Monday Jun 08, 2015

The Little Known Business Value of Wearables

Many of us have been tracking the progress of wearable adoption (no pun intended) and have share the same reaction: Why???? Or, even worse: That’s just creepy. From a lifestyle perspective wearables such as smartglasses, smartwatchs, and smartrings seem to offer little more than what we currently enjoy via our smartphones.

With that said, innovative companies continue to prove that, if we can imagine it, we can build it. Think Dick Tracy's 2-way wrist radio, imagined in 1946 by the comic strip artist Chester Gould.

For example, a fascinating realm of opportunity is emerging when it comes to the business value of wearables. My colleague, Shekar Hariharan recently co-authored a whitepaper with another Oracle expert, Gurbinder Bali, entitled ‘JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Wearable Technology’. This paper outlines the business value of wearables and identifies how Oracle JD Edwards is expanding on its established leadership in enterprise mobility by exploring how to best support practical use cases for wearables in the workplace.

"Wearables for work are not about making a fashion statement," says Hariharan. "They are tools for the job. They offer some very interesting use cases for Oracle customers."

Use cases are presented for real life work scenarios:

  • Warehouse Management, including augmenting workers’ ability to fulfill orders
  • Manufacturing, including the facilitation of shop floor work flow
  • Engineering and Construction, including automated project time tracking
  • Field Services, including on screen tips for parts diagrams

In addition to these uses cases, this paper provides a real life scenario of JD Edwards customer working with Oracle to develop a solution for applying wearables technology to their warehouse operations. Note: Oracle does not currently offer standard applications for wearables or prebuilt integrations between wearables and Oracle applications. However, Oracle does have customers who have created wearable solutions using Oracle technology.

“Oracle’s JD Edwards is the industry leader in Enterprise Solutions with deep industry vertical functionality in Engineering and Construction, Oil and Gas, Consumer Packaged Goods, Manufacturing,” says co-author Gurbinder Bali. “JD Edwards is built on Oracle's extensible Fusion Middleware platform that allows the data to be represented on a wearable platform like a watch. This allows for our customers to integrate their ERP and system notifications, quickly review KPIs, and get voice driven guidance seamlessly from a trusted and stable data source in the backend while using the most advanced wearable platform to consume that information."

To explore which aspect of your business might be further optimized by wearables, contact your Oracle sales rep. Or, send Gurbinder or Shekar a note on LinkedIn. 

Video: Oracle JD Edwards Labs: Radical Innovation with Wearables Technology

Jim Lein

Oracle for Midsize Businesses

Modern Best Practice exploits new capabilities made possible by cloud, mobile, social, analytics, big data, and IoT, making it possible for your organization to achieve more, faster and with fewer resources.  It is flexible, supports growth and innovation, and enables new ways to achieve consistently superior performance.

The views expressed here are my own, and not necessarily those of Oracle.

Wednesday Oct 29, 2014

Fin, Feather, & Fur Outfitters Chooses Oracle to Drive Digital Transformation

How does a hometown sporting goods retailer compete with specialty big box giants? The answer is: you exploit their weaknesses. Ohio-based Fin, Feather, and Fur Outfitters has averaged 30-40% year over year growth since 2010 by doing what the big guys can’t.

Shawn Gilronan, CIO at Fin, Feather, and Fur Outfitters, was recently an executive customer speaker in an Oracle OpenWorld session devoted to strategies for adopting Modern Best Practice in high-growth organizations. Modern Best Practice exploits new capabilities made possible by emerging technologies—Cloud, Mobile, Analytics, Social, The Internet of Things, and Big Data—to enable organizations to achieve more, faster and with less resources.

“We have built our competitive advantage by carrying a broad selection of branded firearms and accessories that closely reflect what are customers want to see,” says Gilronan. “We also take pride in our knowledgeable sales associates who are highly trained in programs sponsored by such top tier vendors as Sig Sauer, Rocky Boots, Columbia Sportswear, and Under Armour.”

Fin, Feather, and Fur Outfitters’ executive team knew that profitable growth could only be sustained by transforming the company from a local mainstay to one that can go toe-to-toe with industry juggernauts. As Gilronan guides the company through a “Crawl/Walk/Run” Oracle deployment strategy over three phases, the company could potentially be a case study supporting this MIT Sloan Management Review research, “The Nine Elements of Digital Transformation”.

Software Selection Via the 21st Century Good Ol’ Boy Network

“We knew we needed to change,” says Gilronan. “The systems we had weren’t scalable, reliable, and couldn’t cope with the volume of transactions. We knew we needed a ERP system with deep and broad industry capabilities to build a foundation on. Plus we also needed a robust front end solution for our cashiers to get customers in and out the store efficiently.”

