X

Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

Recent Posts

Finance Topics & Trends

Get Schooled (Twice!) on New Business Models

This is the time of year when college campuses across the United States come alive with activity. Students swarm the grounds, faculty impart their knowledge—and university and college business officers wrestle with ever-shrinking budgets. For decades, U.S. institutions have been faced with cutbacks in public funding. To succeed in this environment of constant belt-tightening, business officers need to develop revenue models that cast the widest net possible—whether it’s corporate partnerships, adult learning or workplace training. All of this complicates the job of finance teams that are tasked with planning, budgeting and forecasting revenue. Strapped for both staff and cash, finance teams must run numbers full of uncertainties with tools that were never designed to take these new business models into account. Rather than relying on spreadsheets, which are time-consuming and error-prone, finance leaders at colleges and universities are looking for better, more cost-effective tools to help them plan and manage all sources of funding. Many of them are turning to enterprise performance management (EPM) in the cloud. These cloud systems include strategic modeling, profitability and cost management, and industry-specific functionality for new income sources such as continuing education and sponsored research. Join Us at the NACUBO Planning and Budgeting Forum At next week’s NACUBO Planning and Budgeting Forum, you’ll get a chance to see these systems in action—as well as hear from expert speakers on topics like financial reserves, integrated benchmarking, performance metrics, capital planning, maximizing resources for student success, and more. You’ll learn: Approaches for using planning and budgeting as an agent for institutional change Innovative planning and budgeting methods being practiced at colleges and universities Strategies to address higher education resource management Drop by the Oracle table to learn more about Oracle EPM Cloud and its education-specific capabilities for planning and budgeting. If your institution is already using Hyperion, we’ve made it easier than ever to move to the cloud and uptake new capabilities. Register now to attend, Sept. 24-25 in Louisville, Kentucky. Attend the CACUBO Annual Meeting If you can’t make it to Louisville next week, you’ll have another chance to connect in Chicago, Sept. 30-Oct. 2 when the Central Association of College and University Business Officers (CACUBO) hosts its Annual Meeting. Held each fall, CACUBO is one of the premier higher education events in the region. It offers college and university business officers a setting for networking, as well as presentations and seminars to share information on important professional development topics. There will also be cloud providers on hand who can answer your questions about the latest technologies to support new business models. On Sunday, Sept. 30 at 11:30 AM, Oracle’s Dan Stockwell will host a session on “How to Meet Today’s Requirements for Student-Centric Financial Aid.” Dan will discuss how an intelligent, student-centric financial aid system can help eliminate processing backlogs, free institutions to deliver academics in any model, and give students real-time visibility into their finances via mobile devices. Oracle will also sponsor the “First Time Attendee Luncheon” on Sunday, Sept. 30. Please drop by booth #5 for more information. Register now for the CACUBO Annual Meeting and the NACUBO Planning & Budgeting Forum.

This is the time of year when college campuses across the United States come alive with activity. Students swarm the grounds, faculty impart their knowledge—and university and college...

Product News

Automation Integration for Financial Management Software: Oracle CEO Mark Hurd Makes the Case

When discussing the case for artificial intelligence, Oracle CEO Mark Hurd argues that “the way to ensure that it gets the kind of business and social results we’re all looking for is to embed machine learning into existing applications.” Automation is being integrated in a similar fashion within current enterprise financial applications to increase efficiency, reduce error and keep data secure. Oracle ERP Cloud and Oracle EPM Cloud are already utilizing automation to their benefit, and new applications of automation are becoming essential to today’s businesses. Automation Empowers Employees & Customers The financial close process can be intense, requiring extensive planning and organization across teams. Oracle EPM Cloud automates the simpler tasks and triggers dependent processes to keep processes flowing. Automatically tracking task status and events frees up time for accounting staff to stay focused on more complex assignments, directing human brain power where it can achieve the most. For more routine tasks, Oracle Account Reconciliation Cloud can automate subroutines during the reconciliation process to improve staff efficiencies. This tool also empowers customers, offering custom rule sets for the thousands of reconciliations many organizations process throughout the year. Automation Reduces Errors Blending capabilities from AI and automation, Oracle Financials Cloud integrates optical character recognition (OCR) into invoice entry. Automating this process step can reduce both manual errors and processing costs. Further automation can validate and pay invoices completely independently, flagging those needing human intervention and sending them to appropriate personnel. Automation Protects Data Autonomous Cloud services are changing the game in several fields, but one of the most compelling to executives is cybersecurity. Oracle’s new Autonomous Database automatically protects itself with the latest patches and security updates while self-tuning and self-repairing. The impact of immediate access to patches shouldn’t be understated–it could mean the difference between your customers’ data staying protected or your company joining the 89% of organizations that have experienced a data breach. Minimizing patch implementation lag time is a vital component of cybersecurity strategy, and cloud services are using automated capabilities to close the gap faster than ever before. These process innovations showcase how automation and AI can be used as additional tools available through enterprise financial applications rather than to replace humans entirely. The continued dependence on human managers and oversight exhibited by automation implementations provides a strong case for how these tools are augmenting workflow processes across industries while freeing employees to tackle larger problems and initiatives. For financial applications, the future is integration. Learn more about how Oracle ERP Cloud is saving time and cost with automation.

When discussing the case for artificial intelligence, Oracle CEO Mark Hurd argues that “the way to ensure that it gets the kind of business and social results we’re all looking for is to embed machine...

Finance Topics & Trends

5 Ways Technology Can Improve Student Success

A recent survey indicates that finance leaders in the field of higher education are dissatisfied with campus technology. The survey of chief business officers and senior financial officers across the United States shows less than half (49%) agree their institution makes efficient use of technology. This trend needs to change if campuses hope to attract and retain more students. Enrollments are predicted to begin a long decline in 2018, and that spells bad news for revenue. For most U.S. colleges and universities, enrollment is their number one source of funding. To make up for the shortfall, institutions of higher learning are turning to new sources of funding. Some are partnering with corporations. Some are looking overseas. Still others are turning to continuing education, expanding their existing programs and launching new ones to attract adult learners. Each of these strategies requires innovative marketing and recruitment tactics, enabled by the latest technologies. Today’s students—especially Millennials raised in a mobile world—expect the same kind of digital experience from their schools as they get from popular consumer brands like SnapChat, Instagram and YouTube. If you want to offer a digital campus that attracts and retains students, your institution should focus on these key areas: 1. Personalize the Student Experience Students arrive on campus with high expectations, and it’s up to your institution’s faculty and staff to deliver the personalized, connected experience they demand. You’ll need to manage student relationships across channels and devices to meet enrollment goals. If not, students become discouraged and may even leave, taking their tuition money with them. Personalized content and interactions can help students succeed. 2. Promote Student Success The days of “sink or swim” are over. Today, institutions must focus not only on getting students in the door, but on helping and supporting them throughout their student journey—improving retention, completion, and job placements. Intervene in time to make a difference and keep students on track to achieving their goals. 3. Manage Student Finances Finances are a key determinant of whether a student graduates; when the money dries up, drop-out is virtually guaranteed. The right technology can give institutions greater insight into students’ financial health and increase the opportunities for early intervention. 4. Foster Institutional Excellence This is where finance teams can potentially make the biggest difference. A strong operational structure is key to meeting your institutional goals. You need to simplify processes, standardize systems, and prudently steward resources. By gaining meaningful insight into these systems and resources, you can increase transparency, improve traceability, and allocate funding to invest in a modern campus. 5. Empower Lifelong Learning Today’s students want a personalized learning experience wherever they go. Your institution needs the ability to curate the right curriculum and services for each student—providing (and gaining) insight into individual and aggregated learning paths and best practices. All of this might sound daunting, but in fact, attracting and retaining students can be as easy as this video. Technology for Student Success In a webcast with The Chronicle of Higher Education, a distinguished panel—including representatives of UC Davis and Pierce College Puyallup—will discuss how technology can enhance academic advising and student-learning outcomes. The panel also looks at how cutting-edge technologies, like chatbots and machine learning, can benefit student success. Webcast attendees will learn: How to get faculty and students on board with using new tools What it takes to evaluate whether a new tool is working successfully How to adapt technology to meet the specific needs of your students Join the discussion to understand how the latest technologies can help students thrive, leading to greater success for your institution. Register now for the webcast. 

A recent survey indicates that finance leaders in the field of higher education are dissatisfied with campus technology. The survey of chief business officers and senior financial officers across the...

Finance Topics & Trends

GITEX Showcases Why You Need to Move to the Cloud, Now

By Arun Khehar, SVP Applications ECEMEA, Oracle The physical and digital worlds will converge, co-mingle, and spring into action as businesses and government agencies demonstrate the latest in transformative technologies at GITEX, October 14–18, at the Dubai World Trade Center—the biggest technology exhibition in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). As MENA governments and businesses take a bigger leadership position on transformative technologies, GITEX is attracting a larger global audience. Last year, more than 470,000 professionals attended, and each year attracts more attendees from outside the region. This year we expect to see a maturation of the physical-to-digital transformation taking place in the public and private sectors, with a big step toward tangible applications of blockchain, intelligent automation, digital simulation, predictive analytics, and other game-changing technologies. Specific GITEX sessions are planned around the themes of augmented/virtual reality, smart cities, Industry 4.0, and the Internet of Things (IoT). The cloud also will be a frequent topic of discussion, and our message for finance professionals will be simple: To use these advanced technologies, you need cloud systems as your digital core, a foundation on top of which you can build and expand. Without cloud-based ERP and EPM, it’s extremely challenging to leverage these new technologies. This, too, is a maturation. While on-premises ERP and other business applications might still technically “work” at the enterprise level, companies clinging to them are missing out on more valuable benefits—including higher ROI, lower costs, and the competitive advantages of always-up-to-date finance technology. Focus on Building a Cloud Foundation Moving to a complete cloud is essential to true digital transformation; every part of the business needs access to digital tools and capabilities for true transformation to happen. In recognition of this, Oracle offers cloud applications for every department/function—all connected to each other—so everyone in an organization is working from the same set of up-to-date information, as well as the most recent best practices. Finance functions, in particular, benefit from this integration because it improves accuracy in reporting. Something as simple as certifying the number of laptop computers an organization owns can be impossible if each department documents their assets separately in spreadsheets, but cloud-based procurement systems make it possible. It’s also a lot easier to add advanced technologies to finance, supply chain, HR, and other line-of-business applications with a complete cloud. DevOps teams, for example, could develop blockchain-based applications faster using Oracle platform services that are already integrated with Oracle applications. A Glimpse of the Future? Oracle will have a large presence at GITEX and will be demonstrating a variety of products and services. We’ll talk about how disruptive technologies are touching everyone, from business owners to executives to private citizens. We’ll also talk about our new Oracle Soar automated services, which make it easy to move from on-premises ERP to Oracle ERP Cloud. GITEX has been happening for more than 30 years and continues to offer a view into how technology is changing the world. This year there will be a lot of exciting demonstrations, and behind them all will be a necessary but silent enabler—cloud. Our goal will be to show how a complete cloud can bring futuristic technologies into organizations today, so companies reap the benefits faster and with less frustration. Can't make it to GITEX? Join us at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco.

By Arun Khehar, SVP Applications ECEMEA, Oracle The physical and digital worlds will converge, co-mingle, and spring into action as businesses and government agencies demonstrate the latest in...

Finance Topics & Trends

How 3 Big Digital Disruptors Are Reshaping Finance

With the arrival of process automation, cognitive tools, and blockchain, finance organizations are facing the potential for major transformation. In the first of a 3-part series, Deloitte looks at the impact of process automation. Part 1: How Automation Is Disrupting Finance By Girija Krishnamurthy and David Carney, Deloitte Consulting LLP  The rumblings of disruption are rolling through the world of finance. And it’s about time. More than ever, disruptive technologies are needed to help finance combat a barrage of new challenges, from exploding data volumes to accelerating business cycles to an unprecedented talent crunch. In this first of a three-part blog series, let’s look at one of the biggest disruptors facing finance today: Automation. Finance is embracing its new best friend, the bot. Many of the organizations we work with have heard of robotic process automation – or RPA – and every day more of them deploy software bots to boost efficiency and control costs. Right now, we have several clients developing smart bot solutions running in the cloud to turn their payment processing into a touchless end-to-end routine. And that’s just one out of a multitude of processes that finance manages. Intelligent Automation It turns out many financial process can be automated. A good example is the close, consolidation and reporting process, the bane of a controller’s existence. Recently we asked one of the world’s leading professionals in the process – a professor at a Top 20 U.S. University – to compile a list the different activities a typical organization performs during its monthly close. Then we asked him which ones could be automated – and which ones may likely require hands-on work. A week later he came back with a startling answer. Of the literally thousands of activities involved in book closings, there were essentially none that couldn’t be automated. Although he admitted a few dozen might be difficult to automate, there were no “show stoppers.” This suggests that we are nearing the day when bot-driven automation could power a completely hands-off “continuous close” process, the equivalent of Nirvana in finance. A big push in our practice at Deloitte is showing clients how they can automate the close, consolidation and reporting process; and to a large extent, bots are the answer. In fact, Deloitte predicts that the vast majority of financial transactions will be completely touchless by 2025. Taming a Torrent of Data Finance is swamped in data and the vast majority of it is going to waste. In fact, my team recently discovered an astonishing fact: Of all the data that exists in the world, less than half of one percent is actually being used. That’s a staggeringly low number, suggesting that there is enormous potential for putting more data to work – and extracting value from it. But many organizations have been slow to harness the torrent of data. The problem is the maddeningly complex mixture of data sources and formats. Fortunately, Oracle is helping to simplify matters with automated cloud-based platforms and tools that filter out the “background noise” and expose the really valuable data hidden in the mix. Data visualization tools, for example, can provide quick-and-easy graphic interpretations of complicated data sets. CFOs typically love data visualization because it helps them cut to the chase on many topics, saving time. It’s not surprising that data visualization tools are becoming commonplace in finance and are now a standard part of Oracle cloud services.    All of this is great news for finance – and for the rest of the business too. Organizations can use the efficiency savings from automation to double down on financial planning and analysis and sponsor other projects aimed at helping the business grow and profit. I see this as part of the “big pivot” finance organizations are making as they move from being mostly operational in structure to overwhelmingly strategic. Ready, Set, Pivot To make the pivot, finance will likely need to employ a much different mix of talent. The new finance workforce will still need number-crunching proficiency, also known as STEM skills for science, technology, engineering and math. But finance increasingly will need more people who also have a knack for building “empathetic” business relationships. We call the blend of these talents “STEMpathy”—and currently, there’s a real shortage of people possessing that valuable hybrid skillset. Finance will also need to cultivate a new generation of staffers versed in the cloud-based technology tools that are swiftly becoming ubiquitous across organizations. In other words, automation will compel finance to rethink everything about its workforce as it adapts to new ways of working (hand-in-hand with bots) and new types of workplaces (increasingly virtual and distributed). Recruiting methods will need to change to attract this new breed of finance staffer. Recently I saw a job requisition for a data scientist posted by a Fortune 50 telecom and compared it to a posting for an identical job by a nimble Silicon Valley startup. The jobs were the same but the descriptions made them sound like totally different positions: one cutting-edge and exciting (the startup); the other…well, not so much. Is automation changing how your finance organization works? I’d love to hear from you. And be sure to watch this space for my next blog, which will explore how cognitive solutions like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and analytics are influencing the evolution of finance. Tune in to the joint Oracle and Deloitte Digital Finance webcast series to learn more about how automation, cognitive, and blockchain are disrupting finance. Girija Krishnamurthy is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and leads the Digital Finance area of Deloitte’s Technology practice. Girija brings over 17 years of deep finance transformation and implementation experience for clients spanning North America, EMEA and Asia Pacific. She holds an undergraduate degree in Engineering and an MBA in Finance and Information Systems. David Carney is strategy & operations principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP. With over 25 years of professional experience, David has advised senior executive teams and boards of directors, typically of large, global clients, on issues of improving shareholder returns.  He is a trusted advisor to many Fortune 500 CFOs and other finance executives.  With a strong background in mergers & acquisitions, he has led many consulting projects involving some of the world’s largest, most complex life sciences, high tech and telecommunications integrations and divestitures. David also leads Deloitte Consulting’s Finance practice, advancing the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) agenda and advising the Finance function to increase contributions to company performance. As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of our legal structure. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

With the arrival of process automation, cognitive tools, and blockchain, finance organizations are facing the potential for major transformation. In the first of a 3-part series, Deloitte looks at the...

Finance Topics & Trends

How to Keep Up with Big Changes in Banking

By Joseph Prunty, Area Vice President, Modern Finance Solutions, Oracle Remember the old idiom “bankers’ hours”? Short workdays and numerous holidays gave rise to the phrase, back when banks operated at a slower pace and in a more predictable business landscape. That world is unrecognizable today, as technology, regulations, and changing customer expectations roil the banking world, forcing changes throughout the value chain. Disruptive technology continues to serve as both cause and solution in banking, powering new competitors—the fintechs—and helping established banks meet new challenges. Fintechs Bring New Realities for Banks Fintechs, unencumbered by legacy systems and practices, have quickly leveraged technology to capture market share from traditional banks. Meanwhile, leaders at long-established banks face the daunting task of replacing outdated IT and business models. As Oracle CEO Mark Hurd said at Oracle OpenWorld 2017, “Technology innovation and customer adoption is increasing faster than [banking] IT capabilities can keep up.” The stakes are high. In 2009, credit-card processor Square came out of nowhere and ultimately swiped 25 percent of market share from traditional card payment processors by offering a simple product that could connect to any mobile device. Leveraging the latest technology, Square built a system to process transactions at a lower cost than existing companies could, changing the rules of the business. As fintechs drive down prices, margins shrank at established competitors. Some estimates indicate that banks lose money on the majority of their customers. With traditional full-service banking, financial institutions can expect 20 percent of their customers to drive 150 percent of their net income before taxes. This means that, with the other 80 percent of their customers, banks either break even or lose money on every transaction. Additionally, banks must contend with the cost of meeting increased government regulations, while fintechs tend to fly under the regulatory radar—at least initially. To survive, banks need to focus on cutting costs and improving services to make that 20 percent more profitable, and lose less money on their unprofitable customers. Banks Must Become Customer-Centric Banks are beginning to recognize the need to update old IT systems and organizational structures. More importantly, they’re beginning to understand how the two are interrelated and can be leveraged to drive competitive advantage. Traditional banks tend to think and operate from an internal perspective, usually by lines of business. As a result, bank operations are not driven by customers. This is a problem in a world where people have been trained by mobility and apps to expect fast, personalized service. In the past, “banker’s hours” persisted because people didn’t have a choice. Today, they do. They have a banking need and want to satisfy it in the most cost-effective way possible—at a time (24/7) and via the channels that they prefer. Most important, the same customer might need multiple products and services—say a mortgage, business loan, checking and savings accounts, and college savings account. When the bank is organized by lines of business, it limits the visibility required to meet that customer’s needs. And as bankers worry about where to assign revenue and responsibility, they lose sight of delivering the service customers expect. Just as lines of business tend to be siloed, so too are the IT systems they rely on. This cripples the bank’s ability to exploit their most valuable competitive advantage over the fintechs: data about their large customer bases across all lines of business. The result is that banking customers don’t get the full-service experience that might keep them from defecting to a competitor. Banking Transformation Centers on Cloud A complete, connected suite of cloud systems offers the accessible, un-siloed technology that enables banks to transform. With all customer data in one comprehensive data set, banks can take advantage of algorithms and machine learning to identify and serve broad-based customer needs, even as line-of-business leaders retain access to the data to serve their specific needs. At the same time, a connected cloud helps banks meet competitive challenges by reducing IT costs and simplifying the deployment of digital services. Cloud solutions eliminate on-premises application license fees, along with implementation and upgrade costs. Upgrades are completed automatically, reducing disruption, along with the need for teams of expensive IT specialists and time-consuming, multi-million dollar upgrade projects. And since cloud systems are updated on a regular cadence by the service provider, the bank always has access to the latest, most innovative technologies. The cloud help banks address both back-office and customer-facing challenges. Internally, the cloud streamlines reporting, which reduces cost, speeds decision-making, and frees time for bankers to strategize on growing the business. For customer-facing needs, cloud simplifies the adoption of the latest technologies—including chatbots and digital-only products and services—that fintechs have used to woo today’s technologically capable customer base. Digital Banking Comes of Age The once-staid financial services industry is undergoing a dramatic change that requires it to be as nimble as the fastest-growing technology company. By operating on a complete, connected cloud, banks will be able to transform from a siloed business to a customer-centric organization—reducing costs even as they meet ever-changing government regulations and deliver ever-improving products and services. What does it take to be truly customer-centric? Watch our webcast with American Banker.  

By Joseph Prunty, Area Vice President, Modern Finance Solutions, Oracle Remember the old idiom “bankers’ hours”? Short workdays and numerous holidays gave rise to the phrase, back when banks operated at...

Finance Topics & Trends

How to Make a Business Case for Planning & Budgeting in the Cloud

By Jennifer Toomey, Senior Director, Cloud Business Group, Oracle Technology is bringing new worlds of innovation to budgeting and planning. In an age where only the most agile survive, fumbling across multiple spreadsheets and updating expensive on-premises systems is no longer an option. Companies need to evolve and to do that, increasing numbers are turning to the cloud. In a recent APQC survey, finance respondents said that they spend nearly half of their time on transaction processing—lengthy, manual work such as paying bills, sending accurate invoices, and other routine jobs. Clearly, in a world where strategic planning and data-driven insights have never been more important, financial busy work is not the best use of employee time. Forward-thinking companies are finding cloud solves many of these problems. Flying Tiger Copenhagen for example, found that after moving to Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud, they saved 20 days per year by replacing spreadsheet collection and uploads with automated data entry and workflows—enabling business analysts and controllers to spend more time on the jobs that really matter. Furthermore, they were able to streamline budgeting and forecasting processes as they scaled up, as well as achieve tighter control of budgets across their 30 markets. Savings are also to be found in not having to maintain expensive legacy systems, with cloud applications being autonomously patched every month with the latest updates. No bulky hardware or IT investments are required, integration with Oracle ERP Cloud comes as standard, and migrating from existing systems is a breeze—all of which significantly lowers the barrier to entry. In short, cloud has become an essential tool for future-proofing businesses, keeping pace with competitors, and staying cost effective. How much could you save? Making a business case for innovation requires specific figures—and that’s why we’ve created our new Planning and Budgeting Calculator. By simply entering a few details about your business, you’ll be shown just how much Oracle Planning Cloud can benefit your bottom line. The tool will break down your savings across five areas: Improved workforce productivity Reduced risks—cost of unplanned expenses Improved decision-making profit margin Reduced working capital costs Improved analysis quality to drive revenue On top of this, you’ll be able to dive deeper with a personalized report. We’ll also give you access to a range of useful case studies, videos and articles, all of which can help support your case for transformation. Discover how much cloud can save you with our Planning and Budgeting Calculator. Calculate your benefits now.

By Jennifer Toomey, Senior Director, Cloud Business Group, Oracle Technology is bringing new worlds of innovation to budgeting and planning. In an age where only the most agile survive, fumbling across...

Finance Topics & Trends

Five Reasons to Connect Finance, Operations and Analytics in the Cloud

By Sarosh Khan, IBM Global Business Services Across every industry, finance and operations teams play central roles in the day-to-day running of the business. But the financial and operational systems in many companies are sitting in silos. This separation means that a company has two sets of data that it must reconcile in order to get a clear picture of the business. This, in turn, limits the ability of decision makers to identify and capitalize on opportunities for innovation and growth. Data silos can also prevent analysts from quickly gaining insights to anticipate business outcomes, such as the effect of a new sponsorship or revenue-driving program. So, what do you do when your isolated finance, operations and analytics solutions are major barriers to growing your revenue? Here are five reasons why you should adopt an integrated solution in the cloud. 1. Increase business agility Many organizations lack agility because they use on-premises enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that have been highly customized to fit specific business needs. This heavy customization makes it a long, painful, and expensive process to upgrade to the latest version of the software. Users must often wait years for new capabilities, while their competitors leapfrog over them with more agile best practices. Today, forward-looking companies are subscribing to software-as-a-service (SaaS) models, adopting standardized systems built for the cloud. New capabilities are rolled out quickly by the cloud provider, so you can have the tools you need to keep up and stay competitive in a rapidly evolving business environment. 2. Enable automation Automating processes across separate, isolated systems is challenging, if not impossible, in many cases. Before adopting an integrated solution, one client—owner of some of North America’s leading sports franchises—had to manually transfer data between the ERP system and the customer relationship management (CRM), ticketing and point-of-sale systems. By adopting a SaaS solution with integrated finance, operations and analytics, your systems are connected in such a way that you can automate tasks that previously required manual labor, such as data transfer, extraction and reconciliation. You can also accelerate the processing of key tasks, such as invoices, purchase orders and journal entries. Thanks to automation in Oracle Cloud applications, my client no longer has to spend countless hours entering data, which previously included over 60,000 paper invoices each year. 3. Gain real-time insights When finance and operations are separated, business models aren’t typically aligned with financial plans and forecasts. It can also be difficult to procure timely reports. But with an integrated cloud, multidimensional analytics and reporting are available out of the box, in real time, as soon as transactions happen. Modern analytical tools can help you harness structured data in your ERP systems and unstructured data from other sources, such as emails, social media and market indices. Businesses can use these tools to build reports that factor in financial and operational variables. These enhanced analyst reports can help you gain deeper insights to inform corporate planning and better anticipate business outcomes. 4. Reduce maintenance costs It can be difficult and expensive to integrate systems that aren’t on the same platform. If you have a different reporting or analytics solution sitting outside your financial system, you have to employ people to maintain connections between them. On the flip side, integration can significantly reduce complexity and maintenance costs because all your data is in a single database, and more tasks can be automated. A connected, complete SaaS cloud can reduce your total cost of ownership (TCO) because you no longer need specialized middleware or expensive talent to manage your systems. As a result, your employees can spend more time on activities that provide value to your business. 5. Improve the user experience From the user perspective, a connected cloud is simply more convenient. You can see data consistently across your business. In fact, all the reasons I’ve highlighted for adopting a connected finance, operations and analytics cloud can help your employees work smarter and faster while focusing on their own expertise. Learn more Check out the IBM Cloud™ Impact Assessment for Oracle to see how IBM is helping businesses implement connected solutions in the cloud, paving the way for them to capitalize on groundbreaking technologies. IBM will also be attending and presenting at Oracle OpenWorld, October 22-25, 2018 in San Francisco. We invite you to connect with us at the event and attend our speaker sessions to learn more about integrating your finance, operations and analytics systems. Sarosh Khan is Associate Partner, IBM Global Business Services – Oracle ERP Cloud Leader, with more than 23 years of IT consulting experience in building and leading high performance consulting teams and managing large, complex, mission-critical programs. Mr. Khan in an expert in aligning strategic business goals with next-generation Oracle technology solutions to support business growth, profit/revenue gains, operational efficiencies, customer satisfaction, and strong competitive advantage. Connect with Sarosh on LinkedIn.

By Sarosh Khan, IBM Global Business Services Across every industry, finance and operations teams play central roles in the day-to-day running of the business. But the financial and operational systems...

Finance Topics & Trends

How Manufacturers Are Moving to the Cloud, One Smart Step at a Time

By Viktor Sahakian, Leader, Oracle Consulting Practice, Hitachi When it comes to adopting new technologies, manufacturers have always been a cautious bunch. This is still true today, even though new cloud solutions are knocking at the door of every manufacturer out there with promises of greater agility and lower costs. Downtime for big facilities can be costly, so manufacturers can’t be blamed for casting a wary eye on proposals to bring new solutions—cloud or otherwise—onto their shop floors. However, the truth is that cloud services are proven to provide companies—and manufacturers, in particular—a huge boost in productivity, as outlined in a research report Intelligent Finance: How CFOs Can Lead the Coming Productivity Boom. Authored by Dr. Michael Mandel, senior fellow at the Mack Institute for Innovation Management at the Wharton School, the study projects that cloud services are poised to boost U.S. GDP by $2 trillion over the next decade. I haven’t done the math, but I wholeheartedly agree with the thrust of the study. There’s no question in my mind that cloud will have a positive impact on the economy—and increasingly we’ll see that impact reach deep into the manufacturing sector. Getting Nimble The fundamental value of cloud is that it enables organizations to become increasingly nimble and respond more rapidly to changing market demands. The cloud solves what I call the “problem of time”; you no longer need months and months to launch new capabilities. Now you can stand up capacity on the fly and radically shorten time-to-market cycles. That makes for a big competitive edge in any industry. In addition, cloud forms the basis for a whole host of advanced technologies like machine learning, 3D printing, blockchain, IoT and more—all of which are in the early stages of transforming manufacturing.  Finally, the cloud facilitates deep and pervasive connections between people and data via modern dashboards, mobile access, and real-time reporting. If you’re not connected to your data, you’re not leveraging it effectively. Cloud services allows companies to connect the dots faster, driving greater agility. A Real-World Impact on ROI I’m seeing the impact of cloud services at many of the manufacturers we work with today. For example, we recently helped a steel-processing company that was experiencing lost output and productivity. Executives recognized that their production planning was sub-optimal, largely because they lacked the data needed to help them improve the production schedule. Hitachi Consulting created a process to automatically capture critical step-and-cycle time data and generate insights into the causes of production disruptions. This data allowed production planners to introduce standards to refine and optimize the production schedule. Over a five-year period, these changes are expected to deliver a $2.6 million return on investment. Start Small It may be true that manufacturers are averse to risk, but risks can be controlled with smart strategies to propel cloud adoption. A good approach is to start with small steps and identify specific use cases around cloud services. To avoid business disruption, we often advise manufacturers to start with “edge” applications (such as reporting or budgeting) before moving core business functions to the cloud. For example, you could move some of your non-mission-critical workloads to the cloud to demonstrate the benefits of cloud (such as fast implementation times, regular software updates, and ease of use). Alternatively, you might initially target an IoT project on a cloud platform to generate quantifiable results—without interfering with your vital manufacturing systems—and address specific challenges or uses cases that might be impacting your production line or quality. Once you demonstrate business value with these tightly focused, low-risk projects, you can then decide to scale them out. This is the perfect way to drive broader adoption of cloud services. Smart Manufacturing Hitachi’s approach to cloud transformation in manufacturing starts with developing quantifiable use cases designed to solve real business problems. Then we leverage Oracle Cloud to enable a Smart Manufacturing for Oracle solution that can help drive gains in operational efficiencies across production, maintenance, quality, scheduling and logistics using IoT, advanced analytics and machine learning. I see the impact of cloud services in the industry only getting stronger as adoption increases. But not every manufacturer will embrace cloud services at the same speed. This disparity will lead to competitive differentiation between industry leaders and laggards, as Dr. Mandel outlined in his report. The main reason for differing adoption rates will be the mindset of organizational leaders. Those willing to take a more aggressive approach to improving operations with cloud services – and accept a bit more risk – will likely separate themselves with greater levels of productivity and innovation. How is your manufacturing company leveraging cloud services to become more competitive? I’d love to hear from you. Viktor Sahakian leads Hitachi Consulting’s Oracle technology practice and has over 25 years of consulting experience with applications development, implementations and systems architecture. He has directed and provided project management and technical leadership on multiple global implementations and transformational projects. His current focus areas are cloud-based SaaS, PaaS and IaaS transformations as well as IoT-based solutions to help companies address business challenges. CFOs: Are you ready to lead the coming productivity boom? Download the research.  

By Viktor Sahakian, Leader, Oracle Consulting Practice, Hitachi When it comes to adopting new technologies, manufacturers have always been a cautious bunch. This is still true today, even though new...

Project Portfolio Management

Why Your Next Project Manager May Be a Bot

In the past few years, project management has been in the throes of a revolution. Iteration cycles are shorter, project teams are more dispersed, and the pressure to deliver results is ever greater. At the same time, emerging technologies are creating new opportunities for project management organizations (PMOs) to manage this changing work, according to a recent study by ProjectManagement.com. The automation and data visualization provided by state-of-the-art project management systems give managers the tools they need to make informed decisions. But what if many of those decisions could be made by the software itself? That’s the promise of machine learning—a promise that will change the face of project teams, management, and projects themselves sooner than you may think. Here Come the Bots Today’s project management systems typically rely on manual input, such as timesheets and status updates, to inform a manager’s decisions around task assignment and resource allocation. More sophisticated systems, such as Oracle Project Portfolio Management Cloud, can pull additional data from other parts of the enterprise, such as finance, and present it with advanced visualizations. A few years from now, however, AI and machine learning may be making these decisions independently and objectively, without human input. Software robots (commonly referred to as “bots”) could build project plans, assign tasks, and allocate resources. These bots would be able to learn from any number of inputs within and outside of the organization to refine these decisions, resulting in ever-greater efficiency and speed. That does not mean we’ll do without project managers altogether. Instead, with bots making these tactical decisions, human project managers can take on a more strategic focus, keeping the organization’s project portfolio aligned to its strategic priorities. The project manager would also act as a coach to the team, monitoring broad trends, identifying unforeseen opportunities, and bringing innovative thinking to bear on the problems at hand. The Project Team Evolves… Project teams certainly aren’t what they used to be. In place of rigid, hierarchical structures, nimble self-organized teams are creating a dynamic project delivery environment. Team members may be spread across the country or the globe, collaborating via social tools and focusing on individual technical specialties rather than more general expertise. Bots are a natural fit for the increasingly pervasive work-at-will model, whether it be a pool of outside contractors, internal ad-hoc teams, or a combination of both. The system would be analogous to a ride-share service, in which potential team members make themselves available when (and where) they wish, and the system assigns tasks based on availability, expertise, and other criteria. The AI system would then ensure that these disparate elements come together as a cohesive whole, on time and on budget. When roadblocks arise, the management bot, much like a GPS system, could find alternate routes or report the issue to a human operator for resolution. …As Projects Also Evolve As bots become more sophisticated, the nature of projects themselves is likely to evolve alongside them. In fact, the foundational elements of this future work model are already in place. The influence of Agile has driven a more iterative approach; organizations are shortening planning windows and increasing the cadence of deliveries to meet demand. The result is a level of complexity and speed that might be difficult for a human to track—but for which a bot is perfectly suited. Intelligent automation could reduce the lag between identifying a need and implementing the solution. At the same time, it would maximize benefits and value. Large-scale, potentially disruptive packaged projects would give way to smaller, incremental deliveries that realize the promise of continuous improvement. Wanted: End-to-End ERP in the Cloud Machine learning requires high-quality data—lots of it. This is why project management bots will rely on connected ERP cloud systems to exchange information with every functional area of the enterprise. Finance, in particular, could benefit immensely from this next-generation automation. Bots would keep projects within budget and ROI parameters, while also delivering information about cost and revenue impact to the finance function in real time. In addition to the structured data provided by ERP system, bots could draw on big data from the Internet of Things (IoT), data as a service, and other unstructured sources to learn new ways of optimizing project cost and projected ROI. On-premises infrastructure and software simply don’t provide enough readily-available data to train the machines. The future of AI and machine learning is in the cloud. Where all of this will take us is still an open question. To ensure that your organization is future-ready, choose solutions that already offer predictive analytics and intelligent automation. Oracle, for example, has embedded machine learning into its finance, human resources, supply chain, and customer experience cloud applications. Read more about the future of project management in this research paper from ProjectManagement.com.

In the past few years, project management has been in the throes of a revolution. Iteration cycles are shorter, project teams are more dispersed, and the pressure to deliver results is ever greater....

Procurement

The Imperfect World of Indirect Purchasing

By Ana Galindo, Product Marketing Manager, SCM Cloud, Oracle Imagine a perfect purchasing world. In this world, employees are able to purchase the items and supplies they need in order to get their jobs done at the best-negotiated prices. Purchase orders would be automatically created and the finance team would be able to easily match an order with an invoice. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. What happens instead is that employees will purchase items through suppliers that are not even on contract—meaning businesses pay more for products that may already have lower negotiated prices, increasing costs to the business and impacting the bottom line. Ardent Partners, a research and advisory firm, attests to that. According to their recent 2018 CPO Rising Survey, only 59% of spend is on contract. It’s becoming increasingly hard for companies to ensure that employees are staying compliant and purchasing from approved suppliers within policy. In my previous roles, I know I would be guilty as charged. There were several times I would go “rogue” and place orders with outside vendors—not because I wanted to, but because the spend management tools provided to employees were always extremely complicated to use. When it comes down to it, spend management isn’t just about reducing company costs, but also ensuring a user-friendly internal customer experience as well. Quickly Adapting to Change When I arrived at Oracle, I was told I was required to use our self-service procurement cloud to order my monitors and standing desk. Just the thought of using another spend management application filled me with complete frustration. In the past I’ve had painful experiences with various spend management software (won’t name any names). I always had a hard time navigating through the software, I could never find the products that I needed, and of course the interface wasn’t intuitive. You can’t blame me for expecting the same complexities with this new application. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I first used Oracle Self Service Procurement Cloud, as it takes the employee shopping experience to another level. The fact is, the more intuitive and easy it is for employees to follow the rules, the more likely it is that they will. The first thing I noticed was the easy, user-friendly, interface. When looking at the main page, there is a “Top Categories” section, as well as a drop-down category menu that allows users to choose exactly the products they’re looking for. The software also has powerful search capabilities that allowed me to quickly locate the right products that I needed within seconds. If I was stuck between which items to order, I could compare and contrast products from different vendors. Also, I was able to “punchout” to the supplier’s e-commerce website, add items to my shopping cart, and then complete the transaction in Oracle Procurement Cloud. Advanced Features Enhance Your Procurement Once I was done looking for what I needed, with the click of a button I added the products to my shopping cart and seamlessly checked out. With the application’s advanced capabilities, I was able to choose a one-time delivery to a different office location. After submitting my order, my requisition was sent to my manager for approval. Requisitions within Self Service Procurement Cloud are always routed through workflows for approval before they are processed (these workflows are completely configurable to your organization’s policies). Within minutes after placing my order, I received an email stating that my requisition had been “approved.” What was most surprising was how quickly my manager was able to approve my requisition. Additionally, since the application runs on mobile devices, I was able to keep track of my requisitions’ status from the palm of my hand. Spend Management Made Easy Within a matter of days, I received several packages at my cubicle and the first thought that crossed my mind was, “Well…that was quick!” At my previous employer, it would take several weeks before I received my order, making it much more convenient for me to order from a huge online retailer (you know the one) and have it delivered the next day. Oracle Self Service Procurement Cloud solution put a positive buying experience well within my reach. Most importantly it provided a compliant, streamlined, frictionless buying experience. Want a closer look? Take a quick tour of Oracle Procurement Cloud. 

By Ana Galindo, Product Marketing Manager, SCM Cloud, Oracle Imagine a perfect purchasing world. In this world, employees are able to purchase the items and supplies they need in order to get their...

Finance Topics & Trends

How Finance Will Make AI More Responsible

By Mike Baccala, Assurance Innovation Leader, and Ed Ponagai, Principal, Finance Consulting, PwC  At PwC, we’re strong believers that artificial intelligence is going to bring big benefits for finance departments and for the professionals who work in them. But we have no illusions that AI is a panacea for all that ails. Most finance leaders, and even many IT professionals, don’t understand how AI works, and so they find it difficult trust its recommendations. Business leaders need both understanding and trust before they can have responsible AI. Artificial intelligence can learn a lot of things from data, but some of those things might best be left forgotten. One widely reported story, for example, is the COMPAS risk assessment system. It algorithmically advised prosecutors and judges on the risk of recidivism of individual offenders—but was found to have learned racial biases from the historical data that were fed to it. In businesses, an AI application might make recommendations that improve working capital or that refine corporate strategy, but the treasurer or FP&A leader is going to want to understand how the machine came to its conclusion before taking any action. In a 2017 PwC survey, 76% of CEOs told us the potential for biases and lack of transparency are holding back AI. An AI algorithm makes probabilistic determinations in non-obvious ways. It falls to humans to understand why. Leaders, employees, consumers and regulators are all wary of relying on an AI that acts inexplicably. Thus, pressure is growing to open up “black boxes” and make AI explainable, transparent and provable. Why Responsible AI Is a Finance Pain Point Technology vendors are recognize the potential problems and are participating in collaborations such as the World Economic Forum’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems, AI Now, The Partnership on AI, Future of Life, AI for Good, and DeepMind, among others. All are looking at how to maximize AI’s benefits for humanity and limit its risks. But, as we outline in our “2018 AI Predictions,” pressure for responsible AI won’t be on tech companies alone. The risks to the organization are broad and non-technical: from invasion of privacy and algorithmic bias, to brand reputation and the bottom line. No board would outsource those kinds of risks. As more companies embrace the imperative of responsible AI, the finance function will have to step up, even when an AI is put to work elsewhere in the organization. Responsible AI calls as much for a governance, risk and control solution as it does a technology solution. For example, companies can use a GRC solution such as Oracle Risk Management Cloud to assess potential abuse of their own algorithms—such as when bad actors try to create fake accounts. GRC software also provides audit trails—and internal auditors are experts in governance, risk and control processes. They can develop risk frameworks to codify how data might be “de-biased” or teach learning algorithms to steer clear of legal and ethical landmines. Or they can help train a secondary AI agent to parallel a primary AI, in order to classify and explain behavior as part of a control process. So, finance will provide the humans in the loop that could finally make AI responsible. Learn more about AI and other emerging technologies at Oracle’s upcoming finance event. Be the first to find out about special discounts, insider information, and event details by completing this short form.   

By Mike Baccala, Assurance Innovation Leader, and Ed Ponagai, Principal, Finance Consulting, PwC  At PwC, we’re strong believers that artificial intelligence is going to bring big benefits for finance...

Risk Management & Compliance

How to Reduce Risk and Get In Line with GDPR

By Dane Roberts, Product Strategy, Risk Management Cloud, Oracle The deadline for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has come and gone. Many questions remain unanswered about the regulation as a slew of companies are still becoming compliant.  The consequences for non-compliance can be steep. Organizations could face fines up to 4% of total revenues or 20 million Euros for not following GDPR. In addition, EU regulators have stated "clouds" will not be exempt from GDPR enforcement. What is GDPR? In brief, GDPR is a data protection regulation that applies to the data of anyone who lives in the European Union. Any company—regardless of geographical location—that stores and/or processes data about an EU resident or citizen falls under the jurisdiction of GDPR. It applies to all information related to the individual, whether it’s data about their private, professional or public life. In addition, it does not matter where the data resides; it’s only about whose data it is—a sweeping regulation.  Key Customer Rights & Requirements under GDPR Data protection by design and by default Companies must design data protection in the development of business processes for products and services. This means from the design stage all the way through the life-cycle, companies have to integrate data protection into their processing and business practices. This proactive approach or concept of considering data protection and privacy issues up front is not new; the key change with GDPR is that now it is a requirement by law.  Right of access Upon asking, EU citizens may access their personal data and information about how that data is being processed. Individuals seeking to access their data can submit a written or verbal Subject Access Request (SAR) and organizations must respond within one month.   Right to erasure The right to erasure, also known as the "right to be forgotten," is an EU citizen’s ability under GDPR to request erasure of personal data related to them on any one of a number of grounds. Again, individuals can make this request verbally or in writing and organizations will have one month to respond.  Right to data portability This right enables anyone in the EU to transfer their personal data from one electronic processing system to another, without being prevented from doing so by the data controller.  How Oracle Cloud Helps with GDPR Compliance Oracle provides the tools that can help organizations streamline their compliance process. Once an organization defines its policies and procedures, they can execute those processes using the modern functionality within Oracle Cloud. Here are two examples: risk management and data management. Risk Management "Data protection by design and default" means that, under GDPR, organizations must show they have the proper processes and technologies in place to protect data in their systems. Oracle Risk Management Cloud helps organizations embed data security, compliance and governance into the Oracle software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications that they use to run their business processes (such as finance). Oracle Risk Management Cloud provides the ability to analyze and assess security design at the lowest levels of detail, monitors transactions that involve private data, and offers an end-to-end flow to manage and certify user access and compliance. It gives you the ability to: Complete data protection impact assessments Certify and monitor employee access to personal data Respond to SAR requests on personal data access and use Quickly report personal data breach and other security incidents Data Management   Data management is a complex and ever-evolving process. Organizations often manage their data manually through conversations, telephone calls, spreadsheets, and e-mail, or via a number of disparate systems—leading to information silos, data integrity problems, and a nightmare for GDPR compliance.  Oracle Enterprise Data Management Cloud takes an innovative approach at helping organizations automate the process for GDPR compliance by packaging data in a format that is manageable and available when needed.  Oracle Enterprise Data Management Cloud provides organizations with a single source of truth for personal data—centralizing it within a purpose-built system. If your data is in a plethora of systems or places and you don’t know where specific data is, it’ll be very hard to comply. You can’t erase, transfer, or report on how someone's data is being used if you don’t know where it is. Get 5 more perspectives on GDPR. Read the brief.

By Dane Roberts, Product Strategy, Risk Management Cloud, Oracle The deadline for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has come and gone. Many questions remain unanswered about the regulation as...

