Wednesday Feb 25, 2015

Exploit Enabling Technologies to Seize Growth Opportunities, says Steve Fearon, Oracle VP, Midsize Apps in Western Europe-Part 2


Steve Fearon is Oracle’s Vice President of Applications for Midsize Enterprises in Western Europe. His organization helps ambitious midsize enterprises reach their full potential by adopting Modern Best Practice enabled by Oracle applications.


 Part 2: Read Part 1 Here

Q: What price do companies pay by postponing the adoption of Modern Best Practice?

I believe that, in most cases, they ‘ll lose. At the very least, they’ll fall behind competitors who are exploiting SMAC and adopting Modern Best Practice. They’ll miss out on the full potential of those new markets and opportunities.

Really, it’s about failing fast. The faster you fail, the faster you learn, and the more productive you become. And you learn fast by using modern technologies that provide immediate feedback and enable agility. Failing fast and learning from it is optimum.

Q: What has it been like to work for Oracle for over 22 years during this incredible time of change?

When I joined Oracle I didn’t own a house, I wasn’t married, and I didn’t have children. Over that time, I’ve owned several different homes, I met my wife through Oracle, and we now have two children. They’ve always known me as working for Oracle. When my 13 year old daughter wanted a mobile phone she said, “How old were you when you got your first phone?” You should have seen the shock on her face when I said, “26”.

I’ve seen Oracle’s culture change as we’ve grown organically and via acquisition. 60-70% of our employees didn’t start with Oracle but we still have a strong commonality of purpose. We don’t put posters up in our offices about it but everybody comes together and works together even though they come from different backgrounds. It’s always about supporting our customers—whether they’re midsize or large enterprises—in their visions and beliefs.



Jim Lein

Modern Best Practice exploits new capabilities made possible by cloud, mobile, social, analytics, big data, and the internet of things, 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.

Exploit Enabling Technologies to Seize Growth Opportunities, says Steve Fearon, Oracle VP, Midsize Apps in Western Europe


Steve Fearon is Oracle’s Vice President of Applications for Midsize Enterprises in Western Europe. His organization helps ambitious midsize enterprises reach their full potential by adopting Modern Best Practice enabled by Oracle applications.


Q: What are your customers’ priorities and how do you help them achieve their goals?

Midsize companies want to grow and achieve operational excellence. The global attraction of European brands presents top line growth opportunities via opening new markets in the BRIC countries as well as the Next 11. Also, Western Europe is a well respected global player in innovative design and engineering so there are opportunities to bring new products to market.

But to seize those growth opportunities, companies need to exploit SMAC—social, mobile, analytics, cloud—because it has radically changed how technology is applied to business processes. For example, the workforce here is now moving beyond the knowledge worker stage to the innovation worker phase. That presents both opportunities and challenges. How can a company expect to attract and retain innovation workers with HR tools built in the ‘90’s?

We help midsize organizations understand how Modern Best Practice, which is enabled by Oracle’s applications and exploits SMAC, can create growth opportunities out of challenges.

Q: How are your customers adopting Modern Best Practice?

For example, because of technology, buyers have access to almost endless amounts of information. As a result they’re much more informed and self reliant. But what hasn’t changed, is that people are more likely to take a recommendation from a peer rather than rely on a company’s public relations. Modern Best Practice for sales and service gives a framework for engaging with this more informed buyer in the ways that they prefer.

Similarly, Modern Best Practice can bring agility to the finance organization to dramatically accelerate the period close to reporting process by becoming social enabled and collaborative. A modern finance department becomes partners with the rest of the business rather than being viewed as classic transaction workers just trying to close the books.

Part 2: The Price Customers Pay by Not Adopting Modern Best Practice 


Jim Lein

Modern Best Practice exploits new capabilities made possible by cloud, mobile, social, analytics, big data, and the internet of things, 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.

Tuesday Feb 24, 2015

Delaware Life Experiences a Real Time View of Actuals to Budgets

Delaware Life Insurance was formed in 2013 via a divestiture of assets from Sun Life Financials. As Rick Woods, Director of Project Services explains in this short video, they started out with zero IT infrastructure. Nada.

Starting from scratch, they wanted to adopt new systems and Modern Best Practice. With a goal of having a zero footprint for data, they sought to deploy best of breed cloud solutions as much as possible.

"As we were seeking an ERP solution, we really wanted to have an independent view and pick the solution that was perfect for our needs," says Woods, "And that’s really where Oracle ERP Cloud shined through."

Today, the company has what they never had before: a solution (Oracle ERP Cloud and Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service) with excellent usability that provides a real time view of actual to budget numbers, with millions of lines of data rapidly flowing from 26 other systems.