Prior to deploying Oracle, Fin, Feather, and Fur Outfitters had no enterprise wide IT platform in place—something not necessarily vital to a company with just four stores, no shared services warehouse/distribution system, and no eCommerce presence whatsoever. Many non-standard processes and procedures were in place, born out of necessity, rather than formed out of intelligent, thought driven planning. High growth quickly exposed the deficiencies in the company’s existing IT systems. The company reached over capacity on system SKU’s. They experienced frequent system outages. The executive leadership team worried that sales revenue was being left on the table.

Fin, Feather, and Fur Outfitters’ customers prefer quality brands with reputations established over time amongst their friends and peers. Brands like Carhartt, Case Knives, and Smith and Wesson. Likewise, when Gilronan sent out a growth focused RFP, Oracle quickly rose to the top based on the local reputation of JD Edwards EnterpriseOne for finance and distribution as well as the industry penetration and well known ability of Oracle’s eCommerce solutions ATG and Endeca for eCommerce to support sustained growth.

“Oracle rose to the top for a number of reasons,” says Gilronan. “First, the robust distribution management capabilities in JD Edwards align well with our company growth model. Plus, Oracle offers a user-friendly application environment. And finally, our selection was based on a “best fit” approach in terms of using a local partner, the right cost, and the fact that Oracle and our partner aligned well with our company’s morals and values.”

The Outcomes of Digital Transformation

As identified in the MIT Sloan Management research, “Executives in all industries are using digital advances such as analytics, mobility, social media and smart embedded devices as well as improving their use of traditional technologies such as ERP to change customer relationships, internal processes and value propositions.” Also, “Executives are digitally transforming three key areas of their enterprises: customer experience, operational processes, and business models.” Not by coincidence, Fin, Feather, and Fur Outfitters’ digital transformation will dramatically impact all three of these key areas.

“Our customers’ experience will be enhanced by Oracle’s state of the art POS system, optimized inventories, and online purchasing options,” says Gilronan. “We’ll be adopting modern best practices for our industry with Oracle’s out of the box capabilities and standardizing training across all operations. Our business model will be radically enhanced by developing a compelling online presence and by tripling our number of stores and moving to building a modern warehouse and distribution facility.”

Gilronan expects dramatic ROI as the each of the three phases are completed. For the first time, managers will have integration between sales, inventory, and financial management. Fin, Feather, and Fur Outfitters has succeeded by accurately matching their inventory to their customers’ preferences but, without modern inventory best practices, that has resulted in high inventory carrying costs. With the adoption of Modern Best Practice for inventory management they’ll be able to perform detailed analysis to determine profitability at a more granular scale such as store square foot allocation by product and the carrying cost of products at the store level. Gilronan expects to reduce inventory levels by 30-40% even as they continue to grow dramatically.

“Our digital transformation will allow us to continue our organic growth model,” says Gilronan. “We’ll be opening many new locations and exploring new-to-us concepts without being impeded by technology. We’ll be a more formidable and direct competitor with larger big box stores.”

Thursday Jun 05, 2014

Can Kind People Finish First?

by Jim Lein, Oracle Midsize Programs

In an earlier post, I expressed my undying love for KIND Snacks' products. This month's Oracle Profit magazine features an interview with KIND Healthy Snacks Founder and CEO Daniel Lubetzky entitled "Better Business". Lubetzky expresses his vision for making KIND a "not for profit only" company. 

All great companies start with a good idea. In this case, that one great idea was to offer a healthy snack with ingredients you can "see and pronounce". That's one of things I really like about this company--that coupled with the fact that their snacks taste great. They compete in an over crowded playing field but I've found that it's rare to find an energy snack that both tastes good and is good for you. 

A couple of interesting facts I learned from reading this article:

  • 9 out of 10 consumers who try a KIND bar will purchase a KIND product again and recommend it to others
  • KIND has the highest Net Promoter Score among the top 10 brands in the nutritional bar category (I confess I've never heard about this rating before but now that I have it's pretty cool)

KIND's coporate mantra, "Do the Kind Thing" both encourages people to do random acts of kindness and provides easy mechanisms for doing so. Not coincidentally, I think, KIND is indeed a story about how nice guys can finish first. KIND has doubled in size every year for the last ten  years and now employees over 300 people, with sales exceeding $120M annually.

Growth Applies Pressures

One thing I know for certain from interacting our with fast growing customers over the last fifteen years is that growth applies myriad pressures across the organization--resources, processes, technology systems, and leadership agility. And it's easy to forget that Oracle was once an entrepreneurial startup and experienced all those same pressures that other growing companies are experiencing today.

