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How to Move from PeopleSoft to Oracle ERP Cloud

Don't Let Customizations Get in the Way By Paul Laverty, Oracle Americas Practice Leader, DXC Technology Early on in the evolution of cloud technologies, many PeopleSoft customers were resistant to adopting cloud because they were burdened with heavily customized applications. Since SaaS applications are based on standardized processes, many companies found this to be a point of resistance. However, the standardized processes are based on best practices, which means that most companies don’t need as many customizations as they previously required with on-premises solutions. If a customer has a mission-critical customization now and there’s no other option than to customize, that functionality can be rebuilt using Oracle Platform as a Service (PaaS) and easily integrated with the Oracle SaaS application. As Oracle Cloud technologies have evolved, we’re able to remove barriers, including the “lack of customizations” argument as an inhibitor to moving PeopleSoft applications to the cloud. In fact, with nearly every PeopleSoft upgrade project in recent years, customers have been moving away from heavy customizations. Or, they’ve been looking for SaaS applications that can co-exist with their on-premises solutions. For example, if a company has been using PeopleSoft Financial Management, they can migrate some of the functionality to the appropriate finance modules of Oracle ERP Cloud as a way to make their path to the cloud less daunting. My point is that with today’s Oracle Cloud solutions and tools there are many, many different roads to the cloud that can eliminate the traditional barriers for migration. Overcoming the Challenge of Customizations When working with PeopleSoft customers who are delaying a cloud migration because of customizations, we drive a series of steps to help them understand that moving to Oracle ERP Cloud really does make sense for their business. Starting with a fit-gap workshop, we walk through the features and functionality of the latest version of PeopleSoft to show them that they don’t really need that many customizations anymore. Then, we highlight similar functionality in Oracle ERP Cloud as an alternative to an on-premises upgrade. If necessary, we create a business case to illustrate to the customer that they can actually save money by moving to a more standard cloud application versus continuing to use so many customizations. The main objective is to demonstrate to customers that they can realize significant cost savings and a better TCO when they move away from multiple customizations and migrate to Oracle Cloud. In addition, customers find costs savings from lower support and maintenance costs and a streamlined upgrade/testing process since that burden shifts to Oracle. Ready to Migrate: Getting There Quickly Once a customer is ready to migrate from PeopleSoft to Oracle ERP Cloud, even with numerous customizations, the process for a cloud application migration can run quite quickly. We use native Oracle tools and other intellectual property, like our project management process and integrations, to accelerate the migration. For example, we conduct a full assessment to understand the customer’s goals and whether they want to move all or just some of their functionality to Oracle Cloud. Next comes an analysis of their overall architecture using the PeopleSoft toolset. Then, we use Oracle Cloud Manager to help us plan their path to the cloud. We focus carefully on mapping networking and security components, like IP addresses, servers, and firewalls, to ensure that all elements integrate properly. With a full regression test, if the customer has deployed PeopleSoft Test Framework and built test scripts, that can also be used to speed the testing. Also, leveraging the record-and-build tool, the customer has the ability to record test scripts and reuse them. If you use Oracle development products and a fine-tuned project management process, it will speed the deployment and testing of cloud solutions—which helps get Oracle Cloud Applications up and running in days instead of weeks. Customer Perspective: Migration from Legacy PeopleSoft to Oracle ERP Cloud A Florida-based mid-sized investment and financial services company was facing an end-of-life situation with the underlying hardware for its on-premises PeopleSoft Financials applications. With a major upgrade looming, the company evaluated and ultimately deployed an Oracle ERP Cloud solution as a modern alternative to its legacy application. With a concerted effort to avoid customizations, the company opted for a “vanilla implementation” to make use of the best practice functionality and ensure that the twice-a-year upgrades would be as low-impact as possible. According to the project manager, “We’ve had to change our mindset to adopt the SaaS application functionality as it’s packaged. We use some of the functionality that’s available with each release, but we don’t always use all of it. And that’s okay for our organization. With that said, the big benefit is that we always have the latest and greatest functionality when it hits the market. I find that once our accountants get comfortable with the regular tasks that they perform every month, their comfort level improves, and in turn, our user adoption rises.” 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. Did you know? Cloud delivers 3.2x more ROI than on-premises applications. Get the research.

Don't Let Customizations Get in the Way By Paul Laverty, Oracle Americas Practice Leader, DXC Technology Early on in the evolution of cloud technologies, many PeopleSoft customers were resistant to...

Finance Topics & Trends

How to Be an Innovator on Campus

Institutions of higher learning see themselves as incubators of great ideas. From scientific research to medical trials to archaeological digs, faculty and students are on a continual quest to uncover new knowledge and innovations. But when was the last time your campus did something innovative to boost student recruitment? Make better financial decisions? Or improve student retention and success? When it comes to campus technology, many institutions of higher learning are far behind the times. While students interact with each other on their mobile devices via SnapChat, Twitter or Facebook, they struggle to get the same ease of use with their course calendars, student finances and transcripts. Make no mistake: innovation in these areas is on its way. I’ll give you one example: technology experts are already looking at the tamper-proof security and permanence of blockchain as a way to store and share student records. When someone sets up a student record blockchain, will your institution be in a position to join? Will you have the right technology in place to get access? This is where cloud applications begin to show their value. Unlike on-premises systems (with which most institutions are burdened), cloud applications are updated regularly by the provider with the latest technology innovations—including emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things, blockchain and more. Cloud gives your institution the freedom to innovate using technology that’s always up-to-date. Not All Clouds are Created Equal Most providers only offer one piece of the cloud puzzle: marketing, or student services, or finance, or some other stand-alone system. These disconnected clouds require significant integration efforts for services to flow smoothly from one department to the next. This slows down IT efforts and gets in the way of innovation. Success requires an entirely new kind of student system—one built from the ground-up on a single platform, with a game-changing financial aid module, real-time insight and collaboration tools, powered by AI, and updated quarterly by a cloud provider that values research and development as much as you do. We invite university business officers to join our webinar to see Oracle Student Cloud in action. Register today and learn how to: Optimize enrollment Improve recruiter productivity Track student interactions Improve student engagement Easily manage financial aid packages Deliver student success Register now to see how Oracle Student Cloud gives you the freedom to innovate.

Institutions of higher learning see themselves as incubators of great ideas. From scientific research to medical trials to archaeological digs, faculty and students are on a continual quest to uncover...

Finance Topics & Trends

Soar to the Cloud with Oracle

Moving to the cloud just got a lot easier—and faster. On June 5, Oracle Executive Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison announced the “Soar to the Cloud” solution, the world’s first automated enterprise cloud application upgrade product. What does that mean for Oracle’s on-premises customers? It will enable them to reduce the time and cost of cloud migration by up to 30 percent by leveraging a complete set of automated tools and proven methodologies. And, it’s the last upgrade they will ever need, as Larry stated during the launch event. I was excited to be a part of that event—but I’m even more excited to be a part of Oracle Soar. It will drive a fast, predictable, and cost-effective cloud journey because it applies the same power of automation that is infused in every Oracle Cloud application. As a result, Oracle customers can quickly enhance their finance, HR, and supply chain applications—and take advantage of machine learning. It’s the combination of tools, methods, and people that makes Soar work. I’m proud that many of those people are part of my Oracle Applications Consulting team, and they are intimately familiar with the tools and methodology that drive Soar. The solution includes a discovery assessment, process analyzer, automated data and configuration migration tools, and rapid integration tools. Guided by a dedicated Oracle concierge service, the Soar automated process is fueled by True Cloud Method, Oracle’s proprietary approach to support customers throughout the cloud journey. True Cloud Method is the underpinning of every Oracle Applications Consulting implementation project. So, we know that it ensures a rapid, “no surprises” migration that aligns with industry modern best practices because we’ve proven it time and again. One of the coolest parts of the Soar solution is the fact that customers can monitor the status of their cloud journey with a mobile application that includes a step-by-step implementation guide. The intuitive app lets customers know what needs to be done daily to ensure the project stays on course. And without a doubt, staying the course will be driven by an experienced Oracle launch team. The people behind the development, direction, and deployment of Soar represent the best in the business. I’m thrilled to call them colleagues and friends. Oracle Applications Consulting is excited to dig into the work of catapulting our clients to success with the hottest cloud technology on the market. Are you ready to Soar to the Cloud with Oracle? Your launch team is ready for you. Learn more here.  

Moving to the cloud just got a lot easier—and faster. On June 5, Oracle Executive Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison announced the “Soar to the Cloud” solution, the world’s first automated enterprise cloud...

Finance Topics & Trends

How Bots Will Change the Way Finance Works

By Steve Cox, Group Vice President, Oracle ERP EPM Product Marketing How many times have you visited a company’s web site, only to be greeted by a small pop-up window asking, “How can I help?” Such a greeting is becoming more and more common. Often, it’s our first interaction with an organization, and can influence how we perceive their customer service. But that helpful greeting is rarely given by a human being. It’s nearly always a chatbot.   So we’re on the same page: chatbots are text-based (we’re counting emojis as text) and designed to work within a single-purpose application (like Slack, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or a web site). There are also virtual assistants (like Amazon’s Alexa), which are voice-activated and generally connect to a mobile device. We’ve been so comfortable with the QWERTY (or AZERTI) keyboard that we’ve maybe forgotten that they were designed to slow humans down (because we type too fast). Bots can make it easier for us to interact with software—to move us into the fast lane when it comes to transaction processing or decision-making. Today, companies like Oracle are embedding voice bots into business software, to help with tasks like recommending suppliers, filing expense reports—even advising which invoices to pay first. We don’t have to double-click or tap anymore; we ask a question and get an immediate answer. Bots Can Automate the Mundane Soon you’re going to see bots help your organization speed period close, manage budgets, and perform financial forecasting. You’ll use these intelligent assistants to eliminate redundancy in work previously performed by people, liberating your team to use their knowledge and experience to provide insights and enable better decisions across the entire business. Imagine, for example, being able to ask, “What is customer X’s credit status?” and receiving a response instantaneously. Or, think about when your company makes a new hire; that person will need a laptop. In the near future, all they’ll have to do is say, “I need a laptop.” The voice bot will check the employee's profile and respond with something like, “Employees performing your job function generally choose this laptop.” The bot might next suggest another accessory or two needed for the laptop, and the new hire will say, “Great, let me purchase the laptop and the two accessories you recommend.” The transaction will complete automatically, the bot will generate a purchase order, manage any approvals needed, and advise the new employee of the laptop’s arrival date. A function that could consume hours will take just a few minutes.  In finance departments, bots can perform similar functions to automate repetitive processes that consume employee hours—time that could be better spent on higher-level tasks such as faster decision-making and architecting a new financial strategy. Bots will be able to provide an immediate and informed answer to a question like, “How much have we spent on travel and expenses this year?” Then, a manager can instantly determine if there is room in the budget to send employees to an overseas conference. Oracle Is Ahead of the Curve At Oracle, we are embedding intelligent bots into our products and applications. At this year’s Oracle OpenWorld, we introduced an array of new AI updates to our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Cloud and  Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) Cloud offerings—including a bot that serves as an expense reporting assistant and intelligent algorithms that recommend suppliers and vendor-specific discounts. We’re also building bots into Oracle Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Cloud for more efficient task assignment and tracking. It wasn’t that long ago that getting insights from financial data was a massive task requiring hours, if not days, of a financial analyst’s time. With intelligent chatbots and voice bots, it will be possible to get those insights from real-time financial data without information overload. The Future of Finance Is Here We expect that bots will soon be able to automate the entire financial close, only asking a human to step in when an exception arises. Increasingly, finance employees will be freed from performing rote tasks, and will be able to spend their time on truly challenging and critical work. This isn’t just good for the business in terms of having more minds working on long-term financial strategy; it’s also good for keeping employees engaged, challenged, and enthusiastic at work. Intelligent bots will be a critical part of unleashing the power of people in the organization to do amazing things. Learn more at Modern Business Experience, presented by Oracle. Register now.