Procurement

How to Control Costs with Smarter Procurement

By Jim D’Addario, Director, SCM Product Marketing, Cloud Business Group From office supplies to raw materials to machinery parts, businesses are continually making purchases to ensure their employees have what they need to be productive and keep the manufacturing lines running. Procurement is a critical part of the business that ensures uninterrupted supply, consistent supplier performance, risk mitigation and cost control. To control costs, buying activities must be managed because of the effect they have on profit margins and the company’s cash flow. Managing a company’s spend is a top priority, but many organizations today lack effective processes and controls over employee buying activity. Procurement: Holding the Line on Expenses Procurement is a complex discipline covering many activities. For many companies though, getting basic purchasing activity under control can be a challenge. It’s a problem that can be blamed, in part, on the tools businesses are using to manage their procurement processes. Smarter spend management involves both incentives and deterrents. Many businesses struggle with getting spending under control because they lack the systems to support it. eProcurement systems emerged in the 1980s as a component of larger, on-premises ERP systems.   However, legacy eProcurement systems—those that manage transactional purchasing by employees—were often difficult to use and expensive to deploy. Their intimidating user experiences were often a deterrent, enough for well-meaning employees who simply gave up in frustration and “went around” the process. Still other companies, including small and midsize businesses, simply didn’t consider deploying eProcurement systems. Instead they focused on financial management systems in an effort to get their finances in order. The Downstream Effect: How Unchecked Spending Impacts Productivity One company, a fast-growing provider of medical language interpretation services, followed that formula. However, several months after deployment, the company’s controller found her finance staff overwhelmed with invoices from vendors with no reference to a purchase order. Perhaps even worse, her finance staff had no way to identify the employee who made the purchase. As a former accountant for a regional developer and property management company, I can personally attest that processing “orphan invoices” was the least favorite part of my job. The hours I would spend attempting to find out “whodunnit” were almost as enjoyable as receiving phone calls from vendors attempting to collect on their overdue invoices. To add insult to frustration, most of our vendors were contractors or building supply companies, prone to using colorful language to emphasize their point, which gave me a new appreciation for parking enforcement officers! But back to our language translation company. Their controller recognized she had several big problems, including:   Out of control spending The burden placed on her staff, who received invoices from over 2,500 different vendors Each of the vendors had to be manually entered into her ERP system Every invoice lacking a purchase order had to be verified with the purchaser in order to approve it for payment Advantages of Integrated eProcurement and Financial Systems The company controller deployed Oracle Procurement Cloud (part of the Oracle ERP Cloud suite) to provide a control mechanism. The interface resembles an eCommerce web site, making it easy for employees to find the products and services they need from approved suppliers. Employee requisitions are automatically routed to an employee’s manager for approval via workflow rules. Only then does the system generate a purchase order to send to the vendor. With a firm “no PO, no pay” policy, the company’s vendors quickly got the message. Now her accounting staff receives invoices with PO references; in most cases, they are processed automatically by matching the PO to the invoice and an “OK to pay” authorization. The result: a 12% reduction in expenditures and an impressive annual reduction in invoice processing times, with more than 2,000 hours saved. This has freed up her finance team to focus on more strategic work. Creating Strategic Value with Better Procurement For many companies, such a shift to more strategic activities requires getting the company’s transactional procure-to-pay processes under control. Often, that requires a combination of eProcurement cloud systems that make it easy for casual users to find what they need quickly, along with compliance enforcement through approval rules and purchase order creation. Ultimately, it makes accounts payable much easier—if not completely automated—and reduces a company’s expenses considerably. For more, download the report from Gatepoint Research, “Trends in Strategic Procurement.”  

By Jim D’Addario, Director, SCM Product Marketing, Cloud Business Group From office supplies to raw materials to machinery parts, businesses are continually making purchases to ensure their employees...

Financial Management & Reporting

Get Inspired to Move the Close to the Cloud

How much visibility do you have into your financial close process? How confident are you in the final numbers? For years, thousands of companies have relied on Hyperion to manage their financial close. But the shift to cloud solutions is prompting many of those same companies to take a new look at Oracle EPM Cloud. The advantages of moving from an on-premises application to the cloud are piling up: Always-up-to-date technology 3.2x higher return on investment, with 52% lower total cost of ownership Modern best practices built into the software and updated on a regular basis On top of that, Oracle was recently named a leader in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Planning and Analysis Solutions and in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Close Solutions.   Then, of course, there are the success stories of customers who are making the move. Join Inspire Brands to Hear Their Migration Story One of those customers is Inspire Brands, whose portfolio includes more than 4,600 Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, and R Taco locations worldwide. Inspire Brands is a new multi-brand restaurant group launched earlier this year following the acquisition of Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc. by Arby’s Restaurant Group, Inc. Arby’s began the group’s journey to cloud by first moving to Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud. Following on that success, and with an aggressive growth and acquisition strategy, moving from Hyperion Financial Management to Oracle Financial Consolidation and Close Cloud made sense. In a webcast with Financial Executives International (FEI) and Oracle, Inspire Brands discusses why the timing of the move was right for them. You’ll learn about the opportunities, the business case for change, migration considerations, and product considerations. Key takeaways include:   How Oracle EPM Cloud increases visibility and confidence in the entire close process How you can leverage modern best practices in the cloud to improve your business processes Inspire Brands' best practices, TCO savings, and lessons learned moving Hyperion Financial Management to Oracle Financial Consolidation and Close Cloud Attendance at this webcast counts as 1 CPE Credit in Information Technology, so don’t miss it! Register now for the webcast with Inspire Brands, FEI and Oracle.

How much visibility do you have into your financial close process? How confident are you in the final numbers? For years, thousands of companies have relied on Hyperion to manage their financial close....

Product News

Oracle Named a Leader in Two Gartner Magic Quadrants

 By Jennifer Toomey, Senior Director, Cloud Business Group, Oracle Gartner recently positioned Oracle in the Leaders quadrant of its 2018 Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Planning and Analysis Solutions, with the highest position for its ability to execute. Oracle was also named a Leader in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Close Solutions. “The FP&A market is accelerating its shift from mature on-premises offerings to cloud solutions. Finance application leaders are seeking SaaS solutions to reduce application support costs, increase application flexibility and shorten time to value,” Gartner wrote in the Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Planning and Analysis Solutions. Download your complimentary copy of the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Planning and Analysis Solutions. “During the past two years, the financial close (FC) market has shifted from mature on-premises offerings to cloud solutions as finance application leaders sought improvements in FC capabilities, enhanced cost control/efficiencies, greater application flexibility and shorter time to value. In addition to providing these advantages, cloud FC solutions are typically easier to use and manage than the previous generation of on-premises offerings. Topics such as the timing of cloud conversions, cloud vendors' product roadmaps and cloud product selection now account for nearly all of Gartner's client advisory conversations about Financial Close,” the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Close Solutions report states. Get your copy of the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Close Solutions, compliments of Oracle. With Oracle EPM Cloud, we believe that our comprehensive SaaS portfolio — covering both financial planning and analysis and financial close capabilities, a large and growing global customer base, and our commitment to continuous innovation in the cloud — validate our leadership position in the market. Oracle EPM Cloud provides a complete, connected and intelligent suite of applications offering best-in-class capabilities for organizations of every size. Thousands of customers have already made the move to EPM Cloud — isn’t it time to take a look at Oracle? Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Planning and Analysis Solutions, Christopher Iervolino, John E. Van Decker, 24 July 2018. Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Close Solutions, John E. Van Decker, Christopher Iervolino, 26 July 2018. This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available upon request from Oracle. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

 By Jennifer Toomey, Senior Director, Cloud Business Group, Oracle Gartner recently positioned Oracle in the Leaders quadrant of its 2018 Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Planning and Analysis...

Product News

5 Great Reasons to Take a New Look at Oracle ERP Cloud

For the second consecutive year, Gartner has named Oracle ERP Cloud a Leader in its 2018 Magic Quadrant for Cloud Core Financial Management Suites for Midsize, Large and Global Enterprises. We’re pleased to make this report available to our readers with our compliments. Once again, Oracle ERP Cloud is positioned highest for Ability to Execute. Watch the following video to take a look at Oracle ERP Cloud. How does Gartner assess "Ability to Execute"? Gartner assesses vendors' Ability to Execute by evaluating the products, technologies, services and operations that enable them to be competitive, efficient and effective in this market, and that benefit their revenue, client satisfaction and retention, and general reputation. Each provider's Ability to Execute is judged by its success in fulfilling its promises, using the following criteria: Product or Service: This criterion assesses the product offerings that compete in the defined market. These may be offered natively or through OEM agreements and partnerships, as defined in the Market Definition/Description and detailed in any subcriteria. This Magic Quadrant evaluates functional capabilities in all areas defined in the Market Definition/Description, support for the needs of midsize, large and global enterprises, and the ease with which the cloud service can integrate with other cloud and on-premises applications. Overall Viability: This criterion includes an assessment of the vendor's overall financial health, as well as the financial and practical success of the relevant business unit. It considers the likelihood of the vendor continuing to offer and invest in its product, as well as the product's position in its portfolio. Sales Execution/Pricing: This criterion assesses the vendor's abilities in all presales activities and the structure that supports them. Included are deal management, pricing and negotiation, presale support, and the sales channel's overall effectiveness. Each vendor is also evaluated on its ability to sell to finance buying centers, such as CFOs and financial controllers. Market Responsiveness/Record: This criterion assesses the vendor's ability to respond, change direction, be flexible and achieve competitive success as opportunities develop, competitors act, customers' needs evolve and market dynamics change. The market for cloud core financial management suites is dynamic, so this criterion addresses the vendor's ability to respond to users' needs and demands. This includes its responses to the demands of delivering core financial management applications in the cloud, which pose new challenges for both vendor and user. Marketing Execution: This criterion assesses the clarity, quality, creativity and efficacy of programs designed to convey the vendor's message, in order to influence the market, promote a brand, increase awareness of products, and establish a positive identification in customers' minds. This "mind share" can be created by a combination of publicity, promotions, thought leadership, social media use, referrals and sales activities. Each vendor is also assessed on its ability to market its offering to finance buying centers, such as CFOs and financial controllers. Customer Experience: This criterion assesses the vendor's products, services and programs in terms of how they enable customers to achieve expected results with the products evaluated. Considerations include the quality of technical support for vendor-buyer interactions and account support. Also assessed is the vendor's ability to make its marketing vision a reality and help finance teams complete the transition from on-premises to cloud deployment. Operations: This criterion assesses the vendor's ability to meet its goals and commitments. Factors include the quality of the organizational structure, skills, experiences, programs, systems and other means that enable the organization to operate effectively and efficiently. In particular, we analyze the vendor's ability to deliver a robust and reliable cloud service, and its associated support and service capabilities (whether provided directly or through partners). Critical Capabilities for Cloud ERP In the Product or Service category, Oracle ERP Cloud is positioned in the top 3 highest scores in all use cases in the Gartner report, “Critical Capabilities for Cloud Core Financial Management Suites for Midsize, Large and Global Enterprises.” Oracle received the highest scores for the Core Financials for Upper Midsize Enterprises, Core Financials for Large Enterprises, and Global Enterprise Financial Backbone use cases. 5 Reasons to Take a New Look at Oracle ERP Cloud 1. Leading Product Capabilities In the 2018 Magic Quadrant, Gartner positioned Oracle ERP Cloud highest for ability to execute. We believe this is based on the product’s leading functionality, as well as Oracle’s global capabilities, financial standing, and strong partnerships. Furthermore, Gartner’s Critical Capabilities report rated Oracle ERP Cloud above average in all areas of functionality citing improved year-over-year scores in financial analytics and reporting, accounts receivable, and general ledger coding structures. 2. Improved Customer Experience But it’s not just product that provides a better customer experience. Over the past several years, as we have transitioned to a cloud company, Oracle has taken concrete steps to improve the customer experience — including accelerated buying cycles and customer success managers to help with every cloud project.  3. Part of a Complete, Connected Cloud Suite In the Critical Capabilities report, we believe Gartner recognized the advancements we’ve made in the way of deployment and integration. This is particularly important with ERP, as it connects to nearly every other enterprise system — including human resources, supply chain management, and customer experience. Oracle offers a complete, connected suite of software-as-a-service applications across all these lines of business — something that our competitors can’t match.  4. A Global Presence We feel that Oracle’s international presence and selling strategy are also recognized in the 2018 Magic Quadrant. This is especially important for global enterprises. The ability to do business in multiple languages, across many countries, and comply with regulations in every region, is critical for a global organization.  5. Innovation and Emerging Technology While not discussed in detail in either Gartner report, we believe innovation is at the heart of the Oracle Cloud. Our applications are updated every quarter with the latest emerging technologies, uses cases, and best practices built into the software. Your ERP is never out of date — something that an astonishing 81 percent of Oracle survey respondents cited as a top benefit of moving to ERP in the cloud.  As new technologies emerge, they will drive enormous efficiencies and process improvements:  The internet of things (IoT) provides the ability to sense the physical world Machine learning identifies patterns in large amounts of data, recommends actions, and then learns from your decisions Blockchain records events and actions in a secure and unalterable manner Human interfaces (such as chatbots and voice assistants) simplify information delivery Oracle already has offerings around each of the above technologies. Our nearest competitors only have roadmaps — and many don’t even have those.  Start Building the Business of the Future Each of these technologies, on its own, has the power to transform the way we work. Together, they can build a business of the future that looks nothing like it does today.  Oracle ERP Cloud helps customers innovate today, with a focus on lowered cost, reduced time, and improved quality for better overall business efficiency. We help you predict tomorrow with meaningful insights based on trending data and desired behavior. And we help you shape the future with a focus on leading best practices to drive increased growth from existing and new  revenue streams.  Oracle ERP Cloud is tomorrow’s ERP, today. We invite you to take a new look.  Download the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Core Financial Management Suites. Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Core Financial Management Suites for Midsize, Large and Global Enterprises, John E. Van Decker, Robert P. Anderson, Mike Guay, 29 May 2018.  Gartner Critical Capabilities for Cloud Core Financial Management Suites for Midsize, Large and Global Enterprises, John E. Van Decker, Robert P. Anderson, 31 May 2018.  This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available upon request from Oracle. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

For the second consecutive year, Gartner has named Oracle ERP Cloud a Leader in its 2018 Magic Quadrant for Cloud Core Financial Management Suites for Midsize, Large and Global Enterprises. We’re...

Finance Topics & Trends

Take Control and Shape Your Future with Cloud ERP

You could call it the ultimate 3-for-1 deal: With one upgrade to cloud ERP, you gain the ability to innovate today, predict tomorrow, and shape your future — and it’s the last ERP upgrade you’ll ever need. That’s three organizational superfoods built on machine learning, intelligent process automation and data analytics — with everything you need for the future built in. Now let’s talk about shaping that future.  Each organization has its own future path. For a manufacturer, it might be an investment in 3-D manufacturing for serial parts production or a switch from selling capital equipment to providing it as-a-service. For a healthcare organization, it could be a reorganization around data-driven care and services delivery. For a bank it maybe a move to touchless processing for certain transactions. Whatever the path, an upgrade to cloud ERP gives financial leaders the ability to deliver strategic insights and collaboratively contribute to planning and organizing for the future state — which looks nothing like the past. Transformational technologies are reinventing work and redefining value across industries as it breaks new ground with previously impossible capabilities. "I believe the technology industry is on an irreversible course to change itself,” Oracle CEO Mark Hurd commented in a LinkedIn post. “There’s no stopping this technological progress. In this business, as in all industries, innovation beats the status quo every time." Controlling for the Future The future is never 100% predictable, but it’s a lot less uncertain when applications can learn through machine learning. Predictive business insights improve, so there is less uncertainty and better control in planning and organizing for the future. Oracle ERP Cloud can make this happen. It is the only cloud ERP built on machine learning, which means it has an ongoing loop of improvement built in at multiple levels: more automation and less process handling; more accurate estimates and predictions; and intelligent help like chatbots for alerts and reminders.  In the cloud, ERP no longer operates separately from other strategic functions, such as human resources. Collaborative planning and execution can happen with a dashboard for every employee, a centralized source of knowledge, and a unified back end that someone else manages. Cloud ERP also provides automatic and continual updates to the latest ERP best practices, as well as technology upgrades to security, functionality, and capabilities. And of course, it’s scalable. Put all of this together and it means that Oracle ERP Cloud is the last ERP upgrade you’ll ever need. An Open Door to Modern Best Practices To get a real picture of how Oracle ERP Cloud helps finance leaders shape their futures, we need to predict how best practices will evolve. Consider how three transformative technologies could enable advancements in key industries: 1. Blockchain Education and research: Student transcript validation and transfer, educator credentialing, and payment of federal/state funds or private grants Banking and finance: Know your customer, clearing and settlement, trade finance, domestic and cross-border payments, loan origination and post-funding automation, and anti-money laundering 2. Machine Learning-Embedded Apps Retail: Personalized product recommendations, smart promotions and offers, trusted data-search merchandising, audience activation and retargeting Banking: Automated generation of payables discounting program based on in-the-moment analysis of treasury positions 3. Internet of Things Utilities: Automated management of grid assets, such as smart meters Healthcare: IoT-driven data for customer engagement programs and research models Do any of these sound like the future of your organization? If so, start planning and organizing for that future. Oracle ERP Cloud, the only cloud ERP built on machine learning, will keep your organization on its unique path to the future. Ask "Future You" how you can shape the future of your business.

You could call it the ultimate 3-for-1 deal: With one upgrade to cloud ERP, you gain the ability to innovate today, predict tomorrow, and shape your future — and it’s the last ERP upgrade you’ll...

Finance Topics & Trends

Everything You Need to Know About SaaS, from One Dummy to Another

Are you confused about cloud? Don’t know your hosted software from your SaaS? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. I started in the technology business doing public relations, and it took me years to become the font of knowledge that you see before you. Even today, I couldn’t tell you the difference between an X-Box and a PlayStation. (I know — heresy!) As someone who has spent long years trying to wrap her brain around the difference between configuration and customization, I was happy to see the publication of a new ebook, SaaS for Dummies. In advance of this excellent read, I thought it might be useful to summarize the different delivery models for finance software — one dummy to another. What is “on-premises” software? In order to understand software as a service, or “SaaS,” it’s useful to look at what preceded it: the traditional, “on-premises” model of business computing. So, let’s go back to the beginning. Think about the business applications your teams use every day to manage finances, human resources, supply chain, and any other number of business functions. The traditional IT model has involved purchasing this software from a vendor and installing it “on premises”: on a big server kept in a dedicated room somewhere (or maybe in a closet, if your business is really small). In the on-premises model, you (meaning: your IT employees) are responsible for maintaining this server and any software that runs on it. Let’s imagine that your company purchased Traditional Finance Software 9.1 back in 1999. Your company’s IT team installed this software on the server. They rolled it out to every desktop and laptop in the finance department, so that your whole finance team could access it. They probably did a good job of this, back in ’99, and maybe you were happy with the results. What you didn’t see was all the work that went on behind the scenes. In the on-premises model, your IT team is responsible for keeping the software up to date and available. If it went down during the middle of the financial close, they had to scramble to get it back up and running. As your finance team grew, they had to set up new user accounts. As new computer viruses were released on an unsuspecting world, they had to apply any patches released by the vendor. (There were also a host of issues around integrating your finance system with other systems, like HR and payroll — but for the sake of simplicity and my sanity, this dummy isn’t going to tackle those problems in this article.) Probably the most painful part of the on-premises model, as most IT people will tell you, were the upgrades. Traditional Finance Software 9.1 might have been top of the line in 1999. It probably had a user interface about as appealing as an electric typewriter, and maybe it only ran about 20 percent of the reports your finance team needed. So the IT team set to work customizing the software to meet your specific requirements. Customizing is a messy business: it involves cracking open the source code and rewriting it — essentially reprogramming the software to make it do what you want. It typically requires hiring a third-party consulting firm, who tend to have much more experience in these types of project than an in-house IT team. And once you reprogram a piece of software, you can’t upgrade it automatically. Why not? Because the new version doesn’t include all those lovely customizations your consultant so painstakingly programmed. Install the new version on your server, and the old version gets wiped out — special code included. This is why upgrades only happened every 5 years or so — sometimes longer, in the case of finance systems. If you wanted to keep your custom capabilities, you had to migrate and/or reprogram them into the new version — a project that takes a long time, and costs a lot of money in consulting fees. Plus, it ate up a lot of your IT team’s hours, taking them away from other projects they could have been working on (like researching and purchasing that new supply chain software you desperately need).  Along Came Hosting There was another problem with upgrades: a new piece of software often required new hardware to run it. Back in the days of Windows 95, I wanted to upgrade my old desktop computer to Windows XP. But XP required a faster central processing unit (CPU) and more memory. I couldn’t just upgrade to new software on my old machine; I had to buy a whole new computer. It’s often the same in the world of business software. In 2018, perhaps Traditional Finance Software version 13.1 is available. It looks shiny and easy to use, but it won’t run on your old server. Time to buy a new server, right? Well, not necessarily. Companies began springing up offering to run the software for you, on their servers, and deliver it via the internet. Your finance team logs into the application remotely from their laptops. This model is known as “Infrastructure as a Service” (IaaS). Instead of buying your own servers (aka “infrastructure”), you rent it from a provider on a monthly basis. Many people refer to this model as “the cloud” — but it’s not SaaS. What’s the difference? Well, in IaaS, you still have to buy a license for your finance application, and your IT team is still responsible for maintaining, patching and upgrading it. The main cost savings are in the hardware. Your company still carries the cost of security and maintenance of the finance software — and an upgrade to the latest version will involve the same amount of time, money and effort as it did in the on-premises model. Upgrading to version 13.1 is still a capital investment, which probably requires approval from the board of directors. You might decide it’s easier to wait for version 14, a few years down the road — meaning it will be several years before you get access to new finance functionality. What is Software as a Service? SaaS is an entirely different operating model. In the world of SaaS, you don’t need to buy the hardware or license the software. Instead, you pay a monthly fee to a cloud provider, and they deliver the software to you over the internet. It runs in their data centers, on their servers, and they are responsible for maintaining it. Patching, security, maintenance, upgrades — all of this is included as part of your monthly subscription. You don’t need to do any of it. The provider does it for you. You log into your finance system via your laptop — or even via your mobile device — and start your day. All you need is a web browser.   And here’s the best part. Those long, painful and expensive upgrades? They become a thing of the past. Instead, the provider updates the software on a regular basis (typically, between 2-4 times a year) — similar to how you periodically receive notices to update the apps on your mobile phone. These updates contain new functionality and capabilities — often because customers like you have requested new features. So you always have the latest, most up-to-date finance software at your fingertips. You’re never stuck reprogramming old software to force it to do what you want, because the software is always new. SaaS applications are highly configurable and continually incorporate best practices, so the need to customize effectively goes away. But if there is some feature that your business needs — that “special sauce” that sets you apart from your competitors — you can build it using Platform as a Service (PaaS). Unlike custom code, PaaS enhancements sit outside the core finance software, so when you upgrade from one version to the next, the capabilities still work. You don’t need to reprogram them. Why Does SaaS Win? To the dummies among us, it might seem like the differences between “hosted cloud” (IaaS) and true cloud (SaaS) are splitting hairs. But the distinctions are important, because IaaS doesn’t offer the same benefits. In the SaaS model, the benefits are well documented: 3.2x higher return on investment (ROI) than on-premises software 52% lower total cost of ownership (TCO) Zero risk of technology obsolescence Upgrades several times per year, vs. once every 5-10 years (or longer) Security and patching managed by the SaaS provider No hardware costs No more capital investments to purchase new software — the monthly fees become an operating expense Continuous innovation It’s not that running Traditional Finance Software version 13.1 in a hosted IaaS environment is necessarily a bad idea, or bad for your business. It’s just that running finance SaaS — such as Oracle ERP Cloud (including Oracle EPM Cloud) — is better. And with new upgrade programs available from providers like Oracle, it’s the last upgrade you will ever do. Moving to SaaS is now easier than ever. Your competition is already doing it. So look into your options around finance in the cloud, and don’t get left behind. Nobody wants to be a dummy. Want to get smarter about SaaS? Get the ebook, “SaaS for Dummies.”

Are you confused about cloud? Don’t know your hosted software from your SaaS? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. I started in the technology business doing public relations, and it took me years to become...

Finance Topics & Trends

Why Emerging Markets Need Tomorrow's ERP, Today

By Arun Khehar, SVP Applications ECEMEA, Oracle Emerging markets have a lot to brag about. Compared with historically dominant economies, they have a lower cost of doing business, expanding middle classes, steady economic growth, and easy-to-access modern infrastructure—from gleaming universities to advanced technology. Still, businesses operating in emerging markets face huge hurdles as they expand beyond their borders and plug into the fast-moving, digitally-driven global marketplace. Common challenges include complying with a wide spectrum of regulations, innovating as they grow, and keeping data and operations secure. Our emerging-market customers are using ERP to address these challenges, but it’s not yesterday’s ERP they are using. They’re building tomorrow’s finance function with today’s ERP in the cloud. Compliance Complexity Drives Cloud ERP Adoption As emerging-market companies grow, they must comply with new and changing regulations at all levels (country, regional, industry, line of business). Material handling, accounting, hiring, electronic payments—these and other core functions can have different regulations in different places. Noncompliance is a risk that could harm a company’s revenue and reputation, and result in fines and fees. This burden of compliance is driving cloud ERP adoption, according to Constellation’s 2018 survey of CFOs: 42% of respondents highlighted regulatory compliance as a top priority. Because cloud ERP is continually updated, businesses can stay continually fresh on all fronts as they expand: compliance, technology, workforce, location, acquisitions, etc. They can also stay up-to-date on the latest best practices and breakthrough technologies. Advances such as blockchain, intelligent helpers and process automation, and predictive analytics engines all require the compute, storage, and data-management resources that only the cloud provides. Yesterday’s ERP simply can’t handle them. Modern Cloud ERP Supports Innovation at All Levels Having access to the latest best practices and innovations on a continual basis is fairly new to finance leaders, but it has emerged as an overwhelming benefit of moving ERP to the cloud. An astonishing 81 percent of respondents to our Oracle ERP Top Trends survey cited this benefit. Successful businesses innovate at all levels (business models, processes, decisions) based on market changes happening in real time. This is how they stay ahead of fast-moving competitors that can change the game in a matter of days or weeks vs. months. Yesterday’s ERPs does not support distributed innovation. Oracle realized this when we made the strategic decision several years ago to offer complete ERP and EPM solutions in the cloud, knocking down technology, process and reporting barriers while providing the same core functions that businesses needed. To fully understand the leap in value from early ERP applications to tomorrow’s ERP cloud, think about the Mini, the iconic small economy car originally made by British Motor Corp. The Mini has evolved over the years, and the various models have had different owners and influencers. All of those versions are Minis, but they are not equivalent cars. Today’s BMW MINI models are more powerful and technologically advanced than the prior generation. Cloud applications are the same way: Today’s are better than yesterday’s. The first generation helped businesses by: Eliminating the need for organizations to buy, build, and/or maintain their own servers and data centers Bringing a consumer-grade user experience for better productivity Offering a flexible, subscription-based model for lower IT costs Yet most early cloud ERP models were not true software-as-a-service, with updates delivered by the provider on a regular basis. Instead, they were newer, shinier versions of on-premises ERP delivered over the internet. The customer was still responsible for purchasing the software license, maintaining and patching it, and undergoing upgrades every few years to get access to new functionality. Many of today’s “cloud ERP” providers — including some of Oracle’s largest competitors — still follow this model. By contrast, Oracle ERP Cloud is true software as a service (SaaS). Patching, maintenance and upgrades are a thing of the past; Oracle provides those services as part of your monthly subscription. And with regular updates rolled out every quarter, a move to Oracle ERP Cloud is the last upgrade you’ll ever need. In addition to ERP, Oracle provides a connected, intelligent-ready cloud for the entire business—from digital back-office to digital front-office. These applications draw on the same up-to-date and unified data stream, and can be customized with advanced technologies and tools. Instead of investing in a single-point cloud ERP application, growing businesses can have a total platform that touches every level of the business. This way, they are prepared for challenges and changes today and tomorrow. Barriers to Faster Cloud Adoptions Are Falling Security concerns are a common barrier to speeding up cloud adoption, but security technology is constantly evolving and becoming more effective. For example, Oracle has just announced the industry’s first cloud-native, intelligent security and management suite. This new set of integrated suites—Oracle Security Operations Center (SOC) portfolio of services and Oracle Management Cloud—will help all types of businesses forecast, reduce, detect, and resolve cybersecurity threats. Another frequently cited objection to modernizing ERP is cost, but such a move can actually provide 3.2 times the return-on-investment (ROI) of on-premises applications, and 52% lower total cost of ownership (TCO). In addition, the “combinatorial effects” of technologies such as machine learning, blockchain, mobility, cloud, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are exponentially improving performance and productivity. This happens when these advanced technologies work in tandem and far exceed the capabilities they have when deployed separately. Consider this supply chain management example: IoT-networked sensors can provide real-time insight into the provenance of goods and materials, supplier performance, available capacity, predictive demand, and other key data. In turn, this data can feed autonomous, intelligent processes that “learn” how to respond to changing circumstances. Cloud ERP is what brings the data and action together, reducing non-value-adding work and freeing up humans for more attention to core values. Also, with cloud, the risk of technology obsolescence drops to zero—putting the business on a more solid competitive footing. Finally, businesses can’t really say that moving to cloud ERP is just too much of a hassle. Using the deep experience of the 3,000 customers that are live on our ERP-EPM Cloud solutions, we have designed a new program to secure your transition to the cloud. SOAR  includes innovative tools to automate the move to Oracle ERP Cloud, making for a simple upgrade and quick return on investment. It will be the last ERP upgrade you’ll ever need, and for businesses in emerging markets, it’s an upgrade that helps them face today’s challenges and position their companies for whatever tomorrow brings. Ready to start building tomorrow's finance, today? Fast forward to "Future You."

By Arun Khehar, SVP Applications ECEMEA, Oracle Emerging markets have a lot to brag about. Compared with historically dominant economies, they have a lower cost of doing business, expanding middle...

Finance Topics & Trends

How the Cloud Is Improving the Prognosis for Healthcare

 By Vince Vickers, Principal, Advisory Consulting, Healthcare and Life Sciences, KPMG The healthcare industry is poised to get a lot healthier – and it couldn’t come at a better time. The sector has been battling rising costs for decades, putting healthcare on an unsustainable trajectory, according to new research by Dr. Michael Mandel, senior fellow at the Mack Institute for Innovation Management at the Wharton School. In his report commissioned by Oracle, Mandel asserts that cloud services could be a “literal lifesaver” for healthcare, empowering organizations of all sizes to adopt leading practices and technologies that boost productivity and improve clinical care. Dr. Mandel’s research is consistent with my recent client experiences. In fact, many of our healthcare clients tell us they have stated goals to put as much as 85% of their current applications into the cloud. Meanwhile, results from early adopters of cloud solutions have been impressive, with providers reporting significant upticks in productivity and savings from the efficiencies and best practices embedded in cloud applications. Reductions in manual effort, improved analytics, timeliness of the data, and lower IT support costs are just a few of the opportunities we’re seeing early on. Cloud services in the back-office are attractive to healthcare organizations because they offer an escape from endless cycles of on-premises ERP system upgrades. In that legacy world, enterprise platforms lasted about a decade before you moved on to the next big thing. Yet within that period you still had to upgrade your system multiple times to stay compliant with maintenance agreements. These incremental upgrades could be costly while providing little additional business value. The cloud changes that scenario by allowing you to replace complex on-premises upgrade projects with more regular cloud updates that are non-intrusive. No development teams or large-scale technical efforts are required. Just simple testing, some appropriate change management and training, and you’re ready to turn on valuable new functionality for your user base. The update experience is growing closer to what business users are accustomed to in their consumer lives. (Think of the ease of updating an app on your smartphone.) Most importantly, the pace at which the new functionality is being released is unprecedented. With the cloud, barriers to growth disappear because you’re basically buying a utility. It’s like in the summer when you seasonally need more water for your lawn. You just open the spigot and use what you need and pay at a preset rate. No need to worry about building new pipelines or treatment plants when you need extra volumes of water. It’s the same with growing your healthcare system or employee base in the cloud: the underlying digital infrastructure is quickly flexible and scalable. This scenario is particularly relevant in today’s ever-changing world of healthcare, especially given the rapid pace of M&A and consolidation. A Boost to Finance Productivity The cloud also brings much-needed standardization to business processes. Although the move may seem constraining at first, every organization I talk to develops a deep appreciation for the easy updates, automation, and best practices that only cloud standardization can provide. Nobody wants to go back to the old days of trying to preserve customizations through every upgrade; today, there are options like platform-as-a-service to develop new capabilities (if required) that are upgrade-safe. Even better, the productivity boost driven by cloud applications allows healthcare organizations to channel more resources into clinical care. Now you have more money to spend on clinical staff, salaries and training. It also lets back-office “analysts” spend more time actually analyzing data – and discovering new ways to strengthen the business. What’s more, cloud platforms can form the basis for deploying new digital tools, such as predictive analytics, that can be a game-changer for the organization. One example: cloud services are helping Blue Shield of California integrate financial data with population health data, potentially removing hundreds of millions of dollars in costs from the healthcare system through better population health management. “It’s a huge economic opportunity and will ultimately enhance clinical quality and patient outcomes,” says Michael Murray, senior vice president and CFO at Blue Shield of California. His group is now looking at robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence to address challenges such as insurance fraud. KPMG is working with Blue Shield of California to transform its business operations and provide better value for its customers by transitioning the organization’s on-premises ERP to Oracle Cloud. More and more I’m seeing CFOs like Murray championing investments in cloud platforms. They see early adopters reaping outsized benefits and their concerns about cloud security have all but vanished. Also, more CFOs are coming to a stark realization: healthcare institutions – especially nonprofits – simply can’t sustain their current cost structure. They need to do something, and the smart move is to the cloud. The journey to the cloud can be surprisingly easy, as long as organizations properly prepare for the transition. By following a streamlined approach, such as KPMG Powered Enterprise and our Powered Healthcare offering with Oracle organizations can accelerate requirements gathering and time to value. Instead of starting from scratch, our approach provides clients with proven best practices for each core business function, which then allows us to quickly focus on the important and unique business needs of each client. Looking ahead, I see the healthcare sector splitting into three tiers. At the top are the early adopters of cloud technologies – what Mandel calls “frontier firms” – that are setting the pace in their industry. Below them is a second tier of companies that are moving to the cloud at a more measured pace, pursuing the leaders as they prove out new digital technologies. I expect both tiers to benefit from the productivity edge they’ll gain from moving to the cloud. But I also see the emergence of a bottom tier comprised of healthcare organizations that have decided they can’t afford to invest in the transition to cloud. These organizations are likely to get caught in a vicious cycle of declining margins and reimbursement rates. Frankly, the prognosis for these enterprises is not good; their options will likely be an M&A situation or extinction. The reality is that organizations need to spend money to save money. And if healthcare organizations fail to invest in technologies to improve efficiency over the long term, most will face a growing struggle to survive. Granted, it may seem like a leap of faith to invest in some cloud services that are still maturing. But as hockey great Wayne Gretzky once said: you skate to where the puck is going to be. If you don’t do that in the healthcare industry -- where margins, especially for non-profits, hover in the low single digits -- you may not be around for very long. It will be interesting to watch the healthcare industry evolve in the coming years as organizations navigate the shifting economic and regulatory landscape. However it shakes out, I predict cloud services will be the platform of choice for the industry’s next generation of frontier firms. Learn More With the launch of KPMG's Powered Healthcare in collaboration with Oracle, organizations can take advantage of a target operating model tailored for healthcare.  Download the research report, “Intelligent Finance: How CFOs Can Lead the Coming Productivity Boom.”

 By Vince Vickers, Principal, Advisory Consulting, Healthcare and Life Sciences, KPMG The healthcare industry is poised to get a lot healthier – and it couldn’t come at a better time. The sector has...

Finance Topics & Trends

Predict Tomorrow: Business As Unusual

I’m sure you’ve noticed this already, but there’s been a generational shift in computing. The cloud enables Oracle to deliver a constant stream of innovation to our customers, allowing them to take advantage of the convergence of transformational technologies including mobile, analytics, social, big data, the internet of things, machine learning, blockchain, intelligent process automation, autonomous computing, and new human interfaces. It’s clear that in today’s business, too many factors change too quickly to cling to old technology. Looking back on what happened — even if it’s a nanosecond ago — isn’t enough. When so much is uncertain, you need to look ahead and predict what’s coming next. Think about the now-defunct companies that didn’t change fast enough be ahead of the curve on changes in customer behavior — from the rise of mobile devices, to online shopping and streaming video. Every industry is facing similar threats, from grocery stores to car manufacturers to universities. Innovation is disrupting everything. It’s behind the major challenges all types of businesses are facing, including: Ever-increasing customer expectations New and revitalized competitors Managing brand reputation Drawing meaningful insights from exponentially increasing data volume Constantly changing regulatory frameworks The ongoing shortage of talent More challenging sustainability goals Growing cyber and physical security risks The ever-increasing need to innovate today Organizations with outdated ERP systems are discovering that existing processes, software, and systems are of no help. Built for a different era, legacy IT infrastructure hinders their ability to find and use immediate, meaningful insights that help them make good planning decisions. For finance, which plays a central role in helping leaders understand the business, there are both challenges and opportunities. But the bottom line is that in adapting to the new realities, finance leaders can transform their teams’ back-office cost centers into business-value generators. A critical component is having the right technology and focus. Predicting Tomorrow with Modern ERP This transformation requires finance to develop a new attention span. Finance has to complement its understanding of the past and present (for the compilation and management of financial transactions and reports) but add a focus on the future (finding, analyzing and sharing business insights from ever increasing volumes of data). In short, finance teams must be able to predict the future quickly and accurately. Predicting the future is not a matter of knowing exactly what will happen, but what could happen and then choosing the best strategy based on the knowledge you have — all of which comes from data. To be able to perform effective analysis, you need to be able to generate and apply internal data quickly, as well as incorporate data from outside sources. It’s like scenario planning of old, but on steroids. Instead of data being collected and analyzed over weeks or months by a select group of executives, data is analyzed continually in the background to support quick decision-making, in the moment, by everyone. Technology is both a driver of this change and a solution. As more companies adopt the latest ERP and EPM solutions for predicting the future, they’re able to make decisions much faster, thus setting a faster pace for competitors. 3 Must-Have Capabilities for a Future-Focused ERP For companies looking to stay at the leading edge, here’s what technology for predicting the future looks like: Based in the cloud, it’s easily accessible via any device. The software itself is updated every 90 days, ensuring that you can rapidly uptake the latest technologies, respond to ever-evolving legislative and regulatory requirements, and stay up-to-date with the latest security and risk controls. An upgrade to cloud ERP is the last upgrade required. It offers dashboards for every employee, providing the data they need, when they need it, across any device — enabling finance teams to work in a truly modern and engaging way. It incorporates enterprise performance management, advanced  analytics and intelligent automation, augmenting the skills of your finance team and allowing them to manage by exception, while the technology takes care of the routine transactions. When everyone in finance has access to the right information to do their jobs and can share it across the organization, people can quickly perform “what-if” scenarios on issues big and small and then create plans based on the outcome. Oracle ERP Cloud (including Oracle EPM Cloud) is the only ERP cloud built on machine learning, providing the future-ready technology you need to predict tomorrow.   With disruption happening in all industries all the time, companies that cannot manage for the best-possible outcomes — whether risks or opportunities — will quickly become irrelevant. Want to learn how to predict tomorrow? Ask “Future You.”

I’m sure you’ve noticed this already, but there’s been a generational shift in computing. The cloud enables Oracle to deliver a constant stream of innovation to our customers, allowing them to take...

Finance Topics & Trends

It's Not Brain Surgery: Moving from On-Premises to ERP in the Cloud

For most enterprises, a move to the cloud is imminent, but there are still lingering questions on how to structure that process. We spoke with Martin Hendrix, Oracle Managing Consultant - Solution Director, DXC, to discuss why large organizations are moving to the cloud and how they are taking on these projects without disrupting day-to-day business operations. Martin highlights a real-world example, sharing how an EMEA-based teaching hospital successfully migrated to Oracle Cloud from a legacy on-premises application. Q:  Sampson (Oracle) — Explain some of the key reasons why enterprise organizations are moving to the cloud. A:  Hendrix (DXC) — There are many reasons for moving to cloud technologies. Companies can modernize outdated, legacy applications with more streamlined, standardized applications that are built on best practices in a given functional area, like finance or budgeting.  They can also consolidate their applications and data sources.  Many large companies have numerous applications and multiple databases that are often siloed.  This means employees usually deal with manual processes to go between the separate applications and data sources.  Cloud technologies, like Oracle ERP Cloud and Oracle EPM Cloud, are already integrated, so it’s easier to access all the data in an end-to-end solution.  If necessary, you can also integrate cloud-based applications with on-premises workloads.  Companies can streamline IT management and leave the upgrades and patches to the cloud vendor.  And of course, there’s the cost savings that comes with a subscription-based model versus the capital expenditures that come with deploying and managing expensive hardware and software. Q:  Sampson — You shared a real-world example of a large teaching hospital in EMEA.  Can you describe what their key business drivers were for moving to a cloud solution? A:  Hendrix — Cost was a key factor for them.  The hospital had been using an on-premises instance of Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) for many years.  A third-party outsourcing vendor managed the EBS environment and the underlying infrastructure.  The outsourcing model was costing about $1 million per year for the infrastructure, applications, and reporting capabilities.  When we outlined the cost comparison of the Oracle ERP Cloud subscription model, the hospital’s decision-makers were really surprised and impressed by the cost savings.  The forecasted savings would be in the millions of dollars over the course of the subscription contract term.  Q:  Sampson — Were there additional reasons the customer decided to move to the cloud or was cost the main focus? A:  Hendrix — Yes, there were other reasons besides cost.  System upgrades had become quite tedious for the hospital, and data updates had really become a critical issue.  The third-party vendor followed a 24-hour data transfer schedule.  The hospital couldn’t change this data cycle, and business users needed more frequent access to data.  For example, the finance and purchasing teams needed to see expenses and revenue in real-time so they could make informed decisions about additional purchases.  The 24-hour data transfer cycle just wasn’t working for the speed of their business anymore. Q:  Sampson — Let’s dig a little deeper into the tedious system upgrades.  What about a cloud solution was appealing to them versus managing an on-premises application? A:  Hendrix — Upgrading the on-premises legacy application had become a huge, painful ordeal for their IT team.  Once their technical team understood that the Oracle Cloud solution would be completely managed externally—upgrades, patches, and functionality enhancements—as part of their subscription fee, they were on-board.  The hospital quickly realized that by eliminating the typical burdens from their IT staff — upgrades, regression testing, and all of the application management tasks — moving to Oracle Cloud was completely worth it. Q:  Sampson — Now, let’s focus on the 24-hour data transfer issue and the customer’s need for real-time data access and reporting.  Tell me more about how those issues factored into their decision move to the cloud. A:  Hendrix — The hospital had a staff of 50 finance employees using the existing, legacy, on-premises system.  And, there were an additional 400 business-reporting users who relied on the system data to perform their jobs.  These people had always created and tracked budgets and also made important purchasing and financial decisions using Excel, worksheets, and formulas.  The hospital leadership knew that if they could give real-time data to their finance team and business users, these people could spend a lot more time doing financial analysis instead of managing spreadsheets.  This benefit alone—access to real-time data and reporting—would up-scale the function of their accountants to do much more proactive, strategic work. Q:  Sampson — You mentioned early on that one of the reasons organizations move to the cloud is to modernize or streamline processes.  Can you share how this customer has evolved with cloud? A:  Hendrix — We helped them realize that if processes were to be streamlined or improved, the best time to make those improvements was during a cloud implementation — so they weren’t just moving old, manual processes or business structures to the cloud.  We encourage our clients to approach cloud projects as a way to make overall business enhancements. In the case of our large hospital client, they implemented E-Business Suite 10 years ago.  As you can imagine, their business had evolved and become more complex.  Their finance department had been using the same chart of accounts for the last 10 years, and over that time, they also added several new business entities.  We worked with them to redesign their chart of accounts and recommended that they use this new CoA for planning, budgeting, and procurement.  During the implementation, the customer decided to expand the scope of the project and also deploy Oracle EPM Cloud at the same time they were deploying Oracle ERP Cloud. Quite often, customers start a cloud project with one application in mind, like improving financial management with Oracle ERP Cloud in this hospital example.  And as customers really begin to see the benefit of cloud applications, their scope expands to include more and more related functionality, like enhancing planning and budgeting processes with Oracle EPM Cloud.  So, the original application becomes the “tip of the spear” or the “gateway” to multiple applications across the Oracle Cloud suite. Thanks very much to Martin Hendrix for discussing why many large organizations are moving to the cloud.  DXC Technology is an Oracle Platinum partner with a long-standing Oracle partnership and successful track record for delivering high value to clients.  DXC's deep industry, systems integration and managed services expertise, coupled with Oracle Cloud technology, ensures organizations continue to compete in the digital world.   Cloud Delivers 3.2x ROI over On-Premises: Get the Report from Nucleus Research

For most enterprises, a move to the cloud is imminent, but there are still lingering questions on how to structure that process. We spoke with Martin Hendrix, Oracle Managing Consultant -...