When asked by Profit Editor in Chief Aaron Lazenby, " What sort of pressure does KIND"s growth and success place on operations?", Lubetzky responded, "We have a demand planning process right now that is manual to a significant extent, and it just takes so much management time. It takes us days and sometimes weeks to produce information that is critical to our business—and by the time we get the results, we need revised data. Our sales leadership could go out selling, but instead they’re talking to our team about forecasts."

Hitching Your Wagon to Oracle

Lubetzky and his team selected Oracle for what I believe is our company's greatest strength: hitch your wagon to Oracle and you can trust that we will be there for the long run with the solutions you need and financial staying power.

In Lubetzky's words, "The KIND philosophy requires you to have a long-term view of things; taking shortcuts may be the fastest way to get things done, but in the long term that can come back and bite you. Oracle is the type of company—and has the kind of platform—that is here for the long term. It’s not going to go away tomorrow. And Oracle is going to invest all the necessary resources into staying ahead of the game and improving."

o next time you're in the supermarket or an REI (my favorite store in the world) or any of the other 80,000 locations that carry KIND, give one a try. Maybe some day you'll want to become a KIND Brand Ambassador. 

 Looking for more news and information about Oracle Solutions for Midsize Companies?

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.

Wednesday Nov 27, 2013

Get a Number…Give A Number. I give Oracle “7”.

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

There’s a game currently making the social media rounds in which one friend assigns a random number –let’s say, “twelve”—to another friend. The assigned friend then shares twelve little known facts about themselves.

The “Get a Number…Give A Number” game reminds me that I might not know some of my friends as well as I think I do. It’s a rare occasion when I meet someone who doesn’t have opinions about Oracle. Ask yourself—what do you really know about the second largest software company on the planet? To that end, I have randomly assigned the number “seven” to Oracle (seven is a lucky number and every writer knows list-based posts must have an odd number of items just like all landscaping projects must have an add number of shrubs).

Here are seven facts you might not know about my company:

  1. My home state of Colorado ranks third in the nation for concentration of tech workers in the public sector (8.7%). Oracle is a major contributor to that statistic, having inherited multiple Colorado campuses via acquisition including JD Edwards (Denver Tech Center), Sun Microsystems (Broomfield), and BEA Systems (Boulder).
  2. More than two thirds of Oracle’s customers are midsize companies .
  3. Oracle headquarters in Redwood City occupy reclaimed tidelands and the 66 acre site was originally Marine World/Africa USA.
  4. My first boss at Oracle was a guy who I had met years before when we worked on the same floor at JD Edwards. I didn’t know what his job was back then but we had pleasant conversations at the copier (remember those things?). But I digress…
  5. Oracle wins numerous awards for philanthropy including being ranked #7 in the Silicon Valley Business Journal Corporate Philanthropy Awards.
  6. Oracle OpenWorld ‘96 (the first) featured 420 sessions and 17,200 visitors at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. Many superstar acts have performed over the years at the Oracle OpenWorld Customer Appreciation Events including Elton John, Sting, Billy Joel, and (my favorite) Counting Crows but the farthest back anyone could remember was Oracle OpenWorld ’98 at which KC and the Sunshine Band, Dave Wakeling (of The English Beat fame), Asleep at the Wheel, and Cherry Poppin’ Daddies performed.
  7. Oracle’s smallest customers run the same applications as our largest customers. For example, Land o’ Lakes (14B USD, USA) runs Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and so does Felsineo (<100M USD, Italy). And Ingersoll Rand (14B USD, Ireland) runs Oracle E-Business Suite and so does PressureJet Systems (<100M USD, India). And Skanska AB (60,000 employees, Sweden) runs Oracle Taleo Talent Management and so does Be The Match (875 employees, USA). You get the picture.

If you haven’t yet guessed, this post is a thinly veiled attempt to get you interested in learning more about the kind of company Oracle is today. This is not your father’s Oracle. Today Oracle has 120,000 employees and many of us honed our skills and gained experience prior to joining Oracle at such great companies as JD Edwards, PeopleSoft, Primavera, Siebel, Taleo, Eloqua, and Hyperion . That’s where we’ve been but now our heads are in the cloud. So get to know us better. If you’re not an Oracle customer now, odds are—you may soon be one.

Thursday Jul 18, 2013

Oracle Launches Oracle Business Accelerators for JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 9.1 in India

Oracle launches Oracle Business Accelerators for JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 9.1 to rapidly deploy best practice business processes to growing Engineering & Construction and Industrial Manufacturing companies in India.

Read the press release.



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