By Steve Cox, Group Vice President, Oracle ERP EPM Product Marketing How many times have you visited a company’s web site, only to be greeted by a small pop-up window asking, “How can I help?” Such a...

Finance Topics & Trends

3 Advances in Finance That You Can’t Ignore

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Siddhartha Agarwal, Group Vice President, Product Management and Strategy, Oracle Cloud Platform, and Steve Cox, Group Vice President, Oracle ERP EPM Product Marketing, for the second podcast in our “Tomorrow’s Enterprise, Today” podcast series, where we are discussing how organizations are embracing cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to drive rapid and continuous innovation to better serve their customers, employees and partners and the different strategies and paths of technology adoption experts are seeing today. AI will undoubtedly change and influence the future of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and the finance industry, and will no doubt have a decisive impact on the business of the future, regardless of industry or if you are a small-to-medium business (SMB) or a larger business. But in order to gain value from the new technological advances, SMBs need to revise their current technology strategies and be prepared to change and adapt to the developments. In this podcast, Siddhartha and Steve cover the three advances the finance industry is experiencing with regards to emerging technologies and discuss how you can take advantage of these to achieve digital transformation. Tune into the podcast "Three Advances in Finance That You Can’t Ignore Anymore" and the rest of our "Tomorrow's Enterprise, Today" podcast series to learn how Oracle can help your SMB with its journey to digital transformation.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Siddhartha Agarwal, Group Vice President, Product Management and Strategy, Oracle Cloud Platform, and Steve Cox, Group Vice President, Oracle ERP EPM...

Financial Management & Reporting

Making the Case for Enterprise Performance Management in the Cloud

Cloud services are not only a way of economizing operations and making efficiency savings; they are the foundations upon which a more innovative approach to business can be built. By Jennifer Toomey, Senior Director, Cloud Business Group, Oracle In today’s unpredictable business environment, your organization needs to put technology at the heart of its growth strategy. An important aspect of that strategy is developing agile forecasts, and operating on a platform that enables you to get ahead in the digital economy by meeting your customers’ demands and expectations. Moving to cloud applications will not only transform the way your organization works but can also facilitate its growth. Each business will have its own set of challenges and objectives, and assessing the value of cloud can appear to be difficult—and sometimes even puts businesses off taking their first steps. At Oracle, we are here to help you visualize, plan and take the next steps on your journey. What is cloud worth to your business? The Oracle Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) Cloud tool can help you to estimate the potential savings and revenue increases that your organization could realize with Oracle Cloud. By simply entering a few details about your business’ current size and performance, the tool will calculate your potential savings. Taking into account your industry and location, the tool will offer recommended improvements that can be made in each of the following areas: Improved planning staff productivity Improved reporting productivity Reduced working capital costs Improved decision-making profit margin Improved analysis quality to drive revenue You can fine-tune the input information to adjust the results of the tool and increase the accuracy of the data returned. In addition to the recommendations, there are a number of resources that can be explored, including eBooks and videos detailing stories from Oracle Cloud customers. Click Here to Calculate Your Benefits Further to the immediate results shown by the tool, by submitting your details you can receive an in-depth, personal report on how Oracle can make savings across your business. Breaking down each of the focus areas above, the report goes into greater depth on the potential benefits your business can reap by moving to Oracle EPM Cloud. Savings and revenue improvements are provided across a range of criteria, allowing you to identify the areas in which you can expect to see the greatest returns and where to focus your attention. Drilling down into specific aspects of Oracle EPM Cloud, the report will demonstrate how connecting your business will enable you to lead with confidence, cut expenses and labor-hours, and develop agile forecasts. Supplementary resources including blogs, videos and demos can also be accessed via the report, providing further information and references from Oracle customers. When you are ready to begin your journey to cloud, Oracle and our partners will help to guide your path by sharing modern best practices and driving your business towards measurable results that will allow your organization to thrive leveraging the latest innovative technologies. Make the case for EPM cloud in your business. Calculate the benefits and get your personalized report.

Cloud services are not only a way of economizing operations and making efficiency savings; they are the foundations upon which a more innovative approach to business can be built. By Jennifer Toomey,...

Finance Topics & Trends

Oracle CEO Mark Hurd Promotes Cloud ERP Solutions for Global Business Parity

Eight of the ten fastest-growing companies on this year’s Forbes Global 2000 Growth Champions list are not headquartered in the United States. The same is true for 70 percent of the 50 fastest-growing companies on that list. These companies are based in China, Spain, and Vietnam, among others, and they serve a wide range of industries, from real estate to telecommunications to software development. There’s no one reason why so many non-U.S. companies are outperforming America’s brightest businesses, but equal access to world-class business software is likely a major contributing factor. A decade ago, the majority of companies using enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems were based in North America or Western Europe. These systems were bulky and complicated suites of software installed to corporate data centers and employee machines, requiring regular updates and maintenance. Oracle CEO Mark Hurd observed “most of these applications… [have] all been very monolithic. They typically haven’t integrated cross-application. They’ve been highly customized to the processes that our customers have had, and those processes were automated 20 years ago.” It’s true that the high cost of ERP adoption and upkeep prevented many companies based in developing countries from adopting on-premises solutions. However, it wasn’t just the high cost of on-premises ERP systems that often prevented their implementation in the developing world. Differences in culture and language were barriers to adoption as well, particularly in many Asian countries, which have a different approach to workplace management than most enterprises in the Western world. For example, an ERP system coded by developers from North America to address problems common to North American companies needed extensive customization for deployment in Asia. Even customization didn’t guarantee that a product designed in the West would properly serve the needs of a Chinese company or a Brazilian startup. A mismatch often arose when the ERP systems available weren’t localized to accommodate Chinese laws and language or if there weren’t enough technology professionals with the right skills and language fluency to help Brazilian companies navigate their ERP journeys. The cost, complexity, and cultural incompatibility of legacy ERP systems has been largely addressed with the advent of cloud ERP. Not only do cloud ERP systems offer a more flexible cost structure and easier implementation than on-premises ERP systems, they’re often more effectively localized. Cloud computing requires data centers in strategic locations around the world, which, in turn, requires localized tech talent. The need for local top-tier developers simply didn’t exist for on-premises ERP deployments. The companies that used on-premises systems were responsible for building out their own infrastructure and maintaining the local tech talent to keep it running smoothly. Software localization and customization were more likely to be the responsibility of a local contractor or employee with no direct relationship to the ERP developer. When top-tier coding talents emerged in the developing world, they were often lured to Silicon Valley, where they adopted the style and practice of Western developers coding for Western audiences. On the other hand, a regional data center for cloud software can serve as a hub for talent as well as business development, encouraging people around the world to build the skill sets that later expand that software’s reach and adoption. Prototypical versions of this localized tech hub can be seen in several Indian cities, such as Bangalore and Hyderabad, which established business-friendly technology zones several decades ago and now host the campuses of many multinational technology companies. Earlier this year, Hurd told Forbes that Oracle’s build-out of additional regionalized data centers is “really about extending our global reach. We have customers in countries all across the world... Having local capabilities is clearly a distinct advantage.” The end result of having access to cloud ERP software, particularly software that’s been properly localized, is that businesses in developing nations can effectively use the same fundamental technology tools that companies in North America and Europe have used for years. These cloud ERP systems are more affordable and offer more utility than ERP systems developed in earlier years, which were designed for on-premises implementations by a team of programmers based in Silicon Valley. Last year, Mark Hurd spoke to Recode’s Kara Swisher about the opportunities this access offers: “Bimbo, for example, has moved to cloud ERP... you see a lot of innovation down in Mexico, a large desire to take advantage historically. Remember, in Mexico, like Latin America, one of the biggest issues has always been the lack of available skilled resource, which in the old on-premise world really hurts you. So, when you needed people that could write and extend and customize code, you didn’t have the talent... the IP that’s running at GE is the same IP that’s running at Bimbo... The opportunity now for companies in Latin America to get absolute leading-edge IP that you couldn’t get before has changed dramatically.” Easier and less-expensive access to integral business software such as ERP systems frees companies in developing nations from the burden of creating their own software. Once deployed, a properly localized ERP system can give tech personnel more time to innovate. It also allows high-level users to focus on strategic initiatives instead of monotonous administration and manual data-entry work. When more companies around the world can start on the same solid technological foundation, the result is a stronger worldwide competitive business landscape.

Eight of the ten fastest-growing companies on this year’s Forbes Global 2000 Growth Champions list are not headquartered in the United States. The same is true for 70 percent of the 50 fastest-growing...

