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:

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.

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. 



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