Finance Topics & Trends

2018 Survey Results from Inside Higher Education

Each year, Inside Higher Education surveys college and university chief business officers about the financial challenges facing higher education institutions in the US. This year’s survey shows that, overall, optimism is on the rise, but challenges remain with getting the right data and information to make informed operational decisions. Among the 415 chief business officers (CBOs) or senior financial officers who responded, 63% are confident about their institution’s financial outlook over the next five years — up from 56 percent in last year’s survey. Half of CBOs are confident their college will be financially stable over the next 10 years. Yet higher education continues to face significant financial challenges, including tuition freezes, debt servicing costs, and discounted tuition rates — which nearly half of CBOs (48%) cited as “unsustainable” at current levels. Mergers and Acquisition Talks on the Rise 17% of CBOs say senior officials at their colleges have had serious talks about merging with another college or university — up from 12% a year ago — and 18% believe their college should merge with another institution. However, most say a merger is unlikely to happen within the next three years, with only 11% responding that a merger is “very” or “somewhat likely” in the near future. Slightly more than one-quarter of CBOs (27%) say their college has had serious discussions about consolidating services with other campuses. Half of CBOs believe their college should share administrative functions with another college or combine academic programs. The vast majority see a reduction in expenses as the primary benefit of such moves, cited by 81% of respondents. 58% of CBOs at public institutions said their college is part of a multi-campus system. This structure allows them to share institutional functions and programs, resulting in cost savings. The most commonly shared services across campuses are legal services (80%), enterprise computing systems (76%) and internal audit (72%). A slim majority say their university system shares human resources (52%), while fewer share academic program offerings (45%) and compliance (44%). Technology and Systems Show Room for Improvement When it comes to technology and related services, there is untapped potential for additional cost savings. Less than half of CBOs surveyed (49%) agreed that their institution makes efficient use of technology. This result is unsurprising to those of us in the technology sector (Oracle was a sponsor of the 2018 survey) because aging campus systems — particularly in finance — are driving more university business officers to look at options in the cloud. While CBOs routinely run monthly financial reports and year-end projections, they say they aren’t getting enough from the systems they currently own. Less than half of CBOs said their institution has the information it needs to make informed operational decisions. 62% agree that greater transparency will lead to better financial decisions. This is where moving to modern finance, HR and student systems — such as Oracle Cloud — can help, providing deeper reporting and analytical capabilities, in addition to lower costs. Get more insights from the Inside Higher Education survey. Register for the webcast.

Each year, Inside Higher Education surveys college and university chief business officers about the financial challenges facing higher education institutions in the US. This year’s survey shows that,...

Finance Topics & Trends

Is Your ERP Cloud Provider Really Invested in Emerging Tech?

By Cara Vollmer, Senior Content Strategist, Oracle Cloud-enabled emerging technologies are changing the way companies operate and compete—and the finance function, specifically, is ripe for disruption. Finance teams spend 85% of their time on labor-intensive, manual tasks, leaving little time for innovation, shares Juergen Lindner, VP of marketing for Software as a Service (SaaS) at Oracle. But with advancements such as AI, machine learning, robotic process automation, and blockchain, that’s quickly changing. “Finance is the sweet spot where new technologies can really make a difference in the near future,” says Linder. “The next three to five years will be fundamental to the trajectory of business growth.” In fact, CFOs who embrace cloud technologies now could lead a predicted $2 trillion US productivity boom over the next decade—if they have an ERP cloud solution that can go the distance. According to a new report from Aberdeen Research Group, “The Future-Ready ERP Cloud: What to Expect,” companies are making it a priority to modernize their business systems, realizing “technology is the engine for success in all other areas.” Not all ERP cloud providers, however, are equal when it comes to emerging technologies.  When assessing current and potential cloud partners, finance leaders should consider three questions: 1. How quickly can you leverage new cloud technologies? Your ERP cloud should not only incorporate emerging technologies, it should make them immediately available. “When selecting a business innovation partner, you need more than a toolset,” says Maria Jimenez, VP of cloud competitive intelligence for Oracle. “You need instant business value, from day one.”   Many providers fall short, providing only the platform to enable new technologies. To make a viable application, users must spend time and money on system integrators, consultants, and even their own data scientists.  With Oracle ERP Cloud, emerging technologies are natively embedded in applications, providing instant access to the benefits of AI, blockchain, and more. “We think blockchain, in particular, will be a game changer for finance,” says Lindner. “It offers tremendous transparency, completely transforming processes such as the financial close.”  2. Is the ERP cloud’s engine running smoothly? Most people wouldn’t buy a new car made of parts from different vehicles, or one that is essentially last year’s model with a shiny new coat of paint. The same consideration should be given to your ERP cloud, says Jimenez, who urges finance leaders to “look under the hood” before committing.   “Some providers have become good at talking the talk,” she says, “but when you dig into their ‘next-generation’ solution, you find a lot of legacy applications cobbled together, or a legacy application that’s simply hosted in the cloud.”  That won’t fly for best-in-class companies, who are seeking true SaaS ERP solutions with built-in integration—and are 76 percent more likely to consider this as a critical element in their purchase decision, says Aberdeen. “Companies don’t want a hodgepodge of older technologies connected through middleware to multiple integration points,” says the Aberdeen report. “They want a single provider with a complete solution developed for the cloud.” Take Textron, a global multi-industry company that needed a modern, scalable financial management system. After moving from a 20-year-old, highly customized on-premises system to Oracle ERP Cloud, Textron has 20+ components residing on a seamless integration platform, and is ideally positioned for growth. 3. Is the cloud provider really invested in emerging tech? To ensure an ERP provider can keep you current on technology, pay attention to how much they’re investing in research and development. (With an annual R&D spend of $6 billion, Oracle’s investment surpasses most of its competitors.) Furthermore, seek a partner who’s financially secure, highly regarded in the analyst community, and can provide long-term guidance and support to take you where you need to go. That means looking beyond the back office, says Lindner. “Finance is a central element of today’s intelligent business, but have foresight and choose a provider based on how they apply emerging technologies within all lines of business, across the enterprise.” For more about what to look for in an ERP cloud provider, watch the on-demand webinar with Aberdeen Research, “The Future-Ready ERP Cloud: What to Expect—and Demand.”                                     

By Cara Vollmer, Senior Content Strategist, Oracle Cloud-enabled emerging technologies are changing the way companies operate and compete—and the finance function, specifically, is ripe for disruption....

Finance Topics & Trends

Oracle CEO Mark Hurd Promotes Benefits of Cloud ERP for CFOs

CFOs are embracing cloud deployments for their ERP software and applications in greater numbers, and the advantages of cloud ERP are becoming clearer every year. In a recent discussion with Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst of Constellation Research, Oracle CEO Mark Hurd said that cloud ERP allows finance leaders to “get rid of spreadsheets, get out of customizations, lower costs, and get better reporting.” The burden of regulatory compliance is one key issue that has driven cloud ERP adoption among CFOs, according to Constellation’s 2018 survey of CFOs; 42% of survey respondents highlighted regulatory compliance as a top priority in their work. However, the dominant consideration for financial executives contemplating a shift to cloud ERP solutions is the cost of system implementation, upkeep, and improvement. Oracle’s recent survey of finance professionals for its 2018 ERP Trends report shows that 63% of those surveyed consider economic benefits to be a key reason to use or switch over to cloud ERP solutions. These findings parallel a recent Nucleus Research study demonstrating that cloud applications produced 3.2x the return on investment of on-premises deployments, while offering a 52% lower total cost of ownership. It’s no surprise, then, that migrating to cloud ERP applications is an increasingly compelling proposition for CFOs worldwide. Steering a company with thousands of employees can be difficult in the best of times. It’s simply not possible to respond to changing economic and regulatory conditions with speed and agility while simultaneously updating software and systems on site across thousands of employees’ workstations. Adding to the complexity is the security risk of allowing financial employees to store sensitive data on their laptops or flash drives, which are easy to steal and easy to hack. More ROI, Better Security with ERP Cloud Cloud ERP solves both of these problems for CFOs. A dedicated cloud ERP solution is constantly managed and updated by dedicated teams, providing significantly more expertise and technological knowledge than that of a typical enterprise IT department. Cloud ERP systems also have dedicated compliance teams, who help ensure that software upgrades have functionality designed to assist customers with their compliance obligations. Storing sensitive financial documents in the cloud also empowers CFOs to delegate or restrict access to any document available at any point. The fact that cloud applications can be consistently and instantly updated across the entire enterprise enforces enterprise-wide use of the proper templates, formulas, and controls, preventing errors that might arise from the use of an outdated or improper process. Using cloud-based applications also can preserve an audit trail of past access and updates to every file and report, which makes it significantly easier to review a company’s financial position at various points in time and to validate workflow. All of these advantages add up to lower costs, better processes, and faster upgrades for companies of ten or ten thousand people, or more. But one additional advantage of cloud ERP that’s often overlooked is that it provides enterprises access to the latest technological breakthroughs, such as artificial intelligence (AI). ERP Cloud Built on AI and Machine Learning AI is already being used in cloud ERP solutions to automate a number of tedious or repetitive financial processes and provide CFOs and their staffs with superior analytical capabilities. Mark Hurd has said that “You’ll see AI integrated into most everything that comes to market,” a prediction that certainly encompasses Oracle ERP Cloud. Cloud ERP applications can pull data from a wide array of sources and provide actionable insights from that data to help CFOs figure out how and where to deploy their budgets, where to cut costs, and even determine if a prospective merger or acquisition will be worth the cost. It’s no longer about whether CFOs should provide their companies with cloud ERP solutions, but when. The best and most innovative enterprises today are all in the cloud or in the process of migrating to cloud ERP applications. Oracle makes it easy to Soar to the cloud. Learn how.

CFOs are embracing cloud deployments for their ERP software and applications in greater numbers, and the advantages of cloud ERP are becoming clearer every year. In a recent discussion with Ray Wang,...

Financial Planning & Analysis

How to Lead in Higher Education: Learn Creativity

Business acumen. Financial skills. Creativity. These are the skills required today of a chief business officer in the field of higher education. Wait — creativity? Isn’t that for poets and conceptual artists? Not anymore. Faced with falling levels of public funding and declining student enrollment, college and university business officers are getting creative to find new sources of revenue. Some are partnering with corporations, providing training that is specific to what a company needs in its workforce. Some are looking overseas; Duke University recently partnered with a Chinese institution to open a new, joint university in China. Still others are turning to continuing education, expanding their existing programs and launching new ones to attract adult learners. And more institutions are vying for sponsored research projects, often funded by private companies. New Technology to Support New Operating Models All of this complicates the job of finance teams that are tasked with planning, budgeting and forecasting revenue over the long term. Strapped for both staff and cash, finance teams must run numbers full of uncertainties with tools that were never designed to take these new business models into account. Rather than relying on spreadsheets, which are time-consuming and error-prone, finance leaders at colleges and universities are looking for better, more cost-effective tools to help them plan and manage funding. Many of them are turning to enterprise performance management (EPM) in the cloud. These cloud systems include strategic modeling, profitability and cost management, and industry-specific functionality for new income sources such as continuing education and sponsored research. The cloud also offers capabilities for other lines of business, helping campus recruiters target, attract and retain more students. A student information system that integrates with an institution’s finance systems can provide faster, more accurate insight into enrollment levels, helping finance teams to forecast revenue with greater accuracy. The combination of Oracle ERP Cloud, Oracle EPM Cloud and Oracle Student Cloud can provide the insights and financial planning capabilities that business leaders are seeking. Learn to Address Higher Education Challenges at NACUBO Higher education leaders can learn more about these capabilities at the NACUBO Annual Meeting, July 21-24, 2018 in Long Beach, California. The National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) is a membership organization representing more than 1,900 colleges and universities across the country. NACUBO represents chief business and financial officers through advocacy efforts, community service, and professional development activities. NACUBO’s annual meeting is the industry's largest and best-attended event for college and university business officers. It’s a terrific opportunity to learn about what your peers are doing to address today’s higher education challenges. There will also be cloud providers like Oracle on site, who can answer your questions about the latest technologies to support new business models. If your institution is already using Hyperion or PeopleSoft, we’ve made it easier than ever to move to the cloud and uptake new capabilities. Please drop by the Oracle booth, # 1354, to talk about our migration packages, learn how you can easily get to the Oracle Cloud, and get more information about our industry support for higher education. Register now for NACUBO 2018.

Business acumen. Financial skills. Creativity. These are the skills required today of a chief business officer in the field of higher education. Wait — creativity? Isn’t that for poets and...

Risk Management & Compliance

Oracle CEO Mark Hurd on the Evolving Role of Risk Management in Leadership Strategy

A data breach is one of greatest concerns for organizations from a business risk perspective, according to Oracle CEO Mark Hurd. “The thought of getting hacked five or six years ago wasn't a boardroom conversation. It is now,” said Hurd in January at the Oracle Modern Supply Chain Experience 2018 in San Jose. The threat of a hack and the resulting effects on customer mistrust, reputation decline, and potential for revenue loss represents a significant financial risk for business leaders—one that they may not be prepared for. And cyber security isn’t the only new trend that’s shaping the future of risk management. Disruption by new business models presents a clear challenge for CEOs. In industry after industry, startups and Silicon Valley companies are using new technology to shake up the status quo and capture market share. “If you're a Marriott, in your five-year strategic plan, did you imagine Airbnb? Did you imagine if you were Hertz, the effect of Uber?” Hurd asked the audience at the conference. To further prove his point, Hurd noted that more than half of the companies in the Fortune 500 in the year 2000 are now gone. “If you think it couldn’t happen to you, you’re wrong,” he said. “Companies go away in a relatively short period of time.” “Business managers are saying, ‘I want to move this risk. I want to move this complexity. I want to move this cost.’” Innovation is the Best Strategy How can organizations stay ahead of the growing risks of industry disruption and cyber security threats? Hurd recently shared his insights on corporate risk management and the changes shaping IT in a Forbes Interview Podcast. Companies need to embrace modern technology as part of a business strategy to up their innovation game, said Hurd. To compete successfully in a fast-paced, digital economy, companies need to adapt to develop innovative new products and services. To meet the demands of a modern economy, organizations need to develop new financial strategies that balance IT maintenance and innovation—and the best way to do that is to move to the cloud. “The cloud simply costs less and you do less work, and it is more secure. You can innovate on our R&D bill instead of your IT bill.” Hurd believes that the cloud is transformational and foundational to the future of business, driving the ability to connect with customers and provide experiences never before imagined. Products become services, services become experiences. Business processes adapt rapidly and new business models emerge. “The cloud is not just a technical issue,” he noted. “This is bigger than that. It’s generational. You will see a complete change in how IT works, because it’s gotten to the point where the old model is not sustainable.” “The old systems and processes were all built with a different way of thinking of demand,” he added. “Now, you can’t take 28 days to get something from here to there. You have to line up your supply chain with your demand.” Cloud Delivers 3.2x More ROI than On-Premises Systems: Get the Research  

A data breach is one of greatest concerns for organizations from a business risk perspective, according to Oracle CEO Mark Hurd. “The thought of getting hacked five or six years ago wasn't a boardroom...

Finance Topics & Trends

How to Innovate Today for the Future of Finance

Whenever I look at the metrics for this publication, one thing stands out: finance readers are hungry for information about emerging technologies. Articles about blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning, predictive analytics, and the Internet of Things, are inevitably the most popular content we publish. Everyone wants to know how to put these new innovations to use to drive better business results. No longer the province of the IT department or analyst community, these technologies are part of the business discussion, upending business strategy and models and driving innovation across the finance line of business. It’s no longer enough to be efficient and timely; finance leaders are eager to add value with greater transparency, more meaningful insight, automated control and improved governance.  The only alternative is a steady slide into irrelevance. Let me give you an example: a colleague of mine recently “cut the cord,” giving up cable TV in favor of streaming media. Upon returning her cable equipment, she was surprised to see, at the company’s technical support desk, a big box of rubber bands for staff to wrap up all the cables that were being returned. Think about it. So many people were cancelling their service that the company created a process to manage it. Worse, they were so inured to their slow descent into irrelevance that they were completely open about it. Based on her experience, I developed what I call the “rubber band test” — a way to determine how irrelevant your business is. Basically, you should ask yourself, “Are we so used to bad things happening that we’ve developed a process around enabling the bad thing to be handled well?” A similar situation in finance is when the team uses a spreadsheet named for a specific member of staff (e.g. “Bob’s spreadsheet”). That person created the spreadsheet and everyone else unthinkingly uses it — and keeps using it. In one case, one of our customers discovered that the person whose name was on the spreadsheet had left the company four years earlier. The finance department hadn’t updated its process in that long. In these scenarios, process leaders have failed to either respond appropriately to the change that they see, or to recognize that something has changed. Either way, the cost of continuing business as usual is the erosion of business processes and productivity. You go backward as your competitors move forward, accelerating your slide into obsolescence. The time to innovate is now. As you look at new technologies, processes and business models, consider these three critical actions that every finance department should undertake to get ready for the business world of tomorrow. 1. Centralize Your Data In recent years, there has been an explosion of cloud vendors all eager to replace a part of your on-premises ERP suite. However, the vast majority are boutique firms that manage only a single business function, such as financial reporting (or even a single business process, like the financial close). Implementing software from a multitude of providers results in a “cloud hairball,” with all the integration costs and complexity that comes with it. It requires multiple vendors, SLAs, and release cycles to manage; it offers no clarity over who owns the data; and it maintains the functional silos that hinder quick decision-making. Instead, choose a provider that not only centralizes finance data, but that connects business processes across every line of business, including human resources, customer experience, procurement, and risk management. Doing so gives you a single source of truth across every part of your organization, enabling finance teams to take a central role as change agents —  partnering with other lines of business to guide better, smarter, faster decision-making across the company, as well as provide strategic guidance to the entire organization. 2. Think Cloud Cloud is the enabler and delivery system for the emerging technologies that finance is eager to adopt. With cloud applications, updates are automatic and frequent — every 90 days — keeping you continuously up to date with the latest innovations, security, compliance, and risk controls. Think of an upgrade to the cloud as the last upgrade you’ll ever do, as it builds a future-ready system that can be enhanced as new technologies emerge and evolve. As Oracle CEO Mark Hurd noted in a recent interview, the cloud “costs less, it’s actually more secure, and you get a ton more innovation at the same time.” 3. Add Intelligence To ensure that you create a future-ready process, choose solutions that offer predictive analytics and intelligent automation. These capabilities will augment the skills of your finance team with the decision-making power of data-driven insights. Oracle ERP Cloud (including Oracle EPM Cloud) is the only cloud ERP solution built on machine learning to incorporate these capabilities. The pace of change in business continues to accelerate. By innovating now, you ensure your ability to predict tomorrow and shape the future for your organization. Want to prepare for the finance function of tomorrow? Fast forward to “Future You.”

Whenever I look at the metrics for this publication, one thing stands out: finance readers are hungry for information about emerging technologies. Articles about blockchain, artificial intelligence,...

Finance Topics & Trends

4 Important Benefits of Finance and HR in the Cloud

By Indy Bains, Senior Director, Cloud Business Group, Oracle The finance function might be the guardians of the bottom line, but they know that business is about more than just revenue. It’s also about people—in particular, making sure that the organization has the right people in place, with the skills needed to help the business achieve its goals. In many organizations, finance and HR are closely intertwined. So it’s no surprise that a 2017 survey by MIT (MIT Technology Review Custom Report) reported that 35% of companies planned to create a shared finance and HR function within the next year. Finance and HR also share common technology needs, including: A holistic view of every employee’s role, responsibilities and performance goals The ability to stay up-to-date and responsive to changing best practices Streamlined processes and higher levels of automation With this much in common, it makes absolute sense that finance and HR should run on a single unified cloud solution. Oracle’s finance and HR benefits calculator has been specially developed to help finance and HR leaders determine the potential benefits of a unified platform in four key areas. 1. Increased productivity A shared finance and HR platform, with the capacity for higher levels of automation, will allow finance and HR personnel to reduce the time spent on repetitive, low-value work (such as data entry or transaction processing) and focus on areas that drive business growth. The result: the business gains the opportunity to build new skills, discover new ways to recruit and retain the best talent, analyse individual performance, identify strategic priorities, and advise the organization on where to go next. 2. Efficient data management From our experience working closely with both finance and HR functions, we’ve identified a multitude of touch points (34 at last count) where the two come together. If you take the simple example of recruiting a new employee, both HR and finance need to hold information about the new hire’s line of business, who they report to, their role, cost centre and salary. A unified cloud with a common data model makes each of these steps quick and easy, with no duplication of work necessary, less margin for human error, and easier sharing of data between departments. The Oracle Cloud uniquely extends the value of the common data model beyond finance and HR into procurement, projects management, supply chain and sales processes. This is a game-changer for organizations, who previously had to settle for fragmented data models from multiple cloud or on-premises solutions. 3. Streamlined infrastructure Although most of the finance and HR line-of-business respondents to the MIT survey foresee real benefits in moving to the cloud, 41% of them cited integration challenges as the top barrier to migration. Potential issues could, for example, lie in the integration of new technologies with legacy systems; then there’s the co-ordination of multiple vendors to consider. Streamlining starts with a single cloud provider, rather than multiple vendors across business functions. And when it comes to legacy systems, many of them require specialist skills (and possibly even several IT staff) to run them. By contrast, the highly automated, user-friendly, and swift self-service access afforded by the cloud creates efficiencies and increases employee engagement.   4. Improved strategic decisions and planning With real-time access to error-free, current, highly sharable, 360-degree data, finance and HR executives are better informed, and can have complete confidence that reports will be quick and reliable. Decision-making is therefore improved, forecasts are more accurate, and strategic planning better aligned to the appropriate business drivers. A further benefit of a unified finance and HR cloud is its ongoing access to the latest technology innovations through easy updates. This means that finance and HR teams can effortlessly keep pace with change. A huge 90% of MIT survey respondents said their cloud initiatives have given them greater agility when faced with market opportunities and challenges. So how can you calculate the benefits to your organization of moving to a unified finance and HR cloud platform? Simply tap a few company details into our unified finance and HR benefits calculator and you can work out the potential impact on your business across all four areas detailed above. You can provide as much or as little detail as you like, but the more you provide, the more accurate your resulting report will be. Your personalized report will be accompanied by links to useful reading, videos and infographics to help you build a convincing case. Test drive the Oracle finance and HR benefits calculator today.  

By Indy Bains, Senior Director, Cloud Business Group, Oracle The finance function might be the guardians of the bottom line, but they know that business is about more than just revenue. It’s also about...

Financial Management & Reporting

How to Get Ahead of Global Tax Reform in the Cloud

By Marc Seewald, Senior Director, EPM Product Development, Oracle It has been quite a journey since the tax reform package passed at the end of 2017. It’s hardly an understatement to say that the legislation is the biggest overhaul of the US tax code in more than 31 years. These new rules that many companies are viewing as “business reforms” make financial and tax transformation necessary. Combine this with other recent taxation changes, such as the OECD’s country-by-country reporting and SAF-T, and the impacts on financial systems and reporting are easily on par with Sarbanes-Oxley and Y2K. While corporations are welcoming the (potential) tax-rate decrease, provisions of the law are also adding complexity to business decision-making and introducing tough new reporting requirements as required by new tax rules such as GILTI, BEAT and FDII. For example, since the tax reform package was passed, US-based companies have been incented by lower tax rates to repatriate billons in foreign profits, significantly expanding cash-on-hand. One result is that more businesses are using the cash to pursue M&A and other investment opportunities. Other business impacts are emerging as companies begin to digest and “operationalize” the tax reforms — such as impacts to the corporate legal entity structure and supply chain. Finance teams have been working overtime to assess and model the impact of the reform bill on future earnings and investor expectations. The new tax law puts a premium on gathering and analyzing high quality data. For example, new reporting rules — such as GILTI (global intangible low-taxed income),  BEAT (base erosion and anti-abuse tax) and FDII (foreign derived intangible income) — require complex calculations that draw from multiple data sources, operational systems, legal entities and trading partners. Gathering the data can be a tall order for organizations that have relied primarily on spreadsheets to piece the information together. Also slowing the process is the lack of consistent standards used by different controller organizations that large enterprises maintain around the world. The good news is that tax reporting cloud services are helping companies automate compliance with the tax reform laws; the cloud offers an efficient platform for developing and executing smart business strategies to make the most out of the new regulatory landscape. Oracle partner PwC has developed a set of tax reform accelerators that facilitate data acquisition, process and dashboard analytical tools to facilitate forecasting and planning as well as compliance. They've also developed a target operating model to support analysis of GILTI, BEAT and FDII based on a client having multiple sources of data from structured and unstructured sources.  When we talk with finance professionals, they say that compiling the data needed to comply with the new rules is one of their top operational challenges. These same challenges, by the way, also hold true outside the US, where countries are now working on their own tax reform plans. Operationalizing Tax Reform with Cloud Services In the new tax reform era, tight coordination with groups outside of tax will be critical. And this is one of the major advantages of a new generation of cloud services, including Oracle EPM Cloud. Cloud services can link disparate organizations and data sources on a single platform, driving rapid communications between tax teams and management, and giving decision-makers a holistic view of how tax policy changes can affect the business. For example, cloud applications designed for tax reporting can allow teams to “reach back” to source transactional data and access subledger entries from financial systems that were previously hard to get. Oracle EPM Cloud also provides a rich set of tools to speed tax reporting and improve tax-processing efficiency, including: Tax-management dashboards with graphical charts and country-by-country breakdowns Easy-to-fill-out webforms to accelerate collection of unstructured data Automated translation engines to support global deployment 5 Reasons You Need Cloud-based Tax Automation New data requirements are massive. Tax reform compliance calls for a systems-led approach to automate data collection and reporting. New tax provisions are inter-related. Systems need to integrate complex data extraction and modeling efforts. Guidance is fluid. You need a system to collect the right data and provide flexibility to manage periodic changes in guidance. Timelines are compressed. You need robust systems to automate the mapping of data into preset models to meet deadlines on an annual and interim forecasting basis (i.e. GILTI). Risk of financial misstatements is significant. Large data sets, complex processes, and changing guidance will force many businesses to find technology-based solutions to improve tax planning efforts. PwC Tax Reform Accelerators I recently participated in a webcast with PwC, which works to empower businesses to get the most out of tax reform. PwC focuses on creating a strategic roadmap to help clients compile and analyze tax data and develop a strategic approach to automating core tax processes. Their approach includes: Understanding the enterprise IT roadmap Mapping data inputs and analytical requirements (compliance and forecasting solutioning) Aligning potential structural changes to re-platforming initiatives This strategic approach to tax planning automation aligns the new tax requirements to your current ERP, EPM and supply chain landscape, leveraging existing cloud and on-premises investments as much as possible. We work with your finance, tax and IT teams to enhance your overall tax planning and reporting capabilities, embed controls, and adopt tax provision technologies that can help address your complex global tax accounting needs. Watch PwC’s webcast to learn more about how you can leverage cloud solutions to streamline tax operations in the post-reform era.   

By Marc Seewald, Senior Director, EPM Product Development, Oracle It has been quite a journey since the tax reform package passed at the end of 2017. It’s hardly an understatement to say that...

Finance Topics & Trends

How Artificial Intelligence Is Getting to Work

By Mike Baccala, Assurance Innovation Leader, PwC and Ed Ponagai, Principal, Finance Consulting, PwC Earlier this year, we made 8 predictions about artificial intelligence (AI) in 2018. They’re all of particular importance to the finance function because—unlike autonomous cars and cancer cures—AI is ready for actual production in finance. Indeed, the finance function is one place we had in mind when we wrote: “AI will come down to earth—and get to work.” By “get to work,” we mean that AI can drive improved productivity and decision-making today. Fifty-four percent of executives say AI solutions have already increased productivity, according to our research. Even more agree that AI will eventually augment their data-driven decisions. It’ll take an adjustment on the part of a finance team, as we noted in our last post, but the payoff will be right in front of them. From More Efficient Transactions to Better Decisions Artificial intelligence has a bright future in the modern finance function. Finance teams spend a lot of time wading through the data stored in a myriad of systems, from ERP and payment processing to business intelligence and financial reporting. Finance staff spend a lot of their day performing mundane tasks — from processing transactions, to exporting reports from multiple systems and reconciling the data. AI can make all of that smarter. It can perform many transactions automatically — for example, by “reading” the content of an invoice in an email and pulling the relevant information into a payment processing system. That AI will never have the experience and institutional knowledge of a veteran corporate controller. But by running them through a large number of transactions, the algorithms can be trained to make smart inferences, helping finance to automate reconciliation processes or improve cash flow models. AI can also alert the CFO to emerging trends and anomalies, not only making the function more efficient, but also improving risk controls and data-driven decision support. Banks, for example, can use machine learning and agent-based modeling to determine what an optimal balance sheet would look like for the coming quarter. By setting AI-informed targets related to different sections of their balance sheet, while also considering liquidity ratios for the overall business, they can optimize operational decisions such as credit card promotions or prices — all while staying within the institution’s appetite for risk. Fulfilling the Big Promise of Big Data “Big data” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013, preserving in history the importance of data as a transformative force for organizations. Yet many corporations have been underwhelmed with the ROI on their big data initiatives. Big data’s real payoff will come through artificial intelligence. Data is the key to making AI effective. The more data that is standardized and labeled (and “cleansed” of unintended bias) the better. For example, machine learning software can be trained to replicate the thinking and decision-making of expert auditors as they review a general ledger. It can examine every transaction, user, and account to find unusual transactions, without bias or variability. This is possible when a provider has access to comprehensive data sets and experienced auditors to train the algorithms. Similarly, a company’s business units might have experienced data analysts with their own FP&A systems, each with its own proprietary formats and data definitions. An AI that could make sense of all those systems could examine more scenarios and improve its forecasts. But it would need access to the business units’ data in standardized form. Just think of all the hoops analysts jump through right now to pull data from multiple ERP systems, and manipulate it so it can be fed into their FP&A spreadsheet analyses. Multiply those headaches by a factor of ten and that’s the big data challenge finance teams have faced until now. An even smarter system could then bring external data into the planning process. A home improvement retailer, for example, could improve store forecast accuracy by factoring in diverse data sources, such as interest rates and housing starts, or weather patterns and traffic data. More correlations can be examined, and better predictions surfaced. Oracle EPM Cloud applications already do some of this and we expect more capabilities in the future. But it comes down to having the right data in the right shape. “If someone boasts to me, ‘Our enterprise is working with 10 petabytes of data,’” Andrew Moore, Dean of Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science told me in an interview, “I will yawn unless I see there is good indexing of the data.” In order to generate business benefits, data must be well indexed—that is, defined in data models that serve a business purpose. AI is both a beneficiary of data models as they are improved, and a tool that can be used to give more structure to big data. Thus, even if big data investments haven’t yet achieved their hoped-for ROI, bigger returns are still in the pipeline as more AI comes online. Enterprise AI Enterprise application suites aren’t going to disappear as more AI gets switched on. Indeed, enterprise vendors are all working to add their own AI capabilities in the cloud. So expect AI not to replace existing systems, but rather to enhance or sit among them. Oracle, for example, has embedded artificial intelligence into its cloud applications for finance, human resources, supply chain, manufacturing, commerce, customer service, sales and marketing professionals. Companies can also use Oracle AI Platform Cloud Service to access existing data sources, develop machine-learning solutions and integrate them into applications. Read more about PwC’s AI predictions.

By Mike Baccala, Assurance Innovation Leader, PwC and Ed Ponagai, Principal, Finance Consulting, PwC Earlier this year, we made 8 predictions about artificial intelligence (AI) in 2018. They’re all of...

Finance Topics & Trends

3 Ways CFOs Can Support Greater Productivity

By Sandy Kataoka, IBM Partner, Global Oracle Offerings Leader Emerging technologies are not only disrupting business, but the US economy as a whole. The new Oracle report, Intelligent Finance: How CFOs Can Lead the Coming Productivity Boom, details how widespread cloud adoption is accelerating productivity and new business value, potentially adding $2 trillion to the US economy over the next decade. Much of this new value comes from using the cloud to deliver groundbreaking technological advancements such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cognitive computing, intelligent process automation (IPA), and the Internet of Things. Finance leaders have a key role to play in driving innovation in this productivity boom. Business models and the competitive landscape are changing rapidly, with disruptors focusing on building platforms that allow them to completely reinvent business processes and their industry as a whole. In many cases, these disruptors are industry incumbents rather than nimble startups. There are three actions finance organizations can take to help them keep pace with these changes and achieve greater productivity: Take out structural costs by moving on-premises data centers to the cloud Deploy innovations, such as a touchless close workbench, to reduce finance cost and risk using IPA and blockchain Enable smarter enterprises with Cognified Business Process Outsourcing (Cognified BPO) 1. Take out structural costs by moving on-premises data centers to the cloud Cloud application projects deliver 3.2x greater return on investment (ROI) than on-premises ones. The two primary benefits of taking on-prem data centers to the cloud are the ROI and the operating advantages of transferring expenses from CapEx to OpEx. These benefits permit firms to reallocate increased operating profit and capital into new platform investments and growth opportunities. 2. Deploy a touchless close workbench to reduce finance cost and risk One of the most compelling use cases for intelligent process automation (IPA) and blockchain is around month-end close. The touchless close workbench can help firms reduce cost (both internal and external), limit risk and avoid delays to the close. By implementing Oracle ERP and EPM Cloud, ConnectOne Bank was able to cut seven days from their monthly closing and speed up audits by 10%, saving them significant costs per year in auditor fees. With a touchless close workbench, companies can drive even stronger results. IPA at scale allows the finance organization to automate key steps in the close process, remove the potential for human error, increase the speed of performing tasks, reduce the cost of finance, and allow finance resources to focus on higher-value activities. Blockchain can make it simpler for finance organizations to track, control and authenticate firecall access. Other blockchain use cases may include: resolving shared reference data challenges, improving audit and compliance tracking, and validating letters of credit. 3. Enable smarter enterprises with Cognified BPO Cognified BPO can help individual associates accomplish more, resulting in reduced workload and increased accuracy, thereby lowering risk. This allows firms to operate leaner, freeing up associates to provide hands-on customer service or focus more on innovative, high-value work. As a result, firms can feel confident they are completing their ongoing processes with high levels of quality and consistency, while also providing an excellent experience for both internal and external customers. Learn more To begin your journey, check out the IBM Oracle Cloud Impact Assessment to learn more about how we’re helping businesses make their move to the cloud, paving the way for them to maximize productivity in their finance functions. IBM will also be attending and presenting at Oracle OpenWorld, October 22-25 in San Francisco. We invite you to connect with us at the event and attend our speaker sessions to learn more about our solutions leveraging blockchain, IPA, cognitive computing, and other transformational technologies. Learn more at ibm.com/oracle. Learn how CFOs are driving productivity. Get the report. Sandy Kataoka brings over 30 years of consulting experience to her role as the GBS Global Oracle Offerings Leader. Sandy has deep Oracle knowledge helping Oracle customers with solutions across industries and platforms. She is responsible for developing and launching new solutions promoting Oracle Cloud, automation, cognitive and artificial intelligence. Sandy has had several leadership roles in IBM’s North America Oracle service line and was a former lead account partner for the State of California. 

By Sandy Kataoka, IBM Partner, Global Oracle Offerings Leader Emerging technologies are not only disrupting business, but the US economy as a whole. The new Oracle report, Intelligent Finance: How CFOs...

Finance Topics & Trends

Mark Hurd on the Swinging Pendulum: Vertical Integration and Risk Management in Finance

Information technology is going through a massive generational shift. The pendulum between multiple and single vendor configurations is swinging back to favor a more vertically-integrated technology stack: the cloud. This transition offers customers of all sizes better security and more innovation all at a lower cost—and it’s inevitable. Then Versus Now At Modern Supply Chain Experience 2018, Oracle CEO Mark Hurd asserted that this shift “is generational—you are going to see a complete change in the way IT works.” Giving insight into the history of the IT industry, he described how movement in the 1980s from a single vendor to multiple vendors initially offered customers more options. The opportunity to purchase different components from different vendors provided cost savings but increased complexity, giving rise to systems integrators. This complexity created more burdens on security and forced businesses to spend more time and budget on maintenance, limiting capabilities for innovation. Describing the current state of IT in an interview with Forbes, Hurd remarked, “The environments you see today in companies are really very heterogeneous, very disparate, very difficult to manage—frankly difficult to secure—and old.” A Return to Vertical Integration In his Modern Supply Chain Experience keynote, Hurd explained how the cloud changes all of that—it costs less, provides innovative features faster, reduces maintenance through streamlined configurations, and is more secure. Customers don’t have to worry about integrating all these moving parts, which means that they are able to spend more time focusing on their business. “There’s clearly a pendulum swinging back to more vertically-optimized stacks,” said Hurd, and this pendulum offers competitive advantages in today’s modern business environment. The shift to the cloud also provides better opportunities for risk management—an increasing concern for executives. The limited set of stack configurations in the cloud means these systems can patch more quickly, improving security and reducing time spent on maintenance. At Modern Finance Experience, Hurd asked the audience a simple question: “Do you want core competencies in patching databases? Or do you want core competencies in gaining market share?” For many businesses, it’s an easy decision. Innovations in Finance: Automated Processes and Improved Risk Management Within finance, moving to cloud applications means less time spent on security and compliance. Businesses get access to the latest technology and innovations faster, with cloud deployments incorporating new features like artificial intelligence to streamline workflow and augment existing processes. These advancements will allow for better reporting, minimize human error, and automate compliance. This new integrated model of financial systems has changed customer expectations, explains Hurd: “Executives will demand those AI-enhanced capabilities out of the box, built into their companies’ human capital management, enterprise resource planning, supply chain, and other cloud applications.” Vertical integration in finance is changing how innovation, security, and maintenance will affect businesses moving forward. Learn more about how artificial intelligence is shaping the future of ERP.

Information technology is going through a massive generational shift. The pendulum between multiple and single vendor configurations is swinging back to favor a more vertically-integrated technology...

Finance Topics & Trends

How to Build the Finance Function of the Future

A little over two years ago, we launched this publication with a vision: the finance team is the co-pilot of the business. In the short years since then, the vision and role of finance has continued to expand. Today, it’s not enough even to be the co-pilot. Finance leaders must also be the change agent of the organization—innovating today, predicting tomorrow, and shaping the future. The single-most important question finance leaders need to be asking is, “What will tomorrow bring, and how can we prepare for it?” Part of our mission here at Oracle is to provide the technology your team needs to easily get answers to that question. Let me give you an example. Imagine you’re a CFO on a morning run, listening to your favourite podcast on your phone. Suddenly, you receive an urgent alert: a last-minute competing bid could short-circuit an acquisition your company wants to close on today. You stop in the middle of your run; this could derail everything. A million questions run through your mind: Can we increase our bid? By how much? If we do, will the deal still be profitable? Machine learning, voice interactions, intelligent automation and more should work with your finance systems to give you the answers you need within minutes—so that the all important deal doesn’t fall apart. To see how, watch this video. Before you can be this CFO, you need to become the aforementioned change agent. The technology you’ve relied on to date has served your business well. Yet with new technologies and use cases emerging every day, yesterday’s ERP can’t keep up. Tomorrow’s ERP—built on machine learning—can automate day-to-day operations today, so your team can focus on guiding the business, instead of processing transactions and running reports. As companies produce and receive a seemingly unending amount of data from internal and external sources, it’s finance specialists who are best positioned to radically improve productivity, and connect historical and predictive insights to strategic planning and goals. Cloud-based ERP applications with built-in machine learning capabilities are critical to this reset of the finance function. Not only do they continuously execute labor-intensive tasks in the background, they learn as they do, continually finding new ways to improve efficiency. At the same time, they feed rapid-fire responses to “what-if” questions posed through chatbots, rich-context dashboards, and other tools at your fingertips. Getting Ahead of Change Continuing to do things the same way as yesterday is risky. Already, almost half (49%) of agile businesses have evolved their business models. We see organizations moving away from: A single-target operating model with end-state goals, to the adoption of multiple, simultaneous, dynamic business models. Incremental improvement programs and initiatives, to leveraging applications that use machine learning to automate continuous improvement and best practices. Labor-intensive transaction processing, to the relentless automation of routine processes—freeing up finance professionals to focus on strategic activities. Copying agile models, to building agile business systems that enable anticipation of and response to change. Managing stores of data, to creating and sharing meaningful insights with leadership across the organization. Thinking of the back office as a cost centre, to looking at back-office functions as value generators. Siloed, inflexible technology solutions to a single, connected cloud that is always up-to-date, costs less, and is easier to manage. Think about traditional 12-month sales forecasts that roll over without critical evaluation. Intelligent cloud applications let businesses update their forecasts in real time, drawing on deep contextual data to make smart adjustments daily. This is one of the reasons we are seeing a resurgence in practices like zero-based budgeting, which embed ongoing review and re-adjustment in asset planning and management based on current data. Equipping Finance Teams for the Future Yesterday’s ERP often requires expensive and lengthy reimplementation to upgrade—meaning that the organization enjoys the benefit of upgraded software only every two to five years (or more). The cloud eliminates all that with: Frequent updates driven by the vendor on a 90-day cycle 3.2x higher ROI and 52% lower running costs Risk of technology obsolescence totally removed—you’re always on the latest and greatest It’s the last upgrade you will ever need. The cloud is always up-to-date with the latest features, as well as legislative and regulatory requirements in your market. This is true continuous innovation, rolling out new modern best practices and capabilities on a regular basis. With a trusted innovation partner acting as your cloud provider (and technology expert), finance teams are unleashed to become the strategic contributors the organization of tomorrow needs. And of course, in the war for top talent—especially in finance—providing opportunities to help mold the future of an organization (rather than just manage numbers) offers a huge advantage. When finance leaders become change agents, embracing the continuous innovation of cloud ERP, they can: Drive greater business insight. Better meet regulatory requirements. Automate for management-by-exception as a standard practice. Use flexible hierarchies, dynamic reporting and scenario analysis/testing. Gain greater understanding around investment for agile and robust cost control. Cloud ERP Is the Future of Finance Technology is driving the next wave of business productivity, and finance leaders have a unique opportunity to lead this change. Traditional, on-premises ERP simply no longer equips finance leaders or their teams with the capabilities they need for success—today or tomorrow. Leaders who embrace the right technology are better equipped to anticipate and predict what comes next—becoming the change agent, and leader, that every business needs to succeed. In future stories, we’ll take a closer look at how finance leaders can innovate today, predict tomorrow, and shape the future—all with the power of continuous innovation in the cloud. Ready to start building tomorrow's finance, today? Fast forward to "Future You."

A little over two years ago, we launched this publication with a vision: the finance team is the co-pilot of the business. In the short years since then, the vision and role of finance has continued...

Finance Topics & Trends

Look to Emerging Markets for Cutting-Edge Blockchain Innovation

By Arun Khehar, SVP Applications ECEMEA, Oracle Imagine you have a life-threatening allergy to shellfish. Your threshold for exposure is so low that even trace amounts of crustaceans or mollusks cause your throat to swell shut. You may not dine out much at high-end restaurants in seaside cities—that is, unless you are in Dubai. In 2017 the Dubai government launched an app and website called Food Watch, which enables people to get detailed information about the food they order. With Food Watch, the government can trace the food journey from “farm to fork” and monitor food in more than 20,000 food establishments, as well as food suppliers. In turn, users can find out where food came from, how it was handled, and the conditions under which it was prepared. Behind it all is blockchain. Dubai and other emerging markets are leading the world in developing new applications for blockchain, which some have described as a new type of internet, but more secure. Much of the time, people equate blockchain with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, but that is only one potential use for blockchain. The technology itself is agnostic and can be used in the public and private sectors for countless other transactions and services. In developed countries like the United States, private-sector startups and a relatively small number of large companies are leaders in blockchain-based business models, but the biggest and boldest blockchain applications are coming from nimble developing nations. How Emerging Markets Are Leapfrogging with Blockchain An advantage for emerging markets is less (or a lack of) long-standing infrastructure and regulations, which in developed countries can slow widespread adoption of transformative technologies. By contrast, developing nations can invest in blockchain and other game-changing technologies as they build infrastructure instead of doing so as they replace infrastructure. This has been called “leapfrogging” and often is instigated through anti-poverty efforts to give disenfranchised populations access to banking, communications services, the internet, and other staples of everyday life in developed countries. A less robust private sector in developing nations also means that governments are more likely to be the drivers behind such efforts. That doesn’t mean blockchain-driven change isn’t happening in developed nations, but it’s not happening in the same unified and rapid manner. Dubai, for instance, is working toward becoming the world’s first blockchain-powered government. Within two years, it plans to use blockchain-based applications to process more than 100 million documents a year for visa applications, bill payments, and license renewals. The secure digitalization of these transactions could save 25.1 million hours of labor—worth a savings of about US$1.5 billion. The private sector is part of the transformation as well. The emirate is undergoing a real estate boom as it ramps up for a gigantic economic development conference in 2020, and newly built residential property is starting to be sold using Bitcoin. Another blockchain leader in the Middle East is Saudi Arabia. The kingdom's central bank recently announced a partnership to enable banks to instantly facilitate cross-border payments. The agreement has the potential to transform banking for customers — who will have access to faster, cheaper, and more transparent transactions — and could change how banks send money globally. The Saudi central bank also is working with the United Arab Emirates central bank to issue a digital currency for use in cross-border transactions between the two. Moving from the Middle East to Africa, European specialty coffee provider Moyee Ireland is using blockchain to transform the Ethiopian coffee supply chain for better efficiency and transparency. Moyee Ireland can authenticate that the coffee beans it roasts are sustainably and ethically sourced. For Ethiopian farmers, the hope is that blockchain-based supply chain transactions will help them earn more for their crops because they, too, can authenticate origin and purity. Flowers are another major agricultural export for Ethiopia, but exporting a single container of flowers to Europe can require up to 200 communication transactions. A Singapore-based company wants to eliminate that manual effort and speed up deliveries by connecting supply chain participants through a blockchain network. The Critical Components of Blockchain Innovation As these examples show, blockchain technology can be used to build new types of trading and transactional infrastructures that are more automated and secure than existing models, and in many cases can be spun up quickly. This can happen at a national level or on a private one-to-one level; and like the Food Watch app, blockchain can further both public- and private-sector goals. Tactically, blockchain—like the internet—needs applications and a network to become active and accessible. This can be done using a comprehensive enterprise-grade blockchain service platform like Oracle Blockchain Cloud Service, which is part of the Oracle Cloud Platform. Users can build a blockchain network and let Oracle manage the network infrastructure as they then build their own contracts and applications on top of the network. Another critical component is buy-in from business leaders who oversee financial transactions and regulatory compliance. Understandably, these roles—usually in finance or operations—require assurances that risk can be controlled before applying any new technology. (It seems ridiculous today, but as the internet spread rapidly among business processes in the 1990s, many companies issued edicts that they would not accept digital invoices.) One of the risks with blockchain is that public and private organizations take too long to identify and act on unique opportunities for resource savings and revenue growth. Don’t let this happen in your organization. Look to the many innovative applications far and near for inspirational models, and then partner with a proven technology leader that can provide powerful tools and guidance. Want to see other innovations in finance? Check out Tomorrow's CFO in this video.