Finance Topics & Trends

3 Big Digital Disruptors Shaping Finance: Blockchain

With the arrival of process automation, cognitive tools, and blockchain, finance organizations are facing the potential for major transformation. In the last of our series of three blogs, we’ll take a look at how blockchain is shaping the future of finance. By Girija Krishnamurthy, Deloitte Consulting LLP Part 3: How Blockchain is Disrupting Finance Many people know blockchain as the technology behind Bitcoin. The distributed ledger technology allows users to add blocks of information onto a chain of transactions, creating an immutable history of accepted, time-stamped and encrypted data visible to participants. Blockchain has proved to be a reliable and versatile platform for cryptocurrencies, which have thrived despite some well-known growing pains. Nevertheless, the ups and downs of Bitcoin and its offshoots made some risk-averse finance leaders a bit skeptical of this emerging disruptor. If CFOs look outside the walls of finance, they’ll see blockchain taking off in many directions. There are dozens of potential applications for blockchain in industries ranging from financial services and telecommunications to consumer products, health care and logistics. For example, a Fortune 100 logistics company is investing heavily in blockchain technology to provide greater visibility and efficiency in its freight business. This logistics company hopes that blockchain’s distributed ledger may likely enable it to track freight even when it moves to parts of the supply chain it doesn’t own, such as rail lines. Health care companies are now using blockchain’s digital encryption technologies to help make medical records more mobile and improve the traceability of drugs. And blockchain’s immutable transaction-recording system could make claims processing and dispute resolution more efficient. Even groceries are getting into the act. A growing number of grocery store chains are investing in blockchain solutions to track foods from the farm to the grocery aisle to the table. The distributed ledger provides a clear chain of custody as edibles from mangoes to chickens travel across global supply lines with multiple handoffs. Using blockchain, organizations will be able to trace bad food back to its source in seconds and perform a speedy recall—fast enough, perhaps, to avoid incidents like the romaine lettuce e-coli outbreak of earlier this year. Blockchain for Finance Yes, blockchain is coming to the finance function too. In a Wall Street Journal article, Deloitte’s Rich de Mole and Dean Hobbs explain how blockchain has the potential to reshape finance processes to deliver cost and control benefits. The authors point out that blockchain can be used to improve procure-to-pay, order-to-cash and intercompany transactions. When it comes to managing supply chains, for example, blockchain technology can enable an effective integration of finance processes including settlement, financing, insurance, and warranty. Other organizations are looking at use cases ranging from simplifying cross-border payments to streamlining stock trading. One of the many useful features of blockchain technology is the ability to create “smart contracts” that govern how transactions are processed. Once participants on a blockchain accept a contract, the terms and conditions can’t be changed, unless all the parties agree to modify them. The permanent nature of transactions recorded on a blockchain, together with its total transparency, can help reduce the possibility of fraud and errors. Hobbs and de Mole point out that finance organizations can use blockchain to control many kinds of transaction processes, including “self-validating” sub-ledgers for order-to-cash and procure-to-pay integration, revenue cycle management, and trade finance. Deloitte worked with one company, for example, to set up an intercompany blockchain to document purchase agreements, confirm receipt of goods and services, facilitate settlement, and process payments. Blockchain and ERP It’s no wonder that more and more ERP providers—Oracle among them—are integrating blockchain into their ERP cloud applications. Yet companies that pursue blockchain initiatives may want to reconsider changing their existing enterprise systems. As Hobbs explains, blockchain “simply shares data you select with specified parties so they can see the same information you’re seeing at the same time.” The more immediate challenge, he says, is establishing a sustainable group of trading partners bound together by smart contracts and clear rules of engagement. Deloitte, for its part, has been making significant investments in blockchain solutions. Deloitte recently launched a blockchain lab designed to accelerate development of a range of use-cases and empowering organizations to connect and exchange value in more dynamic, efficient and immediate ways. Starting small makes sense and can potentially reduce risk. Some finance organizations may want to get their feet wet by piloting blockchain for intercompany transactions with the goal of simplifying the sale of goods and services across legal entities. This can give companies valuable experience working with blockchain before extending the technology to include external trading partners. Organizations that start early on disruptive blockchain projects could gain a first-mover advantage that could propel growth and innovation. Does your finance organization have a strategy to harness blockchain technology? I’d love to hear from you.   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. 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 last of our series of three blogs, we’ll take a...

Finance Topics & Trends

Banks Face Up to the Danger of Doing Nothing

What is the biggest competitive threat to today’s banking incumbents? If you asked many of them, they might say the biggest threats come from fintech start-ups, blockchain innovators, or some other new business model that no one has invented yet. But a new paper from American Banker argues that the biggest threat is coming from within banks themselves—in particular, their reluctance to move to the cloud technologies required to become a digital business. “The primary threat to any financial institution is therefore not external at all,” the authors write. “It is its own internal inability to nimbly execute on the digital imperatives necessary for success in the difficult-to-predict but most certainly lucrative future of finance.” CFOs can lead this charge towards a digital future, the writers argue, because the systems under their purview—ERP, ledgers and sub-ledgers, reporting, audit, etc.—hold the key to agility, efficiency, and innovation. Internal decision-makers depend heavily on enterprise resource planning (ERP) and enterprise performance management (EPM) systems. They rely on these systems to understand what’s going on across the business; to optimize allocation of resources for maximum return-on-capital; and to keep within the institution’s acceptable limits of risk. Financial services companies have much to gain from cloud ERP and EPM systems, which are much more agile, efficient and innovative than their on-premises predecessors. The Gains to Financial Services from Cloud ERP There are a number of advantages that financial services institutions can gain from moving ERP and EPM to the cloud, including: Multi-dimensional insight. To make timely, fact-based decisions, managers and executives need ready access to historical, real-time, and predictive insights. Historical and real-time insights might be delivered in the form of traditional reporting and business intelligence; while predictive insights (looking towards the future) might rely on more advanced data science and visualization to help decision-makers predict trends in customer behaviors, operating margins, and product performance. Accelerated feedback loops. In a fast-paced, innovation-driven marketplace, it’s not just about making the right decisions. It’s about continuously re-evaluating those decisions based on empirical feedback and then quickly making adjustments—whether it’s a bit of fine-tuning or a wholesale change in strategy. In addition to delivering rich insight, cloud ERP must enable speed and frequency of change. Continuous cost alignment. Agility requires the ability to act quickly within the right cost parameters. Historically, that’s been a challenge for banks. With on-premises systems, new technologies required a sizeable investment in advance of returns (the “cap-ex” model). With cloud, banks can now quickly launch pilot programs at more sensible cost. If those programs succeed, they can scale them under an op-ex model that remains well-aligned with the income these new programs generate. If the pilots are not successful, the institution can exit with minimal loss exposure. Cloud ERP thus optimizes margins and mitigates risk, in addition to enhancing agility. Governance, Risk and Compliance in Cloud ERP Governance, risk management, and compliance mandates can often constrain the agility needed to compete in fast-moving financial services markets. Here again, the cloud can be of extraordinary value. Cloud applications are updated quarterly by the providers to help compliance with regulatory requirements, consumer protections and risk management—making it easier and less costly for banks to comply with new or modified mandates as they emerge. Banks can allocate their finite resources to high-value innovation—rather than to low-value compliance burdens. The future belongs to those who transform digital uncertainty from an institutional threat to a source of sustainable competitive advantage. In an upcoming webinar, American Banker will discuss why a digital advantage is critical for the future of banks. You’ll learn how to handle moving to the cloud, why it’s about more than just the technology, and how the choices you make can affect your business. Register now for the American Banker webcast.

What is the biggest competitive threat to today’s banking incumbents? If you asked many of them, they might say the biggest threats come from fintech start-ups, blockchain innovators, or some other new...

Finance Topics & Trends

Oracle OpenWorld Looks to the Business of Tomorrow

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? Your company has a new product ready to launch. The product development team is eager to get it out to the market. Finance has run the forecasts, and the new product is going to be big: it has the potential to increase revenue by 19 percent in the first year, and 31 percent next year. But your company has supply chain issues at the Mexican plant that are causing delivery delays; and attrition on the design team is more than 40 percent; and the materials budget is off by 17 percent; and sales generates 75 percent of its revenue from older products. Your customers might be ready for your latest innovation, but your business isn’t. This is a perfect example of a business that can’t keep up with the pace of change. According to Steve Cox, Global VP of ERP EPM Product Marketing at Oracle, companies are constrained by yesterday’s technologies and operating models: aging IT infrastructure, manual processes, people and cultures that are resistant to change. In his Oracle OpenWorld session, “The Last Upgrade You’ll Ever Need,” Cox urged companies to immediately start looking at tomorrow’s technologies—cloud applications built on machine learning, chatbots, intelligent process automation and more—to immediately start automating as many functions and processes as possible. “Everything that technology can do, it will do,” Cox said, describing the current era as “the last mile of automation.” In the finance function, for example, half of a team’s time is spent on manual, mundane tasks: transaction processing, reconciling numbers, chasing and waiting for information. Yesterday’s ERP doesn’t provide the level of insight, speed or automation required to keep up with today’s pace of change. Companies need tomorrow’s ERP: built on emerging technologies to include features like expense reporting assistants, supplier recommendations, intelligent payments, and more. And because it’s in the cloud, tomorrow’s ERP is updated every 90 days with the latest functionality. “This is about making your organization future-ready,” said Cox. “You can consume innovation at a pace that was unheard of in the old, on-premises world.” A Connected, Intelligent Business Senior Vice President of ERP Product Marketing, Juergen Lindner, echoed the sentiment in the OpenWorld session, “Create Tomorrow, Today: Transform into a Connected and Intelligent Business.” “What makes the conversation about cloud meaningful is the access to innovation,” Lindner said during a panel discussion with Oracle customers and IDC. “When you compare the richness of functionality of cloud applications to on premises, it’s the secret sauce to future-proofing your business.” Lindner cautioned audience members about the “cloud hairball”: multiple point solutions from multiple cloud providers that aren’t integrated with each other. This not only hinders the flow of information from one system to the next, it prevents the process automation that companies are seeking to achieve. The Dangers of Disconnected Clouds IDC’s recent InfoBrief, “Technology Challenges Driving Large Enterprises to a Connected Cloud Suite” (sponsored by Oracle) found that only 5% of large enterprises have all their SaaS applications fully integrated with corporate-wide systems. In cases where applications are integrated, only 25% of respondents said the SaaS provider offers this integration. Instead, organizations rely on on-premises integration platforms (21%), cloud-based integration platforms (20%), custom in-house integration (16%), and systems integrators (14%) to build the integrations they need. “Many large enterprises have made repeated, disconnected cloud purchases that have left them with a complex portfolio of inconsistent and potentially incompatible solutions that are expensive, cumbersome and not easily leveraged as a whole for strategic advantage,” IDC writes. The firm advises organizations to reassess cloud vendors based on a proven ability to deliver full SaaS integration, as well as their ability to provide a head start with innovation and digital transformation. IDC's advice aligns with Oracle's approach. We offer a complete, connected suite of cloud applications, infused with machine learning, chatbots and other emerging technologies, to provide immediate innovations that you can begin using right away. “This is something that Oracle is in a unique position to provide,” said Lindner.  Learn more about Oracle ERP Cloud and Oracle EPM Cloud.

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? Your company has a new product ready to launch. The product development team is eager to get it out to the market. Finance has run the forecasts, and the new...