Jim Lein

Modern Best Practice exploits new capabilities made possible by cloud, mobile, social, analytics, big data, and the internet of things, 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.


Tuesday Feb 17, 2015

Trends 2015: Oracle Experts Weigh In

Yes, I realize it's the middle of February and not the first week of January. But I was leafing through Oracle Profit Online yesterday and found lots of valuable insight from Oracle experts about what to expect this year in this Special Report, Trends to Watch in 2015. The article includes links to insight on just about every technology subject that is (or maybe should be) on your mind this year--cloud, security, innovation, and big data, to name a few.

Of special interest to me is Trends in the Workplace: Gamification in the Enterprise since I am currently co-authoring an eBook on Modern Best Practice for Work Life Solutions (publishing in mid March). Given today's challenges of hiring and retaining top talent, many organizations are seeking ways to keep their employees more engaged and happier. It's a fascinating subject and I expect that Work Life technology solutions will soon become an important component of Modern Best Practice for HR and Talent.  



Jim Lein

Modern Best Practice exploits new capabilities made possible by cloud, mobile, social, analytics, big data, and the internet of things, 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.

Monday Feb 16, 2015

What Makes a Top Tech Town?

A local news headline, 2 Colorado cities named among top 10 innovative tech hubs, caught my eye. I know that we have a vibrant startup scene but didn't know it was that vibrant.  When I saw that the two cities were Boulder and Fort Collins, my next thought was that both those small cities had large state universities and very high ratings for quality of life.

Indeed, it turns out that the three key takeaways from this NerdWallet study, Americas Most Innovative Tech Hubs are:

  • Silicon Valley is by far the Leader
  • The West Dominates
  • Universities Are Key

Read the story to learn which other cities made the list and why. 

Last week, I published my three part series, From X's and O's to MQL's and SQL's, based on my interview with Jeremy Bloom, a Colorado born and raised athlete and successful entrepreneur. The posts include insight on Jeremy's experiences founding a startup, how his company helps Oracle customers adopt Modern Best Practice for Marketing, and his motivation behind founding Wish of a Lifetime.

Oracle has an impressive track record in providing solutions and expertise to thousands of innovative companies in the technology industry. Here's a link to a list of a couple hundred Oracle technology customer success stories. 


Jim Lein

Modern Best Practice exploits new capabilities made possible by cloud, mobile, social, analytics, big data, and the internet of things, 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.


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Tuesday Feb 10, 2015

From X's & O's to MQL's & SQL's-Part 3


When Jeremy Bloom was 10 years old, growing up in Loveland, Colorado (population 39,616 at the time), he told his mom and dad he wanted to ski in the Olympics and play in the NFL. Twenty some years later, Jeremy has been-there-done-that and now focuses his energy and creativity on entrepreneurial and humanitarian endeavors. He is the co-founder and CEO of Integrate, a provider of cloud-based solutions that improve the efficiency of Oracle Eloqua customers’ marketing programs, as well as the founder of Wish of a Lifetime, a nonprofit organization helping to make the wishes of senior citizens come true. Integrate was the Oracle Applications Cloud partner of the month in October of 2014.

Part 3: Modern Best Practice for Marketing and Jeremy’s Other Startup

Q: As keepers of Modern Best Practice for your marketing automation niche, how does Integrate become indispensable to your customers?

Integrate automates and standardizes manual, low-value tasks and provides real-time data to optimize media investment. Today, many Oracle customers (marketers) are spending tens to hundreds of hours each month on very low-value tasks when they should be focused on creating ideas and content for customer engagement and delight.

The Integrate software weaves together the media and prospect data with the marketing systems being leveraged to nurture, track and analyze. With our solution, our clients are getting cleaner prospect data into their systems faster than they have ever done before. And, every media dollar can be optimized and measured.

Q: Do you approach your enterprise clients the same way you do startups or midsize clients?

The pain points are very similar for both midsize and large enterprises – demand gen is manual and woefully out of sync with the rest of marketing. At Integrate, we lionize customer success by eliminating this problem. Everything we design—our team, processes, GTM strategy, business value alignment, support—is centered on customer success. Perhaps it’s cliché, but as a startup CEO I hear noise from all over. “Hey—what’s the exit strategy of the business? Are you going to sell? Go public?” All those things I see as complete distractions and every second I’m spending time on that I’m losing focus on what’s important. I tell my team often, “If we make our customers successful, everything else will take care of itself. Literally. All the things we question—the question marks—will take care of themselves.” But that’s hard task. It goes back to building a great product that helps marketers become more successful.