By Arun Khehar, SVP Applications ECEMEA, Oracle Imagine you have a life-threatening allergy to shellfish. Your threshold for exposure is so low that even trace amounts of crustaceans or mollusks cause...

Finance Topics & Trends

5 Compelling Reasons to Move from On-Premises ERP to Oracle ERP Cloud

I’m often asked why organisations should take advantage of this generational shift in computing enabled by the cloud. Of course, there’s the unleashing of organisational potential and productivity that the new model of computing delivers; but perhaps more pragmatically, there are 5 incredibly strong reasons: 1. To make your organization future-ready. On premises software was not designed to enable you to respond to today’s accelerating pace of change. Oracle ERP Cloud is built on machine learning and is part of a truly modern cloud suite for the enterprise. Designed for the cloud from the ground-up, the Oracle Cloud is extensible and flexible — enabling you to easily take advantage of new technologies such machine learning, artificial intelligence, blockchain, intelligent process automation (IPA), the Internet of Things, new human interfaces and much more.  Watch this video to see the CFO of tomorrow — then read on for the rest of the "5 Reasons." 2. It’s the last upgrade you will ever need. Frequent easy-to-adopt updates to Oracle ERP Cloud mean you’re always up-to-date and able to take advantage of continuous innovation. Lengthy, disruptive upgrade cycles are a thing of the past. Plus you’ll benefit from unprecedented security, improved flexibility, built-in analytics, and the ability to answer "what-if" questions with Oracle EPM Cloud, to help you deliver better decision-making across the entire organization. 3. The business value is compelling. Oracle ERP Cloud customers enjoy faster implementation times with less business disruption and higher business value. Caesars Entertainment transformed Finance in 10 weeks. APN Outdoor transformed traditional billboard advertising and Payscout can compress transaction flows from consumer purchase to merchant payment receipt within minutes. 4. The economic arguments are overwhelming. The total cost of ownership (TCO) with cloud is 52% less than on premises applications, according to Nucleus Research. Return on investment (ROI) is 3.2 times that of on premises. And the risk of technology obsolescence (RTO) is totally eliminated. 5. Oracle has made the upgrade to the cloud easy. Oracle Consulting and thousands of Oracle partners worldwide have created affordable upgrade service packages available today - making the move to Oracle ERP Cloud simple and fast with minimal business disruption. Need more reasons to move? Get the Nucleus Research report, or start building your business case with our ROI calculator.

I’m often asked why organisations should take advantage of this generational shift in computing enabled by the cloud. Of course, there’s the unleashing of organisational potential and...

Finance Topics & Trends

Successful Companies Have One Thing in Common: They Love Data

By John Abel, Vice President, Oracle If the business world seems to move much faster these days, that’s because it does. For a long time, change happened slowly. Take economic cycles: in the 1900s it took about 19 years to go from the bottom of a recession to the top of a peak. Life moved at a steady, controllable pace. Businesses knew who their competitors were, and had plenty of time to adapt to the newcomers. It was all so simple. But then technology came along, swiftly followed by cloud. And with it, gargantuan amounts of data to collect and crunch, at a fraction of the cost it used to be. No longer did innovation mean swallowing up budgets and time. Barriers to entering new markets came crashing down, accelerating ambitions and innovation even more. Now, adopting emerging technologies is a necessity, not a choice. Wait for something to hit the mainstream, and your business won’t be looking at the menu; it’ll be on it, and about to be devoured. If that sounds too dramatic, then just ask the people who once worked for Kodak, Blockbusters, or Woolworths — iconic brands that didn’t innovate. MySpace and Friends Reunited, anyone? Such is the speed of change that even the disruptors get disrupted. We used to be stunned when Amazon, eBay and Groupon took just a decade to get to $10bn in annual revenues. Now there are about 30 companies that have gone from zero to $1bn in four months. New Business Models Depend on Data They all have one thing in common. They are data crazy. They’ve realised that the way to take on their competitors is to spot patterns and anomalies in data faster and more regularly than the next guy. The fastest growing company right now (though I guess in the time it takes you to read this article it might all have changed!) is Jet.com — and all they do is use AI and machine learning to predict the price changes of flights, and beat the market. When I started my career — when I’d buy my clothes at Woolworths and my camera film from Kodak — doing what Jet.com does would have meant some serious spend. But it cost them barely anything to get started, just some basic data tools and algorithm know-how. And now they’re taking market share at supersonic speed. Let’s look at China; even as recently as 2011, their old big banks dominated the consumer payment space. Now, they don’t. And which payment solution startup is causing them to worry? WeChat — a messaging app whose capabilities have grown way beyond its original purpose. Out-mastering your enemy is hard enough when you know who they are. But when it could be anyone... Opportunity or threat, defend or attack; either way, action has to be the answer. But hold on, you might say... I’m a food retailer, I’m a car manufacturer, my business is making medicine or building houses or giving financial advice. What do I know about all this data stuff? You don’t need to. But you do need a partner who does: who has the technology, the expertise, and the time you don’t; who has the keys to unlock that Pandora’s box of secrets lurking in your data; who has the appetite and know-how to innovate at breakneck speed, and take you with them. Join John Abel and Oracle at London Technology Week to talk about data, AI, and the new business models they enable.  

By John Abel, Vice President, Oracle If the business world seems to move much faster these days, that’s because it does. For a long time, change happened slowly. Take economic cycles: in the 1900s it...

Finance Topics & Trends

Keeping Up With the Unique Needs of Higher Education

Just over a month ago, I was delighted to see this tweet from Boise State CIO and Associate Vice President Max Davis-Johnson: #BoiseState did their 3rd in 22 months major #Oracle ERP Cloud (finance) upgrade this weekend. When finance system was on-premise - we averaged 1 upgrade every six years. This is #futureproofing - current release and continuous improvement. Living the IT dream. — Max Davis-Johnson (@maxboisestate) May 2, 2018 Future-proofing. Living the IT dream. These are powerful endorsements for the idea of moving finance operations to the cloud. On-premises ERP systems such as PeopleSoft and Oracle E-Business Suite have served the higher education community well over the past two decades. But true future-proofing requires continuous updates from a cloud provider that is always improving its software with the latest emerging technologies, best practices and capabilities. That’s what Oracle ERP Cloud provides. And with the recent announcement of automated upgrades, Oracle founder and chief technology officer Larry Ellison calls it “the last upgrade you will ever do.” Still, organizations dedicated to higher learning have unique needs that go beyond finance and ERP. They need a complete cloud to help them manage every step of the student journey, from application to graduation — and even beyond, to alumni fundraising. With the recent acquisition of Vocado, Oracle can offer a complete cloud portfolio for higher education institutions, including: Recruiting and admissions Personalized enrollment Financial aid management Student account dashboards Analytics-based advising Assessment and outcomes Optimized paths to graduation Improved alumni relations and fundraising Every institution is competing to attract the best students and demonstrate the best learning outcomes. Student financing is a key determinant of whether a student graduates; when the money dries up, drop-out is virtually guaranteed. Vocado, as part of the Oracle Higher Education Cloud portfolio, lets institutions manage each student's financial aid plan individually, offering a higher chance of student success. Your Chance to See Student Financial Planning in the Cloud An upcoming webcast will give you an opportunity to see Vocado in action and learn about its impact on financial aid management. Named one of the top financial aid solutions in a recent Eduventures report, Vocado is being re-branded as Oracle Student Financial Planning Cloud. Attendees to this webcast will learn: How higher education institutions can manage each student’s financial plan individually  How to provide real-time visibility into a student’s entire program across any device, supporting better-informed financial decisions and optimized outcomes How Student Financial Planning Cloud integrates with both cloud and on-premises student information systems (SIS)    Join us to learn how you can provide your students with real-time visibility into every aspect of their financial aid.  Register now for the webcast.

Just over a month ago, I was delighted to see this tweet from Boise State CIO and Associate Vice President Max Davis-Johnson: #BoiseState did their 3rd in 22 months major #Oracle ERP Cloud (finance)...

Finance Topics & Trends

Learn How to Make Healthcare More Productive

Can healthcare leaders close the productivity gap? A recent survey indicates that there is a large — and growing — gap between different industries in terms of productivity and growth. The research is entitled Intelligent Finance: How CFOs Can Lead the Coming Productivity Boom. It was conducted by Dr. Michael Mandel, senior fellow at the Mack Institute for Innovation Management at Wharton, and sponsored by Oracle. Mandel found that if low-productivity industries embrace the cloud — including the emerging technologies it delivers, such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, blockchain and the Internet of Things — they have the potential to contribute up to $2 trillion to the US economy over the next ten years. Gains from high-productivity industries could boost that number even further: High-productivity industries include “digital” industries such as high technology, financial services, media and communications, where output is delivered through digital systems. Also included are select “physical” industries that are actively investing in digital technologies (such as industrial machinery producers tapping into new products that connect to the Internet of Things). Low-productivity industries tend to be more “physical” in nature, where output is tangible and harder to translate into electronic form. Examples of low-productivity industries include healthcare, higher education, construction, discrete and/or low-complexity manufacturing sectors, and retail (which largely still depends upon brick and mortar stores). In general, these industries are at the beginning of the path toward digitization. One clear conclusion is that high-productivity industries invest far more in technology than low-productivity ones. Between 2006 and 2017, annual software spending per worker increased 61 percent in high-productivity industries, but only 28 percent in low-productivity ones. Concurrently, high-productivity industries increased their output by 14 percent, while low-productivity industries had a 1-percent decline. This is not good news for healthcare leaders, especially at a time when they are under increasing pressure to deliver value-based care. Opportunities to Close the Productivity Gap But all is not lost for the healthcare sector. Opportunities abound to take advantage of the cloud services poised to drive the coming productivity boom. And non-critical care functions, like the back office, are a good place to start. The emerging technologies available in the cloud (machine learning, AI and more) offer the chance to automate finance and HR functions to a degree that was unimaginable even a few years ago — with chatbots, voice commands and intelligent process automation that can turn a labor-intensive task (like the monthly financial close) into a continuous process that you mange by exception. Finance in the cloud can not only improve the productivity of your back-office staff; it can reduce the risk of human error and increase the financial accuracy of your reporting. This, in turn, makes it easier to demonstrate value to your stakeholders. In the coming weeks, you’ll have several opportunities to see cloud-based services in action — including Oracle ERP Cloud and Oracle EPM Cloud — at a pair of exciting events: the Healthcare Industry User Group (HIUG) annual meeting of Oracle users, and the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) annual conference. Interact 2018 in Phoenix The HIUG annual meeting, Interact 2018, happens June 17-20 at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Arizona. Interact is an annual, user-driven meeting of Oracle application users across the healthcare industry. Industry leaders share information on how they continuously transform their organizations to meet the ever-changing needs of healthcare, and the exhibit hall offers the chance to evaluate multiple vendors and see product demos. Interact is open to any employee of a healthcare organization with licensed Oracle application products and services. With golf, community clinics, round table discussions, and a Tuesday keynote by Oracle Executive Vice Chairman, Jeff Henley, Interact 2018 provides the perfect setting to collaborate and share innovative uses of technology to boost productivity in the healthcare industry. HFMA 2018 in Las Vegas With more than 40,000 members, HFMA is the USA’s premier membership organization for healthcare finance leaders. HFMA provides education to a broad spectrum of key industry decision-makers on the intricacies and realities of maintaining fiscally healthy healthcare organizations. It works with a broad cross-section of stakeholders to improve the healthcare industry by identifying and bridging gaps in knowledge, best practices, and standards. HFMA members can be found in all areas of the healthcare system, including hospitals, managed care organizations, physician practices, accounting firms, and insurance companies. The HFMA Annual Conference is the industry’s premier conference for top decision-makers in the field of healthcare finance. It's an event for hands-on learning where executives from across the nation gather to debate complex issues, interact with peers and industry leaders, and get the tools they need to influence change and address challenges.  HFMA 2018 runs June 24-27, at the Venetian-Palazzo Sands Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada. Be sure to drop by the Oracle booth, # 460, for a chance to see the latest cloud applications built on machine learning and emerging technologies. Register now to join us at HIUG Interact 2018 and HFMA 2018.

Can healthcare leaders close the productivity gap? A recent survey indicates that there is a large — and growing — gap between different industries in terms of productivity and growth. The research is...

Finance Topics & Trends

5 Reasons to Move Retail Finance to the Cloud

By Cara Vollmer, Senior Content Strategist, Oracle Retail is facing a data-driven revolution. To be a modern retailer means embracing new business models and technologies to meet rising customer demands—and some of the most profound changes are happening in retail finance departments. As organizations look to finance as a catalyst for growth and innovation, retail CFOs “are being judged in terms of business outcomes as well as traditional financial industry standards,” says a new report, Retail Finance in the Digital Age. Citing research from Oracle, CFO Magazine, and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the report examines how modern cloud solutions drive retail transformation.     Cloud-based ERP solutions automate financial processes to free up time for strategic thinking, and enables emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, and blockchain. With deeper, real-time data, finance can influence everything from pricing and procurement to mergers and acquisitions—and help the business deliver the fast, personalized experiences customers expect. CFOs are taking note. In a 2017 CFO Magazine survey, 66 percent of respondents said that the value realized from implementing a cloud strategy exceeds the costs involved. Still, many have yet to take the leap: 63 percent of CFOs surveyed described their finance technology as “inefficient,” “silo-constrained,” or “not linked to decision-making. For those who still need convincing, here are 5 reasons to move retail finance to the cloud: Reason #1: To Create Efficiencies that Lower IT Costs When compared to on-premises systems, cloud-based ERP solutions offer a range of savings that can help reduce operating costs. They eliminate the need for hardware (which can comprise 30 percent of the cost of an on-premises or hosted system), and enable retail companies to buy software as a subscription service, so they only pay for what they need. By moving retail finance to the cloud, you can also avoid making upgrades every 3-5 years. Cloud vendors provide frequent updates, included in your subscription price—making cloud the last upgrade you’ll ever need. Reason #2: To Promote One Version of the Truth Having easy access to accurate and real-time data is key for retail CFOs who are expected to drive better decision-making and adapt quickly to different market conditions. “A critical focus of CFOs needs to be knocking down data silos in their organization so there’s a single source of truth,” said Steve Cox, Oracle group vice president of ERP and EPM. “You’ve got to be able to trust your data.” That starts with trusting your technology. Cloud solutions from a single vendor utilize a common database built with a single schema and a standard data dictionary. With pre-integrated applications, all associated data is shared as needed and updated in real time—so you can present accurate, timely reports to business stakeholders. Reason #3: To Enable and Accelerate Growth Cloud-based ERP is also powering faster expansion into new regions and markets. Because cloud solutions are on-demand applications, they can scale rapidly as retailers add new locations, people, or product lines. They can also help businesses keep pace with regulatory changes and local tax laws for more precise planning and budgeting. For retailers experiencing hyper-growth, like candy purveyor Lolli & Pops, those capabilities are vital. They’re using Oracle ERP Cloud, including Oracle EPM Cloud, to help plan and forecast their entire business and gain control over operating expenses.  Reason #4: To Enhance Data Security  With "consumer rights" taking center stage, as illustrated by the recent enforcement of the European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the growing number of cyber threats, concerns around data privacy and security have become top of mind. Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) revealed that ransomware attacks on retailers have doubled since 2017. What’s more, 68% of data breaches took months or longer to discover. Retail—and CPG companies, specifically—are falling behind other businesses in their security measures. According to PwC’s 20th CEO Survey, they are less likely to address data and ethics breaches, including those affecting critical systems. Cloud-based ERP can help. Security is embedded within the cloud service, with dedicated professionals who monitor and react to threats. And when retailers use a single cloud vendor with a unified data schema, it removes security risks associated with running multiple systems from multiple vendors. Reason #5: To Improve User Experience via Real-Time Communications   Simply put, cloud-based ERP speeds decision-making. Dashboards and reporting tools deliver information throughout the organization—across multiple platforms, quicker than ever before. “Knowing that the data they are seeing is real-time and unadulterated, along with the significantly reduced probability of formula error … increases user confidence,” says the report, Retail Finance in the Digital Age. “By comparison, exporting data to spreadsheets disconnects the information from its source, making it a ‘snapshot’ rather than a real-time view.” Read the full report for more on how retail finance teams can thrive in the cloud.  

By Cara Vollmer, Senior Content Strategist, Oracle Retail is facing a data-driven revolution. To be a modern retailer means embracing new business models and technologies to meet rising customer...

Risk Management & Compliance

Life After GDPR: Why CEOs Need to Lead from the Top Down

By Alessandro Vallega, Security and GDPR Business Development Director, Oracle EMEA GDPR is now in effect, but companies across every industry have been under pressure to become compliant since the law was introduced in 2016. Some responded by changing their IT processes, others placed the burden on their legal team, but others only began to adapt in earnest once the 25th May deadline was just around the corner. Data protection must be treated with the right level of gravitas. It might be tempting to think you can steer clear of regulatory issues as long as you are not doing anything untoward with people’s personal data, but this is short-term thinking. GDPR may only mark the beginning of a global regulatory push to improve data protection, and regulation will only become more demanding.   Real change requires a shift in culture. The way companies govern data has not yet caught up to the way employees use technology, which is why we still see staff taking a lackadaisical approach in many organisations. They save company information to personal devices, use (and sometimes lose) business laptops on the train, and turn to file sharing sites to share sensitive information. All these practices pose a security risk, and they are all too common.  The cost of not complying with GDPR can be significant. Business leaders will be aware of the potential risk of non-compliance (up to 20 million euros or 4% of the company’s global turnover) but there are less obvious consequences too. Data breaches must be made public to the supervisory authority within 72 hours once a company becomes aware of them, and the reputational damage that comes with these if the company does not have a good handle on security, has its own cost. In addition, a supervisory authority has the power to impose a temporary or definitive limitation including a ban on processing, and data subjects have the right to bring claims for compensation. GDPR is a Boardroom Issue This makes GDPR a boardroom issue, but this does not mean companies can just appoint someone to take charge of compliance and let them run with it. With an imperative this important, the bucks stops with the CEO. Business leaders must be figureheads for data protection. For an organisation to manage data more responsibly and stay on top of its data in the long term, it needs buy-in from all staff. Each individual must be accountable for their actions and play their part in compliance, and this understanding must be driven from the top down.    How can business leaders help achieve this? The first step is to make training compulsory. This could include anything from data management training, to workshops on protecting data or even running phish-baiting tests to help employees identify suspicious emails. Incentives also help drive change. Data protection needs to be as much a part of someone’s job as doing their timesheets, so why not reward team leaders who have ensured all their staff have taken the appropriate training, or include security training as part of employee performance objectives? It will ultimately come down to HR, IT or legal teams to develop these initiatives, but the imperative must come from a company’s leadership. Get more information on GDPR and its implications for leaders across the business.

By Alessandro Vallega, Security and GDPR Business Development Director, Oracle EMEA GDPR is now in effect, but companies across every industry have been under pressure to become compliant since the law...

Finance Topics & Trends

3 Popular Bitcoin and Blockchain Myths, Debunked

When a new technology hits the market, misperceptions and myths often pop up right alongside of it. This is certainly the case with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that have emerged over the last several years. As policymakers and regulators start to focus more attention on these currencies, now is a perfect time to examine the myths that have sprung up around them. Myth 1: Bitcoin is Blockchain, and Blockchain is Bitcoin The first myth is wrapped in confusion and misunderstanding. Simply put, Bitcoin is not blockchain. And yet, the misunderstanding persists; the words “Bitcoin” and “blockchain” are so often used together that the words have become practically interchangeable. The only connection between bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) and blockchain is simply this: blockchain is just one of several technological components and constructs used to manage cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Blockchain is a decentralized ledger that is securely viewed by all parties with permission to join the chain. When a new transaction is added to a blockchain, the “chain” grows by one; each transaction typically includes a new sequence number and date, identification of the owner, and the associated value or set of other parameters defined specifically for the transaction. Importantly, blockchains can be permissionless (public), or permission-based (private), depending on how participants decide to set up the technology. Bitcoin works because it leverages blockchain to manage values and transactions. Blockchain is the underlying technology—but it has many other potential uses across all enterprise activities, including finance, supply chains, and human resources. Myth 2: Blockchains Are All About Managing Money While blockchains can (and are) being used to manage financial transactions, that’s just one of many applications of the technology. A blockchain can track any type of transaction—from the movement of goods through a supply chain, to the completion of courses a student needs to earn a degree. My colleague, David Haimes, recently wrote about potential use cases for blockchain technology, and there are many more under consideration by various organizations.   The remarkable value of blockchain technology is its potential to streamline transactions while increasing insight into transactional activity. Without blockchain, transactions of all types—whether they are financial or supply chain-related—require data flows in and out of central information systems. With blockchain, ownership is easier to follow and any associated party can confirm event activity. Transaction transparency, trust and tracking is comprehensive and very efficient. Myth 3: Blockchain Consumes Insane Amounts of Energy My favorite blockchain myth highlights the electrical power consumption required to power blockchains. The myth has variations, but it basically follows this proposition: in the future, more and more blockchains will consume electricity comparable to that of small nations around the world. This construct started about two years ago with a simple spreadsheet analysis from a consulting firm. This spreadsheet estimated the Bitcoin network was currently consuming as much electricity in one year as Denmark’s annual national power consumption. More recent studies have increased this estimate to the electrical consumption of larger countries like Austria or Ireland. While this might be true for Bitcoin’s network, remember that Bitcoin and blockchain are not synonymous. Cryptocurrencies use blockchain technology; blockchain technology is not exclusive to cryptocurrencies. As mentioned earlier, most blockchains fall into two categories: permissionless and permissioned. A blockchain may be accessed by anyone, or only by certain participants. Permissionless (public) blockchain: Access open to everyone. Bitcoin’s blockchain is an example of a permissionless network; it is open source and anyone may participate in it. While this type of network has its advantages (i.e. no one entity controls it, and anyone can audit it), it does have drawbacks. Permissionless blockchains such as bitcoin consume enormous amounts of computing power because of “mining”; this is what drives comparative estimates of electrical consumption equivalent to one or more countries. With a permissionless blockchain network, mining is deployed to ensure trust and helps the network be practically tamper resistant. Mining involves extensive mathematical calculations that must be completed through networked computers to process lengthy and complex algorithms. When a correct answer is reached, those running the calculations—the “miners”—receive a new bitcoin of a predetermined value. This process utilizes millions of computations per second using servers located around the world. Because of the lengthy computational requirements, this mining process is very energy intensive. Permissioned (private) blockchain: Access restricted.   With permissioned blockchains, participants seeking to join the network are vetted and must be granted permission into the network. The process of mining is not necessary since the governing body or trusted participants of the network validate information across the chain. With no data mining required, energy consumption for a permissioned blockchain becomes a non-issue. Examine Your Assumptions  These myths and misperceptions highlight why it is always important to not only understand the foundation and application of any new technology, but also the implications and impacts. Underlying assumptions, sometimes simplistically extrapolated from guestimates in spreadsheets, can lead to overzealous and ungrounded predictions that can discourage early adopters from exploring a promising technology. Most importantly, these fears and extrapolations typically divert attention from serious conversations involving important new technologies and their potential uses in business applications for enterprise environments. This is why it’s important to examine the facts closely, and not let myths overcome reality. When building the business of tomorrow, it’s crucial that you give your team every opportunity to leverage emerging technologies for business benefits and competitive advantage, today. How will new technologies like blockchain influence the finance profession? Ask "Future You."

When a new technology hits the market, misperceptions and myths often pop up right alongside of it. This is certainly the case with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that have emerged over the...

Finance Topics & Trends

When Did Data Become So Valuable?

By Neil Sholay, Vice President of Digital, EMEA, Oracle With GDPR compliance now mandatory, European businesses are razor-focussed on their data protection measures, and with good reason. The regulation brings some long-overdue structure to today’s data economy, and the public is clearly eager for greater transparency into how their information is being used. How did we get here? When did data make the leap from static figures in a spreadsheet to one of our most valuable sources of capital? Just as prospectors once crossed continents in search of gold, companies today spare no expense in collecting as much data as possible to inform their decision-making and grow their bottom line — and it all began with the personal device revolution. It’s been just 11 years since Apple brought smartphones into the mainstream, but most of us can’t imagine life without our mobiles. The average person now checks their phone every 12 minutes, and in China smartphone usage is set to overtake the time people spend watching TV.   When we touch our mobile screen more than 1 million times each year, we create an enormous collection of data points. This information may seem innocuous,  but it all adds up to an invaluable breadcrumb trail of insight that helps companies to better understand customers and target them with more personalised services. Leading Innovation with Data Take Caixa Bank, one of Spain’s largest financial services companies, which uses its customer data to maintain a centralized view of how people interact with its services in-branch, online and on their mobiles. Established banks are fighting off competition from a range of new all-digital challengers, and this deeper understanding of customers helps organizations like Caixa Bank deliver the best of both worlds: a strong heritage in the industry and more tailored digital services.  The same is true in the telecoms industry, where operators such as Telefonica have implemented an analytics program to better understand how customers use their services. By drawing on this insight, Telefonica can tempt its subscribers with additional content and propositions that are specifically tailored to their preferences. Businesses are also looking more closely at their internal data to work more efficiently and cut costs. After centralizing its operations data, the UK’s National Health Services Business Services Authority began to spot and address inefficiencies that helped it save more than £580 million in just two years.   For many organizations, the real value in data lies in predictive maintenance, the practice of pre-empting the failure of a product before it leads to major issues or customer discontent. For instance, today’s connected cars relay vast amounts of performance data to dealerships and car manufacturers such as General Motors. With this information to hand, companies can instantly alert drivers of any urgent issues that needs servicing before these cause any inconvenience or danger. Never have businesses had so much information on their customers and prospects. It began with the smartphone, but everything from our cars to our kitchen appliances now contribute to the digital breadcrumb trail, and this is only the beginning. Businesses will continue to uncover new ways of collecting, combining, and extracting value from the information we provide. As Oracle’s Paul Sonderegger told The Economist: “Data will be the ultimate externality: we will generate it whatever we do.” Where does GDPR fit in? This digital gold rush has already been a boon for businesses and consumers alike. All the mobile banking apps, food delivery services, and messaging platforms we use each day work so well and seem so personalized to our needs only because the companies behind them collect and act on user information to develop their offering. GDPR will by no means mark the end of these services, but it will bring balance to the relationship between organizations and the people they serve. Many companies will be tempted to treat new regulation as a burden, but as with any change, it is also an opportunity. GDPR compliance is a short-term goal, but by rethinking their data management and security processes for a more open and transparent customer dynamic, businesses will ensure they can cope with evolving regulation in the long-term while giving consumers the confidence that their data is being used responsibly.  To paraphrase TechUK’s Sue Daley, who joined a panel of data experts to discuss GDPR on the Oracle Business Podcast, we are moving to a world driven by connected devices, greater automation, and new forms of artificial intelligence. To succeed with these technologies, businesses will need the public to trust their approach to managing data. Indeed, in an increasingly interconnected world we will see businesses shift from traditional security tools to risk and trust management, and now is the time to build a solid foundation for this more trusting future. Need to accelerate your path to GDPR compliance? Learn how.

By Neil Sholay, Vice President of Digital, EMEA, Oracle With GDPR compliance now mandatory, European businesses are razor-focussed on their data protection measures, and with good reason. The...

Finance Topics & Trends

How the Cloud Helps Banks Be More Competitive

By Sarosh Khan, IBM Global Business Services The pace of change is picking up in the financial services industry. Rising interest rates are roiling financial markets again, putting pressure on banks to find new ways to grow and secure profits. The challenge is compounded by rising costs — which is hurting operating efficiency — and a flurry of technological advancements that are enabling upstarts and incumbents alike to reinvent financial services and forge new markets. New, web-based remittance companies like Venmo and Azimo are just a couple examples of that trend.    The financial services industry is entering what I call a reinvention phase. And while fraught with risk, this next phase offers unprecedented opportunities for banks to leverage cloud services to catch up to — and, yes, to overtake — market leaders.   Take ConnectOne Bank, a New Jersey-based community bank operating in the highly-competitive New York area market. Partly driven by mergers, the midsize bank has been growing at breakneck speed over the last decade. But as ConnectOne expanded, it quickly ran into bottlenecks. The bank’s disparate accounting systems required constant manual reconciliation across multiple on-premises systems. Monthly book closes were lengthy. Regulatory audits were a painful and costly process. Something had to be done, or ConnectOne’s ambitious growth trajectory would soon be threatened. Seeing the writing on the wall, ConnectOne made a smart decision: consolidate its core financial functions on a single cloud-based platform. By moving to the cloud, the bank could eliminate most of its manual book-balancing routines and create an easily scalable digital infrastructure to support ongoing growth and innovation. The results were impressive: the bank cut its monthly close cycles by seven days; saved weeks on regulatory and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reporting; and sped up audits by 10 percent, saving ConnectOne thousands of dollars annually in auditor fees. What’s more, ConnectOne achieved all of this without spending a dime on new on-site servers. The company also kept its IT team lean during the transition, and today it’s more capable than ever of keeping the bank’s growth trajectory on track. Today, ConnectOne is nipping at the heels of much larger banks and tapping analytics tools built into the Oracle Cloud platform to help outmaneuver market leaders. As ConnectOne Bank’s CEO Frank Sorrentino said, “We’ve been given a much larger lease on life due to our ability to use cloud technology to be able to compete with the largest of competitors and the most innovative of competitors.” ConnectOne is just one example of how cloud services can help financial firms close the productivity gap with industry pacesetters. In a new study commissioned by Oracle, Dr. Michael Mandel, senior fellow at the Mack Institute for Innovation Management at the Wharton School, reveals how cloud services accelerate the diffusion of advanced technologies and industry best practices to all companies — not just those on the cutting edge. Closing the Gap Mandel says that cloud services level the playing field, giving lagging firms the power to play catchup. In the area of compliance, for example, cloud solutions from Oracle and IBM Global Business Services provide continuous software updates that address ongoing changes to complex regulations and accounting standards. That’s something most small and mid-sized firms are hard-pressed to handle on their own.   Remember that moving to the cloud is not merely about standardizing processes. It also gives companies access to a rich set of cloud-enabled technologies. For example, as interest rates rise, markets will become more volatile and companies will need to react faster to change. This is where harnessing cutting-edge cloud technologies like intelligent automation, predictive analytics and blockchain will become critical to closing the productivity gap with industry leaders. Everyday my team is engaged with helping companies discover new cloud-enabled opportunities. For instance, we’ve been working with Oracle to look at the finance function end-to-end to identify use cases where enterprises can automate mundane, low-value activities and unleash people to tackle higher-level tasks. We’re also helping companies use the power of cloud-based analytics to not only predict market trends but also recommend the best course of action to optimize business outcomes and identify unknown opportunities and risks. These are transformative capabilities enabled by what IBM calls cognitive computing. The CFO’s New Role Who’s leading the charge for cloud services? In his study, Mandel says that CFOs are best positioned for this role — and I agree. More and more I’m seeing finance leaders pushing for digital transformation in the cloud. This makes sense because the CFO — perhaps more than any other executive besides the CEO — has direct access to the trusted information needed to understand and communicate enterprise performance across every line of business. CFOs are uniquely situated to see how cloud services can propel the business with a combination of cost control and innovation. Digital disruption won’t stop anytime soon, so get used to it. The good news is that the cloud lets you confront each new disruption with a well-organized toolbox of capabilities to adapt as quickly as you need — or maybe start a few disruptions of your own. How are cloud services helping your finance organization become a driver of efficiency and innovation? I look forward to hearing from you. Learn More Check out the IBM Oracle Cloud Impact Assessment to find out how we can help you plan your Oracle cloud migration roadmap. It could be the first step on your journey toward claiming your own piece of the coming productivity boom. Learn more at ibm.com/oracle. Sarosh Khan is Associate Partner, IBM Global Business Services – Oracle ERP Cloud Leader, with more than 23 years of IT consulting experience in building and leading high performance consulting teams and managing large, complex, mission-critical programs. Mr. Khan in an expert in aligning strategic business goals with next-generation Oracle based technology solutions to support business growth, profit/revenue gains, operational efficiencies, customer satisfaction, and strong competitive advantage. Connect with Sarosh on LinkedIn.

By Sarosh Khan, IBM Global Business Services The pace of change is picking up in the financial services industry. Rising interest rates are roiling financial markets again, putting pressure on banks to...

Finance Topics & Trends

10 Steps to Improve Your Journey to Finance in the Cloud

By Graeme Bowmaker, EMEIA Oracle Sales Director, Fujitsu Artificial intelligence. Machine learning. Chatbots. Voice recognition. These are more than just the usual buzzwords associated with the software industry. Emerging technologies are poised to revolutionize productivity in the workplace. Research estimates that new technologies delivered by the cloud could add as much as $2 trillion to U.S. gross domestic product over the next decade. With the rapid development of cloud solutions, many companies are turning their focus toward finance. While migrating your finance processes to the cloud will involve a significant work effort, it will also give your organization an opportunity to re-evaluate processes to better support your overall business. As you develop your cloud migration business case and strategy, here are 10 key thoughts to consider. 1. Use the opportunity to innovate. Do your homework. Figure out where you can streamline processes and automate manual tasks so you’re improving the effectiveness and productivity of your finance team. You don’t want to just "lift and shift" outdated processes into the cloud. And of course, be sure to prioritize the innovation and overall change to give you the biggest benefit. 2. Follow a clear finance strategy, not just a technology strategy. Before you initiate a cloud project, be sure to set clear goals, priorities, and success metrics. By having a clear set of priorities—for business change and process improvements—it will be easier to make critical decisions about where you can compromise and where you can’t. 3. Don’t underestimate the business changes that come with cloud. In the past, ERP projects focused on gathering requirements, the technical implementation, migrating data, and testing. Change management likely accounted for 10-20% of the work effort, with training and communications mostly tied to the go-live.  With cloud, this paradigm changes significantly. Instead, SaaS applications typically drive a more standard way of working. Therefore, change management accounts for about 70-80% of the work effort. As my colleague, Faye Hawkins, mentioned in her article, People, not technology, are the long pole in the tent, “The longest pole is the one that goes up first, and holds the tent up. It gives it height and structure. So, it’s the most important element at the heart of the tent… Delivering the technology is just part of the process. You need to plan for a much longer period to allow people to get used to it.” Your people are at the heart of your cloud implementation—your longest pole. It only makes sense to focus most of your effort on making sure your employees know how to use the new solution effectively. 4. Break it up into “bite-sized chunks.” Taking a modular approach facilitates adoption of new processes and allows you to speed up or slow down the implementation to keep pace with the user learning curve. You can also align a modular implementation with year-end and reporting cycles.  5. Change your finance mind set. A transformational cloud implementation requires an open mind from those involved with the project: to put aside the way things are today and consider new ways of working. 6. Get involved from the start. Successful SaaS implementations are business-driven. Key finance stakeholders, like procurement and supply chain leaders as well as budget owners, should be fully invested in the cloud project from day one. 7. Make sure you get the digital plumbing right. It’s critical that your finance cloud solution seamlessly integrate with your overall technology infrastructure as well as any third-party solutions. This is where having a complete suite of cloud applications, platform and infrastructure (such as Oracle offers) can be an advantage. 8. Take a digital approach to training. With cloud applications, guided learning tools can facilitate end-user training with in-application, real-time guidance to walk users through each step of a process as if they are working in the application. This approach helps reduce up-front training and provides a "just-in-time" learning option that is tailored to each individual’s role. Oracle Guided Learning is updated to keep pace with system changes and is always available for new users. I highly recommend this training approach because cloud applications are designed to evolve over time as functionality enhancements are deployed, and this approach is also designed to keep pace with application changes. 9. Don’t forget about the support model. Support shouldn’t be an afterthought. Be sure to take proactive steps to ensure that your IT team is prepared to support the new finance solution. Cloud applications are typically supported by the provider as part of the monthly fee, so the type and amount of support that your IT team is offering will likely change—freeing them up to work on more strategic projects.  10. Consider the advantages of a multi-pillar strategy. Finance functions don’t sit in isolation.  Both processes and data are shared across every facet of the organization. Although you may begin your journey to the cloud with the finance department, you should consider a complete, or multi-pillar, transformation of your back-office functions. The advantage to a multi-pillar Oracle Cloud solution is that you will ultimately give employees a common user experience to drive productivity with a standardized data model for enhanced reporting and analytics. Ready to move forward? Learn how Fujitsu and Oracle can help you take the first step. As Fujitsu's Oracle sales director for EMEIA, Graeme has an outstanding knowledge of Oracle and has over 25 years’ experience in public and private sectors. Having led the UK’s largest Oracle consultancy practice (245 heads), he was personally responsible for defining and delivering an extremely successful sales strategy. Leading a strong and talented sales team within the UK and Ireland, Graeme is responsible for driving the growth potential for the Oracle portfolio of offerings, which is growing across EMEIA. 

By Graeme Bowmaker, EMEIA Oracle Sales Director, Fujitsu Artificial intelligence. Machine learning. Chatbots. Voice recognition. These are more than just the usual buzzwords associated with the...

Finance Topics & Trends

Why Now is the Time for ERP in the Cloud

“The movement to cloud is an inevitable destination; this is how computing will evolve over the next several years.” So said Oracle CEO Mark Hurd at Oracle OpenWorld 2017. Based on the results of new research, that inevitability is here, now. In our first ERP Trends Report, we surveyed more than 400 finance and IT leaders. We found that 76 percent of respondents said they either have plans for ERP in the cloud or have made the move already. They are recognizing that waiting puts them at a disadvantage; the time to make the move is now. The majority of respondents cited economic factors as the reason they made the leap, and it’s easy to see why: Nucleus Research recently published a report that cloud delivers 3.2x the return on investment (ROI) of on-premises systems, while the total cost of ownership (TCO) is 52 percent lower.   But even more surprising were the benefits realized once our survey respondents got to the cloud. An astonishing 81 percent cited “Staying current on technology” as the main benefit of moving to cloud ERP. With a regular cadence of innovation delivered by the cloud, it is easier for companies to quickly incorporate game-changing technologies into everyday business processes—technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain and more. In the cloud, the risk of running their businesses on obsolete technology drops to zero. It’s the last upgrade they will ever need. “One of the key value propositions in engaging with Oracle and implementing the cloud solutions has been the value of keeping current with technology and technological developments,” said Mick Murray, CFO of Blue Shield of California. “In addition to robotics, we’re looking at machine learning and artificial intelligence, and how do we apply that across the enterprise.” As new capabilities are rolled out, cloud subscribers like Blue Shield can take advantage of them immediately. This gives them the agility to be both responsive and predictive. Uncertainty is the new normal in business, and managing amid uncertainty is a must. It’s no longer enough to be quick-to-change; competitive companies must also have reliable insight into how potential future scenarios could impact performance. So, what does that mean in terms of daily operations? Basically, it means people using knowledge to make good decisions in a fast, productive, and highly automated manner at all levels of the business. Cloud systems provide the data integration and ongoing technology refresh to incorporate best practices and technology advances. The cloud also makes it easier to integrate external sources of valuable, contextual knowledge that helps improve the accuracy of data models. This is important considering the scope of threats to sustainable operations for businesses with large, global footprints. Political, environmental, and economic factors across multiple regions could impact business, such as limited travel capabilities slowing down delivery of key supplies. Business uncertainty is everywhere, and organizations must be able to say, “What is our plan if X happens? What is our plan if X, Y, and Z happen, but W doesn’t?” And this insight must come quickly. Business moves too fast for reports to take days to compile. ERP Replacement Effort Is Not What It Used to Be One final stone on the scale in favor of ERP cloud is that migrating does not have to be painful. Don’t let memories of past onsite replacements haunt you. With the right products and the right expertise behind them, cloud migrations happen quickly, cause minimal business disruption, and don’t require intense user training. For example, Blue Shield of California had set aside $600,000 on change management for adoption of cloud; in the end, they barely spent anything. Change adoption, they reported, happened quickly and seamlessly. Considering the benefits for cost savings, elimination of technology obsolescence, and ease of adopting emerging technologies, it is becoming harder to justify a wait on migration to cloud ERP. Disruption is not an issue, and long-term cost saving are substantial. Most importantly, modernizing ERP is an opportunity to modernize the business and embed an ever-refreshing technology infrastructure that enables higher performance on multiple levels. Learn why now is the time for ERP in the cloud. Get the research.

“The movement to cloud is an inevitable destination; this is how computing will evolve over the next several years.” So said Oracle CEO Mark Hurd at Oracle OpenWorld 2017. Based on the results of new...

Finance Topics & Trends

5 Things Best-in-Class Companies Do Better, and How They Do It

By Cara Vollmer, Senior Content Strategist, Oracle Ever wonder what the best companies do to get ahead? What is it that allows them to outperform their competitors? How can the average company do what leaders do? According to Aberdeen Group, the difference comes down to the technology that leading companies use, and the capabilities it enables. In a recent webcast, Aberdeen shared highlights from its research into the current state of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and other finance systems. Aberdeen uses its own analytical framework to evaluate results among best-in-class companies (the top performing 20 percent) and the remaining respondents. Watch the webcast to learn what best-in-class companies expect from their ERP cloud. The webcast, entitled “What You Should Expect from Your ERP: Don't Get Left Behind on Technology,” summarized 7 key findings that set best-in-class organizations apart from the rest, including the following 5: 1. Best-in-class companies deliver better service and are more efficient. Whether a business delivers products, services, or both, customers are demanding a great experience: accurate, personalized, and on time. Best-in-class companies make complete, on-time deliveries in 98 percent of cases, compared to 88 percent among average companies. They keep to their own internal schedules 95.4% of the time, vs. 88.4% for others. And they’re 2.5 times more productive than their competitors. The only way to make this happen, Aberdeen notes, is by getting immediate information to make faster decisions across the board. Look for an ERP system that can easily share data with your CRM, supply chain, database, and other systems for consistent, timely information. Access to better information enables faster, better decision-making, which pays off in profitability: best-in-class companies have seen an improvement in profitability of 26.6% over the past two years, vs. only 10.7% growth for average performers. 2. They have stronger capabilities in financials, integration, and data management. Best-in-class organizations close their books faster: 3.3 days, on average, vs. 5.2 for all others. And they get access to key financial information when they need it 95% of the time, vs. 85% for all others. 71% of best-in-class companies said their “integrated business applications serve as a complete and auditable system of record.” This is significantly higher than the average company, only 57% of whom have this capability. According to Aberdeen, the ability to connect technology solutions across the business is perhaps the most critical differentiator. Best-in-class companies are more likely than others to have their ERP system integrated with their human resources, customer experience and supply chain applications. All of this provides the “single view” that business leaders need to make the right business decisions in a timely manner. 3. They look to the cloud to address technology gaps and connect disparate solutions. Best-in-class companies look to the cloud for help with their integration challenges. In fact, when asked why they moved to the cloud, best-in-class companies cited their main reason as a desire to standardize on a single ERP system across multiple entities. They want the single, consolidated view across the business that cloud ERP enables, so that they have the information they need to make better business decisions. When looking at your options for cloud, Aberdeen advises to look for a provider that has designed an offering from A to Z—where all the applications sit on the same platform—so that you’re not faced with fragmented data sets across multiple clouds. A cloud “hairball” will only compound the integration challenges that best-in-class companies do their best to avoid.   4. They’re more likely to adopt software as a service. Often, when the average company thinks about the cloud, they think about data centers and platform providers. Some are taking their legacy ERP applications and hosting them with a third party, so that they no longer need to buy new hardware, maintain data centers, or upgrade servers. The problem with this approach is that the company is still responsible for maintaining and upgrading its legacy ERP application, along with any customizations made to it. Upgrades are lengthy and expensive. Instead, the best companies turn to software as a service (SaaS) for ERP, as well as other applications —which makes them more up to date than their competitors. In the SaaS model, the provider rolls out new functionality on a regular cadence, giving the subscriber access to the latest innovations, capabilities, and best practices as part of the monthly fee. Among best-in-class companies, 36% update their systems automatically as new releases become available, vs. only 25% of average performers. And compared to upgrading an on-premises ERP system, SaaS updates are virtually painless. For most of these companies, cloud ERP is the last upgrade they will ever need. 5. They’re building the business of tomorrow, today. Best-in-class organizations are always looking toward the future. They’re continually looking at new ways to streamline for efficiency, modernize technology and services, improve interoperability, and grow customers. To accomplish this, they’re ready to make use of the latest innovations as they’re rolled out, whether that means voice interaction with your ERP software; autonomous, self-driving systems; blockchain-based ledgers; or some other innovation that no one has thought of yet. Different cloud providers have different approaches to innovation. Many vendors claim to offer emerging technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and more; but they only provide a platform for development. It’s up to the customer to decide on a business case, build the functionality and put it to use in a business setting. Not only does this add complexity, it delays the time between a company’s investment in the technology and its adoption. Delays are not a way to remain an agile, best-in-class organization. An alternative approach (one that Oracle favors) is embedding these innovations into SaaS applications for specific use cases, so that the customer can uptake the capabilities immediately. For example, a subscriber to Oracle EPM Cloud can take advantage of intelligent process automation to automate account reconciliations or speed up the financial close. Such an approach means the customer can spend less time focusing on the technology, and more time using it to become a leading company. New technology isn’t just on the horizon; it’s here, now. Leading organizations are already taking advantage of it to build the business of the future. To compete with them, you need to stay current on technology, be ready for growth, and make your organization future-ready. Watch the webcast to get all the key findings, and learn how to become a best-in-class company with tomorrow’s ERP, today.