Product News

Quantum Baseballs, Machine Learning, and How to Predict the Future

Using Newtonian physics to describe the behavior of quantum particles, according to physicist Brian Greene, is like pretending that photons are baseballs. Your predictions will come out wrong. Greene was one of the keynote speakers during the opening day of Oracle OpenWorld 2018. He dove into the heady topics of quantum entanglement, black holes and multiple universes with unbridled enthusiasm. The audience was standing room only, and they were just as riveted by the subject matter as Greene clearly was. For a cosmology enthusiast like me, it was the perfect way to kick off Oracle’s biggest annual event. Knowledge, understanding, and predictability are key themes, as attendees are hungry to understand emerging technologies like machine learning, blockchain, the Internet of Things and more. In particular, finance attendees are eager to understand how these new technologies can help make their businesses more productive and predictable. For those attendees, there were many exciting answers available. Oracle Turbo-Charges Cloud ERP Suite One of the biggest announcements this year is about the new capabilities available in Oracle ERP and EPM Cloud. Rondy Ng and Matt Bradley, who lead the development teams for these applications, shared how emerging technologies are providing new capabilities to finance teams, including: Intelligent Process Automation: Using machine learning (ML), rather than business rules, to automate and improve labor-intensive tasks. For example, rules-based image scanning might match 60 to 70 percent of invoices; that still leaves a lot of invoices to process manually. If an invoice is kicked out for review, ML learns from the manual entry and uses it to better recognize similar characters in future. Other processes that can be automated with ML include transaction matching, account reconciliations, and other activities associated with the financial close. Expense Reporting Assistant: A new chatbot assistant processes expenses with greater efficiency. Not only does this simplify expense reporting for end users, it improves accuracy and ensures that company policies are consistently enforced. Intelligent Payments: New artificial intelligence capabilities take advantage of in-the-moment supplier profiles and risk data to generate vendor-specific offers in exchange for early payment of outstanding payables. This helps organizations reduce costs and build stronger relationships with top suppliers. Supplier Recommendations: Combines your internal ERP data about suppliers, purchase orders, invoices, payables, and other details with external sources of data, to help you choose the best suppliers for your needs. Advanced Access Controls: Advanced Access Controls constantly examine all users, roles, and privileges against a library of active security rules—across general ledger, payables, receivables, and fixed assets—to help protect business data from insider threats, fraud, misuse and human error. In addition, embedded machine learning helps to identify patterns associated with fraud attempts that humans might otherwise miss. Intelligent Performance Management (coming soon): The ML capabilities in Oracle EPM Cloud can uncover hard-to-spot data patterns, providing meaningful insights to the right team members, at the right time, to help them make better, more timely business decisions—predictions that (unlike quantum baseballs) are much less likely to be wrong. A Better Way to Build Subscription Business Models Another big announcement for finance professionals is the announcement of Oracle Subscription Management. Designed to help companies quickly offer new subscription services, it helps organizations manage: Renewals, cross-sell and upsell Configure, price and quote Sales planning (CRM) Subscription contracts and billing Collection and payments Revenue recognition compliance with ASC606/IFRS15 This innovative subscription management solution helps organizations to: Support Subscriptions Across All Customer Touchpoints: Omnichannel support gives renewal specialists, service agents, sales reps and customers a consistent subscription experience. Increase Subscription Revenues Through Powerful Customer Insights: Rich analytics and reporting tools provide a full view of customer programs, with a single view of KPIs and powerful analytics to optimize funnel conversion. Continuous insights help agents drive new deal activity by initiating or upgrading customers. Orchestrate the Full Customer Lifecycle: Unified front and back office processes—from outbound communication to renewals and charges—provide powerful insights into new deal activity, opportunities and buying habits. The solution also supports revenue recognition compliance, calculates complex and recurring pricing models, and simplifies the management of mixed orders with recurring services and physical products.   The difference between Oracle’s approach to emerging technologies, and the way that other vendors approach them, is that we don’t just give you a toolset to develop finance applications and use cases. We use machine learning, blockchain, IoT and more to deliver these new applications and use cases to you, the customer, right from our cloud. And we upgrade our ERP and EPM Cloud every 90 days, so that you always have access to the latest, greatest features. With more than 5,500 ERP/EPM Cloud customers, Oracle’s approach to finance innovation appears to be winning over businesses around the world. Stay tuned for more this week from Oracle OpenWorld. Missed Oracle OpenWorld? Join us in Las Vegas for LIMITLESS, March 19-21, 2019. 

Using Newtonian physics to describe the behavior of quantum particles, according to physicist Brian Greene, is like pretending that photons are baseballs. Your predictions will come out wrong. Greene...

Finance Topics & Trends

Autumn is the Time to Raise the Curtain on Higher Learning

Fall isn’t just the time when college campuses come alive with activity. It’s also show time! Events and trade shows for higher education are ramping up, and the opportunities for learning are abundant. Starting next week, a pair of events for higher education will provide insight to finance and business officers looking to modernize their institutions, and for IT professionals seeking to support that mission. EACUBO 2018 The Eastern Association of College and University Business Officers (EACUBO) will be hosting its annual meeting starting Sunday, Oct. 21 in Buffalo, New York. The EACUBO Annual Meeting will focus on topics such as key financial and resource administration, change and strategic management, innovation, collaboration and leadership, and analyzing prudent risk taking. One session not to be missed is “Cloud Based ERP System Collaboration,” presented by Saint Michael’s College. Saint Michael’s is a partner—along with Champlain and Middlebury Colleges—in the Green Mountain Higher Education Consortium, which is implementing a cloud-based ERP system for use by all three colleges. The presentation will outline the business drivers behind the project, as well as the methods used to share and standardize business processes. The session will also highlight the critical role of data governance models early in planning. William Anderson, CIO, and Mary Jane Russell, Director of Business Intelligence and Associate CIO, both of Saint Michael's College, will be the presenters. The session is on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 1:15 - 2:15 pm. Don’t forget to drop by booth #5 for updates on the latest on Oracle Student Cloud, as well as demos of other cloud applications for higher education. EDUCAUSE 2018 An even bigger splash will be made the following week at EDUCASE, Oct. 30-Nov. 2 in Denver, Colorado. The EDUCAUSE Annual Conference brings together the best thinking in higher education technology. Higher ed professionals and technology providers from around the world gather to network, share ideas, grow their skills, and discover solutions to today’s challenges. It’s the largest gathering of your peers throughout the year.  On Wednesday, Oct. 31, we’ll host a session on how to Innovate and Differentiate with Enterprise Cloud Services. You’ll hear from technology leaders at forward-looking institutions, including: Tonjia Coverdale, Vice President and CIO, Central State University Max Davis-Johnson, CIO and Associate Vice President, Boise State University Anthony Espinoza, CIO, Stephen F Austin University Frank Lever, CIO, Moody Bible Institute The panel members will discuss how they are embracing new technologies—such as chatbots powered by artificial intelligence, modern student systems, and cloud services such as database, integration, security and management. Together with Oracle Student Cloud, these institutions are creating dynamic, modern and personalized experiences for their entire communities. If you need help getting around the area, look for the Tesla cars branded with Oracle Student Cloud on the sides. Anyone with a conference badge can hop in for a ride to wherever you need to go. And be sure to visit the Oracle booth, #502, where you can see demos of Oracle Student Cloud, Student Financial Planning, Planning and Budgeting, Finance, Human Capital Management, and the Oracle Cloud Platform. We hope to see you at both events! Register now for the EACUBO 2018 Annual Meeting and EDUCAUSE 2018. 

Fall isn’t just the time when college campuses come alive with activity. It’s also show time! Events and trade shows for higher education are ramping up, and the opportunities for learning...

Financial Management & Reporting

What’s New for EPM Customers at Oracle OpenWorld?

By Jennifer Toomey, Senior Director, Cloud Business Group, Oracle As my colleague Anne Ozzimo recently wrote, “The role of finance is being disrupted… with finance operating models and skill sets evolving to support customer-first strategies and dynamic new business models.” New operating models, emerging technologies and skill sets will be a focus next week at Oracle OpenWorld, along with a wealth of information and customer stories for those involved in enterprise performance management (EPM). Where should you start? We recommend beginning with the big picture: the ERP/EPM keynote, “Thriving in the Age of Business Model Disruption” (Monday, Oct 22, 11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. at Moscone South - Room 153/155). Speakers from Office Depot, Dropbox, and Oracle will be discussing how EPM can help enable business model change and blaze the trail toward the intelligent enterprise. How Do I Move from On-Premises to Cloud? This year’s agenda is filled with case studies of customers who have successfully moved from Hyperion on-premises applications to EPM Cloud. Gather insights and strategies from other customers by attending our Customer Panel on Migrating to Oracle EPM Cloud. This practical session explores performance and migration considerations through two successful Oracle EPM Cloud migration and implementation case studies. Oracle Financial Consolidation and Close Cloud is ready for prime-time, and many customers are moving from Hyperion Financial Management (HFM). Hear the Avis story in Ride Along with Avis on Its Journey to Oracle EPM Cloud. The session entitled Oracle Hyperion Financial Management to Oracle EPM Cloud: Financial Close explores the process in detail with a customer case study and helps dispel the myths and uncertainty. On the planning side, hear how Hertz moved from Hyperion Planning to Oracle EPM Cloud and worked with Deloitte to build a depreciation engine for its entire fleet—something that would not have been possible in the on-premises world—in the session, Improved Business Outcomes: Moving from Oracle Hyperion to Oracle EPM Cloud. There are many paths from on premises to the cloud, and you can hear about a few of these at The Modern Office of the CFO: Shared Tales from On-Premises to the Cloud. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan initially planned to migrate just its on-premises planning to Oracle Cloud and instead decided to improve processes including strategic modeling, financial close, and data management functions across the enterprise—and adopted other Oracle SaaS offerings. Dexcom approached its cloud journey as an opportunity to undergo a financial transformation: in addition to migrating Oracle E-Business Suite to Oracle ERP Cloud, Dexcom implemented Oracle EPM Cloud, including financial consolidation and close, account reconciliation, profitability and cost management, and enterprise planning and budgeting. What’s New with Oracle EPM Solutions? Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotic process automation are on everyone’s minds. When you’re making a major investment in EPM, you want to know what you’re getting, now and in the future. To get the long-term view, come to Emerging Technologies in EPM. In this session, experts discuss how emerging technologies are opening up exciting new opportunities in EPM. The presenters will provide a forward-looking overview of innovation and automation across the full spectrum of EPM business processes, including planning and forecasting, financial consolidation and close, process orchestration, account reconciliation, and performance reporting. For a more comprehensive overview, global VP of product management, Hari Sankar, will present the Oracle EPM Strategy and Roadmap. This session will cover functionality such as planning and budgeting, profitability and cost management, financial consolidation, financial close, external and internal reporting, and master data management. If you’re not ready to migrate your on-premises EPM solution, make sure to attend Overview and Update: On-Premises EPM Applications and Roadmap. This session explores in detail the strategy and solution delivery roadmap for EPM on-premises applications, so you’ll know what to expect from your continued investment. Got questions? Head to the Product Development Panel Q&A: Oracle EPM Applications. Here, the Oracle EPM Cloud development team will address your questions on product capabilities, release plans and roadmap, and related topics. What Stories Will Customers Be Sharing? One of the best things about Oracle OpenWorld is the opportunity to hear customers’ real-world success stories. This year we’re pleased to offer stories on virtually every topic area, in every industry. Want to know how Oracle's latest EPM cloud solutions support the needs of enterprise organizations in healthcare and beyond? Come to Modern Healthcare in Oracle EPM Cloud to hear how Harvard Pilgrim Health Care went live with an integrated reporting, planning, and allocation solution powered by Oracle EPM Cloud. If you’re in a government organization of any scale, get insight from Customers Present: EPM in the Public Sector. You can also learn about the City of Detroit’s experience of Improving Government Operations with the Cloud. Here how Hilton Grand Vacations recently went through a divestiture that resulted in the need for new and improved close and reporting processes during Journey to the Cloud: Enabling Oracle EPM Cloud for Hilton Grand Vacations. In another opportunity to learn from and with your peers, current Blackline users shouldn’t miss Case Study for Migration from Blackline to Oracle Account Reconciliation Cloud. You’ll learn how Tribune Publishing increased efficiency and successfully migrated a highly complex transaction matching solution, as well as its overall close and reconciliation solution, from Blackline to Oracle Account Reconciliation Cloud. Finally, hear from customers about the newest EPM Cloud offering, Oracle Enterprise Data Management. Attend Customers Present: Oracle Enterprise Data Management Cloud Service to learn from Oracle Data Relationship Management and Oracle Enterprise Data Management Cloud Service customers about how they are solving challenges of migrating to or coexisting core information assets across hybrid, multi-cloud environments. Why Not Create Your Own Agenda? In addition to presentations, our popular Hands-On Lab sessions offer specific guidance on capabilities for financial close, enterprise planning, enterprise data management, account reconciliation, and more. Build your OpenWorld 2018 schedule and learn more here. Register now for Oracle OpenWorld 2018.  