Q: Tell me about Wish of a Lifetime

I share a really great relationship with my grandparents. The first 18 years of my life it was my mom, dad, brother, sister, and grandma. I’ve always had an affinity to the oldest generation. And I’ve always felt that, in our country, we don’t always do a great job of supporting and appreciating the oldest generation. We spend so much of our time focused on the youth—which is important—but some of that attention should be spent on the people that paved our roads, that gave us life, that fought for our freedom in WWII, that pulled this country out of the great depression. These people are now in their 80’s, 90’s, and 100’s and a lot of them are living without a lot of means. Many don’t have family members anymore and their friends have passed on. They are confined to four walls. They don’t talk to people for maybe 12-13 days. Some of their wishes are so small and there’s no nonprofit out there to make these things happen. So that’s why I started Wish of a Lifetime. To find these people. To say thank you. Tell them that we care. To grant their wish in hopes of not only making their lives have more meaning fulfillment but also to share their message with other generations—the youngest generation—to say, “These people are important. It is our duty to help them.”

Part 1: The Path to Startup

Part 2: On a Mission With Oracle




Jim Lein

Modern Best Practice exploits new capabilities made possible by cloud, mobile, social, analytics, big data, and the internet of things, 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.

From X's & O's to MQL's & SQL's-Part 2


When Jeremy Bloom was 10 years old, growing up in Loveland, Colorado (population 39,616 at the time), he told his mom and dad he wanted to ski in the Olympics and play in the NFL. Twenty some years later, Jeremy has been-there-done-that and now focuses his energy and creativity on entrepreneurial and humanitarian endeavors. He is the co-founder and CEO of Integrate, a provider of cloud-based solutions that improve the efficiency of Oracle Eloqua customers’ marketing programs, as well as the founder of Wish of a Lifetime, a nonprofit organization helping to make the wishes of senior citizens come true. Integrate was the Oracle Applications Cloud partner of the month in October of 2014.


Part 2: On a Mission With Oracle

Q: What do you like about partnering with Oracle?

Marketing is the next big area of business to be automated. Oracle has embraced marketing and has a proven track record of data-driven solutions across business functions. I love the energy and focus that Oracle is putting into mastering marketing. From everywhere in the organization they are taking steps in the direction that says “we want to win and delight marketing”. From acquiring great companies with valued technologies to putting together an intelligent stack to the way that they are supporting customers.

We aren’t on a mission to master all of marketing but we’re certainly on a mission to automate an important piece - demand gen. We value partnering with Oracle because we both share the passion of customer centricity, automation and data-driven marketing. There is a lot of mutual value in us working together.

Q: How do Integrate’s solutions help Oracle Eloqua customers?

Marketers are paying big money to generate leads ($30b+ in 2015) with PII—Personally Identifiable Information—coming in from many different sources such as when a potential customer downloads a whitepaper, registers for a webinar, or has their badge scanned at an event. The big challenge is how marketers make sure that the prospect data—email addresses, phone numbers, zip codes—is valid. And how marketers get all those leads from disparate sources into your Eloqua as fast as possible for creating sales pipeline. Usually what happens is that a lot of people across marketing operations have to pull together all the information via spreadsheets, format and validate it one row at a time, and then enter it manually into Eloqua. This can take days, with each day and every passing hour delaying follow-up with prospects.

Integrate’s SaaS solution standardizes and automates the demand gen process. A key step is validating the prospect data generating by third-party providers, assigning a source ID to each lead, and then directly injects all those leads into Eloqua for immediate nurture and follow-up. Integrate becomes the central repository of all known IDs and becomes the analytics platform that provides the CMO and marketing pros with a holistic assessment of lead quality across all channels as leads move from MQL, to SQL, to a sale.

We walk arm in arm with Oracle when we meet with Eloqua customers. The first thing we do is sit down with the customer’s marketers and blueprint their data flow and workflow processes. Once we gain an understanding of what marketers have under the hood, we can recognize roadblocks and ultimately identify solutions to increase efficiency and increase media and marketing system ROI.

Part 1: The Path to Startup

Part 3: Modern Best Practice for Marketing and Jeremy's Other Startup



Jim Lein

Modern Best Practice exploits new capabilities made possible by cloud, mobile, social, analytics, big data, and the internet of things, 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.

From X’s & O’s to MQLs & SQls


When Jeremy Bloom was 10 years old, growing up in Loveland, Colorado (population 39,616 at the time), he told his mom and dad that he wanted to ski in the Olympics and play in the NFL. Twenty some years later, Jeremy has been-there-done-that and now focuses his energy and creativity on entrepreneurial and humanitarian endeavors. He is the co-founder and CEO of Integrate, a provider of cloud-based solutions that improve the efficiency of Oracle Eloqua customers’ marketing programs, as well as the founder of Wish of a Lifetime, a nonprofit organization helping to make the wishes of senior citizens come true. Integrate was the Oracle Applications Cloud partner of the month in October of 2014.