By Cara Vollmer, Senior Content Strategist, Oracle Ever wonder what the best companies do to get ahead? What is it that allows them to outperform their competitors? How can the average company do what...

Procurement

2018 Trends in Strategic Procurement

By Cara Vollmer, Senior Content Strategist, Oracle Today's enterprises have taken steps to streamline procurement—but have work to do to optimize their entire source-to-pay process. Their biggest obstacle: supplier management. That was one of the key findings of a new report from Gatepoint Research, sponsored by Oracle. Of more than 100 procurement and operations executives surveyed, 41 percent said qualifying and managing suppliers is their most pressing problem. » 2018 Trends in Strategic Procurement Report It’s not hard to understand why. Today’s procurement teams are tasked with managing a multitude of supplier relationships, and the complex issues they involve. More than half of the survey respondents report dealing with 100+ suppliers, and 12 percent have completely lost count. For those using error-prone, manual processes to manage everything from requisitions to payments, it can be difficult to make intelligent purchasing decisions. The Gatepoint Research report, titled, “Trends in Strategic Procurement,” examines this and other procurement challenges, looks at employee purchasing methods and systems, and reveals the short-term strategic goals of firms representing a wide range of industries and revenue levels.   Automation is Key to Efficient Supplier Management CFOs focused on improving their company’s performance are now looking to procurement as a strategic business partner—making it increasingly important to streamline supplier management and enhance efficiencies. The key to success: Automation. Nearly half of the procurement executives surveyed by Gatepoint Research cited automation as the top capability to help them meet their strategic goals this year and beyond. Recent research from McKinsey & Company supports this, finding that 47 percent of the tasks involved in supplier selection, 58 percent of the tasks involved in supplier management, and almost 60 percent of the tasks involved in the entire source-to-pay process can be fully or largely automated using emerging technologies.  When seamlessly integrated with other core business processes, such as finance, procurement automation can deliver increased visibility into spending and help control costs. In fact, McKinsey & Company found that automating the entire source-to-pay process can reduce overall spend by up to 3.5 percent. Optimizing Supplier Management—and More—in the Cloud   Forward-thinking companies, such as Rancon Group and Capgemini, are already taking advantage of digital platforms to optimize their procurement functions. Not long ago, these organizations were using manual processes to manage POs and requisitions, qualify and onboard vendors, and more. This led them to seek a cloud solution that could increase automaton, optimize business operations, and reduce supplier risk. After implementing Oracle Procurement Cloud: Rancon Group improved purchasing capabilities, is better equipped to handle detailed vendor contracts, and has gained control of the payment process   Capgemini shortened supplier onboarding from weeks to days, and achieved five percent savings in its first sourcing event   “By using the standard capabilities of Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning Cloud, we were able to quickly have a system up and running, and after only a few training sessions our entire team was able to complete the sourcing and supplier registration process in the cloud,” said Jasper Oskam, senior Oracle ERP Consultant at Capgemini Nederland, B.V.    By automating and optimizing procurement in the cloud, organizations can achieve these results and more—and develop strong supplier relationships that go the distance. Download the full “Trends in Procurement 2018” report to learn more about how organizations will meet their top procurement challenges and strategic goals in the next 18 months.      

By Cara Vollmer, Senior Content Strategist, Oracle Today's enterprises have taken steps to streamline procurement—but have work to do to optimize their entire source-to-pay process. Their biggest...

Risk Management & Compliance

How to Turn Financial Compliance from Pain into Gain

By Aman Desouza, Director of Product Strategy, Risk Management Cloud, Oracle Many finance professionals see compliance as similar to taking a spoonful of castor oil: they've heard it's good for them but know they don't like the taste. The reason, I suspect, is that they have a limited view of compliance. They see it as a necessary chore to satisfy demands from auditors, which takes them away from strategic and revenue-generating work. In fact, compliance doesn't have to be a burdensome checkbox item. As KPMG's Brian Jensen and I discussed in a recent webcast, organizations can reap significant benefits by taking a progressive approach. Particularly with finance applications in the cloud, compliance can add significant value to the business and save money at the same time.  The key is to identify and focus on the business value. The Cost of Noncompliance ERP systems can help support and enable compliance. Research from the University of Greenwich found that "managers can use an ERP to develop effective internal controls for the most common material weaknesses." When using cloud ERP, a business can harness sophisticated software and computing power to automate controls and enforce compliance, which traditionally has been conducted through inefficient (and often flawed) manual processes. The costs of bypassing this opportunity could be devastating. In a great example shared during the webcast, Brian discussed what might happen when compliance basics like segregation of duties are not implemented with adequate transparency and enforcement. In 2015, the former controller of a Corsicana, Texas, bakery was convicted of embezzling more than $16 million over nearly a decade. Such sustained fraud could have been prevented had the company’s ERP systems provided automated enforcement of financial controls and real-time alerts to fraudulent activities. What’s more, this represents just the tip of the iceberg. Manual sampling methods typically leave organizations exposed to cash leakage that can be corrected with automated controls. Thus, an ERP system with these capabilities often delivers a tidy ROI. The indirect costs of fraud can be just as devastating as the direct costs. Time and again, we see that when public companies announce accounting problems, their market value suffers. Restatements of financial reports due to anything but honest errors erode investor confidence for close to three years. Such restatements can also negatively affect a company's ability to obtain outside financing. Move Beyond the Checkbox Effective financial controls reduce the likelihood of restatements—and the risk to the business that accompanies them. But they can do much more. A white paper published by IDC last year, Radical Transparency: How Top-Tier Financial Compliance Can Unlock Hidden Value and Corporate Excellence, examines how many world-class organizations use tools and processes already in their ERP and risk management systems to achieve what it calls “radical transparency.” In the radical transparency approach, organizations embrace increased awareness of risk and publicity, better employee education, and technology that fosters more transparent and collaborative accounting and compliance at every step. Radically transparent organizations proactively seek to improve access to information, data, and records, which delivers value in two key ways: It demonstrates accountability to stakeholders in the pursuit of their key interests. Insights from compliance initiatives improve management decisions, enhance performance, and improve risk management. Automation Is Key ERP systems and other risk management tools are critical to achieving radical transparency.  Not only do some of these tools use intelligent automation, but they are also more efficient and reliable than manual processes that frequently revolve around error prone spreadsheets. Human error in information processing makes companies more vulnerable to risks. People make mistakes and, sadly, a small percentage will be bad actors looking to take advantage where they can. Also, companies design compliance measures around roles and business processes that are in place at a given time. As these change, manual controls increasingly fall out of sync with reality, unless those controls are redesigned. Intelligent automation—software-driven processes that use data science techniques combined with human intelligence—typically deliver faster and more accurate results than automation alone. When used for managing compliance and risk, such software can not only eliminate mundane tasks, it can consistently note exceptions and alert personnel to anomalous transactions or potentially fraudulent activities. Data remains secure in the process and, in a cloud-hosted application, managers can receive information and notifications from the ERP system in a timelier fashion than ever before. Implementing automated, streamlined controls and assessments across multiple compliance requirements eliminates duplication and enables greater efficiency. Doing so frees up time to focus on further mitigating strategic risks that can reduce shareholder value. Take the Next Steps toward Radical Transparency What can companies do to move beyond a checkbox approach to compliance and toward radical transparency? Making the shift, according to IDC, needs a four-part plan: Set the right tone from the top of the organization. Upper management should reinforce the “long view” to more strategic and sustainable financial controls, even when the company must address some short-term issues first. Invest in the right technology. Cloud and mobile-ready ERP solutions with integrated risk management solutions can deliver the automation, capabilities, and streamlined workflows you'll need. Create the right risk insight and culture. Use a systematic approach to emphasize risk awareness and compliance innovation across the organization. With better insight into sources of risk and real-time notifications, executives can delegate with more confidence and allow business process owners to take more responsibility for risk management. The result is a risk-aware culture. Find your place in the compliance maturity cycle and aim for a step change.  Understanding “what excellence looks like” can help organizations make the right investments and nimbly skip to it rather than brute force their way up one level at a time. Over time, your organization will move toward a type of compliance that isn't a burden and which delivers new levels of stakeholder trust, operational efficiency, risk management, and cost containment. Want to learn more? Watch the webcast.  

By Aman Desouza, Director of Product Strategy, Risk Management Cloud, Oracle Many finance professionals see compliance as similar to taking a spoonful of castor oil: they've heard it's good for them...

Risk Management & Compliance

5 Steps to GDPR Compliance, and Why It’s Not Too Late to Prepare

GDPR may be just around the corner, but it’s not too late to take control of your data and prepare your organization. Here, we outline five simple steps that can help you get on the path to continuous compliance. 1. Don’t panic! With the deadline for GDPR closing in, it might be tempting to implement as many data protection measures as possible as quickly as possible. While this sense of urgency is warranted, as always a measured and strategic approach is best. Companies first need to understand GDPR, how it applies to them, and exactly what their obligations are. This will give them a clear view of the data management and protection measures they need to address their compliance needs. 2. Centralise your data To better monitor their data, organizations first need to make relevant information easily accessible to all the right people internally. Years of growth and diversification may have left them with disjointed systems and ways of working, making it difficult for individual teams to understand how their data fits in with data from across the organization. This makes customer information almost impossible to track in a cohesive way, which is why it’s crucial to centralise data and ensure it is constantly updated. 3. Build data transparency into your organization The next step for organizations is to facilitate the exchange of information between teams. They draw on more customer data from more touch-points than ever today to help personalise products or services, but this also means the information they collect is spread thinly across the organization. To gain a more accurate view of their data, organizations need to integrate their systems and processes so every team has access to the data they need. 4. Choose consistency and simplicity over breadth With businesses collecting such large volumes of data at such a rapid rate, complexity quickly becomes the enemy of governance. Rather than opting for a breadth of technologies to manage this information, they may want to consider using a single system that sits across the organization and makes data management simple. Cloud-based applications are well-suited to this end, as they allow businesses to centralise both data and data-driven processes, making it easier to track where and how information is being used at all times.  5. Put data protection front-of-mind for employees New technologies can only go so far in making an organization GDPR compliant. As ever, change comes down to employees, culture and processes. Data protection must be baked into the organization’s DNA, from decisions made in the boardroom down to the way service teams interact with customers.   Much of the focus around GDPR has been on the cost organizations will incur if their data ends up in the wrong hands, but it’s worth remembering that above all else the law requires them to show they have the people, processes and technologies in place to protect their information. By following these simple steps organizations can put themselves in a better position to take control of their data.   Learn how Oracle security solutions can help support your response to GDPR.

GDPR may be just around the corner, but it’s not too late to take control of your data and prepare your organization. Here, we outline five simple steps that can help you get on the path to continuous...

Finance Topics & Trends

Why Obsolete Technology Costs More Than You Think

Not too long ago, business leaders liked to say that the only constant in their world was change. That’s still true, but managing change is no longer the biggest business challenge. Today, the challenge is moving faster and more confidently while managing change. Technology-driven disruption now happens at breakneck speed compared with the recent past. Businesses must sprint to keep up with fast-changing variables, but they also must respond strategically when threats or opportunities emerge. Everyone is in a never-ending race to gain an advantage in productivity, profits, and market share. A key part of being in the lead is ensuring the business isn’t running on obsolete technology. A New Focus on Cloud Benefits for the Back Office Battling obsolescence in products, services, and sales channels has always been a part of business. Companies that don’t change quickly enough become irrelevant as competitors scoop up market share with in-demand features or price points. But what about obsolescence in back-office business systems? Could it knock a company out of the race? Business leaders are starting to realize that outdated business systems pose a bigger risk than they used to. These systems have always been expensive to maintain and disruptive to upgrade, but these aren’t the only reasons to replace on-premises applications with cloud solutions. In a recent survey of 400 finance and IT leaders, “staying current on technology” was the top benefit of ERP in the cloud—cited by an overwhelming 81% of respondents. A strong majority of companies (63%) achieved the cost-savings benefits they expected from eliminating hardware and software ownership, but the 8-in-10 endorsement of the cloud elevates the value of SaaS applications to a new level. The survey results are reported in our ERP Top Trends Report, which comments: “The ability to keep up with the unprecedented pace of business change—implementing the latest best practices and innovation on a regular basis—is fairly new for the back office. This is an entirely new phenomenon, in which innovation is rolled out to the finance function several times a year by a cloud provider.” It's as if cloud ERP keeps you refreshed as you race, so that you don’t have to stop to rest and rehydrate. Clearly, business leaders see this as an advantage: 76% said they have plans to use ERP in the cloud. Learn the ERP top trends you need to know. Download the report. But what if your company is not headed in this direction? Building a business case could require quantifying the risks of business system obsolescence, which can be a challenging task—but not an impossible one. IT and Business Leaders: Examine Technology Obsolescence Together Assessing the risk of technology obsolescence requires a broad effort to examine complex processes, according to KPMG, which has published a guide on assessing technology obsolescence. The guide encourages business and IT leaders to work together because it would be too difficult for either group to do it alone: “Many executives are unsure, or even unaware, of the risk obsolescence presents to their technology portfolios. Their uncertainty stems from not having the right data, operating with inconsistent definitions, and dealing with conflicting points of view on need, priority, value, and risk, as many legacy applications have large variation in age and correctness of their documentation.” Ultimately, every company is unique and should therefore design its own assessment method for obsolescence, but KPMG offers a three-pronged baseline as an example that worked well with one of its clients: Analyze and map all components supporting a business process to provide a truer view of end-to-end system performance and cost. Frame technical obsolescence by its operational and financial impacts. Use a common language to communicate the risk. Also, it is important to consider the fast-moving advanced technologies that are shaping the future of business: intelligent automation, predictive analytics, blockchain, and machine learning. Finance applications that incorporate these game-changing—and increasingly essential—technologies are only available in the cloud. This is because the cloud model of regular updates is the only way to ensure that the systems keep up with the rapid pace of technology evolution. Why CFOs Should Champion the End of Technology Obsolescence Many CFOs have embraced the role of change agent and are moving ERP to the cloud to realign back-office systems with the speed and needs of the business. Big gains in productivity and speed can come from consolidating multiple ERP systems into one cloud-based system, and of course TCO is lower for SaaS versus on-premises software. But the most important consideration is the opportunity to never lose ground with obsolete technology again. With this burden lifted, any company can pick up speed against competitors and gain advantage in the race for productivity, profitability, and market share. Find out why 81 percent of respondents value the innovation that comes with ERP cloud. Get the report.

Not too long ago, business leaders liked to say that the only constant in their world was change. That’s still true, but managing change is no longer the biggest business challenge. Today,...

Finance Topics & Trends

How AI and Machine Learning Will Change Manufacturing

By Joakim Johansson Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are revolutionizing the way we manufacture our products and the way we make decisions. Hari Sankar, group vice president, EPM product management at Oracle, shares some of his insights about a fast-arriving future. Oracle is a world leader when it comes to business-related software. As such, they are also at the forefront of the “new industrial revolution” sweeping through the manufacturing industry. I had the opportunity to meet up with Hari Sankar in Stockholm and talk about how new technology will make an impact: “At Oracle, we are always looking at technologies that have a disruptive potential. AI and machine learning change how we do certain things, whether we are talking about the finance function, marketing or the manufacturing of products.” One example that Sankar cites is the ability to counteract machine failures by using machine learning. This leads to significantly reduced machine failures, improved uptime and improved productivity. “With the use of advanced learning algorithms, we can correlate failures with things that are happening in the environment, how the specific machine is used and how maintenance and the lack of maintenance affect the failure rates. People are good at looking at specifics, but we are not very good at seeing patterns. Learning algorithms can tie together factors that are not immediately obvious otherwise.” So, Oracle can help businesses understand the massive amounts of data that are generated?   “Exactly. Because people tend to get overwhelmed by too much data, we tend to use our gut feeling when we make decisions. With machine learning, we can instead sift through data and find correlations. We can take recommendations from an AI engine, tweak it, refine it and make decisions based on facts. What Oracle really does is to deliver capabilities in a way that empowers people.” What is your message to manufacturing companies that hesitate when it comes to adopting the new technologies? “Playing it safe is not going to be the right strategy; just look at the automotive industry. Tesla came out of nowhere, ten years ago there was no Tesla. Today, they are the automotive company that everyone is looking up to and the core of their success is new technology. You need to ask yourself: what is the risk of my competitors adopting disruptive new technologies and passing me?” Sankar explains. At the same time, new technology comes with a big learning curve. That is part of Oracle’s offering: “If you look at machine learning as an example, it is unreasonable for manufacturing businesses to learn the details, but they do know their business processes and how they can benefit from the application of machine learning. Oracle takes the new technologies and we do the heavy lifting where we embed the technologies into our applications. That makes it easier for our customers.” And the bottom line, according to Sankar, is that the change is happening right now:  “More and more data is becoming available in the manufacturing process and this is an area where new capabilities will be developed. We are starting to scratch the surface, but in the near future, every aspect of our businesses will become intelligent.” Learn more about the impact of emerging technologies like AI and machine learning. Download our research.  

By Joakim Johansson Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are revolutionizing the way we manufacture our products and the way we make decisions. Hari Sankar, group vice president, EPM...

Finance Topics & Trends

Oracle CEO Mark Hurd’s Predictions on the Future of ERP Systems

ERP is getting smarter, according to Oracle CEO Mark Hurd. With new innovations coming to finance seemingly faster every day, not keeping up is the same as falling behind. Technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are bringing new capabilities to the finance space, decreasing time spent on routine tasks and lowering TCO. So how will the future of ERP systems integrate these new features? Hurd has some predictions on how enterprise applications will evolve within the Oracle Cloud suite leading into 2020: 1. 80 percent of production apps will be in the cloud For many organizations, staying up to date on the latest technology is the biggest challenge facing them today. Cloud applications eliminate the catch-up fall-behind cycle of updates with the latest and greatest, providing organizations with a competitive advantage. In a recent Oracle survey, 81 percent of respondents cited “Staying current on technology” as a top benefit of ERP cloud. As great as each application is individually, they’re even better when integrated as a full suite, offering seamless interconnectivity of data and workflow processes across applications. As organizations continue to move their applications into the cloud, the benefits will start to snowball as increased connectivity and innovation empower customers to make more informed business choices. 2. 90 percent of all enterprise cloud applications will feature integrated AI capabilities AI has been a hot topic in enterprise technology recently, and it’s easy to understand why when looking at the long-term impact it can have on everything from finance to marketing. When it comes to ERP, AI will make strides in reporting, automating rote processes and delivering fresh information faster than ever before. AI can also assist in compliance, conserving resources and empowering finance with intelligent analysis. Deriving actionable insights from massive collections of data is a fundamental strength of AI and a key component in its ERP utility. Hurd touched on this capability in a conversation with Constellation Research founder Ray Wang, noting that “the intersection of ERP and AI is shifting the way people are buying. They’re not buying a finance system–they’re buying the ability to ask a question.” 3. More than 50 percent of enterprise data will be managed autonomously Sensing a theme yet? Not only does AI increase efficiency, it plays a major role in security. The migration to the cloud is really a return to vertically-integrated technology stacks. The cloud provides a single configuration of software and hardware to be encrypted, patched, and secured. And with the introduction of AI through new services like Oracle Autonomous Database Warehouse Cloud, enterprise applications start to protect themselves, automatically tuning, patching, and monitoring, all without need for human labor—or potential for human error. These are just some of Mark Hurd’s predictions for how the cloud and AI will change the enterprise application landscape. Watch Mark Hurd’s Oracle OpenWorld keynote to hear more about ERP’s inevitable shift to the cloud.

ERP is getting smarter, according to Oracle CEO Mark Hurd. With new innovations coming to finance seemingly faster every day, not keeping up is the same as falling behind. Technologies like artificial...

Finance Topics & Trends

3 Steps for Moving Finance and HR to the Cloud

Did you know that 35 percent of companies have plans to create a shared finance and HR function? That’s according to research conducted by MIT Technology Review Custom and sponsored by Oracle, which reveals that collaboration between these departments is no longer just a cost-saving measure—it’s a strategic necessity. The roles of HR and finance have always been intertwined, but today they are truly converging. CFOs are being asked to take a more active role in defining business strategies, which requires a firm understanding of the company’s talent and resourcing needs. In turn, HR leaders need a clear view of each team’s budgets and strategic priorities if they are to recruit and retain the right people. And both lines of business need the ability to shift gears quickly to keep pace with digital disruption, new business models, and emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, and more. The convergence of finance and HR data is leading teams to consider a unified system in the cloud. Many companies run separate, disconnected HR and finance systems—often on premises, and sometimes from different software vendors. This not only leads to integration challenges, but to a lack of insight—each system has its own record of workforce-related costs, and the two don’t always reconcile. Gain Insight through Collaboration To understand the benefits of unifying finance and HR, let’s consider the case of employee onboarding. When you hire a new employee, there are three actions that you must take: define the person’s role, assign the new person to a manager, and add a line of business/cost center. When finance and HR applications run on a shared cloud platform, each of these steps is quick and easy; there is no need to re-enter the data or wait for IT to map the data across finance and HR systems. A “single person record” defines an employee’s role, data access privileges, reporting hierarchy, and other characteristics, eliminating the need to create and maintain multiple sets of employee records. This global definition is shared by Oracle ERP Cloud and Oracle HCM Cloud—improving data integrity and control.  A connected cloud for HR and finance offers continuous updates and innovations, mobile accessibility from anywhere, and shareable dashboards and reports—which can drive improved collaboration between finance and HR teams. Finance and HR leaders get better insight right away. They can spend more of their time developing and planning strategies to recruit and retain the right people—not only for today, but to meet future business needs. In fact, 31% of survey respondents said that cloud systems give them more time to focus on company strategy. Learn Where and How to Start the Move The benefits sound idyllic; but the reality is, change is hard—and technology projects can be intimidating, especially for line of business leaders. If you want to move finance and HR systems to the cloud, where do you start? The good news is, you can learn from leading companies who have been there before you. In this webcast with AutoZone and Iteris, you’ll hear how they successfully made the move from on-premises finance and HR systems to the cloud. AutoZone modernized its IT environment to achieve immediate results like: 4 times more completed job applications online Enhanced agility to support double-digit growth Iteris moved from Oracle E-Business Suite to Oracle Cloud to achieve: Improved business processes Reduced audit risks Compliance with new ASC 606 regulations You’ll also hear from experts at Hitachi Consulting and Oracle who have partnered on numerous cloud migration projects, and learn best practices for a successful implementation. Please join us to learn how to start your move to a smarter, more collaborative finance and HR function. Register now for the webcast, “3 Steps for Moving Your HR and Finance to the Cloud.” 

Did you know that 35 percent of companies have plans to create a shared finance and HR function? That’s according to research conducted by MIT Technology Review Custom and sponsored by Oracle, which...

Finance Topics & Trends

PwC AI Predictions: Are You Ready for Finance’s Digital Future?

By Mike Baccala, PwC Assurance Innovation Leader & Ed Ponagai, PwC Finance Consulting Principal When it comes to automation and artificial intelligence (AI), the future is now for the CFO. It’s not because AI is upending the structure of the finance labor market; that effect likely won’t be felt for many years, as we point out in our AI predictions for 2018. (See our first prediction: AI will impact employers before it impacts employment.) And it’s not because finance functions are struggling to hire computer science Ph.D.s with machine learning expertise. That’s a deep challenge for many corporations, but it’s not necessarily on the CFO’s plate. The future is now because all finance staff, not coders, need to make a big adjustment. Automation is the future, but professionals are the present. If finance teams stick with the familiar tools they know and love, they won’t be fit for purpose for a finance function built with next-generation technology, such as intelligent process automation (IPA), AI, and beyond. So the finance team is on the critical path to the future of the profession. Not Your Father’s Spreadsheet For finance professionals, the transition to new automation tools and AI will be like the adoption of spreadsheets on PCs in the 1980s. Programs like VisiCalc and Lotus 1-2-3 sparked a mass transition to electronic spreadsheets that left green-striped ledger paper in the dustbin of history. In the process, accountants and other finance professionals learned a new “language” of spreadsheets. By the 1990s, ERP was also the norm. Every finance professional became conversant in spreadsheets and ERP. Today, entire departments—including more than a few financial planning and analysis (FP&A) groups—are made up of spreadsheet jockeys. Even those who use specialized tools also use spreadsheets to fill the “gray space” between applications; they export data from one application to a spreadsheet, manipulate it in some way, and then import to a second application. We’ve all done it.  But we have to get over it. Spreadsheets are going to be tomorrow’s ledger paper. Finance professionals will need to speak the language of data analytics, IPA and AI. Bilingual in Finance and Data The low-hanging fruit is using IPA to automate repetitive tasks, such as transaction processing, and integrating data visualization with analytics. For example, payments have traditionally been a high-touch process requiring scanning of invoices, matching them with purchase orders and eventually issuing payments. Applications like Oracle ERP Cloud use IPA to scan and enter invoices into the system automatically, reducing human effort and error rates. Additionally, it frees up resources to take a more strategic look at vendor management, visualizing the data and identifying key trends from the ERP system. They’re not automating just to make a pretty picture. The right visualizations convey stories very quickly, immediately uncovering patterns that might otherwise have gone unnoticed, such as an unusually high number of postings just below authorization limits in a particular month. Of course, “unusual” doesn’t mean something’s wrong. Auditors and tax professionals make their own judgments on the anomalies, once they’re made aware of them. Humans are still in the loop. Coding and visual design aren’t in the typical skill set of a 2015 accounting graduate. Acquiring analytics-enabled talent will be challenging in the coming years, for all professions. With more analytics-enabled finance talent, it won’t be long before FP&A departments use data science principles to dive more deeply into data from multiple systems. Today, finance professionals spend half their time gathering data rather than analyzing it, according to our Finance Effectiveness Benchmarking Report 2017. In the future, instead of spending time manipulating exported worksheets in pivot tables, they’ll apply critical thinking to the implications of the data and test “what if” scenarios that will improve, say, pricing or inventory decisions. Finance professionals are numbers-oriented and analytical, but that doesn’t mean they’re skilled in IPA, AI, and visualization. They won’t need Ph.D.s in computer science to learn commercial IPA tools or visualization software. But they will need training. Those Who Can, Teach Then, there’s the question of AI. Machines aren’t born smart; they’re built with the capacity to learn. Someone with real expertise has to train them. The judgment that goes into making revenue recognition decisions, for example, aren’t strictly rules-based; it requires years of experience to make determinations, considering the timing of payments, knowledge of contracts, legal interpretations in different jurisdictions, and other factors. That’s something that AI can also accomplish—but not overnight. Training machines is an iterative process in which experts give algorithms feedback to help the machines get smarter. The deeper the functional expertise, the more fine-tuned the feedback becomes and the better the machine learns. Those kinds of teams—accountants side by side with data scientists—are becoming more common. And it’s why we predict AI-savvy specialists like these will be so critical to the success of AI in business—that’s where our prediction on why functional specialists, not techies, will decide the AI talent race, comes in. Finance organizations are adapting to this new staffing and teaming paradigm. And it works: in our experience, we’ve found that CPAs and Ph.D. computer scientists work quite well together. They’re why the future of the finance function comes down to people, not machines.  Read more about PwC’s AI predictions, and look for additional blogs in this series covering other predictions and what they mean for finance professionals.  

By Mike Baccala, PwC Assurance Innovation Leader & Ed Ponagai, PwC Finance Consulting Principal When it comes to automation and artificial intelligence (AI), the future is now for the CFO. It’s not...

Finance Topics & Trends

Want to be a Digital Business? Here are 5 Capabilities that Finance Needs

By Chris Germann, VP, Cloud Applications Strategy, Oracle Digital As Harvard Business Review declared in Nov. 2017, “Your strategy won’t work if you don’t identify the new capabilities you need.” For businesses embracing the potential of digital business, it’s not enough to buy the technology and turn it over to the millennial-run marketing team. Chief executives must own the vision and build critical organizational capabilities that lift the entire organization to compete in the digital economy. Here are five capabilities that you, the CFO, must develop in your organization to drive growth in the digital economy. 1. Have a Vision for “Digital Engagement” with Customers (whether B2B or B2C) The most impressive business transformations to me are those that happen when CEOs and CFOs of "traditional" companies discover new business models, or new ways of creating value for customers and shareholders. The most general example of digital business is retail customer experience. Walking by a store and having a discount coupon pop up as a text message on your phone, for example, combines mobile, physical location data, and analytics of the customer’s buying history. A manufacturing company shipping parts that arrive at the hour specified—not the week or day—uses mobile platforms, complex logistics data and cloud integration which create premium service and highly-valued partnership. But these examples don’t just happen—they are conceived by visionary leaders who see the unlimited opportunity to identify digital engagement, either B2B or B2C, where new value is unlocked or created. Innovative employee engagement and a creative culture further produce the long term vision needed in the new digital universe. 2. Understand Subscription-based Models and the Impact on Your Business In a 2017 McKinsey B2B software purchase decision-maker survey, 92% of businesses are "already in transition," "definitely migrating" or "considering migrating" to subscription-based products. Nucleus Research recently conducted an analysis of the costs of subscription-based cloud services vs. on-premises products. They found that the cloud delivers 3.2x the return on investment over similar on-premises applications. Businesses clearly see this as an opportunity to "right-size" their investment in software and be rid of “complex perpetual contracts, eliminate unused licenses, and negotiate a subscription contract aligned with true needs of the business.” Automatic updates to software, increased security and long term partnership that drives customer success all add to the value received by the customer. At the same time vendors are running to offer subscription based-contracts, enterprises should also be running to acquire the long term financial benefits of this new business model. 3. Live in an “OpEx”-first Accounting World Information-rich industries (e.g., tech, retail, pharma, healthcare, financial services) use subscription-based operating expenses to acquire third-party data  as the lifeblood of new digital products and services. Instead of hard assets or amortized enterprise software, data providers and SaaS application subscriptions become part of the mission-critical flexibility needed to compete and win. If you have access to it, then your competitors have it. It’s not ownership of assets that differentiates information-based businesses today—it’s how fast you can move with the information you can acquire.  Whether it’s fintech companies using consumer data to target certain demographics, or capital-intensive industries (e.g. oil & gas) using geologic data to mine natural resources, the capability of CFOs to strategically transform the business from capitalized to operating expense structures will increase agility and build rapid change into the culture of the enterprise. 4. Have an Integrated Cloud Application Environment For many CFOs, the principle value of the cloud comes from staying up to date on the latest technology and best practices; reducing costs (and risks) associated with running your own computing infrastructure; and delivering flexibility and scalability to business processes. But cloud sprawl—buying numerous cloud-based applications across the enterprise—may actually increase costs in the long term. To further reduce cost and risk, integrated application suites on the same cloud platform (e.g. ERP, HR, CRM) provide consistency for IT operations and business users, as well as reduced overall integration expenses. Engineers in cloud environments spend as much, if not more time reconciling data across multiple cloud environments as they did with on-premises software. So single data models and integrated software platforms reduce long-term integration expenses and free up technology staff to work on value-producing business problems. 5. Foster a Change-driven Corporate Finance Culture All industries are or will be impacted by the merging of physical and virtual worlds. However, some finance organizations move slowly to new technologies and can become a drag on business decision-making. Change will happen to industries as leading companies using digital technologies to disrupt existing business practices and eliminate stagnant competitors. Leading CFOs are embracing the opportunities and gaining new understanding of the role of technology. As Jackie Combine, CFO Tech and Operations at Thomson Reuters wrote in a recent column, “With understanding comes insight, and with insight CFOs can add more value in the boardroom and help drive the technology-related changes needed for firms to stay ahead of their competition.” Contemplating your next move is not an option in this new world. Further, organizations attract top young talent when they are trying new things and striving to overcome inertia. Digitally native and fast-moving companies will have already have these capabilities in their DNA. The challenge for the several hundred thousand other businesses, is to own your vision and establish a financial culture that breeds speed and scalability; digital business requires all areas of the organization, especially finance, to support and sustain the transformation. Cloud delivers 3.2x ROI of on-premises systems: Get the report from Nucleus Research.

By Chris Germann, VP, Cloud Applications Strategy, Oracle Digital As Harvard Business Review declared in Nov. 2017, “Your strategy won’t work if you don’t identify the new capabilities you need.” For...

Financial Management & Reporting

How to Start Your Move to EPM in the Cloud

By Bobby Ellis, Global Practice Lead – EPM, Datavail Last month, Oracle published its annual EPM Top Trends Report. Among the major findings: organizations are moving enterprise performance management to the cloud in record numbers—in large part to avoid upgrading their on-premises systems. In fact, “Avoiding on-premises upgrades” is now the top reason for moving EPM to the cloud, cited by 48% of respondents. Organizations that make the move are realizing significant benefits, including the ability to leapfrog competitors that are still wedded to inefficient spreadsheet-based processes. Yet there are still organizations that are clinging to their on-premises EPM systems—partly because they aren’t sure where to start when moving to the cloud. Best Practices for EPM Cloud Migrations After performing hundreds of Oracle upgrades and migrations for our customers at Datavail, we'd like to think that we know a few things about the best way to go about a cloud migration. Here's a few of our top suggestions: Get help: You're never alone in the move to the cloud. If you have questions, consult your migration partner, your cloud provider, or your industry contacts. The cloud products evolve rapidly and you need a partner who keeps up with the changes. Think long-term: Although the move itself is a significant undertaking, you also need to consider what the post-migration landscape will look like in terms of technical administration and support. Ask questions like, “Who will perform routine administration tasks?” Prepare for change management: It’s a refrain we hear over and over again: the biggest adjustment with the cloud is that it’s updated several times per year by the provider. While this offers significant advantages—including immediate access to the latest innovations, technology and best practices—it’s also a huge change for your staff. Maintain constant communications with your users and your IT teams, to help them adjust to new ways of working. Take time to read through release notes and perform testing before you put the next release into production. Let’s look at a few case studies of companies that have successfully migrated from their on-premises systems to Oracle EPM Cloud. Data Analytics Company Moves from Hyperion to Oracle EPM Cloud One of our clients, a data analytics company that helps consumers better understand their financial situation, was already using a 5-year-old installation of Hyperion. Roughly 25 employees were using the deployment, which included heavy utilization of the workforce planning module. What are the top trends in EPM? Get the report. The client knew that it would have to upgrade soon to continue receiving Oracle Premier Support. With a migration on the horizon, the client also decided that it would switch from Hyperion on-premises to Oracle Enterprise Planning and Budgeting Cloud. Datavail worked with the client on a 3-month migration project, leveraging the client's existing on-premises applications. The client was able to realize all the traditional benefits of a cloud migration: lower IT support costs, mobile access, and automatic patches. In addition, the client realized additional benefits, including an improved user experience, faster calculation times, and access to more granular detail for variance analysis. From Spreadsheets to EPM Cloud: Energy Corporation Another of Datavail's clients, an east coast power and energy company, saw even more dramatic improvements by switching to Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud. Before the migration, the client was using a manual Excel-based process managed by a single person. This individual was responsible for not only preparing Excel templates for two dozen department heads, but also receiving and aggregating the results. By moving to Oracle EPM Cloud, the client hoped to avoid the standard woes of Excel-based processes: wasted time, lack of standardization, and limited reporting capabilities. The client also wanted to take advantage of the positive aspects of the cloud, including less physical infrastructure and fewer upfront costs. The client approached Datavail for a 2-month migration project. Once the upgrade was finished, the client saw major gains in their process efficiency, exactly as they had hoped. Users could enter information directly into the system and automatically aggregate it, without the need for manual data processing. These improvements to efficiency also freed up more time to analyze and gain insights from the data. How to Start the Journey The prospect of moving from on-premises to the cloud can seem daunting, leaving one wondering where to start. You may take comfort in knowing that others have gone before you and benefit from their collective experience. Based on our experience with helping dozens of clients make the transition, we offer the following initial steps to help your organization get started: Engage a Trusted Advisor. From SaaS to PaaS to IaaS, navigating the myriad options when it comes to the cloud can be overwhelming. Partnering with a trusted adviser, who understands the cloud landscape, is critical to a successful cloud migration. Establish a Roadmap. Developing a roadmap for moving your on-premises applications to the cloud is an important part of any cloud strategy. Understanding the impacts to upstream and downstream systems and related considerations is important when deciding which applications to migrate first. Choose the Right Solution. With the number of cloud offerings available, it can be difficult to identify the right one to replace your existing on-premises software. Requesting demos or proofs-of-concept is an effective way to help you understand which offerings may be a good fit. Get Started. The most difficult step in migrating to the cloud is often the first one. Spending too much time deliberating without acting only delays the numerous benefits your organization can reap from moving to the cloud. With benefits including better scalability, higher performance and lower costs, cloud-based computing has become the norm for organizations of all sizes and industries. Indeed, many of the capabilities in Oracle EPM Cloud are now more robust and feature-rich than their on-premises equivalents. Let Us Help Interested in leveraging the benefits of Oracle EPM Cloud for your own organization? We can assist with everything from roadmap development to post-go-live support, including automated regression testing for regular updates. Contact Datavail today for a free consultation about your business needs and objectives so we can help you along the way. Learn more about EPM trends in our annual report.  

By Bobby Ellis, Global Practice Lead – EPM, Datavail Last month, Oracle published its annual EPM Top Trends Report. Among the major findings: organizations are moving enterprise performance management...

Risk Management & Compliance

GDPR: What should CFOs be doing about new compliance rules?

If there’s one aspect of GDPR that is likely to grab the attention of any CFO it is the potentially eye-watering fines organizations could be hit with if they are found to have breached the new data protection regulation. As the gatekeepers for the company finances, and often the boardroom owner of risk management, what CFO isn’t going to sit up and take notice when the sums involved could be up to €20 million or four per cent of annual revenue — whichever is larger? However, CFOs shouldn’t just be sitting in fear, hoping the day never comes when they have to pay out such a fine. There is much they should be doing to ensure their organization is prepared, starting with participation in cross-organization planning and an audit to ensure they understand the types of personal data that is being processed within their organization, where it resides, who has and needs access to it, and how their processing activities are affected by GDPR. For CFOs this process should include reviewing what data they hold, create and preside over with finance. That could include employee information such as payroll or salary data, as well as data held by suppliers, contractors and outsourcers who may report into the CFO. CFOs should be reviewing the contracts they have in place with those suppliers to ensure they are fit for GDPR. The Role of the CFO in GDPR Compliance Another key role of the CFO is ensuring the organization’s compliance efforts are properly funded and resourced. In order to do that, the CFO must understand the cost of compliance and where investment needs to be made in order to ensure it. This may well involve additional budgets for teams such as IT, which will certainly be at the sharp end of GDPR compliance, ensuring data is protected and structured in such a way that the organization can respond to requests from data subjects to provide, modify or delete data. However, to prevent the cost of compliance spiralling, CFOs will also need to ensure they understand which measures are essential and should maintain a cautious cynicism towards some of the requests for additional budget that may cross their desk. “This is needed for GDPR compliance” could be used to push through any number of purchases that may not be essential. This is all the more reason why the CFO needs to ensure they are on top of GDPR and what it means. There is still some uncertainty surrounding what will happen after the GDPR deadline of 25 May. But whatever happens, the CFO needs to be prepared. There are clear opportunities which can arise in a data-driven economy for any organization that improves its data handling and usage practises. CFOs should therefore be weighing the potential upside of GDPR and the way it could help them unlock valuable insights, improve operations, know their customers better and become more responsive to risks and opportunities. However, as a final consideration, CFOs may also choose to plan for the potential downside. For all the planning there may be some organizations who are caught out and hit with fines — or potentially law suits. While they should of course do all they can to ensure that is not their organization, some CFOs may still choose to plan for the worst and put aside funding as an insurance policy against those eye-watering fines. Learn more about how to comply with GDPR regulations.

If there’s one aspect of GDPR that is likely to grab the attention of any CFO it is the potentially eye-watering fines organizations could be hit with if they are found to have breached the new data...

Financial Management & Reporting

How to Move EPM to the Cloud, and Why Now is the Time

  By Jennifer Toomey, Senior Director, Cloud Business Group, Oracle What is a top motivating factor for moving enterprise performance management (EPM) to the cloud? When asked why they decided to move EPM to the cloud, 48% of respondents to our EPM Top Trends survey cited the desire to avoid on-premises upgrades. With systems starting to age, organizations are looking more closely at what’s involved with upgrades, and the cloud offers a compelling alternative. That’s just one juicy nugget that came out of the annual survey. This year, we also asked the question, “What could you do in the cloud that you couldn’t do before?” Here is a short sampling of responses: “Generate a P&L at the press of a button” “Complete forecasts faster” “Dynamic profitability capability" “Produce full monthly reporting packages within 4 days of month end” These customers are realizing that moving to the cloud is not just a lift-and-shift exercise; rather, it’s an opportunity to transform business processes. Reimagine Your EPM Process in the Cloud If you use Hyperion—or any other EPM system—now is the time to take a look at Oracle EPM Cloud. Developed by the same team here at Oracle, it has all the market-leading functionality you’ve come to know and appreciate in Hyperion—yet has been rebuilt from the ground up to run in the cloud. This offers several advantages, including: Higher ROI and lower TCO The ability to leverage always-current best practices Regular updates, making the latest technologies readily available as they are rolled out This last point proved especially advantageous to the respondents in our EPM Trends survey. When asked about the benefits of EPM Cloud, an astonishing 89% cited “Staying current on technology”—far ahead of any of the other benefits cited. Organizations found that the competitive advantage offered by always-new technology outweighed everything else.  Oracle EPM Cloud represents the next generation of EPM for finance and incorporates advanced technologies such as AI, machine learning, and process automation so finance can spend more time on decision making and strategic input to operational lines of business. Oracle EPM Cloud offers the opportunity to re-invent your processes, empowering business users in a way that was not previously practical, and enables a more agile organization. Migrating from On-premises Hyperion to EPM Cloud But how do you manage a move to the cloud? Financial Executives International (FEI) and Oracle are hosting a webcast with ATCO to answer this and other questions. You’ll learn about making the business case for change, migration considerations, product considerations, and options available for moving to Oracle EPM Cloud. Key takeaways include: How Oracle EPM Cloud reduces total cost of ownership How you can leverage best practices in the cloud to improve your business processes How EPM Cloud provides greater agility in core finance functions How customers like ATCO have migrated from Hyperion to EPM Cloud and lessons learned  Join us for this insightful webcast to learn how Oracle EPM Cloud can help your finance organization achieve new levels of meaningful insight, and gain a competitive advantage with always-up-to-date technology. Register now for the FEI webinar, Migrating your On-premises Hyperion Solution to Oracle EPM Cloud.

  By Jennifer Toomey, Senior Director, Cloud Business Group, Oracle What is a top motivating factor for moving enterprise performance management (EPM) to the cloud? When asked why they decided to move...