By Jennifer Toomey, Senior Director, Cloud Business Group, Oracle As my colleague Anne Ozzimo recently wrote, “The role of finance is being disrupted… with finance operating models and skill sets...

Finance Topics & Trends

From Steward to Strategist: The New Role of the CFO

By Declan Tyrrell, Finance Evangelist, EMEA Sales Factory at Oracle, and Former CFO I’ve been in the world of finance for a long time. As a former CFO, I’ve seen the role evolve from one of financial steward, to corporate strategist. With the pace of business change now faster than it has ever been, the role of the CFO will be help build an engine to drive the business forward. Data will be the fuel for that engine, and sustainable profitability will be the destination. Data, Past and Present It is not unusual for finance to spend 90% of its time getting information into relevant business systems, validating it, and getting it out again for reporting—leaving limited time to interpret the data. By the time we generate and distribute management information (which can take in excess of 10 days), all we are doing is asking management to explain our current under-performance. This, in essence, has our management driving the business by looking backwards. From 12 Days to 14 Minutes Modern finance systems allow us to close our books faster. When I became CFO of a law firm, the first thing I did was to set a goal of closing the books at 5 p.m. on the last working day of the month, and generating reports by 9 a.m. on the first working day of the following month. Using automated workflows and automatic checks and balances, I reduced the month-end close from 12 days to 14 minutes. I overlaid the reports to management with a “traffic light” system (green, yellow or red) and automated commentary; this gave the information clarity and purpose. I continued to meet with the management teams mid-month, but instead of asking them to explain under-performance, I asked what actions they had taken since they received the information. This empowered managers to look forward, not backward, and take action. This approach led to a doubling of revenue over a three-year period and a tripling of profit per equity partner. Everywhere I have applied this approach, it has empowered management to take action and be forward facing. I have seen significant increases in profitability—as high as 250% in one organization and 400% in another. Using Data to Shape the Future As modern finance systems continue to evolve, the concepts of continuous close or real-time data validation are becoming a reality for more and more businesses. This opens up a world of opportunity for finance. Imagine not having to worry about the accuracy of your data—whether financial, internal or external. Imagine a finance “bot” that continually monitors the data, running scenarios and trend analyses to identify potential future issues or areas of opportunity. This would empower the business, and finance, to focus on the issues and opportunities rather than wasting time on ensuring data accuracy. Are You Profitable? Profitability is critical. You have to understand your profitability, and most organizations don’t. A typical scenario is when a company prices its products and services to win, rather than to be profitable. But once you’ve empowered your organization with the ability to easily see and analyze financial data, you’re able to figure out the formulas that drive profits. It’s not just costs. Maybe you’re losing money because processes aren’t efficient enough. Maybe it’s the discounts you offer. Maybe you’re failing to recover all the hours of work you put into servicing an account. With cloud-based profitability and cost-management, you can run what-if scenarios that will quickly tell you things like how to grow your margin from 4 to 9 percent—just by changing your discount rate from 15 percent to 10. Every CFO knows the key to growing profit margin is understanding the organization’s key performance indicators and how they impact profit. This sounds like a simple statement, but the complexity of multiple systems and siloed data can make this a nearly impossible task. We have always been good at organization profit measurement, profit by line of business or region, etc. The real power comes from understanding the component parts of the profit margin and how to tweak them. When I restructured the finance team at a law firm, they had no capabilities in place to easily analyze profitability by client. When I started to introduce profit analysis by customer, we discovered, unsurprisingly, that 80 percent of the firm’s revenue was coming from 20 percent of its customers. That’s not unusual, but we needed to dig deeper. It’s one thing to have a client that brings in $1 million a year, but how much of that income is profit? When we looked under the hood, we found the firm’s biggest client offered high-volume, low-value, fixed-price transactional work. And over the course of the previous four years, costs associated with that client had exploded because the staff doing the work had become more qualified and were being paid more. We knew we had to either increase the price we were getting for the work or decrease the cost of doing it—maybe both. We went to the customer to ask for more money for the work, which we received. Then, with the help of machine learning, we automated a lot of the work and pushed most of the rest to lower-cost employees. After only six months, this client became the firm’s highest value customer. You might be able to do this kind of analysis now, but how much effort does it take? Probably a great deal. With automation, you can conduct the analysis quickly and easily. Who Is Your Customer? With cloud-based finance applications, you’ll have accurate data in real time, and the ability to understand and share it. You’ll really start to understand who your customers are and how much value each one brings to the table. Maybe you’ll see more opportunities to cross-sell your products or services to existing clients. We all know it’s cheaper to sell new business to an existing customer than to win an entirely new client. With greater access to financial data and the tools to analyze it effectively, you’ll see opportunities to serve clients across multiple departments, not just one. You’ll also be able to roll data back two years, five years, a decade. Unlike traditional computing environments, cloud-based systems are designed to scale and accommodate all your data requirements, all the time. How many clients did you lose? Are there trends among those you’ve lost over a certain time period? Which clients grew during the same period? Which ones are entirely new? Can you identify sweet spots or hot clients? If so, can you share those hot clients with other departments and grow new lines of business with them? The Future is in the Cloud If you want this kind of analysis at your fingertips in real time—if you want to be able to use predictive analytics to know what’s coming around the corner—then it’s time to become the progressive CFO of the future. Today’s CFOs have an opportunity to be proactive contributors to innovation and growth. With access to real-time data in the cloud and machine learning-infused automation, finance leaders have more time and capabilities to drive profitable change by improving decision-making, automating non-value adding tasks, managing risks, and optimizing assets. If you automate all the transactional functions that go into closing the books, for example, you will always know where your company stands right now financially. And with cloud capabilities, you can share that information with key stakeholders quickly and easily. Then, as a team, you can work on getting your business turned around, facing forward, and growing profits. As Oracle CEO Mark Hurd said at the 2018 Modern Finance Experience, “CFOs are driving cloud migration because it just makes sense. It reduces expenses, increases efficiency, and creates more opportunity to truly innovate.”

By Declan Tyrrell, Finance Evangelist, EMEA Sales Factory at Oracle, and Former CFO I’ve been in the world of finance for a long time. As a former CFO, I’ve seen the role evolve from one of financial...

Finance Topics & Trends

Will Public Sector Accountability Get a Big Boost from Blockchain?

By David Haimes, Senior Director of ERP Development, Oracle At the UN General Assembly in New York last month, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari pleaded with his international peers to help fight corruption, which he said is an extreme threat to stability, peace, and economic security for millions of people in developing nations like his. Much of the corruption in Nigeria is tied to illicit financial flows, Buhari noted. During the same week, the Columbus, Ohio, suburb of Dublin (population 42,346) was reviewing proposals for its history-making plan to become one of the first US cities to have a blockchain-based identity system for citizens. One discussed use is voting and monitoring of voting. Viewed together, these examples illustrate the widespread opportunity for blockchain to improve accountability in the public sector at all levels and in many vital functions, whether the organization in need is an emerging nation with complex problems or a small town that wants to be more open, efficient, and innovative. Government Applications of Blockchain Blockchain, also known as distributed ledger, is a type of software that documents and couples user identity and transactions, and creates linked blocks of those records so that anyone participating in the chain of transactions has visibility into all activities. Potential government applications include: Collecting and spending tax money Banking and capital markets regulation Asset traceability Delivery of services Voting Licensing Court records Law enforcement In the case of something like voting that requires anonymity, voters would be identified by a digital key, which means records are documented on the blockchain anonymously. The digital key concept is how digital currency is “owned.” The pure transparency and indisputable record of activity that blockchain provides can help prevent public corruption. Essentially, when transactions such as paying taxes, transferring money, and voting happen in a blockchain, a linked community of watchdogs is automatically created. It’s like having access to public records without having to go to a public facility to monitor them as activities are recorded. Blockchain also provides data-security benefits and works in real time, which improves a government agency’s ability to protect public data and keep records current. Access to a blockchain requires a digital key, and activity within the chain is documented immediately. How Governments Are Likely to Use Blockchain Governments in emerging markets in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East are hot spots for blockchain at the national level because they are building up digital infrastructure for the first time. Because they don’t have embedded hardware and software systems as developed governments do, they can be faster with adoption. For these countries, blockchain could be a way to accelerate their emergence in the global economy. Qatar has committed to becoming an entirely blockchain-based government by 2020, and the country already is creating blockchain-based apps for citizens to access information such as food origin. Nigeria is considering different applications of blockchain, including using Oracle Blockchain Cloud to enhance customs-services operations. For developed countries and their regional and local counterparts, blockchain adoption will happen where it makes the most sense. If a digital system is in place and working well, government leaders probably won’t run out and replace it just to say they are using blockchain. If a digital system is in place but is not functioning well, is not secure, or is lacking a reliable checks-and-balances capability, blockchain-based applications could be the answer. One area that’s certain to be of interest is identity management. Right now, different public groups issue different forms of identify to prove citizenship or privileges, such as a state driver’s license, a federal health-services card, and a city ID for using city-owned amenities. That’s a lot of redundancy and multiple opportunities for fraud. Blockchain makes it possible to maintain one secure version of identity verification. Keeping Up with the Business of Blockchain Another aspect of government accountability regarding blockchain is economic development and empowerment. Blockchain is a transformational technology. It will forever change the way goods and services are delivered and exchanged, how markets and money transfers are regulated, how contracts are established, as well as many other aspects of doing business around the globe. Governments should embrace opportunities to attract and build blockchain knowledge in their communities and should use blockchain to make it easier to do business with and within their communities. Lots of large, public companies are investing in blockchain initiatives, but small, local governments such as Dublin, Ohio, are investing in blockchain, too. Gartner estimates blockchain’s business value-add will grow to just over $360 billion by 2026, and then surge to $310 trillion by 2030. Even though widespread adoption is years away, blockchain technology is easy to access and use today. Why not get started now? Not only will your government agency be preparing for tomorrow, but you will also be an early adopter of what’s sure to be a much more accountable era in public governance. On Wednesday, Oct. 24, I’ll be presenting other use cases for blockchain applications as part of Oracle OpenWorld 2018. If you’re planning to come to OpenWorld, I invite you to attend. Register now for Oracle OpenWorld.

By David Haimes, Senior Director of ERP Development, Oracle At the UN General Assembly in New York last month, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari pleaded with his international peers to help fight...