Part 1: The Path to Startup

Q: With all the opportunities available to you after your successful athletic career, why did you decide to co-found Integrate?

I dabbled in local real estate—buying places and renting them out—while attending the University of Colorado. When I played for the Philadelphia Eagles, the NFL offered a program for players to take MBA courses at Kellogg, Stanford, Harvard, or Wharton. I started attending classes at Wharton because I knew it would be a great opportunity to learn from some of the best professors in the world. I found myself drawn to one professor, Peter Linneman, who had started a private equity firm investing in unentitled land. He became a mentor to me so I’d come in after practice and watch him raise capital from institutional investors. That got me thinking about internet startups and the next thing you know I got the bug to start an internet company.

I didn’t plunge right in at first because I was well aware that pro athletes have this blind spot. We think we can do anything if we put our mind to it but the X’s and O’s of the startup and investing games are very different than what we’re used to. Often times players lose a lot of money.

So after my athletic career was over, I joined a startup and was running customer acquisition demand generation marketing. I lived the pain because, at the time, there was no software solution to automate demand generation and centralize leads across all these sources. Consequently, I left and started Integrate. We raised venture capital and now have over 85 employees.

Q: What has your personal startup journey been like?

My startup experience has been very similar to my experience in athletics. I’m the type of person that sets a big goal and then I picture climbing a mountain. Sometimes it’s climbing Mt Everest. I get my blinders on. When I climb those mountains, I know it’s going to be two steps forward, one step back. It’s this idea that you’re always dealing with adversity and setbacks and I am motivated by the challenge of overcoming them. The most successful people I’ve ever been around are the people that deal with setbacks, adversity, or failure exceptionally well. They never allow themselves to lose confidence or let that define them. They take in the data. They don’t over-emotionalize it. They allow it to adjust their plan. I’ve constantly experienced setbacks but I would call them more lessons and data to process and learn from.

Part 2: On a Mission With Oracle

Part 3: Modern Best Practice for Marketing and Jeremy's Other Startup



Jim Lein

Modern Best Practice exploits new capabilities made possible by cloud, mobile, social, analytics, big data, and the internet of things, 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.

Tuesday Nov 04, 2014

Lyft Chooses Oracle HCM Cloud to Adopt Modern Best Practice

San Francisco has one of those good news/bad news problems. Just about everyone has a job. That’s good news for everyone with bills to pay but potentially bad news if you’re job is to hire and retain top talent.

Such is the situation for Ron Storn, VP of People at San Francisco-based ride-sharing and revolutionary startup—Lyft. Storn 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. Lyft’s core business model is predicated on those technologies.

Every day, hundreds of thousands of people facing the dilemma of getting from Point A to Point B simply tap a button on Lyft’s mobile app and a friendly Lyft driver pulls up to the curb in a matter of minutes. For Storn, the challenge of finding talent is a bit more difficult but he’ll soon have help from Oracle’s HCM Cloud solutions.

“Our mission is to change transportation as we know it by building a peer-to-peer transit solution that works with cities to make them safer, more affordable, and better connected,” says Storn. “That now includes providing commuters with a daily transportation option—like Lyft Line—that connects passengers traveling along similar routes, a solution that has incredible potential to decrease traffic congestion and green house gas emissions.”

Hyper Growth Amplifies Onboarding Challenges

Lyft, like most growing companies, needs top talent to achieve its lofty goals. The company now operates in more than 65 cities and plans to go global in 2015. In September of 2013 Lyft had about 100 employees. A year later they had more than 350.

“Competition for talent is fierce. Speed is critical,” says Storn. “We offer the type of work environment that attracts individuals that really want to have an impact yet they’re not really sure where that impact should best be applied. Our goals are to find an initial home for those individuals and then have the ability to monitor HR analytics that map their journey. The strategy is to understand what their capabilities and interests are and then realign those skills over time.”

With hyper growth, Lyft has found it increasingly difficult to onboard talent efficiently. Over time, they have developed a number of one off HR solutions that are “scrappy”, as Storn says, but not scalable. He equates it with, “being on a 747 that’s in the air and building an engine as you’re flying.”

As an analytic-driven executive, Storn required the new HCM system to be a robust, scalable solution that would help establish one platform that all managers and HR staff could use as a stepping stone to managing the workforce. Among its numerous shortcomings, Lyft’s old HR systems didn’t have tools to pull data to align employees to the right teams.

