus, a traditional on premise project spanned 4-6 months. We deliver Oracle PBCS in 30, 60, or 90 days based on which pricing tier the client chooses-Express, Professional, or Enterprise. The idea is keep it simple and affordable without compromising capabilities.”

Qubix's solution features pre-built apps—ready to go templates that are free to customers. These apps complement the work Oracle has done by transforming the Qubix engagement from a deployment to a collaborative “fit-to-gap"  analysis.

Visit Qubix's Planning in the Cloud page to learn more about their solution, including access to their new TCO calculator


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Jim Lein evangelizes Oracle Accelerate, Oracle's Applications Strategy for growing midsize companies. He recently celebrated 15 years with Oracle, having joined JD Edwards in 1999. He is based in Evergreen, Colorado and loves relating stories about creativity and innovation whether they be about software, live music, or the mountains. 

Tuesday Feb 25, 2014

How Is the Software Selection Process Like the Denver '76 Winter Olympics?


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

Spoiler Alert—the answer to the question posed in the title is, "Sometimes well meaning people make really, really bad decisions."

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Are History. For a year now, ever since the media started hyping this Olympic iteration, I've had a tough time not thinking about the Olympics that might have been but wasn't: The Denver '76 Winter Olympics.

In 1970, The Denver Olympic Organizing Committee (DOOC) successfully persuaded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to award the 1976 Olympics to Colorado.  Two years later, sensible Colorado voters rejected the bid and became the only entity to ever turn down the Olympics—Winter or Summer—after having been awarded them.

When it comes to software selection, we all know stories about bad decisions. In the case of Denver '76, the red flags were:

  • User Adoption: Colorado residents were concerned about the environmental impact and the impending flood of tourists

  • Cost: (budget estimates soared 300% within two years)

Sound familiar?

I’ve actually dug through two boxes of DOOC meeting notes, letters, and memorabilia in the archives of the Denver Public Library (I wanted to learn exactly where the events would have been held. I still don’t understand how the IOC awarded the Games to Denver. It was a disaster waiting to happen.

Mercifully, the '76 Games were moved to Innsbruck. Franz Klammer turned in perhaps the greatest Olympic downhill run of all time in front of 66,000 home town fans. Bill Koch became the first (and still only) American to win an Olympic cross country medal with his revolutionary skating style.

Growing companies intent on modernizing IT systems don’t have the option to pass the buck. And disaster is not an acceptable outcome.

As I research this series, it becomes clear that software selection disasters can be averted by following a thorough process. I believe that the RFP—as painful as the process is—is not going away. But perhaps the most important steps are those taken before the RFP is released-to help good people make good decisions. Soon I’ll be publishing what I’ve learned.

Meanwhile…here’s a great article, “9 Tips for Writing a Great RFP”, about RFPs in general, not specific to IT, that echoes much of what the experts are telling me.

The views expressed on this blog are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle


Friday Feb 21, 2014

Are You "Millennial Ready"?



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

Oracle President Mark Hurd's latest post on LinkedIn, "The CEO’s Perfect Storm: Demographics, Data, and Devices Change Everything" identifies the impending Demographics Revolution (along with the Data and Devices Revolutions) as a game changer for CEOs.

I'm not surprised. The challenge of hiring and retaining the right talent comes up in EVERY conversation I have with customers and partners. Hurd notes, "at least 25% and possibly up to 40% of the workforce will retire in the next 5-10 years." As droves of boomers buy their motor homes and condos in Florida and Scottsdale, their jobs will be filled by millennials. And, as we all know, millennials and boomers are different.

I'm a baby boomer mentally stuck in my twenties.  I just scored a 69 out of 100 on this Pew Research Center, "How Millennial Are You ". I would have scored higher but for those questions about tattoos and piercings. 

My parental experiences provide me with insight into the behavior of millennials. Mine never answer their phones (or the archaic home land line). Email is something they only use to communicate with baby boomers. Trouble-shooting their electronic devices and apps is as second nature to them as were roadside bike repairs to me, en route to the lake on a sweltering Minnesota summer afternoon.

As growing midsize companies endeavor to attract and retain a modern workforce, they compete for talent with larger enterprises that may be able to offer more attractive compensation and benefit plans. For them, modern HCM and Talent Sourcing solutions have become gotta haves. And, millennials expect more out of modern ERP than the Y2K versions their fathers deployed.

I don't plan on retiring any time soon. With three children in their prime cash-sucking years I am too busy investing in college tuition and car repairs. When I do retire,  I want to work for skier services at my local mountain, Loveland Ski Area. Drive a shuttle bus full of mostly millennials from the employee lot to the base before and after the lifts run. During the day, ski the circuit of on slope cabins, stoking the wood stoves and picking up after all the kids.

Hmmm....shuttling millennials around in a bus and picking up after kids. I think I'm qualified for that job.

The views expressed on this blog are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle



Friday Feb 14, 2014

It's Valentines Day...Do You Love Cloud?




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

As an avid outdoorsman-well, really a cautious mountain man-I have a love/hate relationship with the cloud in my personal life. When I hike, ski, or bike I like to get as far away from people as possible. Yet I prefer to do so with strong enough 3G coverage to stream Car Talk on NPR or folk music on Folk Alley. And I sometimes leverage GPS to document my exploits with Ski Tracks or AllSport GPS.