Finance Topics & Trends

Why Tomorrow's ERP Stands for Earn, Rest and Play

By Angela Mazza Teufer, Senior Vice President ERP, EPM, SCM Western Europe, Oracle When we’re young, we have very different notions of what makes us "super" people. We want to be Iron Man with his suit, Captain America with his shield or Wonder Woman her bracelets of submission. But as we become adults and come to grips with reality, our definition of what it takes to be "super" is completely different.    In fact, in business, we use "super" to describe leaders who are finding the right balance between work and life. Modern superheroes lauded in the media are those who are successful in their field while also making enough time for family and hobbies outside of work. Maybe that’s getting home in time to put the kids to bed, finding time to train for a marathon, or just putting in the hours to learn how to play an instrument. We’re in awe of these individuals not because of a tremendous feat of strength or heroic act, but because achieving a perfect work/life balance is one of the hardest things to do as an adult. This is where ERP cloud applications are delivering the power needed to be "super." ERP might stand for “Enterprise Resource Planning”, but let’s make it stand for “Earn, Rest and Play”—helping business decision makers find the right work/life balance and prove their true worth as modern superheroes. ERP, when bringing automation to the equation, can speed up manual tasks as well as eliminating time-consuming and costly upgrades. Focus can instead be dedicated to more strategic elements of the job. Recent Accenture research showed that finance staff spend an average of 60 to 70 percent of their time on tasks such as processing transactions, accounting, controlling, compliance and reporting; that’s a lot more time back in their day. We’re already seeing a couple of CFOs splitting their time more evenly between Earning, Resting and Playing, thanks to ERP: Umair Junaid, CFO at Access Power, was spending a lot of time manually pulling together the financial reports coming in from the company’s operations across many different countries. It was a time-heavy process given each region has its own regulations and accounting practices. Automating the process with an ERP cloud means he has a better handle on reports from across the regions and can use them to facilitate the organisation’s growth plans, but without needing to put in more hours at work.  Christophe Eouzan, Chief Accounting Officer at Orange, needed a way to free up both his and the wider corporate finance team’s time so they could focus on higher-level work that would be more valuable in supporting a company-wide transformation initiative. With an ERP cloud taking care of time-consuming, non-strategic tasks like requisitions, purchase orders, and vendor invoices, Orange has been able to free up finance back-office personnel. Now Eouzan can focus on more important, value-added tasks, such as forecasting, supplier transaction transparency and building a digital working environment. With businesses more reliant on data, CFOs need to be more than number-crunchers if they’re to maximise their earning potential and add value in the right places. Our market-leading ERP helps them achieve this, making them more productive and successful at work, while freeing up the time to "do it all"—dedicating attention to family, friends, hobbies, and their general well-being. That’s why ERP with automation capabilities is the real power helping business people become our modern day superheroes.

By Angela Mazza Teufer, Senior Vice President ERP, EPM, SCM Western Europe, Oracle When we’re young, we have very different notions of what makes us "super" people. We want to be Iron Man with his...

Finance Topics & Trends

Explore the New Role of Finance in the Customer-first Economy at Oracle OpenWorld

By Anne Ozzimo, Senior Director, Oracle ERP/EPM Cloud Business Group, Oracle In her new book The Inversion Factor, author and leading technologist Linda Bernardi argues that traditional product-centric business strategies are no longer sufficient to ensure business success. Bernardi advocates inverting your strategy away from designing products or services you hope customers will like, to an innovation strategy predicated on anticipating customer needs and fulfilling them in ways never before possible, from delivering groceries in a two-hour window, to selecting the perfect pair of jeans for your body type.    The role of finance is being disrupted as well, with finance operating models and skill sets evolving to support customer-first strategies and dynamic new business models. Emerging technologies like IoT, blockchain, artificial intelligence, and autonomous technologies are behind the shift toward customer centricity, helping humans sift through reams of data to understand their customers more intimately than ever before. But human acumen is needed as well, especially from the finance team, whose job has moved beyond interpreting data trends to proactively monetizing these insights with management to create new sources of revenue and growth.   The role of disruptive finance is one of the key trends being explored at Oracle OpenWorld this October 22-25, 2018 in San Francisco, with Inversion Factor author Bernardi among those speaking at the annual Finance Executive Networking Luncheon and CFO Workshop hosted by Oracle CEO Safra Catz and her finance executive team. These are just two of the many sessions at OpenWorld designed to help professionals network and learn about finance and technology trends, change management and implementation best practices, and share other strategies and methods to support finance modernization. Some not-to-be-missed sessions include: ERP General Session October 22, 2018, 11:00-12:15 pm, Moscone South Hosted by Oracle Applications Development SVPs Rondy Ng and Matt Bradley and available to all OpenWorld attendees, this session examines the dynamic and disruptive business models powering the shift toward a service-driven economy, and how upcoming releases of Oracle ERP Cloud and Oracle EPM Cloud will support these new, recurring revenue streams. Among the highlights: new product demonstrations; a development expert panel focused on AI and UX; and an interactive discussion with Dropbox Chief Accountant Tim Regan and Office Depot Senior Director Damon Venger, who will share their business strategies and how Oracle ERP and EPM Cloud solutions are helping to power their business models. CFO Workshop: The Customer-first Economy October 23, 2018, 7:30-11:00 am Contact your Oracle sales representative for more information. The CFO workshop, hosted by Oracle Executive Vice Chairman Jeff Henley and Oracle EVP Doug Kehring, will bring together senior finance executives for an interactive session on how to lead in the customer-first economy. Inversion Factor author Linda Bernardi will share the six principles of inversive business models and explore those principles with finance executives at Instacart and Stitch Fix, two examples of true inversion. During the workshop, Oracle’s finance executives will team up with Oracle ERP and EPM Cloud customers to discuss how emerging technologies are reshaping finance processes to support customer-first operating models. Discussions will focus on: Intelligent Operations: Optimizing the Continuous Close, Procure-to-Pay and Record-to-Report Processes Predictive Guidance: Zero-Touch, Rolling Forecasts and Real-Time Management Reporting The Future-Ready Workforce: Digital Skills, Cross-Functional Teams, Strategic Mindset Finance Executive Networking Luncheon: Feed Your Need for Disruptive Thinking October 23, 2018, 11:30-1:15 pm Contact your Oracle sales representative for more information. A perennial highlight for finance executives attending Oracle OpenWorld is the Finance Executive Networking Luncheon hosted by Oracle CEO Safra Catz and her finance executive team. The luncheon brings together finance practitioners wanting to be inspired by the latest thinking on finance and technology best practices. During lunch, Safra will share her insights on why finance executives need courage, clarity, curiosity, and conviction to thrive in today’s nonstop economy. She will also give an update on Oracle’s own ERP and EPM Cloud journey, and the benefits Oracle is receiving by standardizing on a modern cloud. Joining Safra to share their stories are finance change agents at Instacart, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Beall’s, in an interactive session moderated by author Linda Bernardi and Chris Wood, VP of Business Transformation at FedEx.   Explore ERP Cloud at Two Focus Groups and Have a Meal on Us! Executive Focus Group Breakfast: Wednesday, October 24, 2018, 7:30-8:45 am General Focus Group Luncheon: Wednesday, October 24, 2018, 12:15-1:45 pm If you are considering an upgrade or finance modernization initiative, these two focus groups are just the ticket you need to get on the cloud fast track. Designed to debunk many of the myths around finance in the cloud, these sessions will answer all your questions or concerns in a confidential, interactive environment.  Beyond Cost: Cloud Innovation Benefits There are a number of other opportunities to get up speed on how Oracle ERP and EPM Cloud can benefit your organization, including these highlighted sessions open to anyone attending OpenWorld: Tomorrow’s ERP, Today: The Last Upgrade You’ll Ever Need October 22, 2018, 4:45-5:30 pm The leader for this session is Steve Cox, Group Vice President, ERP and EPM Product Marketing at Oracle. Steve will discuss the key findings of a survey of organizations that have implemented cloud ERP and EPM systems. These customers were drawn to the cloud for cost savings, but found that the innovation-related benefits are the more meaningful and longer-lasting gains. Attendees will come away with a vision of where their businesses need to go next to compete, grow, and thrive. Improved Business Outcomes: Moving from Oracle Hyperion to Oracle EPM Cloud Wednesday, Oct 24, 11:15 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. | Moscone South - Room 157 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. Attend this session to hear how Hertz successfully moved from Hyperion Planning to EPM Cloud, and in the process, worked with Deloitte Consulting to build a depreciation engine for each automobile in Hertz’s fleet, something that would never have been possible before the cloud. Oracle ERP Cloud and the $2 Trillion Productivity Opportunity October 23, 4:45 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. | Moscone South - Room 214 See how Oracle ERP and EPM Cloud are driving increased productivity and how finance teams can position their companies to take advantage of the huge opportunities that emerging technologies offer. New research from the Wharton School predicts the US GDP could grow by $2 trillion over the next 10 years—with the productivity boom being powered by emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning, IoT, and more, and the cloud services that deliver them. Attendees will hear from National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation and learn why CFOs are poised to lead this growth. Learn how to position your company to get ahead of the future of finance—realizing Tomorrow’s Finance, Today. Visit the OpenWorld session catalog to view the complete list of ERP and EPM sessions. Register Now for Oracle OpenWorld 2018.

By Anne Ozzimo, Senior Director, Oracle ERP/EPM Cloud Business Group, Oracle In her new book The Inversion Factor, author and leading technologist Linda Bernardi argues that traditional product-centric...

Financial Management & Reporting

New Technologies Improving the Business of Healthcare

Have you ever heard of the “quadruple aim”? If you’re a finance or business leader in healthcare, you probably have. It refers to an industry-wide set of goals for U.S. healthcare providers, which can be broadly categorized as: Enhancing the experience of care for individuals Improving the health of populations Reducing the per capita cost of healthcare Improving the clinician experience As in every business today, technology plays a critical role in helping healthcare organizations achieve their goals. The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) recently undertook a survey to understand how healthcare organizations are making use of new technologies—including cloud, artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), blockchain, and the Internet of Things (IoT)—to help them with these four strategic priorities. We’re excited to share some preliminary findings with you, and invite you to attend the HIMMS webcast for a more in-depth look. 5 Key Findings from the HIMSS Survey 1. Hospitals and health systems are managing multiple strategic priorities related to the quadruple aim. Technology can be a key enabler to advancing those goals; yet, for most targeted outcomes, fewer than half of the hospitals and health systems surveyed feel their technology plans are well aligned with their goals. Q. How well do you feel your organization’s current or planned use of technology solutions is aligned to advance the following goals? 2. A lack of willingness to embrace new technologies may be one barrier to better alignment, with most organizations wanting evidence of success or more mainstream adoption before committing. 3. Despite this, hospitals and health systems are moving forward with technology that is key to driving digital transformation. Cloud enjoys the most widespread adoption, but decision makers also report solid interest in AI/ML and IoT. Q. Which of the following best describes your organization’s plans with respect to the following technologies? 4. Cloud is a technology hospitals and health systems are increasing their focus on. Three-quarters report interest in a cloud-first approach to managing applications and services, but they cite concerns regarding security, governance, integration, data protection and storage. Q. Is your organization taking a cloud-first approach to managing its applications and services? Q. What obstacles must be overcome to enable a cloud-first strategy at your organization? 5. The top use cases cited for AI/ML, IoT and blockchain are: AI/Machine Learning: Clinical decision support & predictive analytics IoT: Remote health monitoring for chronic conditions Blockchain: Securing medical records/patient data Join HIMSS for the full survey results. Attend the webcast, “HIMSS Media Insights on Technology Disruption in Healthcare.” You can also learn more about technology options for healthcare organizations in the webcast, “Transformative Financial Analytics for Today’s Modern Healthcare Organizations.” This event will take a deeper dive into the critical role of technology in helping healthcare organizations achieve their strategic goals. The speakers will: Explore trends in strategic financial management, planning, and reporting Review the necessary analytic tools to help manage today’s complex healthcare organizations Discuss how emerging technologies like AI/ML and IoT are becoming important strategic tools for optimizing performance and decision making Share a live demo of strategic financial analytic tools Register today to attend “Transformative Financial Analytics for Today’s Modern Healthcare Organizations.” 

