Wednesday Jul 23, 2014

Granite Rock: Ahead of the curve, On the road, & in the (private) Cloud

by Jim Lein, Oracle Midsize

The construction industry is known to be at or near the bottom of the rock pile when it comes to technology spending. However, there are signs that construction professionals now are looking to emerging technologies—cloud, mobile, social—to improve project productivity and profitability, enhance customer services, and gain competitive advantage.

Unlike many of its competitors, 113-year old California-based Granite Rock has leveraged technology for decades to stay profitable and competitive. Steve Snodgrass, CFO and CIO, has been with Graniterock about as long as the company has been an Oracle JD Edwards customer—more than 21 years.

“I can’t think of any piece of information that our operations managers need to run their business that we haven’t been able to get them,” says Snodgrass. “That’s information across all the lines of materials we carry and tracking costs down to the work order level.”

Flipping the Switch on a Long Overdue Project

This year, Snodgrass launched a technology upgrade project—to the newest version of Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne solution for Construction—that is long overdue. The project was set to go several times but postponed each time for compelling reasons; including how hard the global recession hit the construction business.

Up until now, Snodgrass has provided information to operations via a complex combination of JD Edwards applications, bolt on solutions, and expensive custom applications.

“Back when we first implemented the current system, none of the technology vendors had all the pieces we needed,” observes Snodgrass. “There’s also mentality within the construction industry that, once you install a piece of software, you’re done. It just doesn’t work that way in reality.”

The upgraded system will continue to be hosted in a private cloud by Oracle partner Velocity’s Managed Applications Services. Snodgrass and his team are looking forward to the benefits the upgrade will bring.

  • Additional functionality—20 years of enhancements

  • An more intuitive user interface

  • User Productivity Kit (UPK)—to provide more consistency in end user training.

  • Consolidating to a single data base

“We’ve been like kids standing outside the candy store window looking at all the things we can’t have,” says Snodgrass. "You might say we entered that store for a package of Life-Savers and now we realize that there are many other pieces of candy to choose from. We're very interested in exploring JD Edwards' mobile capabilities once we've completed the upgrade."

Serving Dual Roles

It’s not often you’ll find one individual that wears both the CFO and CIO hats.

“Sometimes IT guys can lose focus,” says Snodgrass. “I’m always looking at technology like, ‘If we’re going to this project is it cost effective and how is it going to benefit the company? What is the return on this? Will we sell any more products?’ That discipline works pretty well when I talk to my guys. Generally it works.”

Snodgrass and his team keep tabs on the solutions being offered by vendors catering to the construction industry. Oracle JD Edwards continues to be their first choice, both for its functionality and its ability to provide a solid technology platform for everything they do.

“JD Edwards and Oracle grew up around mechanizing processes,” says Snodgrass. “They have this deep understanding of all the business processes. The JD Edwards model works for me pretty well wherever everything is so tightly integrated. That’s really where the strength is.”

Read more about Graniterock’s technology upgrade in this Oracle Profit magazine feature, “Rock Solid”.

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 May 08, 2014

Simplifying Hybrid Cloud

by Jim Lein, Oracle Midsize Programs

My favorite brain game on 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.



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