Financial Management & Reporting

6 Things You Need for an Easier, Faster Financial Close

By Shyam Bansal, Fujitsu How painful is your financial close process? If you’re like many companies, it’s probably more painful than you’d like it to be. Regulators and stakeholders are putting more pressure on businesses to speed up the close and reporting process. However, most companies are struggling to meet these demands because of fragmented data sources and manual work-arounds. As a result, we see more and more companies looking at cloud solutions to drive a consolidated, end-to-end approach; a recent Oracle survey found that more than half of respondents plan to move consolidation and close to the cloud. If you’re dealing with stacked deadlines, an overload of spreadsheets, and more manual interventions than you can track, here are the top six priorities you should consider when looking at cloud-based financial close solutions. 1. An End-to-End Solution The most effective way to speed close and reporting processes is to consolidate all of your financial close processes into a single, end-to-end solution. Ideally, you also want complete visibility across all of your data sources and third-party applications, regardless of currency, hierarchy, or entity. 2. Out-of-the-Box Functionality If your organization is looking for robust automation, then look for a cloud solution with pre-configured, out-of-the-box standard calculations, dimensions, dashboards, and reports. 3. Built-In Best Practices Best practices are a key principle of cloud solutions. Therefore, it’s imperative that you select a cloud-based solution with built-in best practices, such as multi-GAAP functionality that incorporates both U.S. GAAP and IFRS guidelines. You also want a solution with pre-built reporting capabilities, like balance sheet, cash flow, and income statements. Learn the top trends in enterprise performance management. To meet regulatory requirements, look for a strong compliance framework that includes segregation of duties, auditing, user activity logs, and highly secure data access rights. Integration with Excel and Outlook is a plus, too, because it means that users can still work in familiar applications. 4. Flexibility While cloud solutions promote standardization with best practices, some organizations might still need their own, individual processes. Therefore, look for flexibility in a cloud solution—ideally one that offers additional pre-seeded dimensions, financial reports, ratio analyses, translations, as well as elimination and consolidation rules. If your company doesn’t plan to use the built-in multi-GAAP functionality, you will want a cloud that gives you the flexibility to create custom dimensions to support your specific chart of accounts. 5. Automated Processes Repeatable, automated processes eliminate bottlenecks and nasty surprises. Therefore, look for a solution that allows you to schedule data loads, back-ups, and application activities. A vendor that regularly updates their cloud application with the latest, move innovative capabilities—rolled out quickly to users—is a must, too. 6. A Positive User Experience At the end of the day, your users are the ultimate consumers of your cloud. You want the system to streamline their workloads and make them more efficient and productive. Look for a solution with real-time data dashboards, role-based task and work areas, and a tablet-friendly design for mobile users. Fujitsu’s Recommendation We highly recommend Oracle Financial Consolidation and Close Cloud—part of the Oracle EPM Cloud suite. Oracle has addressed all six priorities in its cloud, enabling organizations to consolidate financial balances and streamline the close process across business functions. Oracle EPM Cloud addresses the extended close, from account reconciliation through to robust reporting. It’s an end-to-end solution that is timely, transparent, and auditable. It also offers the key capabilities of Oracle Hyperion Financial Management in a flexible cloud application. For many companies, the out-of-the-box capabilities of Oracle EPM Cloud meet all of their needs, and those organizations with more complex requirements have found it easy to tailor the solution to meet their specific requirements. At Fujitsu, we have worked with many customers to improve consolidation and close processes. To learn more, visit us at fujitsu.com/oracle. Learn the top trends in EPM. Get the survey results.  

By Shyam Bansal, Fujitsu How painful is your financial close process? If you’re like many companies, it’s probably more painful than you’d like it to be. Regulators and stakeholders are putting more...

Finance Topics & Trends

Education, Cost-Cutting, and the Future of Work

For the first time in a long time, education is high on the public agenda in the United States. Student and teacher walkouts from K12 schools across the country are shining a spotlight on the long, steady decline in public funding. To date, higher education institutions have mostly stayed out of the fray. Yet their challenges are similar to those facing K12 schools. Public funding to colleges and universities continues to be cut in the name of fiscal prudence—leaving institutions scrambling for an ever-shrinking piece of the revenue pie, while costs continue to rise. Unfortunately, higher education institutions can’t wait for public policy to change. Many of them are already worried about the sustainability of their business models. They are looking for ways to cut costs now to help make up for the shortfall. New Methods of Cost Reduction When it comes to reducing costs, technology has always been a go-to solution. In the past, higher education institutions have invested heavily in on-premises systems for finance, HR, and other key lines of business. The resulting automation significantly reduced the need for paperwork and mundane tasks that otherwise would have required more staff. Yet these investments are showing their age. Many were implemented before the advent of mobile and social technologies; in the digital world, students want access to their information anytime, anywhere, via their mobile devices. This is driving many institutions of higher learning to look to the cloud for new software—not only because of its more modern capabilities, but because of its lower total cost of ownership and higher return on investment. Imagining the Future On April 29, the Western Association of College and University Business Officers (WACUBO) kicks off its annual conference in Anaheim, California. The following week, May 6-8, the Association’s counterpart for the southern region, SACUBO, holds its annual meeting in Fort Worth, Texas. Both events offer the chance to learn about the closely-connected issues of rapid technology advancement and the future of the workforce. Thanks to emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, blockchain and more, employers of the future will achieve higher levels of automation than ever. The impact on higher education is expected to be two-fold. One, institutions will be able to drive down costs with unprecedented levels of automation and efficiency—doing more without adding more staff. Two, the demand for higher education could increase. With so many jobs poised for automation, a university or college education will more important than ever to future employability. A Chance to Explore New Solutions We invite you to explore some of these issues at the upcoming events. The conferences give business officers an opportunity to explore trends in higher education and to have meaningful conversations with colleagues. In addition, the business partner showcase is a chance to discuss challenges with knowledgeable partners and explore potential solutions. Oracle is exhibiting at booth 275 at WACUBO and will be presenting a session on “Automating Position Budgeting in a Consistent and Controlled Environment.” At SACUBO, we’ll be at booth 330. This year, a number of sessions qualify as CPE credits—yet another incentive to attend. Registration levels are historically high this year, so sign up now to attend.  Register to attend WACUBO in Anaheim, April 29-May 2 or SACUBO in Fort Worth, May 6-8, 2018.

For the first time in a long time, education is high on the public agenda in the United States. Student and teacher walkouts from K12 schools across the country are shining a spotlight on the long,...

Financial Management & Reporting

Why Your ERP Needs Account Reconciliation in the Cloud

By Tim Gaumont, Director of Product Management, Oracle  Let’s face it: every finance department is being asked to do more, at a faster pace, with fewer resources—even as they handle more complex reporting and analysis.  Typically, finance teams respond in one of two ways. Many of them simply work harder and longer, juggling more spreadsheets, emails, and laborious, manual processes.  The rest decide to automate finance processes using sophisticated cloud software that slashes the time and frustration inherent in manual tasks—all while improving accuracy and security.  Let’s take one prominent example: account reconciliation. The Future is Now: Automated Account Reconciliation The process of reconciling accounts is the leading non-data cause of delay in the financial close. Third-party financial systems (bank records, credit accounts, and so on) don’t provide an automatic method to substantiate the balance reported alongside your general ledger activity. As a result, finance professionals spend inordinate amounts of time trying to reconcile these figures across charts of accounts. Typically, this is done with spreadsheets, emails, and other manual methods. To further complicate the picture, bigger companies (more than $500M in revenue) often have more than one ERP system—meaning even more accounts to reconcile. This is especially true if the company has made acquisitions or opened subsidiaries overseas. Over the past few years, numerous companies have adopted cloud applications specifically designed to automate account reconciliation. These systems automate the preparation of high-volume, labor-intensive reconciliations, execute transaction matching, and provide interactive dashboards to more effectively manage the process. Applications such as Oracle Account Reconciliation Cloud pull in data from disparate systems and accounts and automatically compare transactions. In most cases, transactions can be reconciled automatically; when they can’t, the system alerts someone that a particular transaction needs closer inspection. This allows finance teams to manage the overall reconciliation and compliance process for the entire balance sheet. It also provides a single, more accurate, real-time overview of the financial close position of the organization. Addressing Security Concerns About Finance in the Cloud Many who remain stuck on the spreadsheet treadmill have concerns about the security of cloud-based systems. Yet a spreadsheet-based account reconciliation process is considerably more prone to human error. The problems are well documented: spreadsheets lack internal controls; formulas can be changed by accident or deliberately; templates get ignored; or team members can mistakenly save their work to a network drive where it can’t be found. As for security, spreadsheets are commonly saved on employees’ laptops or flash drives, where they can be lost, stolen, or accessed by unauthorized personnel—and there’s no audit trail of who did what work on the files. A cloud-based application keeps all the data in a single, secure location, ensuring that the right people are monitoring and accessing the data as they should. Tight controls on each record throughout the workflow process limit who can see or edit the in-process or completed work. Once the preparer signs off that a reconciliation is complete, it’s locked down. The system provides a fully documented audit trail that validates the balance at a specific point in time. Gain the Ability to Prioritize Reconciliations by Risk Most people preparing account reconciliations in spreadsheets admit to feeling as if they are drowning. They barely get through the process for one month, then must begin again. There’s no time to measure, monitor and improve the process. With automated reconciliation, the process is managed within a centralized system via interactive dashboards that provide visibility into the progress and status of the assigned tasks: how many are open, late, due today or in next seven days. This offers the ability to prioritize reconciliations by risk. More importantly, by automating the steps of loading and matching, and delivering automated analytics, cloud-based reconciliation frees accountants to focus on handling exceptions. This gives them the time and information they need to identify problems and improve the process. Customers Reduce Reconciliation Time, Gain Visibility An early adopter of automated account reconciliation reported that it had reduced reconciliation time from about five days to one, with 80% of reconciliations in fixed assets closing automatically with no manual intervention. With the new solution, the company reconciled and reported on 16,000 accounts every day of the close process (rather than only once or twice a month), providing improved visibility and accuracy, and enabling it to close in one hour. Another customer recently moved from Blackline’s point solution to Oracle Account Reconciliation Cloud to leverage integration with Oracle ERP Cloud and realized the following benefits: Enhanced data analytics and improved monitoring Flexibility to assign due dates based on risk ratings, which allowed it to control and manage the close cycle and use employee’s time effectively More scalable solution to handle additional interfaces and reconciliations/transactions without additional cost Building the Finance Function of the Future Automation and seamless processing will be the defining standards of next-generation financial systems. Work is already underway to use intelligent process automation to automate the financial close, so that it’s a continuous process rather than a scramble at the end of every period. Automating account reconciliations is the first step along that journey. Once your finance team is freed from the manual tasks that consume so much of their time, CFOs can put their talent and stills to better use: analyzing new business opportunities, developing business plans, and building the finance function of tomorrow, today. Learn more about Oracle Account Reconciliation Cloud, or download the Gartner Magic Quadrant.

By Tim Gaumont, Director of Product Management, Oracle  Let’s face it: every finance department is being asked to do more, at a faster pace, with fewer resources—even as they handle more complex...

Finance Topics & Trends

Finance Game Changers: 3 Reasons to Care About New Technology

By Jarred Boone, Product Marketing Manager, ERP EPM Cloud, Oracle Even with all of the hype around advanced technologies such as blockchain, AI and machine learning, many finance professionals are still struggling to understand the technologies’ potential impact on their jobs. Earlier this month, Oracle hosted the NorCal ERP Cloud Customer Community Day — an event where customers throughout the San Francisco Bay area gathered at Oracle headquarters to learn best practices around the cloud from their peers, as well as how Oracle can help support ERP and EPM cloud customers in their finance modernization efforts. During their keynote session at the event, “Finance Game Changers: How Blockchain, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence are Transforming Finance,” Oracle GVP of product management Hari Sankar, VP of Financials Development Rob Zwiebach, and VP of Adaptive Intelligent Applications Jack Berkowitz discussed how these technologies can be leveraged to make an immediate impact on finance transformation. Why Should Finance Professionals Care About Emerging Technologies? 1. Competition Organizations need to take these technologies seriously because the potential is very compelling. Research shows that frontier companies, or the top 5% of companies in any industry segment, are using emerging technologies to become more highly automated and productive than their competition. And if you’re not a frontier company, you need to be looking to derive competitive advantage by adopting these emerging technologies. Because your best competitor almost certainly is.  2. Quicker Insight, Faster Action Many of these emerging technologies fall squarely in the charter of the finance function. Finance spends way too much time turning data and reports into insight when they should spend most of their time communicating that insight to the business and providing advice on strategy. Artificial intelligence has the potential to automate much of that data analysis, so finance can spend more time taking action. 3. Improved Decision Making These technologies can be powerful tools in decision making and can help improve the quality of decisions made by finance managers and executives by detecting hidden patterns and insights in historical data. These insights can impact a range of decisions: from tactical decisions like which vendor to pay first, to operational decisions like budget reallocations, to strategic decisions like mergers and acquisitions. Finance managers and executives can spend less time chasing data in order to have a deep intuitive understanding of the business, and more time on decision making and strategic input to operational lines of business. These are just a few points discussed. Watch the full session in this video to hear about more use cases for these technologies and the latest innovations in Oracle’s cloud portfolio.  

By Jarred Boone, Product Marketing Manager, ERP EPM Cloud, Oracle Even with all of the hype around advanced technologies such as blockchain, AI and machine learning, many finance professionals...

Finance Topics & Trends

Cloud Delivers 3.2x ROI in New Value Research

A newly published independent analysis has calculated a dramatic increase in the return on investment (ROI) for Software as a Service projects. It found that SaaS applications provide 3.2x the ROI as on-premises software. The new study, “Cloud Now Delivers 3.2 Times More ROI”, was completed by Nucleus Research. It reflects the dramatic momentum of cloud solutions over the last few years, as more organizations discover the benefits of leaving behind their on-premises systems and moving to the cloud. This marks the third in a series of similar studies from Nucleus Research. Their first study, published in 2012, determined an ROI of 1.7x. Four years later the second study showed an increase of 24 percent to 2.1x. The new 3.2x finding is impressive in terms of the percentage increase in less than two years: 50 percent higher than the value calculated in 2016. Get the report from Nucleus Research. Aside from their large and growing population of real company data to support the new calculation, it is worth considering the other factors driving this analysis. Nucleus looked at the baseline differences between cloud and on-premises projects—hardware, licensing, customizations and user adoption—and highlighted the continued improvement in cloud applications, including better design, deployment and delivery. Perhaps most importantly, they noted how concerns about security have all “but faded” as cloud providers invest more in their infrastructures and applications. Nucleus also noted two important calculations typically used when analyzing project investments: payback period and total cost of ownership (TCO). Payback in 7.5 Months A cloud project pays for itself in 7.5 months. This, reports Nucleus, is 9 months less than a typical on-premises project (which can sometimes grow into multi-year efforts). Sometimes firms prefer payback calculations since this value connects an investment over time. For many companies determining a less-than-one-year payback on a technology investment is a huge plus. Projects that require staff time and financial resources spread over years is not a positive or desirable experience. It is easy for big on-premises projects to get very expensive, with mission and scope creep outpacing initially planned deliverables. Lowering the Total Cost of Ownership Nucleus also re-examined their previous calculations, first published in 2016, regarding the TCO of cloud solutions when compared to on-premises systems. They determined that cloud systems cost 2.3x less than on-premises. Some companies prefer to use TCO calculations since this method considers upfront, ongoing, and periodic costs associated with a specific technology or project. TCO calculations also better account for unexpected circumstances after the initial investment is completed and the project is in production. These values can be used to better compare other technology costs, such as soft and hard ancillary expenses. With a currency-based value, finance professionals and company leadership across the C-suite can quickly relate comparative costs when viewing different projects. Three Ways to Win the Game When discussing technology investments, companies use different approaches depending on their experiences and project finance methodologies. The Nucleus Research report readily highlights the three most common bases for deciding to approve a project: ROI, TCO and payback. With these three analytical bases loaded, just like in a game of baseball, there is major opportunity to hit home and win big with cloud applications on your team. The new report once again highlights why cloud solutions are the money ball for every enterprise that wants to invest in tomorrow’s ERP, today. Learn more in the Nucleus Research report.

A newly published independent analysis has calculated a dramatic increase in the return on investment (ROI) for Software as a Service projects. It found that SaaS applications provide 3.2x the ROI as...

Finance Topics & Trends

The Future of Shared Services is Intelligent

By Arun Khehar, SVP Applications ECEMEA, Oracle Companies have always viewed shared services as cost centres and looked for ways to make them more efficient. The ultimate goal is to convert shared services into a value generator, or at the very least keep the cost of running them to a bare minimum. Why invest heavily in routine tasks that are of marginal strategic value to the business? But while companies have made significant leaps in recent years, the time and money required to run these operations continues to dwarf the returns. Enter intelligent process automation. IPA marks a major leap in the quest to optimise shared services. IPA is Changing Everything Unlike the mechanical robots used in manufacturing, the virtual “bots” used in automation software are designed to mimic human keystrokes at a computer—which means they can handle clerical jobs, more quickly and accurately, at a lower cost. Learn the about the new vision for shared services in our ebook. For years, businesses have been chasing a nirvana state of “lights-off” processing for routine tasks, but haven’t been able to shake the enormous time investment required to manage even the simplest tasks. The advent of AI, chatbots and other forms of “intelligence” has finally put companies in a position to clear this hurdle. When you add AI (artificial or adaptive intelligence) to routine processes, the software is no longer driven by pre-defined rules. Instead, adaptive algorithms learn as they go, becoming smarter and more efficient over time. Adding AI to the Mix Think about account reconciliations, for example. Today, most companies’ accounting staff spend a fair bit of time performing reconciliations across systems. In very large corporations, it’s not uncommon for people to reconcile thousands or tens of thousands of transactions—across ledger and bank, ledger and sub-ledger, and other transactions across different systems—some internal, some external. Many of the mismatched reconciliations follow standard patterns: an entry was made twice, or with a negative sign instead of a positive. By using AI and machine learning to recognize and handle these patterns, IPA can automate up to 80 percent of these reconciliations. In some cases, IPA will prompt you to review and sign off on the pattern it has identified. If you click “approve” enough times, the software will learn from this and ask if you’d like future situations to be approved automatically. Once that’s done, you won’t need to reconcile such discrepancies; the software will do it automatically. This will allow your people to focus on the 20% of reconciliations that are more complex and require human judgment. A true, touchless approach to shared services is still some time away for most companies, however. They must apply rigour when standardizing their processes; otherwise, applying IPA to shared services will only result in automating bad decisions. Automation shows its true value when it influences human decision-making for the good of the organization. Oracle Adaptive Intelligent Applications for ERP is an early example of this concept in practice. The application monitors supplier invoices for those that offer discounts for early payment and flags these opportunities so that finance teams can better prioritise their payments. From Cost Centre to Value Generator The cost-savings associated with IPA are enormously attractive. Some estimates suggest automated services will cost just 10% of what it costs for people to do the same work. IPA will undoubtedly reduce the shared services workforce, as it becomes possible for business users to find information through self-service technologies or by speaking with a chatbot. At the same time, however, shared services workers will have the opportunity to step out from the back office and offer more strategic support with more value-added activities. Some good examples of this can be seen here at Oracle. We recently established a shared services team in Cairo that supports our sales force with research, presentations and demos to help close deals. We have another centre in Romania that supports sales and marketing efforts with customer referencing programs, as well as managing social media channels. These shared services activities are not focused on routine transaction processing. They perform high-value, strategic tasks that are critical to the success of our business. There is likely to be a similar evolution among finance shared services, as IPA eventually executes most transactions. Finance staff can focus on more strategic activities, such as FP&A, data analysis, and answering “what if” questions for finance leadership. Their skills will be relied upon by senior leadership looking to identify the next market opportunity or acquisition. The future of shared services is not just intelligent. It’s strategic. Learn more about the future of shared services in our ebook.

By Arun Khehar, SVP Applications ECEMEA, Oracle Companies have always viewed shared services as cost centres and looked for ways to make them more efficient. The ultimate goal is to convert shared...

Risk Management & Compliance

What is GDPR? The EU General Data Protection Regulation Explained

By Alessandro Vallega, Security and GDPR Business Development Director, Oracle EMEA The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect on 25 May 2018. For those still getting to grips with what it means, let me answer some frequently asked questions. What is GDPR? The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect on 25 May 2018. It applies to all organizations inside the EU and any outside who handle and process data of EU residents. It is intended to strengthen data protection and give people greater control over how their personal information is used, stored and shared by organizations who have access to it, from employers to companies whose products and services they buy or use. GDPR also requires organizations to have in place technical and organizational security controls designed to prevent data loss, information leaks, or other unauthorized use of data. Why is GDPR being introduced? The EU has had data protection laws in place for over 20 years. However, in that time, the level of personal information in circulation has grown dramatically, and so have the different channels through which personal information is being collected, shared and handled. As the volume and potential value of data has increased, so has the risk of it falling into the wrong hands, or being used in ways the user hasn’t consented to. GDPR is intended to bring fresh rigour to the way organizations protect the data of EU citizens, while giving citizens greater control over how companies use their data. What should organizations do to comply with GDPR? GDPR does not come with a checklist of actions businesses must take, or specific measures or technologies they must have in place. It takes a "what," not "how" approach, setting out standards of data handling, security and use that organizations must be able to demonstrate compliance with. Given the operational and legal complexities involved, organizations may want to consult with their legal adviser to develop and implement a compliance plan. For example, while GDPR strictly speaking does not mandate any specific security controls, it does encourage business to consider practices such as data encryption, and more generally requires businesses to have in place appropriate controls regarding who can access the data and be able to provide assurances that data is adequately protected. It also states businesses must be able to comply with requests from individuals to remove or amend data. But it is up to organizations how they meet these requirements and ultimately it is up to them to determine the most appropriate level of security required for their data operations. What are the penalties for not being compliant with GDPR? If organizations are found to be in breach of GDPR, fines of up to 4% of global annual revenue or €20 million (whichever figure is highest) could potentially be imposed. Furthermore, given how critical personal data is to a great many businesses, the reputational damage could be even more significant, if the public believes an organization is unfit to control or process personal information. Who needs to prepare for GDPR? Any organization based inside or outside the EU that uses personal data from EU citizens, whether as the controller of that data (such as a bank or retailer with customer data) or a third party company handling data in the service of a data controller (such as a technology company hosting customer data in a data centre), depending on their respective roles and control over the data they handle. What personal information is covered by GDPR? GDPR is designed to give people greater control over personal information which may include direct or "real world" identifiers, such as name and address or employment details, but may also include indirect or less obvious geolocation data or IP address data which could make a person identifiable. Is GDPR bad for businesses? Complying with any new regulation may bring additional work and expense, but GDPR also gives organisations an opportunity to improve the way they handle data and bring their processes up to speed for new digital ways of working. We are living in a data-driven economy. Organizations need to give consumers the confidence to share data and engage with more online services. Following the requirements of GDPR can help in that regard. Who should be in charge of GDPR? GDPR compliance must be a team effort. It is not something that can be achieved in, or by, one part of the organization. Ultimately, its importance is such that CEOs should be pushing their teams and appointed owners across the business to ensure compliance. Almost every part of a business uses and holds data and it only takes one part of the business to be out of alignment for compliance efforts to fail. How can Oracle help with GDPR compliance? Oracle has always been a data company and takes very seriously our role in helping organizations use their data in more effective, more secure ways. We have more than 40 years of experience in the design and development of secure database management, data protection, and security solutions. Oracle Cloud solutions are used by leading businesses in 175 countries and we already work with customers in many heavily regulated industries. We can help customers better manage, secure and share their data with confidence. Learn more about GDPR requirements and compliance.

By Alessandro Vallega, Security and GDPR Business Development Director, Oracle EMEA The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect on 25 May 2018. For those still getting to grips...

Finance Topics & Trends

How High Tech Can Profit from the Coming Productivity Boom

By Kevin Sullivan, Partner, PwC A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting next to Dr. Michael Mandel over dinner at Modern Finance Experience in New York. Dr. Mandel is a senior fellow at the Mack Institute for Innovation Management at the Wharton School, and the author of a new research report entitled Intelligent Finance: How CFOs Can Lead the Coming Productivity Boom.  I was immediately drawn into a conversation with Mandel about the study, which asserts that cloud services are poised to boost U.S. GDP by $2 trillion over the next decade. Furthermore, CFOs will be key to creating this massive value generation. Now, $2 trillion is a huge number, so I asked him to break it down. In a nutshell, the study shows that cloud services give underperforming companies equal access to world-class business capabilities, empowering them to close the productivity gap with the market leaders—or frontier firms—in each industry. Learn how CFOs are poised to lead the coming boom. Get the research. By the end of the dinner I was convinced. We’re really on the cusp of a cloud-driven productivity surge of historic proportions. I see this playing out every day in the industry I specialize in—high technology—where companies with the vision and leadership to embrace cloud have gained the agility to innovate faster, capture new markets, and chase down the front runners. I also see companies that, for a variety of reasons, remain stuck in the on-premises world—and many are hurting because of it. Often, these are companies that have made large investments in legacy technologies and are determined to make them work in an industry that is rapidly shifting to new subscription-based, agile business models.   I can sympathize with the on-premises dilemma; legacy IT systems are massively expensive and heavily customized. Treating these investments as sunk costs can be a hard pill to swallow. But I firmly believe high-tech companies will need to make the transition to cloud or face growing headwinds in their markets. The reason is simple: only cloud offers the kinds of capabilities that allow companies to make the necessary transition to next-generation business models. For example, the next generation of configure-price-quote (CPQ) systems (which enable new pricing and bundling models) are only available in the cloud. More crucially, the cloud puts a constantly evolving set of innovative technologies at your fingertips—everything from predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to machine learning and game-changing IoT applications. Get to Cloud Faster to Outpace Competitors   Remember, the cloud is not just about cutting costs or implementing more efficient processes. It’s about differentiating, about enhancing your ability to enter new markets, and about seizing growth and profit opportunities. What’s more, as new capabilities are pushed to the cloud, businesses can further separate themselves from the pack. The cloud, as we often say, is a journey; it’s not about what you can do today, but what you can do in six months, a year, or five years from now. Some enterprises start their journeys around the “edge” of the business, choosing to move selected applications to the cloud in piecemeal fashion. They might start by connecting Oracle EPM Cloud to their existing ERP system, letting them run better reporting, analytics, planning and budgeting. But I see companies reaping even bigger productivity gains when they take a bolder course by transforming all of their core business systems. One of our high-tech clients recently decided to forego upgrading to the latest on-premises technology and instead moved the whole enterprise to the cloud—including sales, finance, pricing and quoting, supply chain, and HR—in a single leap. As one of their executives said, “If we can get to the cloud faster than the competition, we can outpace them.” More and more, I find that companies that choose to cut their ties to legacy environments are rewarded with higher growth and profitability. And Dr. Mandel’s research bears this out. CFOs Taking the Lead According to Mandel, CFOs can play a leading role in driving the coming productivity boom—and I agree. Almost every day we talk to finance executives who are stepping up to champion their firm’s cloud transformations. Many started their journey with the aim of making finance more efficient, harnessing the power of cloud services to speed up reconciliations and cut costs. But as they automated many of these manual processes, they discovered that they could reassign their finance staff to more value-added tasks, such as helping the business perform better and targeting profitable new ventures. The result: CFOs today are becoming powerful catalysts for change across the enterprise. And they are embracing that role with fervor, taking the finance function beyond its traditional role of “book closer.” Many are extolling the virtues of new cloud-enabled technologies such as intelligent process automation—not just for finance, but for the rest of the enterprise. In their new role, CFOs have become true strategic partners with the business. Change Management Skills Required Of course, when it comes to moving to the cloud, not everybody will be as passionate as the most progressive CFOs. Change can be painful for the business. It requires entirely new ways of doing things that can come as a culture shock to the workforce. Skillful change management will help smooth the transition, and CFOs can help with that. Often, once you show the business what’s possible with cloud services—and the pain it can eliminate—you can win people over pretty quickly. No longer are they trapped in a rigid legacy process that can’t evolve fast enough. Some IT organizations may be threatened by the shift to cloud services, believing—mistakenly—that it means people will lose their jobs. That’s because over the years, traditional IT organizations have become very efficient at “keeping the lights on” in legacy environments and they see that as their primary value. The cloud forces a shift in IT’s value proposition. Instead of keeping the lights on, IT can now work directly with the business to uncover and exploit opportunities for driving efficiency and innovation. At the end of the day, that’s a far more rewarding job to have. When it comes to adopting cloud services, Mandel says that high technology has been outpacing industries like retail, healthcare, and manufacturing, which have farther to go to close the productivity gap. Oracle, for example, decided several years ago to transform itself into a cloud company. It revamped its entire business model, switching from selling licensed software to delivering pay-as-you-go services and helping customers realize value as quickly as possible. Perhaps alone among its rivals, Oracle relied exclusively on its own technologies to make the transition, implementing Oracle Cloud services for nearly every aspect of its operations and orchestrating a massive cultural shift in the process. Although high technology firms are setting the pace in terms of productivity, I think there’s tremendous potential to achieve even higher levels of output in our industry. Cloud services accelerate the diffusion of advanced technologies and industry best practices to all companies. Indeed, if frontier firms like Oracle continue to raise the productivity bar, Mandel’s estimate of a $2 trillion GDP boost could turn out to be an understatement. How could cloud services help boost productivity in your business? We’d love to hear from you. Kevin Sullivan is a Partner with PwC specializing in high technology, media and telecommunications industries. He leads the firm’s Oracle technology practice in the United States. Visit pwc.com/oracle for more information on PwC’s Predictable Value Services, outcome driven transformation enabled by Oracle technology. Learn more about the $2 trillion opportunity.    

By Kevin Sullivan, Partner, PwC A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting next to Dr. Michael Mandel over dinner at Modern Finance Experience in New York. Dr. Mandel is a senior fellow at the Mack...

Finance Topics & Trends

Curious Questions Asked and Answered in our Latest #OracleChat

What do crusty old bread, jumping off a cliff, King Canute have to do with financial services? They were all part of our #OracleChat conversation with Chris Skinner, chairman of the Financial Services club, Chuck Hollis, senior vice president and technologist at Oracle and Mark Smedley, vice president, financial services at Oracle. Our chat kicked off with how two of the fastest growing emerging technologies, blockchain and artificial intelligence are being leveraged by financial institutions today. And the need for speed Chris and Chuck both pointed out. It’s not easy as banks are starting to commit to innovation. There was quite the debate between our panelists when it came to justifying and investing in new technologies. Start over from scratch, build new, what should banks do to compete? The most burning question I had for the panelists was, is the next wave of talent and business competition going to be against machines in this era of digitization? Luckily, both Chris and Mark agreed, that there are other jobs in fintech, blockchain and AI being created every day. As Mark said, machines are definitely no substitution for smart people.  I wrapped up the chat with a final question to our panelists on what their predictions for financial services in 2018 and beyond. We were very honored to have BBVA, leading innovative bank chime in on their focus and thoughts of the next banking evolution. Chris Skinner said it best, "Battle will be all about data intimacy and the banks that are the most clever with data will win." What a true pleasure it was to moderate the Apr 9 #OracleChat with this panel of fearless leaders.  Where do you plan to focus on as financial services continue to evolve? Are you on the path to digital leadership and becoming a digital leader? If you missed our live #OracleChat, take a look at the moment we saved with highlights.

What do crusty old bread, jumping off a cliff, King Canute have to do with financial services? They were all part of our #OracleChat conversation with Chris Skinner, chairman of the Financial Services...

Finance Topics & Trends

Next-Generation Financials with Intelligent Process Automation

  By Sarosh Khan, Oracle ERP and Supply Chain Cloud Leader at IBM In today’s digital business world, industry leaders are facing challenges from digital disruptors. According to the IBM Global C-suite Study, a major shift in the way companies conduct business has occurred practically overnight. Just a few years ago, it was easy to see new competitors coming. Now, they can come from anywhere, at any time, before you even have the opportunity to react. To adapt to this new reality, industry leaders must add innovative technologies to enable new and better business models. This process is known as digital transformation. In the finance realm, one of the best opportunities for digital transformation is through the adoption of intelligent process automation (IPA) technology. Oracle ERP Cloud (including Oracle EPM Cloud) provides the ideal platform on which to deploy IPA and other transformative technologies. Understanding the Benefits of Intelligent Process Automation The capabilities offered by IPA on Oracle ERP Cloud include driving cost savings, increasing consistency, ensuring security, and maximizing business productivity. Simply put, IPA involves deploying “virtual engineers” capable of performing the repetitive, low-value financial processes that would otherwise have to be performed by humans. For many, the word “automation” conjures up images of human workers being replaced by machines. In fact, when it comes to IPA in finance, nothing could be further from the truth. Rather than replacing humans, IPA unleashes them; it removes the need to perform repetitive, low-value tasks, which makes employees more productive, and gives them time to focus on more value-added work. Intelligent process automation is supported by a rules-based engine that becomes smarter over time through the application of machine learning technology. Taking the human touch out of the equation helps ensure that financial processes are completed as quickly as possible, without the possibility for human error. Removing this possibility helps keep data and systems secure, as human error is a major source of risk. In addition, applying business rules consistently across all transactions—something that no human could ever be expected to do—can help ensure compliance with all applicable financial regulations. Financial Use Cases for Intelligent Process Automation The built-in IPA capabilities of Oracle ERP Cloud allow you to automate digital processes, which helps drive better results across a number of finance use cases. Examples include: IPA for Accounts Payable Within the payables function, IPA is available to streamline the invoice-to-pay process. When a company receives an invoice from a supplier, employees perform numerous manual steps, including categorizing the invoice, checking it for accuracy, getting the necessary approvals, entering it into the accounting system, and finally, delivering payment to the supplier. Each one of these manual steps represents friction that prevents the invoice from being processed as quickly as it could be. In addition, each step adds the potential for human error. Automated tools can perform all the tasks that humans would normally perform—from receiving invoices to sending payment—quicker and more consistently. In turn, this allows you to create an efficient, value-driven supply chain, based on satisfied suppliers who get paid on time. IPA for Cash Reconciliation and Settlement Cash reconciliation is another example of something that isn’t the most value-added task. Still, it needs to be done, and it needs to be done right. Rather than requiring employees to manually check and match transactions—hoping they get everything right—IPA for accounts payable, cash reconciliation and settlement allows this to happen automatically. While some transactions may require human validation, businesses can feel confident automating reconciliation for the vast majority of transactions. This can contribute to a smoother end-of-period closing process; as the end of a week, month or quarter approaches, automated tools can perform reconciliation for all transactions that took place during that period, and then turn out the needed reports and analysis. IPA for Financial Data Loads When you depend on manual data loads to get your financial data into the appropriate systems, you’re creating a bottleneck that can prevent you from using that data to its fullest potential for analysis and planning purposes. In addition, you’re creating yet another opportunity for human error, preventing you from feeling completely confident in the accuracy of your data. With IPA tools, your financial data simply gets where it needs to be without you even having to worry about it. Another related use case would be for customers with multiple sources and third-party ERP systems that feed into the general ledger. In this case, Oracle Accounting Hub Cloud can be used to centralize accounting rules, transforming and automating the G/L feeds. Learn More What would your employees be able to accomplish if you could automate some of their most time-intensive tasks? Now’s your chance to find out. Check out the IBM Oracle Cloud Impact Assessment to learn more about how we’re helping businesses make their move to the cloud, paving the way for them to capitalize on groundbreaking technologies like intelligent process automation. IBM will also be attending and presenting at COLLABORATE 18, April 22-26 in Las Vegas. We invite you to connect with us at the event and attend our speaker sessions to learn more about intelligent process automation and other transformational technologies. Learn more at ibm.com/oracle.

  By Sarosh Khan, Oracle ERP and Supply Chain Cloud Leader at IBM In today’s digital business world, industry leaders are facing challenges from digital disruptors. According to the IBM Global C-suite...

Finance Topics & Trends

Want to Learn the Latest on Innovative Tech? COLLABORATE!

By Wincy Ip, Global User Groups, Communications and Content, Oracle Does your finance team use Oracle E-Business Suite, JD Edwards, PeopleSoft or Hyperion? Are you using or interested in exploring Oracle ERP Cloud or EPM Cloud? Then you won't want to miss COLLABORATE 2018. As Oracle Cloud solutions continue to expand across software-, platform-, and infrastructure-as-a-service, customers are eagerly evaluating how these offerings can help transform how they run their businesses. Whether users are looking to modernize their business and optimize with new cloud investments, integrate and extend an existing hybrid environment with their on-premises systems, or build a personalized path to the cloud, COLLABORATE is the annual Oracle user conference where attendees can learn how they can accelerate business innovation and digital transformation with Oracle Cloud. This year at COLLABORATE, nearly half of the 1,200+ sessions will focus on cloud, developer, and emerging technologies to complement Oracle's on-premises solutions. Here's a preview of some of the education available. In the Oracle keynote session on Monday, April 23 at 2:30 p.m., Steve Daheb, Senior Vice President for Oracle Cloud, will illuminate how the Oracle Cloud makes it possible for organizations to develop their own unique path to cloud from wherever they choose—SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS—and share how organizations have designed their unique journeys. With the introduction of the world's first-ever autonomous database, COLLABORATE attendees will also hear about the exciting developments and get a sneak peek on the Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud, and how Oracle is integrating AI and machine learning into its suite of cloud services to make them fully autonomous and cognitive. These sessions will explore how organizations can benefit from more autonomy in their software, from business users to app developers to database administrators. Additionally, there are more than 500 sessions available that span Oracle's SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS solutions where attendees can learn how Oracle's cloud offerings can accelerate business transformation, increase agility, and optimize security with their existing solutions. Some of these sessions include: Your Journey to Cloud with Choice and Control [Session ID: 109730] Move Your Oracle Workloads to Oracle Cloud: No Pain, Lots of Gain [Session ID: 109430] Oracle Cloud Infrastructure - The Best of On-Premises and Cloud in a Single Infrastructure Solution [Session ID: 112020] Advanced Architectures for Deploying Oracle Applications on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure [Session ID: 107820] Extend and Enhance ERP and Supply Chain with Oracle Cloud Platform [Session ID: 104320] Bitcoin Tech: How Blockchain Helps Extend Boundaries for Enterprise Applications and SaaS [Session ID: 104340] The Next Big Things: AI, Machine Learning, Chatbots, IOT, and Blockchain [Session ID: 110080] COLLABORATE is the largest annual technology and applications forum for the Oracle user community in North America. Taking place on April 22-26 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and hosted by three Oracle user groups — IOUG, OAUG, and Quest International Users Group — the five-day conference will host more than 5,000 attendees in keynotes, sessions, workshops, networking events, and an exhibitor showcase with 200+ vendors. See what COLLABORATE 18 has to offer. You can also review the complete agenda and search by keyword, education track, product line, or business goal. Register at attendcollaborate.com by April 18 and save up to 25% from the onsite registration price.

By Wincy Ip, Global User Groups, Communications and Content, Oracle Does your finance team use Oracle E-Business Suite, JD Edwards, PeopleSoft or Hyperion? Are you using or interested in exploring Oracl...

Finance Topics & Trends

Financial Services and the CFO of the Future

Back when I was still a student, my first part-time job was working as a teller for a big bank. In those days (and I’m dating myself, here) automatic teller machines, or ATMs, were a pretty recent innovation. If fact, they were so recent that only a few branches in my hometown had them. My branch wasn’t one of them. As a student, I typically worked evenings and Saturdays, when there might only be two tellers on staff.  On a busy evening, customers could easily wait 30 minutes or more for service. At the end of the month, when most people got paid, the lineup of customers waiting to cash their paychecks stretched out the front door. How times change. I can’t tell you the last time I was in a bank branch. I can tell you that I walked right up to the teller’s wicket and got service right away. ATMs now perform most routine transactions, and the staff is there mainly to help with less common requests, like exchanging foreign currency. I rarely even go to the ATM, because I hardly ever carry cash. I do nearly all of my banking online, and my iPhone lets me pay for everything I need. The big bank that I worked for is still around, but I don’t bank with them anymore. Why? Because 20 years ago, an upstart competitor was first to market with online banking. So I switched. I’ve been with that upstart bank ever since. The CFO’s Role in Driving Innovation My story is probably one that every CFO is familiar with—and it’s one they hate to hear. Financial services institutions are under tremendous pressure from competitors who are first to market with new products and services. These institutions have a choice: innovate, or lose customers to those who do. In this hyper-competitive environment, CFOs play a pivotal role in defining the future of their organization. Part of the reason is that many of the hottest new technologies fall squarely into the charter of the finance function. For example, blockchain (distributed ledger technology) promises to revolutionize the management of financial assets, supply chains, healthcare networks, and other value chains. Intelligent process automation is beginning to automate many routine finance tasks, from fraud detection and internal audits to the financial close. In fact, new research indicates that CFOs are poised to lead a productivity boom of up to $2 trillion over the next decade. This makes CFOs the natural champions to drive innovation and productivity gains—not only within their own departments, but across the entire organization. In a webcast with American Banker, you’ll hear from industry experts who will take a closer look at some of these new, emerging technologies, and how financial services institutions can leverage them to build a digital business. Cutting-edge technologies are already helping finance leaders to be more efficient, transparent and compliant, and to reduce risk in their journey to digital transformation. Please join us with American Banker to hear about practical applications and use cases, where to begin, and how best to get there. Register now for the American Banker webcast.

Back when I was still a student, my first part-time job was working as a teller for a big bank. In those days (and I’m dating myself, here) automatic teller machines, or ATMs, were a pretty recent...

Finance Topics & Trends

The End of Technology Obsolescence

They came for the money. They stayed for the innovation. That’s the key finding of our first ERP Top Trends report (a companion to the EPM Top Trends report, which has become an annual tradition). In a survey of more than 400 finance and IT leaders, respondents said they made the move to ERP in the cloud primarily for economic reasons—including the desire to avoid infrastructure investments (45%) and on-premises upgrades (33%), as well as lower TCO (38%). A strong majority of respondents (63%) achieved the economic benefits they initially set out to find. But something surprising emerged from the survey results. When asked about the top benefits of ERP in the cloud, an overwhelming 81% of respondents cited, “Staying current on technology” as the #1 benefit—far outpacing any of the other advantages cited. The ability to keep up with the unprecedented pace of business change—implementing the latest best practices and innovations on a regular basis—is fairly new for the back office. This is an entirely new phenomenon, in which innovation is rolled out to the finance function several times a year by the cloud provider. In the old world of on-premises systems, it is unthinkable to update ERP at such a breakneck pace. Years pass between upgrades—and with every passing year, the risk of the business falling behind competitors grows. With cloud, the risk of technology obsolescence drops to zero—putting the business on a more solidly competitive footing. In our research on Intelligent Finance, Frank Sorrentino, CEO of ConnectOne Bank, echoed this sentiment. “Bankers ask me all the time, ‘How are you running that business, at that size, with that growth rate, with that reputation and with that level of service with as few people as you have?’ We are living in a cloud-based world. And as far as I am concerned, there is no better place to be.” Emerging Technologies Are Set to Transform Finance The cloud is the primary delivery mechanism for new and emerging technologies: blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cognitive computing, intelligent process automation, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Finance professionals are exhibiting a keen interest in these technologies. Roughly 4 out of 10 are already exploring these areas—in keeping with their desire for innovation and new capabilities. Many of these emerging technologies fall squarely into the charter of the finance function. For example, blockchain has a number of use cases that could impact finance and the supply chain, while AI and machine learning can detect patterns in huge data sets that a human being could never uncover, potentially reducing and even correcting for material risks. These technologies have the potential to automate routine transaction processing, eliminate manual tasks, and reduce the likelihood of errors. Such automation will free up finance professionals to spend more time providing forward-looking guidance, uncovering and recommending new opportunities to senior management. It’s Not “Cloud First,  it’s “Cloud Now” With the benefits clearer than ever, cloud ERP has become the new standard for the office of finance. 76 percent of respondents said they have plans to run ERP in the cloud. The discussion is no longer about when to make the move. It’s now. Historically, the perceived effort of migrating a core financial system has left ERP as one of the last technology systems running on premises. Yet the vast majority of companies we surveyed believe that the benefits of such a move outweigh the potential pitfalls; less than one-quarter of respondents (24%) have no plans for cloud ERP (yet). A Regular Cadence of Innovation With the pace of business change accelerating, finance leaders recognize that the technology of the past won’t help them keep up with the competition. Moving to ERP cloud is an opportunity for companies to re-invent and transform their business processes. With the regular cadence of innovation delivered by the cloud, and zero risk of technology obsolescence, finance leaders will be well positioned to help build the business of the future. Learn the top ERP trends you need to know.

They came for the money. They stayed for the innovation. That’s the key finding of our first ERP Top Trends report (a companion to the EPM Top Trends report, which has become an annual tradition). In a...