Have you ever heard of the “quadruple aim”? If you’re a finance or business leader in healthcare, you probably have. It refers to an industry-wide set of goals for U.S. healthcare providers, which can...

Financial Management & Reporting

CFOs are IT Leaders Now, Says Oracle CEO Mark Hurd

In years past, many corporate IT departments and their finance departments operated as independent fiefdoms, which could often lead to inter-departmental clashes and wasteful spending. Many IT professionals would gladly throw every possible resource into developing a great new technology or application, but there are limits to what any company can spend on research and development before the bottom line starts to suffer. As a result, many modern enterprises, whether or not they claim to be “tech” companies, now route final authority for IT decision-making through their finance department. Oracle CEO Mark Hurd highlighted the shift at this year’s Modern Finance Experience conference when he noted, “About 60 percent to 70 percent of IT departments now actually report to finance, to the CFO.” Every modern enterprise needs a capable IT department, no matter how much development and production they might offload to the cloud. But every modern enterprise also needs to manage its costs so that it has the resources to grow, both for today and well into the future. It’s no longer enough for today’s CFO to be a cost-cutting, balance-sheet-optimizing accounting whiz. The modern CFO should view their role as a combination of savvy financial management and smart technology stewardship, and should undertake both functions with an eye towards their company’s long-term success. Does this mean that a CFO must learn how to code and get down in the trenches with their organization’s developers and network administrators? Not necessarily. Hurd comes from a sales and operations background, and he understands the importance of cloud computing and other technologies primarily from a cost-benefit perspective. Organizations Can Reduce Costs with Cloud ERP This is one key reason why he’s been such a vocal proponent of cloud computing. As he noted in a LinkedIn article published last year, “Companies can reduce costs 30% by simply moving to the cloud—reason enough for most companies to make the move (and many are). Think of that: You can strip out 30% of your IT costs without any reduction in performance and reliability.” A CFO doesn’t necessarily need to know how to set up a company-wide cloud solution like Oracle ERP Cloud to take advantage of its benefits to their bottom line. Understanding how cloud ERP can help their organizations, and working with IT staff to ensure it’s implemented carefully and comprehensively the first time around, can pay dividends for years. Data from Oracle and from independent studies supports this approach. Nucleus Research found that cloud applications produce 3.2x ROI over on-premises systems. Cloud ERP’s advantages are evident even within finance departments, particularly where shared workspaces and AI-driven automation can significantly increase productivity and minimize the risks of data entry errors that can lead to reporting or compliance issues. Hurd offered a compelling example during his Modern Finance Experience keynote, one relayed to him by Caesars Entertainment CEO Mark Frissora. As Hurd said, “Frissora talked about audit fees that are down more than 20 percent. They ran the company on 2,000 spreadsheets that are now gone.” How many data entry errors might crop up across 2,000 spreadsheets? A CFO who understands their organization’s tech stack, and who understands why and how to make it better, is an essential part of any modern C-suite. A CFO who refuses to learn more about the technology that undergirds their organization is one liable to cost that organization money, and that in turn may lower their chances of remaining CFO for long. Learn how CFOs can lead IT at Oracle OpenWorld 2018.

In years past, many corporate IT departments and their finance departments operated as independent fiefdoms, which could often lead to inter-departmental clashes and wasteful spending. Many...

Risk Management & Compliance

The Battle of the Bots is Coming to Finance

“If our data is going to be attacked—by robots, by botnets from people who are marshaling lots of computers to attack our applications on the cloud—it’s got to be our robots vs. their robots. That's what we are doing: using our own bots to detect these threats and remediate these threats automatically, without human intervention.” — Larry Ellison, Chairman and Chief Technology Officer, Oracle Ellison made this comment during the announcement of Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud, but the words apply equally to finance (and other lines of business) as they do to IT security. Cyber thieves use computers and applications to attack other computers and applications. The FBI says that ransomware—where thieves lock up systems and demand a ransom to unlock them—is the fastest-growing malware threat. Malware developers are churning out sophisticated applications and then advertising on the “dark web” for hired guns to distribute them. The developers take a cut of the ransom for every attack. Clearly, those using technology for good need to up their security game. Human intelligence alone can’t win the war on cyber security.  Good Bots vs. Bad Bots: the New Data-Security Reality Right now, most organizations respond reactively once an accidental exposure or data theft has happened. They devise and apply software patches or create additional workarounds after the damaging event. This strategy is failing to stop breaches that are hurting businesses and causing them to lose money, productivity, and trust. Anomaly detection, driven by machine learning, is a more effective strategy because it is proactive and sheds light on unusual activity that could be a threat before it becomes a crime. It’s also been bolstered by advances in autonomous machine learning in both hardware and software. Servers and applications can now “learn” new anomalies and add that knowledge as ongoing detection work happens autonomously. Humans don’t need to intervene in the process, so they can devote more time to understanding and responding to high-priority alerts of unusual activity. Oracle has broken new ground in cloud security with the Autonomous Database Cloud. It’s a database that continuously patches, tunes, backs up, and upgrades itself without manual intervention—all while systems are up and running. It’s part of the new reality of solving cyber-security challenges. Humans are still an important part of the security equation, but automation elevates that role to be more strategic and proactive rather than rote and reactive. In fact, human intelligence amplifies machine intelligence because people continually learn what threatening behavior looks like and so can better judge how to respond. Intelligent Applications Can Fight Cyber Crime, Too The same autonomous and intelligent capabilities can be embedded into cloud applications. This, too, is where human intelligence amplifies machine intelligence. Finance is a good example. Applications like Oracle Risk Management Cloud make cloud ERP implementations more secure by monitoring and preventing suspicious access. Risk Management Cloud also provides valuable contextual knowledge about risk that helps streamline and fortify decision-making about certification and compliance. This intelligent assistance can be particularly valuable for decentralized companies that have operations in multiple markets, and thus highly variable compliance requirements. For example, the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) applies to any business that directs services to the European Union or handles the personal data of individuals located in the European Union. The world’s largest 500 companies are tracking to spend $7.8 billion on GDPR compliance. Having context about when GDPR is applicable and when it is not could help those companies adopt more targeted protocols so they don’t overspend to achieve compliance. European telecommunications customer Orange was able to significantly increase automation and is working on reducing the number of employees that need access to the ERP system through process streamlining and professionalization of requester teams. Didier Chabrerie, CCO, says, “It’s a very exciting time, a few years ago there was nothing on the market. Everyone was saying data, data, data but there was no way to leverage it. Now, with ML, we have tools in finance to make us more efficient and improve our reporting process.” At the same time, automation itself can help protect data at the application level simply by reducing or eliminating a human touch point. When processing is always standardized and running in the background through automation, there is simply less opportunity for purposeful or accidental sharing or exposure of data. Research by McKinsey & Company Global Institute concluded that the following finance functions are strong candidates to be fully or highly automated: general accounting operations, cash disbursement, revenue management, financial controls and external reporting.  Finance as a line of business can be integral in helping organizations get ahead of the next security threat. Not only is finance the steward of highly valuable planning and performance data, but finance professionals handle many activities that are attractive to criminals who want to take advantage. Getting Ahead of the Next Security Threat The best thing technology and finance leaders can do is to leverage the power of humans and machines—making their data and systems more secure by adding intelligent assistance and automation to their cloud databases and applications. Thieves are using the most sophisticated technology they can get their hands on to attack servers and applications, so businesses and organizations need to do the same. When it comes to winning the ongoing battle for cyber security, getting ahead of threats is the key to prevention, and autonomous machine learning makes that possible. Learn more about Oracle Risk Management Cloud.  

“If our data is going to be attacked—by robots, by botnets from people who are marshaling lots of computers to attack our applications on the cloud—it’s got to be our robots vs. their robots. That's...

Finance Topics & Trends

How to Help Students Succeed: Is Finance the Answer?

The CACUBO Annual Meeting gets into full swing next week, and one of the hot topics is expected to be how to manage student financial aid. It’s no secret that a university education makes a huge difference in earning power over a lifetime. Yet college in the United States costs more than ever, and students must cobble together funding from loans, scholarships, grants, family and other sources just to make it through the first year.    This is a precarious model for students—and for the institutions that depend upon tuition fees for revenue. When the money dries up, the student is virtually guaranteed to drop out, taking any future tuition dollars with them. Institutions of higher education have a business stake in ensuring their students succeed. A student-centric approach to managing financial aid can give universities visibility into which students are most at risk, helping to prevent drop-out before it happens. Student success isn’t only dependent upon finances, however. Today’s students arrive on campus with expectations of a user-friendly, mobile experience. Not only do they want to manage their course loads, schedules and finance from their mobile devices, they want to be able to text or chat with somebody if they have a question or need help. Can your campus provide a digital student lifestyle? Meeting these expectations and supporting student success requires bold strategies and the innovative use of technology. In a webcast with University Business, two leaders in higher education will share their experience in campus transformation: Tonjia S. Coverdale, Ph.D., Vice President, Information Technology and CIO, Central State University (Ohio) Steve Hahn, Vice Provost for Enrollment Management, University of Wisconsin-Madison Coverdale and Hahn discuss how cloud applications have formed the foundation of their student success programs. They’ll discuss their journey to the cloud and share some key strategies to ensure successful adoption. You’ll also hear about Oracle cloud solutions for higher education, and how the cloud helps you recruit applicants, engage students with a mobile experience, and use your data more effectively to make faster, better decisions. Following a recent analyst summit, Ovum wrote of Oracle’s higher education solutions: “One of the major takeaways from the summit is that Oracle is building Student Cloud not as a solely transactional, institution-centric ‘student information system’ but as a true ‘student system’ that proactively manages the full student lifecycle with robust insight, transaction, and engagement capabilities. While this might seem like semantics, such messaging ruptures traditional systems' boundaries to indicate how one platform can support much of the student lifecycle, from recruiting to advising support to alumni relations. Many schools are increasingly recognizing the value of a one platform approach, rather than having to manage the integration of (and different data from) separate point solutions; as a result, Oracle is building its student system to offer best-of-breed capabilities without the weaknesses of the latter approach.” Join University Business, Central State University (Ohio), University of Wisconsin-Madison and Oracle to learn more about supporting student success—from recruitment to graduation and beyond. Register now for the webcast.