“Our approach to building our business is to launch and iterate,” says Storn. “We hire smart, talented individuals. We need the predictive analytics in Oracle HCM Cloud to identify, for example, an individual who has been rated as having great potential but has been flagged as underperforming in their last review. That will enable us to proactively deal with an issue before it’s too late. That kind of learning and alignment tool will help us become a great attraction for hiring talent hiring and for retaining people by keeping them engaged.”

Although a robust system was a core requirement in the selection process, Storn also recognized that Lyft’s business is not yet so complex or scaled to the point that they need everything that Oracle HCM Cloud has to offer all at once.

“Part of the reason Oracle was attractive to us is that we can actually pick and choose the modules that work for our company today,” says Storn. “Since we are starting from the ground floor, we deploy just a couple of modules first to get us off the ground. Oracle’s solutions are very adaptable in that regard.”

Outcomes

Storn is confident that Oracle Cloud HCM will provide the tools to properly manage current and future employees in a well-rounded way. The planning process for solution adoption has helped executives and managers take stock of and analyze Lyft’s HR needs. Oracle HCM Cloud will integrate and streamline Lyft’s processes by providing a consolidated space for most of their HR portals as well as a database of compliance information relative to employees.

“Having the ability to be nimble, proactive, and preparatory helps stabilize our company,” says Storn. “We will be better equipped to provide an exemplary work environment that will contribute to employee loyalty and further establish Lyft as a leader and model of the start-up world.”


Read more: Ron Storn and Lyft featured in Oracle Profit Magazine Q&A




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 May 08, 2014

Simplifying Hybrid Cloud


by Jim Lein, Oracle Midsize Programs

My favorite brain game on lumosity.com is “Train of Thought”. The idea is to make sure every train engine arrives at the right color-coded station by flipping switches at track intersections. The better you get, the more stations you manage and the more trains are in play at once. It gets stressful pretty quick. 

Quite a bit of research lately predicts the rise of hybrid cloud adoption—a blend of on premise, private cloud, and public cloud IT solutions. Growing companies don’t want to rule out a potentially best-fit option based solely on deployment model. Thus, if you want all the good stuff now, you’re probably going to end up with a hybrid model.

That can translate to lots of moving parts—trainloads of information seeking the right station. Even a public cloud solution needs some attention. With a best of breed, hybrid strategy, it’s possible to have a dozen or more systems that need to talk to each other.

In this report, “Cloud for Business Managers in Midsized Organizations: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” 76% of respondents say their ability to innovate using their cloud apps has been hindered and the main hindrance is a lack of integration (54%). That can be especially challenging for midsize companies with no IT staff or just a handful of employees dedicated to IT. 

The good news is that Oracle and its partners know how to manage all the moving parts. For example, Denovo started out as a traditional IT consulting and services company and, in 2009, began building a robust hosting and managed services practice for Oracle JD Edwards customers. Denovo has the expertise to connect their customers’ private ERP clouds with other on premise and public cloud solutions, from Oracle and other vendors. 

“Our customers want to leverage technology from the driver’s seat,” says Paul Herbka, Director of Enterprise Hosting, Cloud and Managed Services, at Denovo. “Not the other way around. They recognize that cloud is about more than just cost savings. It’s about speed of deployment, flexibility, elasticity, and agility. They want all that without having to manage all the moving parts.” 

Since Denovo started hosting with a strong consulting practice already in place, they have the know-how to build one-of-a kind ERP ecosystems for each customer. They understand how to pull or push information from one application to another, whether on premise or cloud.

“It’s all about being smarter, faster, and cheaper,” says Herbka. “It’s imperative for our customers to visualize their IT strategies through a single pane of glass. That’s why we offer a simple but comprehensive private enterprise cloud. Our clients run their own core business. The let us take care of the chore of delivering that software and infrastructure and concentrating on the technical details.”


Herbka will be presenting a live webinar, “ERP Cloud Benefits - from Chore to Core”, on Tuesday, May 13th, 2014 from 9:00am - 10:00am PST. He’ll be covering:

  • Ways to increase agile cloud-enabled business solutions
  • How business leaders are leveraging cloud solutions to drive innovation
  • How to gain support for your own cloud projects and initiatives
  • About success stories of cloud technology that reduced IT cost by up to 18%

Click here to register.


More on this topic:

Building a Hybrid Cloud: Five decision criteria for evaluating and selecting hybrid cloud solutions”, by Irfan Saif is a principal and leader of the postdigital enterprise initiative at Deloitte & Touche, featured in Oracle’s Profit Online magazine.


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 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.

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 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.

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