Risk Management & Compliance

GDPR: Time to See It as an Opportunity, Not a Chore

By Dee Houchen, Senior Marketing Director, ERP/EPM, Oracle When many people think of data-driven businesses, the temptation may be to think of major consumer facing websites, online retailers or social media companies. But the reality is, organisations of all sizes, across all sectors are getting closer to their data in order to improve and personalise the customer experience or the way they work, or to transform whole industries or create new opportunities. The UK’s NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) recently uncovered insights in its data that have helped it improve patient care and uncover nearly £600 million in savings. In India, a new crop of financial institutions have reimagined credit checks for the country’s unbanked population, assessing people for small business loans based on an analysis of their social media data. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) But while the rise of data-driven business models and organisations has made life better for many people it has also raised concerns about how our data is collected, used and managed. This is the major motivation behind the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which aims to raise the standard of data protection in modern businesses and provide consumers with greater transparency and control over how their personal details are used. New regulation can feel like a burden, but organisations should see GDPR as an opportunity to put in place processes and protections that given them the ability to make the most of their data, and give consumers the confidence to keep sharing their data with the organisation. To paraphrase TechUK’s Sue Daly, who joined a panel of data experts to discuss GDPR on the Oracle Business Podcast, we are moving to a world driven by connected devices, the Internet of Things, and new forms of artificial intelligence, and to succeed with these technologies businesses will need the public to trust their approach to managing data. Using Transparency to Differentiate Your Business Transparency can also be a valuable differentiator. Telefónica, one of Spain’s largest telecoms operators, provides advertisers and content providers with anonymous audience insights so they can better tailor their content to individual users. In the interest of transparency, the company publishes the customer data it sends to third parties and gives people the option to opt out of sharing their personal details. Telefónica’s data-driven approach has taken it from strength to strength. Despite currency pressures and a difficult market, the company posted a 23% rise in profits at the end of February 2018. The exchange is mutually beneficial, as it allows the operator to curate the right content for its own customers and provide them with a better user experience. Telefonica has now captured 40% of Spain’s lucrative digital media and advertising market. By comparison, most telcos only contribute to roughly 2% of the advertising value chain, according to Analysys Mason. This perfectly illustrates why businesses should not just wait for GDPR to arrive and do the minimum required in the name of compliance. With major changes come major opportunities, but only for organisations that are proactive and look beyond the short-term regulatory burden. Nina Monckton, Chief Insight Officer at the NHSBSA, who also joined the Oracle Business Podcast panel to discuss GDPR, had this to say: “The trick is to help people see how their data helps your business improve their quality of life. For example, when you explain that their anonymised details can help researchers find cures to serious illnesses, the benefits become much more tangible.” By acting now, companies will guarantee their approach to data is compliant and gain the confidence to continue delighting customers with better, more personalised services. Learn how to speed your path to GDPR compliance.

By Dee Houchen, Senior Marketing Director, ERP/EPM, Oracle When many people think of data-driven businesses, the temptation may be to think of major consumer facing websites, online retailers or social...

Finance Topics & Trends

How Strong is the Case for Moving to EPM to the Cloud?

By Susan Rebner, Datavail It’s a question we hear quite often in our EPM practice: “When is the right time to start moving my finance functions to the cloud?” Based on the results of a recent Oracle survey, it’s now. Business leaders are always looking for new ways to gain a competitive advantage. Oracle’s 2018 survey of enterprise performance management (EPM) trends found that an overwhelming majority are looking to EPM in the cloud to give them that edge. Learn the top EPM trends that you need to know. The cloud represents an excellent opportunity for companies to achieve high performance, scalability and agility at lower costs than on-premises solutions. Major firms—from Kraft Heinz to Mazda to Kellogg's—are moving EPM to the cloud in record numbers. Let’s look at the key drivers and some important considerations for your cloud migration. Why Do Businesses Move to the Cloud? The biggest selling point of the cloud for business leaders is the immediate cost savings that they can realize. The Oracle survey found that cost drivers were the top three reasons cited for moving EPM to the cloud: Want to avoid an on-premises upgrade (48%) Want to avoid infrastructure investment (47%) Lower total cost of ownership (38%) Yet once they had made the move to EPM in the cloud, companies found that the cost benefits—while substantial—were outweighed by the continuous innovation that comes with always being up to date on the latest software. A huge number of respondents—89 percent—cited “Staying current on technology” as a benefit: Staying current on technology (89%) Being able to deploy faster (79%) Increased flexibility (79%) Economic benefits (77%) As indicated in these responses, two other highly important advantages of the cloud are speed and flexibility. Cloud implementation partners can meet a company's needs very quickly, greatly reducing project timelines. Experienced partners such as Datavail have a predefined cloud implementation process and highly skilled EPM resources, allowing our clients to save up to 50 percent in deployment times. And with cloud providers rolling out updates on a regular basis, companies are able to quickly adopt the latest best practices without any lag time. The longer that businesses remain outside the cloud, the more that their IT and finance leaders will continue to be challenged with questions such as: Is an on-premises solution truly the best long-term approach for our company? Will the cloud favorably position us to rapidly exploit the emerging tools, techniques, and technologies that modern organizations use for their financial operations? How long can we stay on premises before our competitors start to leave us in the dust? When Are You Moving to the Cloud? By now, it's no longer a question of whether you should move to the cloud, but rather when you plan on doing it. Once you've decided to migrate to the cloud, here are some important considerations: Applications that are in transition should likely be moved to the cloud first, such as finance applications that are in need of an upgrade or other drastic change. Figure out what your expected ROI is before you make the move so that you have a point of comparison afterwards. By checking your software contracts, you may find that moving to the cloud will significantly cut your licensing costs. Cloud migrations are an excellent time to reevaluate your use of antiquated processes and systems. As your business changes over time thanks to growth and M&A, your finance needs will also evolve. For example, moving to the cloud is the perfect excuse to switch from managing via spreadsheet to a world-class financial solution like Oracle EPM Cloud. Oracle EPM Cloud Leading the market in EPM cloud solutions, Oracle EPM Cloud offers all the benefits of cloud computing with the security and support of a multibillion-dollar organization. Oracle EPM Cloud includes applications to manage various financial processes, including: Planning and Budgeting Account Reconciliation Financial Consolidation and Close Profitability and Cost Management Enterprise Performance Reporting Tax Reporting The case for moving EPM to the cloud is strong—and with more and more companies making the move, it’s getting stronger every day. Finance and IT leaders should begin taking steps to make their processes more efficient and productive, and quickly gain an advantage over their competitors. Those who don’t are certain to be left behind. What are the top EPM trends you need to know? Get the report.

By Susan Rebner, DatavailIt’s a question we hear quite often in our EPM practice: “When is the right time to start moving my finance functions to the cloud?” Based on the results of a recent Oracle...

Financial Management & Reporting

Do You Know Your Profit Winners?

At the 2018 Modern Finance Experience in New York, Christopher Ayotte from Asurion and Brian Deegan from Peloton Group presented a compelling session about Asurion’s allocations and costing journey. What’s so exciting about this? Well, if you are using spreadsheets and are determined to stick with them—probably nothing. But, if you want to transform your business, there is plenty to get excited about. I asked Ayotte what excites his management the most in costing and allocations and his answer was very concise: “Transparency. Having that common language of source and destination, which everyone can understand and use, so that there is no doubt of where costs go.” In today’s business world, you might think that transparency would be a given. Unfortunately, with the number of organizations still using yesterday’s technology, this is often not the case. Who is Asurion? Asurion, LLC is a privately held company based in Nashville, Tennessee that provides insurance for smartphones, tablets, consumer electronics, appliances, satellite receivers and jewelry. If you’ve ever lost or broken your cellphone, chances are you’ve interacted with them. This award-winning company boasts a 4.8-star rating (out of a possible 5 stars) from millions of satisfied customers. Asurion shared that their biggest challenges were a lack of transparency and visibility into cost allocations; analysis capabilities were limited, and it was a slow process. Stakeholders were questioning the validity of outcomes because they could not easily look across product lines and answer the question, “Who are our profit winners?” The process to find this information was painfully slow, and during critical times they could not get the answers in a timely manner. Asurion currently has a hybrid cloud solution. Oracle Profitability and Cost Management runs in the cloud, and they run Oracle Hyperion Financial Management on premises. Hyperion is still their book of record, but Profitability and Cost Management Cloud gives them the visibility they need; plus, they can do journal entry changes for a clean close. “They now have a consistent and repeatable process. Business users can understand it, and there are no 'black box' calculations. They get a name, description and how it will allocate in natural language that includes the steps taken,” said Ayotte. At the end of the process, the text describing the rules used for allocations is there to pull into reports—including all the steps and the why of what is being done. The process is transparent, consistent and understandable. The logic associated with calculating a piece of cost is saved, and you can compare it to historic iterations. “This is a powerful ability; the rules and rule sets are period-specific. You have the transparency to look back and see what changed over time or in a scenario,” said Deegan. There is no more wondering in the future why you made that change, as you can trace the “why” something was changed. “Very insightful, we really like this feature,” said Ayotte. Another major benefit for Asurion is that rule definitions are built in—no coding required. This means that they were able to transition to a shared ownership of the allocation process between FP&A and IT. The user-friendly interface for IT and Finance makes it easy to collaborate and manage changes to reflect evolving business needs. It also means that there is much less maintenance of the allocation solutions and they readily support “what-if” analysis. Now, instead of asking, "What is the system doing?" they can ask, "Is this what we want the system to do?" From 2 Hours to Less than 15 minutes In only 12 weeks, Asurion met all their project goals. They are now able to make decisions faster —it was taking 2 hours to run calculations; now it takes only 15 minutes or less. They can close the books faster and scale calculations across all customers and all products. They can adapt their profitability and cost calculations flexibly and quickly, and the application can grow as they do. Some of the key benefits Asurion experienced: More confidence in decision making Transparency in the calculations and allocations Verifiable results Better decisions from comprehensive product costing, with consistent analysis across customers and product Better management of a growing product footprint Faster decisions, having optimized their processing time by 80% A quicker response time when evaluating options Lessons Learned What did they learn while moving costing and profitability to the cloud? Asurion learned that they should engage a broader audience at their company, talk with them early to help understand a broader value proposition, ensure the right individuals are engaged in the project and at the table early on, for all key decisions. They learned to keep their calculations simple; this ensures the visibility they need, reduces overall model maintenance, and enables more flexibility in the future. Deegan concluded, “Ensure you have the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’ you want to accomplish to ensure you have included the right level of detail and can answer the questions appropriately.” » Can You Identify Your Profit Winners?

At the 2018 Modern Finance Experience in New York, Christopher Ayotte from Asurion and Brian Deegan from Peloton Group presented a compelling session about Asurion’s allocations and costing...

Finance Topics & Trends

The 9 EPM Trends You Need to Know for 2018

By Jennifer Toomey, Senior Director, Cloud Business Group, Oracle Cloud technology has reached an inflection point within the office of finance. In our fifth annual Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) Trends Report, more than half the respondents have moved or will move their EPM processes to the cloud within the next year.  But more striking were the findings around why respondents moved to the cloud vs. the benefits they received. In our survey of more than 400 finance and IT leaders, respondents said they made the move to EPM in the cloud primarily for economic reasons, including avoiding on-premises upgrades, infrastructure investment, and lower TCO.  And while the majority (77%) achieved economic benefits, when asked about the top benefits of EPM in the cloud, 89% of respondents named “staying current on technology”—significantly outweighing the other advantages cited. Learn the 9 EPM Trends you need to know. Importantly, companies are starting to appreciate the benefits of continuous innovation that come with the cloud. Moving to the cloud is not about simply lifting and shifting capabilities from on premises to the cloud; it’s an opportunity to reinvent and transform your business processes, and infuse them with best practices. Trend 1: EPM in the Cloud Is the New Status Quo Within the office of finance, EPM processes have often been the first to move to the cloud, and EPM in the cloud is rapidly becoming the new standard. The pace of adoption is accelerating, with 62 percent of this year’s survey respondents reporting that they are currently running EPM processes in the cloud, or will within the next 12 months. This is up from 46 percent in last year’s survey. Overall, 79 percent of respondents indicate they have plans for EPM in the cloud within the next two years, versus 65 percent in last year’s survey. Trend 2: "Just Say No" to Upgrades What’s driving this shift to EPM cloud? As with our previous EPM trends studies, costs and economic considerations remain key reasons for moving to the cloud, including avoiding infrastructure investments and lowering TCO. But, with systems starting to age, organizations are looking more closely at the pain, complexity, and time involved in upgrading their on-premises software.  Avoiding on-premises upgrades has rapidly risen to the top as the main driver for moving EPM to the cloud (48 percent), up from the second most stated reason (42 percent) last year and sixth place (23 percent) two years ago. Trend 3: Come to Save Money, but Stay for Business Agility While economic drivers lead the reasons to move to the cloud, the benefits realized with EPM cloud go far beyond cost savings. Organizations found that the competitive advantage offered by always-new technology outweighed everything else. Compared with last year’s survey, staying current on technology increased significantly as a benefit (89 percent, up from 75 percent). In this era of digital disruption, organizations need to be nimble, and the cloud offers the agility to rapidly adapt and stay ahead of changing conditions. Moreover, with cloud, the risk of technology obsolescence drops to zero—putting the business on a more solidly competitive footing. This is just a preview of what we found. The full report includes quotes on experiences from EPM cloud users, identifies trends in financial consolidation and close, narrative reporting, profitability and costing, and enterprise data management. It also discusses how EPM cloud helps finance teams adopt best practices, and how they can leverage emerging technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and intelligent process automation to build future-ready finance organizations. Download the complete EPM Trends Report 2018.

By Jennifer Toomey, Senior Director, Cloud Business Group, Oracle Cloud technology has reached an inflection point within the office of finance. In our fifth annual Enterprise Performance Management...

Growth, Mergers & Acquisitions

Growing by Leaps and Bounds in the Cloud

Sim International prides itself on being a full-service production house for some big players in the entertainment game. Their motto, “From first frame to finishing,” covers everything a TV show or movie might need during and after a shoot: studios, cameras, lights, dailies, editing bays, special effects and post-production—even freelance talent. With studios in major locales including Toronto, Vancouver and Los Angeles, Sim’s clients include big names like Netflix, Universal, Warner Brothers, and many more. But despite its global cultural clout, the entertainment industry is a small world. Relationships matter, and landing the business requires cultivating close connections with the power players holding the purse strings. Since 2010, Sim has set about expanding this network—acquiring seven different companies, each with its own culture, leadership, and carefully nurtured client list. That created a hodgepodge of financial systems, accounts and processes—and a lot of visibility challenges for Sim International executives. “Our old individual legacy brands managed their own books with their individual chart of account and separate policies,” said Julie Anne Mong, vice president of financial technology services at Sim International. “We originally had seven systems with separate chart of accounts; in aggregate, we had approximately 5,000 accounts.” The acquired companies were using a variety of software packages to manage their finances, from Quickbooks to Great Plains. During the financial close, each entity had to run its own trial balance on its own software. “These seven individual trial balances would then be aligned as accurately as possible to each other and consolidated in Excel,” Mong continued. “This was very labor intensive and typically took many weeks. If there was any other unusual activity during that period, such as M&A or audits, the close could take months.” In addition to a painful period close, these disparate systems stymied efforts to further grow the business; without a single chart of accounts, it was a labor-intensive process for Sim to look at potential acquisitions and run “what-if” scenarios with any confidence in the numbers. “Typically, by the time the results were available, the data was stale and any agile response opportunities were lost,” said Mong. Breaking Down Silos to Support Growth To support its growth strategy, Sim International decided to turn to the cloud to manage its finances. With help from Gold Standard Management Consulting, Sim International implemented Oracle ERP Cloud as the system of record across its entire business, replacing the siloed financial software from its seven acquisitions. “The big win here is the standardization,” said Mong. “The system forced better fiscal discipline and unification across the divisions. We have adopted unified policies and have improved our internal controls.” Sim implemented a single CoA, reducing the number of accounts from about 5,000 down to 400. “We are on one set of books that aggregates the company data in subledgers and ledgers in a way that allows us to look at information strategically.” That strategic view has proven critical in supporting Sim’s future growth plans. With Oracle EPM Cloud, “we’re able to align to and measure against our corporate strategy to be a full-service entertainment brand. Planning and budgeting allows us to measure our successes, as well as model new opportunities. We have far more data points to leverage and are able to access this information far faster than before.  Both will support our growth strategies.” From an IT perspective, Sim International can now take advantage of world-class security, hardware, availability and redundancy—at a cost available to SMBs. “Sim does not need to have multiple database administrators on staff to support the system,” said Richard Kadeg, president of Gold Standard Management Consulting, Sim’s implementation partner. “Monthly security patching is now part of business testing between Oracle and Sim. The environments are always current on patches and the process is rigorously managed to minimize downtime.” This helps Sim International scale easily, adding more transactions without adding more staff or hardware. The Importance of Change Management Mong said that the technology was the easy part of the project. The toughest challenge was the change management. Leaders from the acquired companies, who were used to running their own businesses on their own software, found it a tough adjustment. For example, simple control changes—such as purchase order requirements for non-capital expenditures—were processes that some found unfamiliar. “We prepared for the changes through frequent communication about the goals of the project, highlighting the alignment with our company strategy,” Mong said about Sim’s change management strategy. They brought key financial stakeholders into the system early to acclimate them. They spoke to stakeholders about why the company needed to standardize and adopt best practices. And, when the cloud went live, they immediately decommissioned the old legacy applications—forcing users to adopt the new system.  Mong notes that change management is still a struggle, but “the system is bringing the discipline.” And it’s supporting the goals that Sim’s CEO laid down at the outset: supporting future growth and absorbing new acquisitions in weeks, rather than months. “The company is maturing by leaps and bounds every month,” Mong notes. “These types of changes require constant vocal and visible executive sponsorship to be successful.” Learn how companies of every size are moving to more intelligent finance. Read our latest research.  

Sim International prides itself on being a full-service production house for some big players in the entertainment game. Their motto, “From first frame to finishing,” covers everything a TV show...

Finance Topics & Trends

Technologies Reshaping Financial Services: Join our #OracleChat

Is cash still king? Not in my pocket! I have zero dollars in my pocket but I have… my phone! Digital currencies, digital deposits and digital investing—financial services have evolved thanks to technology.  Business leaders now have access to the tools and insights they need to make faster, better, data-driven decisions to empower users like me. According to Wealth and Asset Management 2022: The Path to Digital Leadership, leaders report an average of 8.6% increase in revenue by leveraging innovative technologies in their businesses. Pressure to innovate is coming from all directions. With the choice to innovate or lose out to fintechs and other faster-moving competitors, financial services institutions need to identify key areas where emerging technologies can be best adopted to help them meet the needs of increasing consumer excitement and demand. Technology Reshaping Financial Services Technology Reshaping Financial Services: it’s the topic of our upcoming #OracleChat, taking place Wednesday, April 4th at 12pm ET/9 am PT. I will be moderating our Oracle Financial Services Twitter handle (@OracleFS) along with this distinguished panel, including: Chris Skinner (@Chris_Skinner): leading commentator and chairman of the Financial Services Club Mark Smedley (@SmedleyMark1): Vice President, Global Financial Services, Oracle Corporation Chuck Hollis (@ChuckHollis): Senior Vice President and Technologist, Oracle Corporation They’ll share their point of view, success stories and learnings on the development of technology solutions for financial services institutions. To participate in the chat, be sure you follow these steps: Make sure you’re logged into your Twitter account and follow everyone above, especially @OracleFS. Search for the #OracleChat hashtag and click on the “Latest” tab. The Twitter chat will take place on the Oracle Financial Services handle (@OracleFS), and will kick off at 12pm ET/9am PT with questions for discussion. If you need multiple tweets to answer a question, preface each tweet with “1A,” “2A,” etc. in order to make it easier for others to follow along with the conversation. Be sure to use the #OracleChat hashtag at the end of each tweet, so that others can find your contributions to the discussion. Don’t forget to bring your own questions to the #OracleChat. You don’t want to miss this!

Is cash still king? Not in my pocket! I have zero dollars in my pocket but I have… my phone! Digital currencies, digital deposits and digital investing—financial services have evolved thanks...

Finance Topics & Trends

Confused About Cloud? Learn the Fundamentals

By Jarred Boone, Product Marketing Manager, ERP EPM Cloud, Oracle “Prepare for Tomorrow, Today.” That was a major theme at last month’s Modern Finance Experience, running through a number of sessions—including one presented by my colleague, John Killen, as he spoke to a packed audience about the basics of cloud. John started off by defining what exactly we mean by ‘cloud’ and finished by making a compelling case for why organizations need software as a service (SaaS) in order to stay ahead of the competition. First, let’s take a look at the common ERP deployment models we typically see today. On-Premises   Most of us are familiar with this one; it’s the traditional application deployment model. You purchase a permanent license for a set number of seats, and you pay annual fees to the vendor for customer support. The software runs on your hardware, in your data center, which you’re responsible for managing: maintaining, patching, performance tuning, upgrading, etc.  On-premises applications are often heavily customized. It’s common to see 5- to 7-year lags between upgrade cycles, given the large effort involved to get heavily-customized applications up to the most current version. Even then, you might only see technical upgrades for compliance purposes, which don’t provide business users with any new functionality. Hosted Cloud  Hosted cloud has some similarities to an on-premises deployment; it’s often still a license model with annual support fees. The main difference between on premises and hosted cloud is that, with the latter, you’re offloading some of the back-end requirements to someone else. The software runs on the hosting provider’s hardware, in their data center, which they’re responsible for managing.   Each customer’s application deployment, however, can have different versions and settings for supporting tools, databases or other technology; it remains a challenge for the application developer to deliver innovations quickly, given the unique coding and testing requirements for each variation. Furthermore, customizations still exist in this model, so upgrades typically remain difficult and time-consuming—just like on premises.     SaaS SaaS, or software as a service, is radically different from the previous two deployment models. Built from the ground up with a modern architecture, SaaS is a subscription-based cloud model, highly configurable, and includes next-generation applications, support, technology, and infrastructure. The biggest advantage of SaaS is that it’s always current—providing much faster access to innovation, improving business agility, and leveraging configurable best practices. By avoiding customizations in SaaS, customers instead focus on simplifying processes, standardization, centralization, and automation.   Get your step-by-step guide to finding the right cloud for your business. Not only does this shorten implementation times compared to IT traditional projects, but it also helps significantly streamline ongoing maintenance. Updates, patching, and maintenance are taken care of by the SaaS provider in their data centers; you always have access to the latest version of the software to support your business requirements, via your web browser or mobile device (similar to the way that mobile apps for personal use are easily updated with new features periodically).  Why is SaaS the Winner? SaaS comes out on top because it eliminates lengthy on-premises or hosted upgrade cycles. Traditional IT (on-premises) or private cloud (hosted) models have a software release cycle that goes something like this: implement, go live, slide into obsolescence, upgrade, and repeat. Since SaaS is always current (via incremental software release cycles) the upgrade effort is significantly reduced. The risk of running on obsolete technology drops to zero. Additional SaaS benefits include: Access to Innovation. Being always up-to-date allows access to the latest emerging technologies (artificial or adaptive intelligence, machine learning, chatbots, intelligent process automation, blockchain, etc.) as soon as they’re publicly available. (This is also an advantage of running on Oracle Cloud Applications—our R&D budget of $6 billion per year means that we’re already infusing our applications with these new capabilities, ahead of most other cloud providers.) Agility. Change is incremental and quick. More agility = the ability to pivot on a dime as business conditions arise that present new opportunities or threats. Lower TCO. No hardware to purchase or data center to maintain; it’s all included in your monthly subscription fee. Nucleus Research recently found that the TCO of cloud is 52% lower than on-premises applications, and provides 3.2x the ROI. Having a SaaS provider manage your applications also means that your top resources can focus on more strategic, customer facing initiatives. When SaaS? Every company has a different journey to SaaS/cloud, but from what we have seen from existing customers, the triggers or inflections points for organizations transitioning to SaaS fall into three categories. This is not an exhaustive list, but you might recognize your own business in one of these challenges: 1. Operational Efficiency Multi-ERP Rationalization Shared Services Initiative Changing Workforce 2. Agility Operating Model Shift Disruptive Competition Going Mobile 3. Confident Growth Going Global / Expansion M&A Activity Scaling for Growth  In brief, it’s imperative to keep up with the pace of change: you must remain competitive, innovative, and able to meet customer expectations. In order to meet these conditions, organizations must consider SaaS. Fortunately, there is flexibility in how you start modernizing and transforming your business depending on your priorities and appetite for change—either starting small with specific business functions or processes that will add value quickly, addressing an individual subsidiary or acquisition not already part of your corporate platform, or looking to transform your organization more broadly from day one. The choice is yours, and the benefits await! Have more questions about cloud fundamentals? Read our ebook or leave a comment below.

By Jarred Boone, Product Marketing Manager, ERP EPM Cloud, Oracle “Prepare for Tomorrow, Today.” That was a major theme at last month’s Modern Finance Experience, running through a number of...

Risk Management & Compliance

How to Use Data Science and Machine Learning to Reduce Risk

By Emma Yu, Product Marketing Director, Oracle For all of the enthusiasm and intrigue surrounding the field of data science in the last several years, data cleansing usually doesn’t make the news. Yet, did you know that 80% of the time and effort in data science involves cleaning, collecting, and organizing the data? If this is news to you, you’re not alone. Last month at Modern Finance Experience, audience members (primarily from the finance line of business) were surprised to hear this statistic. During their session, “Data Science & Machine Learning Techniques to Automate Financial Controls,” Oracle vice president of product strategy Sid Sinha and vice president of development Reza B’far educated the audience on the basics of data science and its subset, machine learning—examining the processes and challenges involved in using data science to reduce risk. Before companies can use data science to make decisions, they must invest significant effort, time, and expense in data collection and preparation. Oracle Risk Management Cloud has automated these laborious tasks so that organizations can start using advanced analytics right away. Why Should Finance Care About Data Science? Finance is a data-intensive discipline where many tasks can be repetitive and predictable.  Data science can automate many of those routine tasks—especially those involving audit procedures, security, and fraud. However, most finance users rely on desktop tools to access, manipulate and analyze data.  Sinha drew attention to the fact that 86% of companies still use spreadsheets to manage financial and operational risks such as fraud, errors, business policy violations, and compliance. The prevalence of manual, labor-intensive processes exposes organizations to risks (and potential losses) that human beings can easily miss—such as suspicious transactions, inappropriate access, and non-compliance—leading to damaged reputations, data losses, penalties, and cash leakage. Data Science Tackles Risk Risk management is an ideal fit for data science’s cognitive computing capabilities. There are countless use cases for risk management—including identifying duplicate invoices, unusual credit terms, high-risk user access, and ghost employees, to name a few. Sinha and B’far focused on one use case  that helps identify invoices that are created by a user who also created the supplier site—clearly a red flag. Using data science models that can proactively monitor hundreds of transactions and activities, finance users can be alerted to these highly suspicious transactions in a user-friendly dashboard. B’far also spoke about specific data science techniques such as “clustering”—a method in which data records are distributed into clusters with the nearest mean—with the intention of finding patterns that you didn’t know existed. With this method, you could identify a high number of expensed meals by a business unit. Another interesting pattern recognition technique is Benford’s Law, which can help identify anomalies in payments. Benford’s Law states that the frequency distribution of leading digits is predictable; for example, approximately 30 percent of values begin with the digit 1. This helps accurately identify fake expense reports, invoices, and so on, as fraudsters are unable to replicate the natural distribution of leading digits in numbers. Oracle Risk Management Cloud The fantastic news is that Oracle Risk Management Cloud already incorporates the data science and advanced analytic techniques described above, as well as many others. Finance teams can be alerted to suspicious transactions and activities as sophisticated techniques continuously monitor for them, all from within their ERP cloud. Oracle Risk Management Cloud allows CFOs and the office of finance to take control of finance and operational risks, requiring fewer resources to manage these risks and putting more resources to work where it counts. Ultimately, the time and money spent on managing and reacting to risks will decrease, and the focus can shift to autonomously protecting the organization against non-compliance and losses—as well as to strategic risks. Watch our video to learn more about how to enable a risk-aware culture.    

By Emma Yu, Product Marketing Director, Oracle For all of the enthusiasm and intrigue surrounding the field of data science in the last several years, data cleansing usually doesn’t make the news. Yet,...

Finance Topics & Trends

CFOs Poised to Lead a Cloud-Driven Productivity Boom

New research shows that the United States is on the verge of a productivity boom that could add at least $2 trillion to the gross domestic product (GDP) over the next decade. What’s more, CFOs are poised to be critical drivers of this transformation. Blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, cognitive computing, intelligent process automation, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are just some of the technology advances that will accelerate growth, wages, and living standards worldwide, according to Intelligence Finance: How CFOs Can Lead the Coming Productivity Boom. The report’s author, Dr. Michael Mandel, senior fellow at the Mack Institute for Innovation Management at the Wharton School, writes that cloud services are the delivery mechanism for these new technologies. He argues that the low costs and easy availability of cloud services are putting these new, advanced technologies and industry best practices within easy grasp of any company—which will, in turn, boost productivity across multiple industries. Why CFOs Are Positioned to Lead CFOs have always managed a vast amount of their organizations’ most critical data and processes, but several factors are converging to open new leadership opportunities with enterprise-wide impact: New emerging technologies fall squarely into the charter of the finance function. For example, blockchain (distributed ledger technology) promises to revolutionize the management of financial assets, supply chains, healthcare networks, and other value chains; machine learning is beginning to automate many routine finance tasks, from fraud detection and internal audits, to more complex back-office processes. This makes CFOs the natural champions of cloud services to drive productivity gains not only with their departments but across their entire organizations. Cloud and emerging technologies free up finance to be more strategic. As technology automation replaces manual work, CFOs and their teams will have more time and resources to further the higher, more mission-focused goals of their organizations. For example, New-Jersey based community bank ConnectOne Bank has an efficiency ratio of about 40%, compared to a national average of around 60%. That makes it one of the most efficient banks in the country, a fact that ConnectOne CEO Frank Sorrentino attributes to the bank’s use of cloud technology. “Bankers ask me all the time, ‘How are you running that business, at that size, with that growth rate, with that reputation and with that level of service with as few people as you have?’ We are living in a cloud-based world. And as far as I am concerned, there is no better place to be.” Oracle ERP and EPM Cloud helped ConnectOne Bank to cut seven days from monthly closing and saved weeks on regulatory and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission reporting. The cloud sped up audits by 10%, saving ConnectOne Bank thousands of dollars annually in auditor fees. And shifting to the cloud eliminated the need to build and maintain a data center—ultimately ramping up scalability and allowing ConnectOne Bank to continue operating a lean IT team as its business continues to grow. Equally important, the Oracle Cloud provides a direct conduit for ConnectOne Bank to keep up with regulatory and technological changes. As regulations and accounting standards get updated and changed, “then all the software is automatically upgraded,” says Neil Martucci, senior vice president and controller at ConnectOne Bank. “You cannot rely on one person reading about it to make all the necessary changes to the bank.” CFOs are becoming co-pilots of the business. The CFO role is undergoing historic transformation. CEOs and boards are increasingly turning to CFOs to drive strategy and ensure value creation in the digital age. In the Intelligent Finance research, Oracle CEO Safra Catz observes that CFOs are embracing their new role as strategic change agents: “Interestingly, the finance people are often leading the charge of change. You might think that they would be saying, ‘Whoa, I know my existing job, I prefer it the way it was.’ But when I speak publicly about this, it’s the finance people in the audience who are saying, ‘When can we get started?’ They want to help their companies. They can’t wait to start. All of a sudden, they realize that there are modern tools they can use to really help the business.” Cloud-enabled emerging technologies will give the CFO a much broader view of what’s going on across the organization and whether the appropriate metrics are being met—both financial and non-financial metrics alike. How CFOs Can Help Their Organizations Become Future-Ready In his research, Dr. Mandel concludes that a modern, well-functioning cloud platform will be critical to success in the coming years because it enables organizations to “seamlessly add new capabilities and make it much easier for good managers to embrace the future.” One company that is becoming more future-ready through the cloud is The Wonderful Company, a consumer brands business specializing in healthy foods and beverages. The company has grown via multiple acquisitions, and as the number of retail brands in its portfolio grew, so did the number of ERP systems in operation. This made it impossible to get quick answers to basic questions such as how much product was being sold to certain customers. But the company made a transformative change by moving its multiple systems to a single, cloud-based ERP. “We’re standardizing the accounting processes and finance processes across the organization,” says Shannon Castellanos, vice president of finance for Wonderful. “The technology itself and the improvement in process will, without question, improve the efficiency within my group. ‘Dramatically’ would be a word that I would use.” In addition to providing better operational visibility and higher process efficiency, cloud services will enable Wonderful to be better able to keep up with industry leaders. As in other industries, digitalization is disrupting consumer-goods supply chains, so companies like Wonderful must be ready for that disruption. Dr. Mandel reports that such disruption will be ongoing over the next 10 years. “Every company in the distribution chain—makers and marketers of consumer products, trucking companies, retailers—will need to be ready to change the way they do business.” Needless to say, the need for change due to digital disruption is not limited to the retail and consumer package goods industry. In the research report, Mandel illustrates how, over the past decade, the productivity gap between the top performers and everyone else seems to be widening: “The winners just keep pulling ahead, driven by better technology, better management, and better talent.” New cloud-enabled capabilities put the CFO in the right position to advocate for the future. “By implementing a broad array of cloud services, digital technologies, and industry best practices, CFOs can help their enterprises keep pace with industry and global leaders, not just today but in the future,” Mandel writes. These dynamic benefits will be especially important over the next few years; indeed, as global best practices evolve, a modern, well-functioning cloud platform will seamlessly add new capabilities and make it much easier for companies to embrace the future with optimism. Learn more about how CFOs can lead the next wave of prosperity. Get the research.

New research shows that the United States is on the verge of a productivity boom that could add at least $2 trillion to the gross domestic product (GDP)over the next decade. What’s more, CFOs are...

Finance Topics & Trends

Get a Glimpse into the Future of Higher Education

My niece started university this past September at a major Canadian campus. She spent the first two weeks on her mobile phone, rearranging her schedule and switching courses using the university’s mobile app. Many of her friends are attending a smaller university just a few miles away—one that doesn’t provide a mobile app. They spent the first two weeks standing in line at the registrar’s office, and complained bitterly about it. It’s a common refrain from Millennials. Students today expect the same kind of digital experience from their schools as they get from popular consumer brands like SnapChat, Instagram and YouTube. Many institutions of higher learning find it tough to deliver such an experience, due to restricted funding, aging technology, and siloed information and processes. If you want to offer a digital campus that attracts and retains students, your institution should focus on these key areas: 1. Personalize the Student Experience Students arrive on campus with high expectations, and it’s up to faculty and staff to deliver the personalized, connected experience they expect. You’ll need to manage student relationships across channels and devices and meet enrollment goals. If not, students become discouraged and may even leave, taking their tuition revenue with them. 2. Promote Student Success The days of “sink or swim” are over. Today, institutions must focus not only on getting students in the door, but on helping and supporting them throughout their student journey—improving retention, completion, and job placements. Intervene in time to make a difference and keep students on track to achieve their goals. Personalized content and interactions can help students succeed. 3. Foster Institutional Excellence This is where finance and HR teams can potentially make the biggest difference. Having a strong operational structure, along with the right people, is key to meeting your institution's goals. Finding, growing, and retaining the best faculty and staff is a critical part of building a high-performance culture; but you also need to implement best practices, standardize systems, and prudently steward resources. By gaining meaningful insight into those systems and resources, you can increase transparency, improve traceability, and allocate funding to invest in a modern campus. 4. Empower Lifelong Learning Today’s students want a personalized learning experience wherever they go. Your institution needs the ability to curate the right curriculum and services for each student—providing (and gaining) insight into individual and aggregated learning paths and best practices. So where can you learn how to build a modern, digital campus? Join us at Alliance 2018 in Salt Lake City Next week, you’ll have a chance to learn from more than 3,500 of your peers (and competitors) at Alliance 2018, March 25-28 in Salt Lake City. Speakers, attendees and technology providers will gather to share higher ed best practices, and discuss new technologies that can help you build the digital campus of the future. You’ll learn from more than 400 sessions, live demos, workshops and social events, including the opening and closing receptions. Check out the conference highlights for an overview, or the session catalog for a deep dive. Don’t forget to drop by the Oracle booth, #827, right in the center of the vendor solutions hall. We’ll show you the latest Oracle Cloud applications to help you build a modern digital campus, including Oracle Student Cloud, Oracle ERP Cloud, Oracle EPM Cloud and more. We’ll also have information for users of PeopleSoft and other Oracle applications. Don’t miss this chance to learn how to start building a modern campus. See you in Salt Lake City! Register now for Alliance 2018.

My niece started university this past September at a major Canadian campus. She spent the first two weeks on her mobile phone, rearranging her schedule and switching courses using the university’s...

Financial Planning & Analysis

How to Improve Costing, Planning and Reporting in Healthcare

Whether you’re a payer or provider, every healthcare organization needs to manage profit and loss—especially in this era of value-based care. If you want to demonstrate value, you need to know how much you’re spending on patient care and how well that care is working. Healthcare payers need to understand costs to serve different plans, groups, and members. Getting an accurate understanding of profitability by member segment, healthcare plan, and distribution channel is where you can start. Based on this new insight, you can improve your marketing programs through better member segmentation, and make confident operational decisions about plan design and services. Providers must compete on service, portfolio, and brand. Individual procedures alone don’t make a competitive difference anymore; the service and value that come with the procedure are what create a competitive advantage. Finance teams need to sort out the relationship between resources, activities, and revenues to satisfy shareholder demands that the organization is profitable, and payer demands that the care is delivering value by improving patient outcomes. They must also satisfy increasing demands from patients for more price transparency. Learn How to Get a Better View of Allocations To do this, healthcare organizations need a complete and accurate understanding of cost drivers and allocations. Yet the majority of organizations don’t have easy access to this information. They’re stymied by a sprawl of aging, disconnected IT systems from a multitude of technology providers. Finance teams can spend hours upon hours pulling data out of these systems, consolidating it into spreadsheets, and patching it together with formulas that can easily break. The fragility of spreadsheets is well documented, making it tough to have confidence in the numbers. Healthcare organizations need the ability to collect, collate and manipulate granular data for each patient, procedure, and service. They also need the ability to run insightful reports on this data, and plan for future changes based on the insights they uncover. Inefficient allocation, costing, reporting and planning can waste vast amounts of time that should be spent on figuring out the value of care and how to improve it. To learn how to improve costing, planning and reporting, please join us for this HIMSS webcast.  We’ll take a closer look at fine-grained profitability and cost management, including best practices in allocation and costing. You will learn how to:  Accurately allocate costs with a modern, flexible, and scalable allocation engine that supports any methodology; Gain confidence in cost allocations and revenue flows with graphical traceability reports; Strategically allocate resources with accurate profitability and cost information. Register now for the HIMSS webcast.

Whether you’re a payer or provider, every healthcare organization needs to manage profit and loss—especially in this era of value-based care. If you want to demonstrate value, you need to know how...

Financial Planning & Analysis

The Ultimate Question for Financial Planning & Analysis

By Malcolm Brock, Managing Director, Brovanture Watching the recent launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket got me thinking. (Well, the part that revealed Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster with the iconic words “Don’t Panic” on the sat nav.)  It brought back memories of listening to Douglas Adams’s famous story, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, on BBC Radio 4 back in the 1970s. One of the key plot points in the story is the calculation of the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. This got me to thinking about the ultimate—or at least, the really important—questions in business.  (By the way, the answer to these is unlikely to be 42.) So, what is the ultimate question for financial planning and analysis? In my experience it has to be, “What if?”  I am sure you have asked this question yourself, or been asked by someone else, on many occasions. What if: Sales increase by 10%? The exchange rate falls by 5%? We put prices up / down by X%? Competitor Y launches their new product a quarter early? Manufacturing ships late? Development is late with the product update? I could carry on ad infinitum, but I’m sure you get the point. Got questions? Get answers in our EPM guide. The sad fact is, for many FP&A departments, such questions send them into “panic” mode. They have to throw additional staff and long hours at the problem. When they finally get an answer, it might as well be 42; there is little transparency into how they got it, and huge risks that errors are buried in the process and calculations.  The cause behind this mad scramble can usually be traced back to poor processes using inefficient technology: spreadsheets, manual “out of system” calculations, or “black box” legacy systems.  Then it gets worse, because very often the result leads to even more “what if” questions, and the process repeats itself. (At this point, senior management might want to start panicking, too.) The answer to dealing quickly, efficiently and transparently with “what if” questions lies in the application of more modern technology to support a more automated process.  FP&A in the Cloud The good news is, this doesn’t have to be difficult or costly. The latest cloud-based systems for planning, budgeting and forecasting deliver exceptional capabilities like rolling forecasts, statistical modelling and driver-based forecasting. With these solutions, answering the ultimate question becomes much simpler and quicker. Our customer, Maxxium UK, has taken this approach, and now they pull point-of-sale data from some of the UK’s leading supermarkets on a weekly basis. As a result, they can view key supermarket metrics—planning and answering not only their own, but also their retailers’ “what if” questions—to improve the way they work together. If you would like better answers to your “what if” questions, we would love to have a conversation with you about how we can help. As the first fully certified Oracle Cloud Excellence Implementer (CEI) for EPM enterprise planning and budgeting in the UK and Ireland, Brovanture is pleased to be at the forefront of delivering modern planning, budgeting and forecasting to a wide range of commercial and public sector organisations.  Reach out to me on LinkedIn or visit www.brovanture.com for more information. Want to know more? Download Your Complete Guide to Enterprise Performance Management.

By Malcolm Brock, Managing Director, Brovanture Watching the recent launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket got me thinking. (Well, the part that revealed Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster with the iconic...

Financial Planning & Analysis

Why Expand Planning and Budgeting Beyond Finance?

By Malcolm Brock, Managing Director, Brovanture When it comes to premium spirits, Maxxium UK is one of the United Kingdom’s most dynamic and innovative companies. Maxxium’s portfolio of products include immediately recognisable brand names: blended Scotch whiskies like The Famous Grouse, Teacher’s and Cutty Sark; single malts such as The Macallan, Laphroaig, Highland Park and Bowmore; Jim Beam bourbon; and Canadian Club Canadian whisky. We at Brovanture have worked with Maxxium UK for many years, focussing on the delivery of financial reporting. We helped them transition from their on-premises Oracle Essbase system to Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud. In addition to implementing what we would describe as traditional finance solutions, Maxxium UK has moved a stage further and has begun using Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud for sales planning, marketing and customer service. These applications have been developed to provide the whole business with in-depth and useful sales and market knowledge which both drives, and is aligned with, their finance data. For example, you can analyse Nielsen market data against historic performance—helping to create more accurate forecasts with more predictable results. Maxxium UK analyses point-of-sale data from some of the UK’s leading supermarkets on a weekly basis, allowing sales and account managers to view key supermarket metrics through the customer lens. This data can be accessed via tablet, giving Maxxium UK the ability to have more meaningful conversations with retailers around pricing and promotions. The ability to take planning and budgeting beyond finance—into sales planning, marketing or even workforce planning—offers companies an extraordinary platform for growth. By connecting finance and other lines of business, you can remove silos and create a modern partnership approach to the role of finance in businesses today. Brovanture is the first fully certified Oracle Cloud Excellence Implementer (CEI) for EPM Enterprise Planning and Budgeting in the UK and Ireland. We’re pleased to be at the forefront of Oracle’s cloud offerings, delivering market-leading planning and budgeting cloud in the UK and beyond. You can download the full Maxxium UK case study here. If you would like to discuss further, please reach out to me via LinkedIn or visit www.brovanture.com.

By Malcolm Brock, Managing Director, Brovanture When it comes to premium spirits, Maxxium UK is one of the United Kingdom’s most dynamic and innovative companies. Maxxium’s portfolio of products...

Finance Topics & Trends

Where Do You Sit on the Digital Index?

by Arun Khehar, SVP Applications ECEMEA, Oracle Digital technologies are poised to change the future of work. Automation—led by new technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the Internet of Things—could affect 50% of the world economy, according to the 2017 Digital Evolution Index published in Harvard Business Review. The index estimates that more than one billion jobs and $14.6 trillion in wages could be automated by today’s technology. This could open the door to new ways of harnessing human energy and creativity. As HBR notes, “The world’s digital economy stands at a threshold where opportunity and risk stand in balance.” The Digital Evolution Index analyzes the state and rate of digital evolution across 60 countries, dividing their progress into four categories: Stand Out countries are highly digitally advanced and demonstrate high momentum. They are leaders in driving innovation, building on their existing advantages in efficient and effective ways.  Stall Out countries enjoy a high state of digital advancement, but their momentum is slowing and they face challenges sustaining growth. Break Out countries are low-scoring in their current states of digitalization but are evolving rapidly. The high momentum of “Break Out” countries and their significant room for growth make them attractive to investors.  Watch Out countries face significant challenges with their low state of digitalization and low momentum; in some cases, these countries are moving backward in their pace of digitalization. Implications for Business Leaders and Policy Makers The authors advise that “more digital innovators should recognize that public policy is essential to the success of the digital economy.” Countries with high-performing digital sectors, such as those in the EU, typically have had strong government and public involvement in shaping their digital economies; so have high-momentum countries (such the UAE) as well as many “Break Out” countries (including Saudi Arabia). They also note that the drivers for digital momentum vary from nation to nation, “depending on a country’s level of digital evolution and economic advancement.” They recommend that advanced economies prioritize innovation, while developing economies should focus on strengthening their institutions and education systems. And they caution, “The least digitally advanced countries must allocate limited resources wisely. Enabling internet access on mobile phones provides the biggest bang for the buck,” since there are now more people globally with access to a mobile phone than to proper sanitation. Implications for Finance Leaders For finance leaders, there is an unprecedented opportunity to invest in the technologies that support a digital business—beginning with the cloud. The cloud is the primarily delivery mechanism for the latest emerging technologies: AI, machine learning, IoT and more. Moreover, the value of the cloud is that it’s always up to date on the latest technology, thanks to regular updates rolled out by the provider. So whatever the next digital innovation is—whether it’s chatbots, voice recognition, or something nobody has yet imagined—it will be available in ERP and EPM cloud software. For those companies (and countries) that want to lead in a digital world, cloud applications are a necessary starting point. With cloud, the risk of working on obsolete back-office technology is reduced to zero. Organizations that cling to on-premises ERP—which must go through painful (and expensive) upgrades every few years—risk falling even further behind. What steps are you taking to move up the Digital Evolution Index? Leave a comment below.

by Arun Khehar, SVP Applications ECEMEA, Oracle Digital technologies are poised to change the future of work. Automation—led by new technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and...