On the flip side, access to social media often is a barrier to social interaction. I Snap my son to get up for school when he is dozing in his room fifty feet away after hitting the snooze button too many times.My daughter has tagged me on a Facebook post of a Grumpy Cat video when I'm sitting across the table from her at a restaurant. More than once, I've annoyingly fact checked someone's tall tale at the bar with snopes.

All in all...I'd rate the impact of the cloud on the quality of my personal life as net neutral. I can hike, bike, or ski without any of the aforementioned amenities. They're just nice to have. And I think that maybe we should check our smartphones at the door entering a social gathering.

Undeniably, I love how the internet has changed the way we do business. Yes, I support the local businesses in my small community in brick and mortar, face to face transactions. Restaurants, cleaners, tradesmen, one of a kind boutiques-the majority of which leverage web-based solutions to better serve their customers.

I like the internet when it comes to doing business. But my true love is Oracle Cloud. She takes my breath away when I see how she helps growing companies solve business challenges. Talent Sourcing to attract and retain the best people. Marketing automation to break through the noise and drive profitable revenue. ERP Cloud to transform and streamline operations. 

I'm starting to blush. I could go on and on about my love for Oracle Cloud. But I need to be careful. If I brag too much, you'll want her too.


The views expressed on this blog are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle





Wednesday Feb 05, 2014

Oracle's Got Your Cloud Covered



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

When I meet with customer decision makers, the first question I ask them is, “Do you want Cloud?” If they say, “Yes!”, my second questions is, “Why?”

The use of the word “Cloud” in reference to technology solutions has been around for awhile now, maybe longer than you thought. It is a metaphor, and as such, its definition is open to interpretation. From a practical, decision-maker perspective, it’s a single word that doesn’t tell you much of anything about what it does. For example, if a vendor tells you they have “ERP in the Cloud”, what does that really mean?

When I ask a customer “Why Cloud?”, their responses generally align to three primary business drivers:

  1. They want an IT platform that drives growth.
  2. They are keen to move toward (but not necessarily all the way to) an “Everything as a Service” (EaaS) business model.
  3. They believe that Cloud and EaaS combined will provide greater flexibility and lower costs.

Flexibility to leverage new technologies as they become available. Lower costs through shared services and elasticity. That all makes sense.

My third question is then, “How are you going to do all that with Cloud?” That’s when it gets interesting.

In my experience...

Most decision makers know what they want from Cloud but aren’t quite sure how to get it. Most of the time, they mention examples of several Cloud solutions that they’ve read about or that a peer has mentioned.

Then I ask the bonus question, “How?” That is, how do they plan to transform their Cloud vision into a clear, executable IT strategy that supports their business drivers?

That’s where Oracle shines.

It’s hard to say who is the top Cloud company in the world. It depends on how you define it. But it’s not much of a stretch to claim that Oracle has the most comprehensive portfolio of Cloud solutions on the planet. Public, Private, Hybrid. SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, EaaS. ERP, HCM, Talent Management, CX, Planning and Budgeting. And we’re not a startup struggling to establish financial viability. We’ve been doing “Cloud” for more than a decade and have helped thousands of customers craft actionable Cloud strategies.

OK, I’ll step off my soapbox now. Maybe you’ve decided to piece together a hodgepodge of point solutions from a dozen vendors to cover each of your processes. And maybe you’ve figured out how to connect all the dots. More power to you.

But if you’re still deciding, give Oracle or one of our partners a call. We’ll figure it out together.

The views expressed on this blog are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle

Tuesday Feb 04, 2014

Hugs and Kisses from the Oracle JD Edwards Partner Summit


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

The fifth annual Oracle JD Edwards Partner Summit was held last week in Broomfield CO. I've been to them all but this was the best one yet. I learned a lot and made some great new connections. I caught up with my friend Lyle Ekdahl, SVP in charge of JD Edwards. My boss Steve Cox flew over from England for the event (I see him about once a year). And I finally got to meet our social selling evangelist Jill Rowley in person and pick her brain on social media strategy.

I started my IT career with JD Edwards in 1999 so I saw dozens of people I've known for a very long time. Lots of heartfelt handshakes, plenty of hugs, and here and there a bus on the cheek. I joined JD Edwards when it was a young public company that still acted like a private company. The very first day you learned the company's 7 guiding principles, including # 5, "Respect and Value Each Other", and #6, "Build Strong Customer Partnerships". They weren't hollow phrases. You lived those principles or you didn't last long.

We extended those principles to our relationships with partners. The strength of those relationships was clearly evident at the Summit. I met with many partners, some of whom I've worked with for a long time and some I met for the first time. Denovo. Corning Data. Brij. Terillium. CSS International. Capscient. Syntax. ERA Consulting.

Let me tell you...the Oracle JD Edwards partner community is busy, busy, busy.  Plenty of net new customers. Lots of upgrades. Lots of projects for add-ons products like HCM, Talent Management, Marketing Automation, and Project Portfolio Management.

 And, of course, Cloud was on everyone's mind. The partners shared stories of how many of their net new and upgrading customers are choosing to deploy their JD Edwards footprint in the Cloud and are increasingly taking advantage of managed services. It's all about reducing costs and simplifying IT.

Even though I live just an hour up the hill, I felt like was out of town on a business trip. One of those fun and interesting business trips. A reunion, of sorts. I'm proud to be a part of the Oracle JD Edwards community. And even though I don't commute down to the JD Edwards headquarters in the Denver Tech Center anymore, I'm not "ex-JDE". There's no such thing.


The views expressed on this blog are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle

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