Finance Topics & Trends

5 Overlooked Advantages of Moving to the Cloud

By Olin West, Managing Director, KPMG Advisory Even though cloud has gone mainstream, replacing an on-premises ERP or HCM application with a cloud system can be a tough sell for some CFOs. Very often, IT cost savings along with the advantages of modern technology are not compelling enough. Some leading-edge companies have looked beyond the horizon to identify some compelling advantages that often go unnoticed by the mainstream. Here are five benefits that we’ve found are commonly overlooked and should be part of your back-office operating plan: 1. Rationalized Finance Moving to the cloud offers a prime opportunity to rationalize your finance operations—which, in the long run, can have a much bigger impact on your business than cutting IT costs. Recently, one of our clients—a top Oracle ERP Cloud customer—justified moving its finance applications to the cloud on the strength of the business changes it could introduce. These included legal entity rationalization, chart of account redesign, streamlined account reconciliation, and improved enterprise performance management.   Calculate the benefits of ERP in the cloud. The business-process changes enabled the company to generate substantial labor savings and turn a marginal business case into a no-brainer. Another client adopted Oracle ERP Cloud not so much for the IT savings but because the technology would enable them to rationalize and consolidate its disparate shared services model. 2. Tax Credits Many CFOs are unaware of the substantial tax breaks available to American companies that invest in the cloud. They’re based on a 1981 U.S. law called the Research and Experimentation tax credit. (In 2015, the credit was made permanent.) According to KPMG research on the tax implications of cloud computing, just 18 percent of tax departments among the 800 companies surveyed were maximizing the benefits of operating in the cloud. (Remember that moving to the cloud means you’re shifting a large portion of your costs from CapEx to OpEx, so that needs to be factored into your tax strategy.) Although the formula is complex and each company’s situation is different, companies can estimate that they will receive a tax credit for about 13 percent of the cost of the project. This could include expenses such as software purchases, employee wages, project implementation, and other research efforts tied to moving your operations to the cloud. At KPMG, we’ve worked with several clients to file for these tax credits as part of their move to the cloud. The savings can be significant. For example, we recently helped a diversified media company gain a $2 million tax credit related to its investment in an Oracle Cloud solution for finance and HR. Learn more about research tax credits here. 3. Automated / Streamlined Compliance Managing business risk and compliance has always been a top priority for CFOs. And it can be an expensive responsibility. The challenge is that many companies have gradually implemented a significant number of manual controls outside the core finance applications. Finance ends up absorbing the cost of administering these controls using spreadsheets, reports, email, and other manual approval tools. Implementing a cloud-based ERP provides companies with the opportunity to take a step back and reevaluate all of the existing controls, roles and segregation of duties. There are often opportunities to automate and implement the controls embedded within the cloud application. For example, when one of our clients implemented Oracle Risk Management Cloud, it eliminated more than 60 manual reviews and, according to estimates, will save nearly $300,000 per year. Another hidden source of labor savings in the cloud comes from automated user provisioning and access certification. Historically, companies spent a lot of time validating and certifying enterprise users to bolster security and comply with regulations required after Sarbanes-Oxley. Automated tools in Oracle ERP Cloud practically eliminate that extra labor expense. When you take into account that user administration can cost about $80 per employee per year, according to KPMG’s client experiences, the average 5,000-employee company can save $400,000 per year. Even more can be saved by eliminating separate user access reviews. 4. Better Security and Cost Avoidance The fear of a big security breach is the reason why some companies insist on keeping their critical business systems and data on premises. The rationale is that data in the cloud is less secure and more vulnerable to cyberattacks since it can be accessed through the internet. But if you look at what has happened over the last few years, the logic behind that rationale is questionable. Billions of dollars in investments by solution providers like Oracle have made cloud applications more secure than what many companies can afford to invest in. Every enterprise that migrates to the cloud takes advantage of these R&D investment spanning more than a decade. The overlooked part of the cloud business case is the cost avoidance of a breach, which is estimated at about $3.62 million on average, according to the Ponemon Institute in research sponsored by IBM. Costs can range from the theft of company secrets and customer data to the disabling of critical production facilities. The ensuing headlines can devastate a company’s reputation and impact revenue and market share for years. Add in regulatory fines and other remediation costs and… well, you get the picture.  What is it worth to reduce the risk of a breach? More and more executives are recognizing the value of enterprise security and controls. In the latest KPMG ERP controls survey, 78 percent of executives were concerned with unauthorized individuals gaining access to sensitive data, such as social security numbers and intellectual property. And 75 percent of executives said they plan to allocate 3 to 10 percent of future ERP project budgets for security and controls. 5. Foundation for the Future Many CFOs have indicated that it’s a challenge to quantify one of the biggest advantages of moving to the cloud: enabling future innovation. Once their cloud ERP is in place, organizations can begin to deploy advanced technologies such as intelligent automation, cognitive and artificial intelligence tools, chatbots, and advanced analytics. Not only can these tools further reduce the cost of finance but they offer the potential to fundamentally transform the business. At KPMG, for example, we’ve integrated Amazon Alexa into Oracle EPM Cloud, providing easy access to key operating metrics. KPMG has also leveraged Oracle Process Cloud Service to automate functions such as manual journal entries, deferred revenue reclassification, process allocations, and closing multiple sub-ledgers at month end. Learn more about these approaches here. A cloud platform is foundational to leveraging these technologies—but how do you quantify it? Cloud ERP and HCM applications eliminate the costly traditional upgrade cycle while affording a leaner technology support model. Furthermore, a recent global survey commissioned by Oracle and conducted by MIT Technology Review Custom showed that moving finance and HR operations technology to the cloud not only leads to cost savings, but also offers an “opportunity for finance to re-invent itself.” What overlooked advantages of moving to the cloud have you discovered? We would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below. Olin West is a Managing Director at KPMG, LLP. He leads alliances and sales for Management Consulting and also sits on Oracle’s Cloud Partner Advisory Board.

By Olin West, Managing Director, KPMG Advisory Even though cloud has gone mainstream, replacing an on-premises ERP or HCM application with a cloud system can be a tough sell for some CFOs. Very often,...

Financial Management & Reporting

The Promise of Intelligent Process Automation in Finance

By Hari Sankar, Group Vice President, Product Management, Oracle True automation finally is coming to finance. Just as robots are taking over repetitive, manual tasks on the factory floor, automation powered by pattern recognition, artificial intelligence, and machine learning promises to eliminate routine finance and accounting tasks in the office. In a nod to their manufacturing counterparts, some refer to these new finance capabilities as robotic process automation (RPA)—but we think "intelligent process automation" (IPA) is the more appropriate term. The reason? IPA not only replicates existing processes, it makes them more efficient and effective by eliminating tasks, improving process flows, and squeezing out errors. This new wave of software has the potential to transform how work gets done in all areas of the finance function. Chief among the changes: it will allow finance professionals to finally make the move from a transactional focus to a strategic focus. Get the Intelligent Finance research. With routine tasks automated, finance professionals will spend less time running reports and conducting ad hoc analysis on corporate data. Instead, they will more easily and quickly harvest and analyze the data they need to better support the business. This will free up valuable time to engage with operational lines of business, and spend more time providing the forward-looking guidance that management needs to capitalize on the next opportunity. Let’s consider a few examples. Account Reconciliations Today, most companies’ accounting staff spend a fair bit of time performing reconciliations across systems. In very large corporations, it’s not uncommon for people to be reconciling thousands or tens of thousands of transactions—across ledger and bank, ledger and sub-ledger, and other transactions across different systems—some internal, some external. Many of the mismatched reconciliations follow standard patterns—an entry was made twice, or with a negative sign instead of a positive. By using configurable and intelligent rules to recognize and handle these patterns, IPA will automate a large subset of these reconciliations; it will deduce what the issue is and fix it. In some cases, IPA could remove the task from your view so you do not have to address it. In other cases, IPA will prompt you to quickly review and sign off on its decision. Estimates indicate that the accounting staff won’t need to touch 80% of these simple, automatable reconciliations. This will allow them to focus on the smaller percentage of reconciliations that are more complex and require human judgment. Financial Close At most corporations today, the financial close process resembles a particularly intense fire drill at the end of every month or quarter. Because it involves many systems, several finance teams, and many lines of business—along with subsidiary companies—many dependencies must be tracked and managed. For example, you can’t close a certain account until all the subsidiaries close all related sub-accounts. IPA can automate much of this orchestration. For instance, the software can: Automatically track the status of task completion across multiple systems Automatically kick off close processes as soon as dependent tasks are completed Update the close calendar so you can stay apprised of where you are in the financial close process Put simply, IPA will take over much of the work that makes the financial close process so hectic. Financial Planning and Analysis Financial planning and analysis (FP&A)—creating and approving budgets, managing spend, analyzing spend, etc.—is another process that IPA can streamline. For instance, with IPA, senior executives won’t need to sign off on routine budget requests that follow a familiar pattern. They will need to pay attention only to requests that look odd or different from what they’ve seen in the past. Before sending a request to the executive for approval, IPA can review the pattern (the dollar value involved, similar requests made in the past, etc). If it “sees” that similar requests were approved 100% of the time, the software can make the approval without human interaction. If it detects something odd or different about a request, it will prompt the executive to review the request. The finance executive will be involved only when the software detects an anomaly that requires human review and judgement. Do You Trust Your Systems? While you may feel uneasy at the thought of turning over so much power to automation, the software can be configured to your level of trust. There are two elements to consider: rules and intelligence. Default rules, based on general accounting best practices, are set up in the system. These rules are configurable based on what you consider to be best practice, or according to the processes in use across your organization. Most automation today is rule-based; for example, “If the amount is below $X.XX, divert to subordinate.” The rules can be configured by organization, category of expense, approval authority, or any number of other factors. In the vast majority of finance systems today, business rules must be changed by a human being. The “intelligence” in intelligent process automation is what sets it apart. Once you embed intelligence into finance software, it becomes a learning system. Over time, the system can watch processes; analyze the data, the history and the background; and identify new patterns. Then it will create and recommend new rules, or suggest how existing rules can be reconfigured to make them more efficient. Throughout, finance professionals using the system will have the ability to refine, accept, or reject new rules suggested by the system. As the system learns more and more patterns, it recommends better rules that remove the burden of manual intervention from human beings. Who’s Using It Now? Though still early, the adoption of IPA is underway. Companies are currently using Oracle Account Reconciliation Cloud to automate the preparation of high-volume, labor-intensive reconciliations through the use of transaction matching capabilities. Configurable process monitoring, integration, and orchestration capabilities in Oracle Financial Consolidation and Close Cloud are enabling the automation of the financial close. Also, with Oracle Financials Cloud, companies are starting to conduct touchless processing of transactions. For example, the system can be configured so that a certain subset of payable transactions can be completely “hands-free,” processed by the system. Getting Started As you begin to adopt IPA, think big but start small. Deploy IPA capabilities in one area, make sure it works to your satisfaction, then roll it out in another area, and then another. Don’t think of automation in isolation; think of it as a part of an overall finance transformation and best practice adoption. Ideally, it should be a part of your transition to the cloud, which will speed deployment. Ultimately, by implementing IPA, you will reduce risk and increase efficiency. You’ll spend less time on low-value tasks such as reconciliation, and more on high-value tasks such as data analysis—which in turn will improve your ability to deliver meaningful business insights. Learn more about intelligent finance in this research from Wharton, courtesy of Oracle.

By Hari Sankar, Group Vice President, Product Management, Oracle True automation finally is coming to finance. Just as robots are taking over repetitive, manual tasks on the factory floor, automation...

Product News

Here's Your Chance to See the #1 ERP for Value-Based Care

If you’re a finance leader in an American healthcare organization, the odds are that you’re feeling a little starved of new technology. Recent investments around ICD 10 conversions, cybersecurity, population health, and analytics have left little to no money for upgrading finance systems. In 2015, less than 29 percent of all U.S. hospitals implemented finance or supply chain software, according to a Black Book survey. But there are indications that the situation is about to change. With more healthcare insurers reimbursing for value-based care rather than fee-for-service, providers face increasing demands to demonstrate value to the institutions paying the bill—and healthcare payers face similar expectations from members and stakeholders. Proving value is tough to do if your financial systems aren’t up to the job. This recognition is driving higher levels of interest in enterprise resource planning (ERP) software—because in a payment environment that reimburses for value, it’s critical to understand exactly how much it costs to deliver patient care. 92 percent of survey respondents said that the future of ERP is in the cloud—with mobile, analytics, and security built in. They like the idea of having general ledger, accounts payable, budgeting, forecasting and cash management accessible anywhere—whether it’s in purchasing, administration, a doctor’s office, or even the operating room. The survey also invited respondents to rate healthcare ERP vendors for 2017. Oracle ERP Cloud was ranked the #1 solution for value-based care. See Oracle ERP Cloud in Action at HIMSS 18 If you’d like to take a closer look at Oracle ERP Cloud for your healthcare organization, we invite you to visit us next week in Las Vegas at HIMSS 18. Drop by booth 5627 to see demos of Oracle Cloud applications and talk with our subject-matter experts. You’ll also learn how Oracle Cloud applications meet the standards set by the healthcare industry for security and patient record protection. Oracle recently received a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) attestation for its suite of cloud applications—including Oracle ERP Cloud, Oracle Human Capital Management (HCM) Cloud, and Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) Cloud. HIPAA attestations demonstrate that Oracle Cloud solutions meet the requirements established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the proper saving, accessing and sharing of individual medical and personal information—as well as compliance with national security standards to protect health data created, received, maintained or transmitted electronically. If you’re planning to be in Las Vegas next week for HIMSS 18, we invite you to stop by our booth and see why your peers have ranked Oracle #1 in ERP for value-based care. Join us at HIMSS 18 in Las Vegas next week. Register now.

If you’re a finance leader in an American healthcare organization, the odds are that you’re feeling a little starved of new technology. Recent investments around ICD 10 conversions,...

Product News

How to Improve Collaboration Between Finance and HR

By Melissa Morgan, Oracle HCM Cloud Have you ever wondered why seemingly simple things like getting information or working across teams is so hard? You're not alone. Yet, in the digital age, strategic collaboration between the finance and HR lines of business is necessary.  The competitive landscape has intersected with technology in a way that continues to disrupt organizations in nearly every industry—from manufacturing and service companies focusing on outcomes, to the sharing economy in transportation and hospitality. Now more than ever, the ability to be agile, transform quickly, and plan effectively helps you seize market opportunities and grow revenues.  Improving HR and Finance Collaboration by 70 Percent  When we asked MIT Technology Review to help us explore this relationship between Finance, HR, IT and the role cloud computing plays, we found that 70% of organizations that implemented cloud applications improved collaboration across Finance and HR. As information becomes more accessible across teams, it’s easier to do things like workforce planning and budgeting in concert. In fact, Oracle has identified at least 34 ways your Finance and HR cloud needs to connect (and there might be more).   Seeing is Believing  Starting a cloud migration with Finance and HR often reaps the greatest benefits by freeing up staff to focus on strategic, revenue-enhancing activities rather than non-value-added tasks. And closer collaboration can lead to more efficiencies: 35 percent of organizations plan to create a shared Finance and HR function in the cloud this year. Our upcoming webcast is a great opportunity to see Oracle’s cloud applications working together across lines of business. Our experts will cover topics from how AI is changing the way we work, to better workforce planning and budgeting. You’ll also have a chance to ask questions and hear about customers who are already on their journey to unifying HR and Finance in the cloud.  Attend our webcast to find out more. Register now.

By Melissa Morgan, Oracle HCM Cloud Have you ever wondered why seemingly simple things like getting information or working across teams is so hard? You're not alone. Yet, in the digital age, strategic...

Procurement

3 Questions to Ask About Procurement in the Cloud

By Angela Wilson, CSS International There are very different business requirements between how large enterprises and small-to medium businesses (SMBs) source goods and services. Yet the goals are the same: provide a consistent experience for end users who manage procurement, focus on supplier management, drive product quality and lower costs.  With procurement now a strategic part of indirect and direct business operations, there is an imperative for more capable and modern systems to be deployed sooner rather than later. The good news: thanks to the cloud, companies of any size can now take advantage of the full functionality of procurement systems while leveraging existing ERP investments. Today’s cloud solutions are also a great way for companies to begin their journey from on-premises ERP to an integrated SaaS environment.  Based on my experience with real customers, you should always consider these three questions when deploying a cloud procurement solution with any on-premises ERP system: 1. Do I have the right cloud procurement components? Deploying a successful hybrid procurement model requires integrated functionality for sourcing. Understand all the procurement requirements critical to your organization and how procurement solutions are integrated to support your company’s needs. One example: in many organizations, tracking supplier qualifications (such as supplier diversity) is a critical process, but it is too often done outside of the procurement system. The result is that it is difficult to incorporate supplier qualifications into sourcing tasks and subsequent contract awards. Evaluating and pre-qualifying vendors to maintain compliance, avoid risk, or maintain a list of certified vendors is often a critical pre-requisite for full visibility into sourcing, as well as the ability to flag, track, and identify critical vendors. Another important capability: identifying high-risk vendors that should be excluded. Learn how CSS International and Oracle improved procurement at Skanska. Also consider whether negotiation of contract terms should be part of the sourcing cycle or pushed downstream to the contract execution stage. Many companies prefer to take on the (often laborious) task of negotiating terms during sourcing, to speed up the contract execution stage once an award is issued. Incorporating contract management capabilities into a procurement system helps companies build out legal terms and conditions, and include them in the sourcing event. Vendor collaboration then starts earlier in the procurement process. 2. Do I have the right integration strategy? How and what you integrate often depends upon whether you are a direct or indirect purchasing organization; what the on-premises system is; and the integration options available. In a hybrid procurement model, payables are often processed in the on-premises system because this is where the financials system of record resides. Typical approaches include: Create an agreement or purchase order via a stand-alone sourcing system with direct integration to on-premises ERP Create an agreement via out-of-the-box integration from cloud sourcing to cloud procurement contracts, then integrate from cloud procurement contracts to on-premises ERP Create a purchase order via out-of-the-box integration from cloud sourcing to cloud purc­hasing, then integrate from cloud purchasing to on-premises ERP 3. Do I have a well thought out training plan which includes suppliers? In a hybrid cloud sourcing and procurement environment, you may have two vendor-facing systems, depending on where invoices and payments are processed. Whether using a supplier portal for negotiations and quote responses, or for the entire process (onboarding to invoice and payment submission), this is a transition for suppliers. It’s easy to underestimate the amount of assistance and training a supplier will need. However, they are a critical part of a successful rollout. Absolutely incorporate them into your training plan. Similarly, your end users will now be working with a hybrid solution including cloud and on-premises applications. End-user understanding of the business flow of data in a hybrid solution will make for more effective collaboration across departments, to ensure business flows do not break down. When implementing a hybrid procurement solution, always complete the following before you begin: map your business requirements to the solution, understand your integration strategy and business data flows, and plan for training both internal users and suppliers. With detailed answers to these three upfront questions, you will experience successful user adoption, a successful project and an exciting project go-live. Get the CFO ebook, “A Look at Procurement from a Strategic Perspective.”

By Angela Wilson, CSS International There are very different business requirements between how large enterprises and small-to medium businesses (SMBs) source goods and services. Yet the goals are the...

Finance Topics & Trends

Celebrating the Union of Finance and HR

A special union was celebrated in London recently. Invited guests witnessed two partners "tie the knot." Speeches praised the couple’s future partnership and prosperity. Special guests were seated at a top table. A real-life vicar was on hand to preside over the union. And it all took place on Valentine’s Day. Love was definitely in the air. So what on earth was going on? This was "The Union of Finance and HR," an interactive event that brought together senior Finance and HR professionals to discuss why now, more than ever, Finance and HR need to collaborate across all aspects of corporate processes, reporting, systems, and strategy. Want to learn more? Get the MIT Tech Review research. Organised by Oracle and featuring expert speakers from Finance, HR, and business academia, the event celebrated how this unified relationship gives organisations the visibility to make faster, more informed decisions, adapt quickly to market opportunities, and grow. And the real-life vicar officiating over this unique union? That was TV broadcaster and vicar of a Northamptonshire village, Reverend Richard Coles. Opening the proceedings, he commented, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to witness the possible union of Finance and HR. You will be the arbiter of that as each of the disciplines sets out what they hope to achieve from this union.” Finance and HR Collaboration Brings Good Fortune Finance was the first to argue the case for collaboration. Peter Simons is Head of the Future of Finance Research at CIMA, the world’s largest professional body of management accountants. He began by asking the audience to describe their Finance or HR counterpart in one word, via an interactive app. Words ranged from "collaborative" and "good" to "distant" and "complicated." “Organisations are increasingly congregating around similar operational processes, and in the future, intangible factors—especially people—will separate success from failure,” Peter explained. “The challenge is to bring Finance and HR closer together. While there is a huge amount of mutual respect between both parties, it sometimes feels that one is from Mars, the other from Venus.” Peter also acknowledged that Finance has long been the dominant partner in the relationship—but that is changing. “Together both disciplines can be a powerful force. Look in any corporate financial report, for example, and what strikes you is the focus on diversity reporting, the gender pay gap, emoluments, and other people data. Those measures are all driven by data shared between Finance and HR.” Board Decisions Rest on HR Analytics This theme was echoed by Andrea Eccles, Chief Executive of the City HR Association, a professional association for HR practitioners. “People metrics have a powerful impact on the balance sheet, profit and loss account, and corporate governance,” she said. “Boards and ExCos increasingly rely on HR for data to support business decision making. “In terms of the annual report, data such as board emoluments or narratives such as diversity and inclusion targets are a key feature of UK—and wider—company reporting, whilst people related costs form a substantial part of the budget. Some HR analytics are also of interest externally and can influence investment decisions. These include a firm’s diversity strategy, their pension funding, labour relations, and the quality of leadership, to name a few.” People metrics can also enhance organisational performance. Citing joint research by Oracle and the CGMA, Andrea noted that five of the nine key performance indicators (KPIs) that drive business performance are HR-related. These include employee productivity, employee engagement, talent sourcing and pipeline, the customer experience, and brand equity. Andrea validated this with a case study from the financial services front-line. “Metro Bank’s HR professionals are working with their Finance counterparts every day across a wide range of reporting, budgeting, and other fiscal processes. They also have a similar relationship with Risk and Compliance to optimise board decision-making,” she said. Andrea then presented results from City HR’s 2016 Benchmarking Survey, showing that 65% of organisations now have HR leaders on their board or executive committee. Ten years ago, that figure was only 37%. Some 80% of organisations within the survey also now believe the HR function is gaining greater internal prominence. Given that this "Union of Finance and HR" event was taking place on Valentine’s Day, Andrea closed with some apt verse: “Roses are red / violets are blue / collaboration and technology will make us the dynamic duo.” Andrea has not applied to be the next Poet Laureate.   Breaking Down Barriers: Share the Love André Spicer, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at the Cass Business School, took an altogether different angle on unified Finance and HR collaboration. He firstly acknowledged that silos still exist between both sides, but this can be overcome. “Organisations need to take an active role in collaboration—for example, by circulating new Finance recruits into HR and vice versa, or by forming cross-disciplinary teams to reduce the barriers to working together.” Drawing on the union and partnership theme, André also presented a series of behavioural factors that make a successful marriage—and how these can be translated into business. For example, partners (in marriage and business) need to learn to fight well. “Discord happens in every relationship, but when it does, take the steps to de-escalate it quickly,” said André. “Successful relationships also follow a 5:1 mantra—five successful interactions for one negative one. In business, focus on those positive interactions and become a support for other functions.” With that, the guests departed. The message they took with them? Every business is intimately connected today. And no two back office functions are as connected as Finance and HR. With work from both sides, it can become the ultimate strategic partnership. Learn more about the urgency of Finance and HR collaboration. Get the research.

A special union was celebrated in London recently. Invited guests witnessed two partners "tie the knot." Speeches praised the couple’s future partnership and prosperity. Special guests were seated at...

Finance Topics & Trends

Agents of Change Show How to Win in Finance

Modern Finance Experience 2018 is in full swing—and on Day 2, we rolled out the red carpet for 10 of the brightest stars in the finance universe. The Change Agents of Finance Awards have become an annual tradition, and this year’s winners were honored with a ceremony and celebration at New York City’s historic Rainbow Room, high atop 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Highlights of the evening included fireworks over the Hudson River and the Empire State Building lit up in traditional Valentine’s Day red.  But the main attraction were our winners: 10 inspiring stories of success in finance, along with 12 distinguished runners-up. And the awards go to: Frugal Finance Award Recognizes dramatic cost savings using Oracle ERP and EPM solutions. Dominic C. Canuso, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, WSFS Bank WSFS Bank is parent to the oldest and largest bank in Delaware. WSFS was managing its businesses with a mix of disparate systems and various manual and spreadsheet-driven processes. But WSFS has undergone significant growth in the past five years via M&A activity, with a goal of doubling in size. To meet that goal, CFO Dominic Canuso knew that the organization needed to resolve the timing, data quality, and integration issues that made it difficult to access critical information. WSFS selected Oracle ERP Cloud to help achieve its goals, working with implementation partner Grant Thornton. WSFS expects to achieve a $12 million return on investment from streamlining processes, optimizing resources, and the ability to make better decisions from real-time, accurate data. Runner-up: Mike Metzger, Associate Director of Financial Systems, The Kraft Heinz Company Better Together Award Recognizes fruitful integration of Oracle ERP Cloud with another Oracle Cloud solution. Darren Robb, Senior Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer, Park Hotels & Resorts Park Hotels & Resorts—formerly the real estate investment division of Hilton—spun off in early 2017. To eliminate any dependence on its former parent, Park Hotels wanted to move operations to its own financial system. It chose to work with Grant Thornton to implement Oracle ERP Cloud, Oracle Integration Cloud, Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud, and Oracle Financial Consolidation and Close Cloud. The new solution eliminates the need for manual journal entries and manual file loading, accelerating the period close and giving Park Hotels the ability to accurately project budgets and forecasts. The highly automated and standardized processes are helping Park Hotels to maximize efficiency, reduce risk, and free up employees to focus on growth. After being part of a multinational brand like Hilton, redefining a company as an independent entity takes leadership, dedication, and vision—all of which Darren Robb embodies. Runner-up: Kevin Riley, Chief Financial Officer, St. Luke's Hospital Fast Finance Award Recognizes a fast and effective implementation of Oracle ERP Cloud or Oracle EPM Cloud solutions. Michael Mann, Vice President of Transformation, Caesars Entertainment Caesars Entertainment is the fourth largest gaming and entertainment company in the world. With 47 casinos in five countries and $8.4 billion in annual net revenue, it can’t afford to move slowly. To keep pace with the speed of its business, Caesars decided to embark on a multi-pillar cloud transformation, including Oracle ERP Cloud and Oracle HCM Cloud. As its first step, Caesars decided to implement Oracle Enterprise Performance Reporting Cloud for narrative reporting—and Caesars’ Michael Mann, vice president of transformation, wanted it up and running quickly.  Within 10 weeks, Mann and his implementation team, along with consulting partner Grant Thornton, were able to scope the project, train 100 users, and hit their go-live date. Runner-up: Kirk Waldron, Director, Financial Systems/CoE Controller, Corporate, and Mike Zierhut, Vice President, Information Technology, Allied Universal Security Services Modern Close Award Recognizes teams who have leveraged the Oracle Cloud solutions to shorten financial close cycles by a large percentage. Lori Culp, Assistant Controller, National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (NRUCFC) is a growing and expanding business. To support its expansion, assistant controller Lori Culp led a deployment of Oracle ERP Cloud, along with implementation partner DAZ. Culp’s team started with redesigning the chart of accounts to modernize its account segment structure. With accelerated data entry and subledger processing, the company optimized data input rates and significantly improved the ledger close and consolidation process—with increased efficiencies, joint venture processing, foreign exchange calculations, and allocations/deductions. These improvements reduced the close period from 7 days to 4, and improved the accuracy of external reporting. Culp continues to drive business benefit across NRUCFC. She is actively leveraging the reporting capabilities of the Oracle Cloud to provide her executive team with richer business insights. Runner-up: Maralyn Miner, Corporate Controller, Montefiore Health System Roll with It Award Recognizes significant increase in agility using the rolling forecast capability in the Oracle EPM Cloud best-in-class service delivery. Anand Naimpally, Senior Vice President, Finance, Hilton Anand Naimpally, Senior Vice President, Global Operations Finance at Hilton, is the executive sponsor for a project to completely re-engineer forecasting and budgeting for Hilton’s more than 700 + properties. Previously, planners at the property level were using a legacy, custom-built application that could not scale globally. Planning methods were not uniform across locations, so analyzing key drivers or other metrics was difficult and time-consuming. Naimpally’s team decided to implement Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud to addresses these issues. The project enhanced Hilton’s operational planning, improving the experience for more than 2,400 users globally. Hilton is now able to more accurately determine the current state of its operations—globally, regionally and at the property level—and create accurate forecasts in a timely manner. SC&H Group was the implementation partner. Runner-up: Hunter Crittenden, Senior Director, FP&A, Hertz Corporation Shared Services Superstar Award Recognizes a shared services organization using Oracle Cloud finance applications to develop digital capabilities to achieve best-in-class service delivery. Djamel Benallal, Head of Finance Group Solutions, Orange Orange (formerly France Télécom) is a French multinational telecommunications corporation offering both fixed and mobile services. It has 256 million customers worldwide and employs more than 150,000 people globally. As part of a companywide transformation dubbed “Essentials 2020,” Orange consolidated its financial systems onto Oracle ERP Cloud, freeing its corporate finance team to do higher-level work. Orange head of finance group solutions Djamel Benallal led the creation of a shared services function to support its global finance operations. Through standardization and best practices, Orange has increased transparency and reduced costs, with expected cost savings of 33 percent. The project has become a showcase for other companies looking to understand shared services best practices in the cloud; large companies across Europe visit Orange’s shared services centers to learn and emulate its best practice approach. Runner-up: Chris Wood, Vice President, Transformation Services, FedEx Crystal Ball Award Recognizes financial planning and analysis professionals who leverage analytics to test business models and strengthen business impact. Annie Ogata, Corporate FP&A Lead, Dropbox With more than half a billion subscribers, Dropbox operates multiple offices in the United States and abroad. To accommodate its rapid growth, Dropbox needs to hire quickly. The company chose Oracle Enterprise Planning and Budgeting Cloud for workforce planning, and Oracle ERP Cloud for core finances. Huron Consulting Group worked with Dropbox to get the cloud up and running in three months. Prior forecast cycles took roughly two weeks, with data collected and manually aggregated in spreadsheets. With the new cloud implementation, data aggregation now takes less than 10 seconds, and can be run on-demand from any location. Dropbox leveraged out-of-the-box workforce planning functionality, multicurrency support, planning and reporting for 30 FP&A users. Ogata was a true change agent at Dropbox, capitalizing on the cloud to identify the right digital KPIs; streamline and automate reporting for better, faster decision-making; and partner effectively with the business to thrive during turbulent times. Runner-up: Ann Harris, Vice President, Operations and Finance, Hilton  Top Talent Award Recognizes an effective combination of Oracle ERP and HCM Cloud solutions. Brian Crowley, Chief Financial Officer, Beall’s, Inc.  Beall’s is an American retail brand that was seeking to transform its finance, planning, and HR processes to drive greater efficiency and develop a platform for continued growth. Beall’s is experiencing double-digit growth, with thousands of job requisitions to support its expansion efforts. The finance organization leverages Oracle EPM Cloud to model and forecast store expansion and workforce needs, and the HR organization uses Oracle Talent Management Cloud to attract, retain, and grow its workforce as well as find and place store employees. Brian Crowley, Beall’s CFO, acted as the executive sponsor for this project. In partnership with the DAZ consulting team, Crowley worked with the chief human resources officer on the organizational change management and adoption plan. Crowley exhibited a holistic appreciation for both the finance and HR functions at a multibillion dollar organization, and drove the program to achieve the synergistic benefits of a combined solution. Runner-up: John Robbins, Senior Director, Business Systems, Bluebird Bio Billion-Dollar Story Award Honors finance leaders who have used Oracle ERP and EPM Cloud to achieve dramatic cost savings and efficiencies.   Christophe Eouzan, Chief Accounting Officer, Orange Our only double award-winner this year, Orange continues to lead through its “Essentials 2020” transformation initiative. Under Chief Accounting Officer Christophe Eouzan’s guidance, Orange is on track to save a billion dollars—thanks to streamlined finance and procurement operations, increased transparency, centralized core business operations, the elimination of system customizations, improved productivity, and a self-service environment for digital natives. Runners-up (tie): Brian Hargreaves, Vice President of Financial Systems, Hilton Richard Scheitler, Chief Information Officer, The Wonderful Company Congratulations to all our Change Agents of Finance Awards Winners! Get ready to submit your nominations for the 2019 Change Agents of Finance Awards. Nominations will open in October.

Modern Finance Experience 2018 is in full swing—and on Day 2, we rolled out the red carpet for 10 of the brightest stars in the finance universe. The Change Agents of Finance Awards have become...

Finance Topics & Trends

New Research Unveils $2 Trillion Growth Opportunity

Two trillion dollars. That’s more than the annual GDP of most countries. And it’s how much cloud services could add to the U.S. economy over the next decade—if today’s organizations take steps to grasp the opportunity in front of them. Dr. Michael Mandel, senior fellow at the Mack Institute for Innovation Management at Wharton, unveiled his new research today at Modern Finance Experience 2018. In Intelligent Finance: How CFOs Can Lead the Coming Productivity Boom, Dr. Mandel calculates that U.S. gross domestic product could increase by a cumulative $2 trillion in the next 10 years. Exciting new technologies like the Internet of Things, blockchain, predictive analytics, and artificial intelligence are driving this productivity boom—along with the cloud services that make these technologies available to organizations large and small. Learn how CFOs can lead the coming productivity boom. The findings shed light on the powerful impact of cloud-enabled digitization on productivity—a primary factor in the health and resilience of national economies and economic sectors, and the organizations and industries that comprise them. What CFOs Can Learn from the Research The research study, which Oracle commissioned, aims to help CFOs become successful leaders in the coming decade by building intelligent finance functions that can support increased productivity. The $2 trillion GDP finding has obvious implications for economic prosperity, considering that output per worker in the United States and other developed countries overall has slowed in the past decade. Investment in cloud services—and the best practices and emerging technologies that the cloud delivers—would improve competitiveness for industries as well as organizations. A clear conclusion from the research is that high-productivity industries invest more in software than low-productivity industries. High-productivity industries include “digital” industries such as high technology, media and communications, and financial services, where output is delivered through digital systems. Also included are select “physical” industries that are actively investing in digital technologies to boost the output and value of physical products—such as industrial machinery producers that are tapping into new product and services that connect to the Internet of Things. Low-productivity industries tend to be more “physical” in nature, where output is tangible and harder to translate into electronic form. Examples of low-productivity industries include higher education; healthcare; construction; discrete and/or low-complexity manufacturing sectors; and retail, which largely still depends upon brick and mortar stores. In general, these industries are at the beginning of the path toward digitization. On average, high-productivity industries have more than triple the value added per full-time worker of low-productivity ones. Closing the Gap Between High- and Low-Productivity Industries Of particular concern to finance leaders: the productivity gap has been widening. High-productivity industries had an additional gain in productivity of 14% from 2006 to 2017, while low-productivity industries had a decline of 1% during the same decade. Cloud services offer a way to narrow the gap. During the same 10 years, annual software spending per worker increased 61% in high-productivity industries but only 28% in low-productivity ones. And improved productivity isn’t the only reason to invest in cloud services. The greater achievement would be cross-industry transformation to efficient, agile, and future-focused organizations that deliver more value to all stakeholders. Such a transformation would mean that higher education (for example) gets to use the same type of data-driven apps as Silicon Valley startups. Manufacturers would be able to offer low-capital, high-profit digital services to augment their portfolios of capital-intensive goods. The price-challenged healthcare industry could deliver more patient-focused care with better outcomes, at a lower cost. “Our cost of health care is about $14.5 billion a year,” explains Michael Murray, senior vice president and CFO of Blue Shield of California, one of the organizations highlighted in the research. “Through population health management and predictive analytics, I think we could reduce that significantly. It’s a huge opportunity from both an economic perspective, and from a clinical quality and customer service perspective.” Learn More About the $2 Trillion Opportunity Where does your industry fit into these findings? Find out in the complete report, which includes sector analysis on seven industries, as well as case studies. Download the full report.

Two trillion dollars. That’s more than the annual GDP of most countries. And it’s how much cloud services could add to the U.S. economy over the next decade—if today’s organizations take steps to...

Finance Topics & Trends

Learning How to Innovate for the Future of Finance

“The greatest moments of inspiration happen when you’re in the bathtub and the water rises and flows out and you shout ‘Eureka!’” It’s not every day that you hear a reference to Archimedes at a finance conference. But when one of your keynote speakers is Trevor Noah, comedian and host of The Daily Show, you can expect erudition as a matter of course. (Photo courtesy of Modern Finance Experience 2018 Diamond Sponsor Deloitte, @DeloitteOracle) Noah was asked a question about inspiration, which was a recurring theme at the first day of Modern Finance Experience 2018. He replied that inspiration comes when you’re relaxed (hence the bathtub). Thus, it’s important to invest as much time into the pursuit of happiness as we invest in career and corporate success. That sentiment was echoed at the Women in Finance Luncheon, which kicked off the 3-day conference. Leaders from scrappy startups to stalwart companies discussed the necessity of innovation, with one speaker telling the audience that she sets aside two hours a week just to think about how her company can do things better. Her inspiration comes from a variety of sources, from looking at her own company’s processes to looking outside her industry to see what disruptors are doing. Disrupt or Die? Disruption is always on the mind of Oracle executives. Oracle CEO Mark Hurd kicked off his opening keynote with this factoid: since the turn of the millennium, more than half of the companies in the Fortune 500 have disappeared; they’ve either gone out of business or been acquired. New technologies and business models disintermediated those companies from their customers: Netflix disrupted Blockbuster; Amazon disrupted retailers; AirBnB continues to disrupt the travel business. Technology is changing faster than business, and business models must evolve just as quickly to keep up. Failure to do so could mean extinction. The theme of this year’s conference—“Tomorrow’s Finance, Today”—underscores the urgency to build the finance function of the future. Oracle executive vice president of applications development, Steve Miranda, shared one of the ways in which Oracle supports innovation: by embedding artificial intelligence and machine learning into its finance applications. Oracle Adaptive Intelligent Applications for ERP are designed to enhance existing applications such as Oracle ERP and EPM Cloud. The apps are powered by insights from the Oracle Data Cloud—the largest third-party data marketplace in the world—with a collection of more than 5 billion global consumer and business IDs and more than 7.5 trillion data points collected monthly. Supporting Innovation with AI For example, Oracle Adaptive Intelligent Applications for ERP can help a finance team collect data about their suppliers, such as purchase history, percentage of revenue, and credit score. The finance organization can then decide which suppliers to double down on and which to cease doing business with—achieving maximum cost savings. Other examples where AI can add value include touchless transactions, automated expense auditing, best-fit suppliers, and creating intelligent supply chains.   In the race to keep up with the pace of change, artificial intelligence and machine learning have introduced a new paradigm. Machines can analyze data and recommend options millions of times faster than humans. By letting machines do what they do well, humans can focus on what they do best: dealing with ambiguity, planning strategy, and changing course to adjust to uncertainties. This ability to quickly fine-tune the business based on data-driven insights can increase the finance function’s value in the organization. CEOs will increasingly rely on the CFO and finance team for strategic recommendations to improve business performance. On Day 2, we’ll honor finance teams that have demonstrated this strategic value, when we announce the winners of our Change Agents of Finance Awards. Stay tuned for more on Modern Finance Experience 2018!

“The greatest moments of inspiration happen when you’re in the bathtub and the water rises and flows out and you shout ‘Eureka!’” It’s not every day that you hear a reference to Archimedes at a finance...

Product News

An Easy Way to Move from Oracle E-Business Suite to Oracle ERP Cloud

By Viktor Sahakian, Vice President, Oracle Specialized Services, Hitachi Consulting Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) has been a tried and true on-premises environment for enterprise and midsize organizations for decades. Customers have long appreciated the breadth of modules and integrated business functionality to help manage complex global operations. However, as cloud strategies have rapidly and dramatically transformed the technology landscape and presented economic and business benefits, many Oracle EBS customers find themselves asking questions about how to make the move from Oracle EBS to Oracle ERP Cloud. Time to Make the Move? Let’s first take a look at the reasons why Oracle EBS customers might want to move to the cloud. Possibly, you are at a point where you need to upgrade Oracle EBS, and you want to avoid the time and expense of upgrading your on-premises environment. You may want to evaluate whether to add additional on-premises modules versus migrating to the cloud. Perhaps it’s becoming more difficult, time-consuming, and costly for your organization to maintain your current environment. Or, you may be hearing feedback from end users that your current environment can’t keep pace with business needs.  There are dozens of reasons why Oracle EBS customers may look at moving to the cloud. With that said, if you’re questioning whether the time has come, the answer is probably, “Yes.” It’s natural to feel trepidation about migrating from on-premises systems to cloud applications. Some common concerns include the possible loss of custom functionality, tight integrations with other internal or third-party systems, or potential disruptions to the business. However, an experienced Oracle partner like Hitachi Consulting, with a dedicated team of Oracle EBS, Oracle ERP Cloud, and industry experts, can address your specific concerns to help you overcome any barriers that may prevent you from moving to the cloud.  Hitachi Consulting’s Tools and Approach for Oracle EBS to Cloud Migrations The Hitachi Migration Map for Oracle E-Business Suite to Oracle Cloud Applications and Cloud Advisory Tool can simplify your journey to the cloud and make it as transparent and seamless as possible.  Here’s a high-level overview of our approach to moving from Oracle EBS to Oracle ERP Cloud: We believe that a successful Oracle EBS move to the cloud starts with the business. We take the time to assess your current use of Oracle EBS. It’s our deep-dive into your environment to understand what features and functionality facilitate your business.  Then, we map your current environment to Oracle Cloud—whether that includes ERP, EPM, Human Capital Management, or any other Oracle Cloud offering. As we embark on the migration with you, we focus on both the business and the “people” impact to help your organization successfully adopt the new Oracle Cloud environment. Now, let’s dig a little deeper into our migration approach and explain how our automated tools facilitate our efforts. Assess Your Current Use of Oracle EBS To enable our assessment efforts, we use our Migration Map for Oracle EBS to Oracle Cloud Applications tool to gather intelligence about your existing Oracle EBS applications environment—including features, functionality, customizations, and transaction volumes. With this breadth of information, the tool scores and estimates the readiness of your applications to move to Oracle ERP Cloud. Often, we find that much of your functionality maps directly to Oracle ERP Cloud modules (financials, procurement, project management, risk management, reporting, etc). The tool also points out any custom functionality that doesn’t map seamlessly to Oracle ERP Cloud so we can address any potential gaps. Map Your Current Environment to Oracle Cloud Our Cloud Advisory Tool focuses on your infrastructure and any non-Oracle workloads. We outline your future cloud architecture to create the optimal end-state, and the automated tool helps us understand what in your current environment maps directly to the cloud and where gaps occur. Here, we look at business operations, third-party integrations, and whether it makes sense to utilize Oracle Platform-as-a-Service and Infrastructure-as-a-Service in your architecture. Facilitate User Adoption In this phase, we map your journey from Oracle EBS to Oracle ERP Cloud—with a detailed roadmap, timeline, and specific sequence of activities. Even more importantly, we go beyond the technology elements to also address the people impacts of a cloud migration. We believe that you can’t just give people a new system, provide some training, and expect success. Instead, you have to also focus on business adoption by communicating the rationale and benefits for moving to the cloud and providing resources to ease the change. Hitachi Consulting Demystifies Cloud Migrations We can ease the burden of moving an on-premises Oracle EBS environment to Oracle ERP Cloud with transparency. Our data-driven toolset can provide that clarity and dramatically speed the evaluation process. Using our tools, we can complete an Oracle EBS applications assessment in 2-4 weeks, which is lightning fast compared to the typical 6-9 months. Customer Example: Iteris We recently completed an environment assessment for Iteris, a global leader in informatics for the transportation and agriculture industries. We evaluated their on-premises Oracle EBS environment in only two weeks by connecting our automated tool directly into their production environment and mapping their current usage patterns. According to Iteris’ VP of IT, Tejas Patel, “The report from Hitachi Consulting’s Migration Map for Oracle EBS to Oracle Cloud Applications tool backed up our recommendations. It reassured everyone that we could move to Oracle ERP Cloud without giving up features that we depend on. As a result, we’re making the move with confidence.” Hitachi Consulting Can Help You Too Moving from an on-premises Oracle EBS environment to Oracle ERP Cloud is much easier and less daunting than you may think. With our proven track record and automated evaluation tools, we can look at your business holistically and give you a transparent roadmap to guide your move to Oracle ERP Cloud. Learn more about how to get to the cloud smarter and faster.  

By Viktor Sahakian, Vice President, Oracle Specialized Services, Hitachi Consulting Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) has been a tried and true on-premises environment for enterprise and midsize...

Oracle

Integrated Cloud Applications & Platform Services