The CACUBO Annual Meeting gets into full swing next week, and one of the hot topics is expected to be how to manage student financial aid. It’s no secret that a university education makes a huge...

Finance Topics & Trends

3 Big Digital Disruptors That Are Reshaping Finance

With the arrival of process automation, cognitive tools, and blockchain, finance organizations are facing the potential for major transformation. In this second of a three-part blog series, Deloitte looks at how cognitive is shaping the future of finance. By Girija Krishnamurthy and David Carney, Deloitte Consulting LLP  Part 2: How Cognitive is Disrupting Finance In our last blog we talked about how disruptive automation tools like smart bots and data visualization are helping finance become more efficient and strategic. Those are just a few of the many disruptive forces that are rapidly transforming finance into something that earlier generations of accountants and CFOs would barely recognize. Another group of tools and technologies, which we group together under the umbrella term “cognitive,” includes artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictive analytics, many of which mimic (to varying degrees) how the human brain thinks. Cognitive solutions can help companies get smarter and more efficient over time—just like humans do, only faster and more accurately. Far from esoteric, these solutions can have very practical uses. For instance, artificial intelligence and machine learning software can help organizations spot non-paying and late-paying customers pro-actively by tracking their behavior over time and flagging repeat offenders. And they can help on the payments processing side by using machine learning to recognize priority invoices, discard duplicate payments, and uncover fraudulent purchasing patterns. Cognitive also encompasses the field of predictive analytics, which harnesses a variety of statistical techniques to help finance organizations effectively navigate an uncertain future. For example, we work with a company that ships packages across the globe. Managers are constantly watching out for bad weather that could bottleneck shipments and frustrate customers, threatening revenue. The company is now using predictive analytics through an AI platform that uses weather data to plot alternative shipping routes before a storm hits. As a result, the company can sidestep bad weather and give customers more accurate delivery times. Bringing Business and Finance Together With advanced cloud-based analytics, finance can erase the line traditionally separating transactional and performance management systems. It enables both sides of finance—operational and strategic—to come together on a common system, helping financial planning and analysis teams efficiently zero in on factors that are driving (or hurting) growth and profitability. For example, we work with an organization where managers need to understand the profitability of each product on a frequent, near real-time basis. Getting that analysis in the past was a tall order because they were preoccupied (not surprisingly) with transaction-oriented tasks like paying bills, collecting revenue, and closing the books on time. Now, after deploying advanced analytics in the cloud, the CFO can quickly and easily get to the data that can help them add value to the organization as a strategic partner—such as profitability by product and customer. Predictive analytics solutions let you look at as many variables impacting the business as you want. Grocery chains, for instance, are using their predictive powers to trace the movement of perishable foods around the globe and decrease spoilage. Increasingly we’re seeing finance collaborate with other parts of the business on these innovative projects, which frequently integrate cloud-based analytics with tracking mechanisms and sensors connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). Pharmaceutical companies are using a combination of analytics and IoT to track drugs to their source, efficiently identifying and removing bad batches from the supply chain. Conquering Tough Chores Instantly Cognitive solutions have the potential to help CFOs conquer one of their toughest chores: producing quarter-end earnings reports for Wall Street. Remember, modern CFOs are not just glorified book balancers. Increasingly, they are the face of the company when it comes to explaining all things financial to investors, analysts, journalists, and regulators. It's a role that requires fast access to relevant facts and trends—and cognitive technologies can help.   Recently we showed a Fortune 50 telecom company an effective cognitive tool running on Oracle Cloud. In just minutes, the tool sifts through volumes of P&L statements going back a decade or even longer. Using machine-learning tools and natural language processing and generation technologies, the tool creates a report in plain English summarizing revenue and growth drivers over the entire period. It’s a job that may likely have taken an army of financial analysts months to do. The vast majority of this work is automated with the help of natural-language chatbots—yet another cognitive tool that is transforming how finance works. We predict that, not long from now, the tedium of emailing IT to write SQL queries to unearth data and insights will be a thing of the past. You’ll simply ask your chatbot of choice to get the answers you need. Imagine what you could do with the time savings. There are a few wrinkles to iron out with chatbots, notably surrounding security. After all, you don’t want just anyone walking into your office and chatting up your company secrets. But we're confident these challenges will be solved and that chatbots will soon become a taken-for-granted feature of the modern finance organization. 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 this second of a three-part blog series, Deloitte...

Finance Topics & Trends

Can Finance Learn to Love the Bots?

By Brian Sullivan, Managing Director, Accenture Oracle Business Group The bots are coming! The bots are coming! No, that’s not a line out of science fiction thriller. I’m talking about a technology called intelligent process automation, also known as IPA. And while there’s nothing scary about it, one thing is certain: intelligent bots are coming to a finance organization near you—and quite possibly your own. Intelligent bots are relatively new to the finance world. If you asked a CFO about IPA as recently as a couple years ago, you may have been greeted with a blank stare—or maybe an assumption you were talking about a type of beer. No longer. IPA is swiftly becoming an integral part of modern finance organizations, and increasingly a competitive necessity. IPA is the next chapter in process automation—the evolution of a technology that started a few years ago with “robotic process automation,” or RPA. Simply put, RPA is about creating a code or program that performs functions formerly done by humans. A simple example might be comparing two sets of transactions. The software bot goes out and analyzes column A and B, extracts selected data, puts it into a spreadsheet, attaches the doc to an email and sends it out to a distribution group. Following a set of business rules defined by humans, bots now handle everything from processing purchase orders and invoices to distributing management reports. Sure, people can do that too—and have for decades—but bots will happily do it at a fraction of the time and cost, while eliminating human error in the process. What’s not to love about that? Adding Smarts RPA is a great start, but IPA takes bots to a new level, empowering them to learn and improve over time—and promising a dramatic transformation of the finance function along the way. Smart bots can recognize patterns in financial transactions and learn to “write new rules” based on these patterns. Because the bot rewrites the code on its own, humans are spared the trouble of dealing with every routine exception. For example, an intelligent bot could discover mismatched reconciliations that follow common patterns, such as twice-entered transactions differing only in a plus or minus sign. A well-designed IPA system can give you the option of quickly reviewing its proposed fix or just allowing the bot to handle it on its own, saving even more time and money. This is the essence of what makes bots “intelligent”: they are programmed to be self-programming. Other types of intelligent bots include “chatbots” that let you ask natural-language questions like, “Show me the latest Q1 sales forecast for Asia-Pacific.” Get ready: Alexa and Siri are coming to a finance organization near you. To be clear, IPA won’t make humans obsolete. Far from it. People are just as important to the success of process automation as the bots themselves—both as creators of the bots and as “trainers” who continuously improve their performance. And remember, humans are the ultimate beneficiaries of the work shouldered by bots, which allow people to shed all kinds of monotonous chores and take on more valuable activities like strategic planning and business innovation. Sharing the Workload How do finance staffers feel about sharing their workload with robots? Well, you might expect a certain degree of apprehension or even mistrust, at least at first. Change is hard, and no one wants to lose their job to a bot. But there are good reasons to love IPA. For one thing, it can help many employees restore their work-life balance. Here’s a real-life example. At a Fortune 1000 retail company, one employee spent part of every Sunday logging in from home, pulling data from multiple sources, formatting it in a spreadsheet, and creating a PDF before sending it out. Now, with IPA, the whole process is fully automated, and the employee got her Sundays back. And that’s just one small step. Imagine how many evenings a similar employee could be home with his or her family if the mad scramble of closing the books at the end of every month could be eliminated. That’s now within the realm of possibility with IPA. By adding more intelligence and autonomy to bots, finance organizations can ultimately enable real-time closes with virtually no human involvement. Your books will balance themselves automatically, every minute of every day. That’s the “nirvana” that IPA can one day achieve. Easing the Change Despite IPA’s clear value proposition, it’s still not uncommon for people to get worried whenever you “move their cheese.” That’s why finance should adopt strategies to ease the transition and dispel worries about losing jobs or changing familiar work routines. Accenture works with organizations to help generate excitement around adopting IPA and keep staff engaged during the rollout. Companies that think in advance about smart communications campaigns can help reassure and motivate employees by blending the promise of removing spreadsheet drudgery with the prospect of career growth. Effective change management programs can also help retrain and re-skill employees to take on new roles and responsibilities. Remember, you’ll need these employees to help test and manage any new IPA system you decide to implement. We also encourage organizations to develop a plan to update their bots as their applications evolve and as new automation opportunities arise. Think of your bots as needing “care and attention” much like human resources. If you don’t maintain and develop your bots, you could lose the ability to update them—or even know what they’re doing. Starting Small Change management is just one part of a comprehensive plan to harness the power of intelligent bots. Before making an investment, many organizations can benefit by conducting one or more proof-of-concepts. This allows you to refine your automation initiative and prioritize projects with specific business outcomes and paybacks in mind. Plus, you’ll avoid the costly mistake of “building for the sake of building.” Fortunately, cloud providers such as Oracle now offer cloud subscription services for a variety of automation technologies, making it easy to start small by testing the solution before pursuing a larger investment. I’ve seen many of our clients start with a small proof-of-concept before rolling out bots across the organization. The results have been impressive. For example, after deploying bots to automate invoicing, journal processing and reconciliations, one financial services client was able to triple processing speeds, saving the equivalent of more than a dozen full-time employees. This savings allowed employees to work on higher-value activities while their traditional activities were completed with lower error rates in less time. At the end of the day, the vast majority of finance staff are happy to exchange boring, repetitive tasks for more thoughtful and satisfying work. Instead of spending the day matching invoices, staffers can take on more interesting projects like forecasting, performance analysis, and strategic planning—that is, tasks that really help the business grow, innovate, and profit. What’s not to love about that? See the latest finance innovations in action. Register for Oracle OpenWorld 2018. Brian Sullivan is a Global Managing Director within Accenture’s Oracle practice, focusing on growth and strategy activities relating to services tied to Oracle’s set of SaaS applications. He has spent his career advising and delivering complex solutions around finance and supply chain process areas by deploying enabling technologies from Oracle and by driving additional value through industry and functional extensions. 

By Brian Sullivan, Managing Director, Accenture Oracle Business Group The bots are coming! The bots are coming! No, that’s not a line out of science fiction thriller. I’m talking about a technology...

Finance Topics & Trends

Oracle CEO Mark Hurd on Cost Considerations for Cloud ERP

Switching enterprise software systems can be a massive undertaking. A company with thousands of employees is likely to have thousands of machines to update, with dozens or hundreds of different hardware configurations. An enterprise IT department would have to coordinate these upgrades with simultaneous upgrades to company servers, which would not only update the systems but also would likely need to manage company-wide access permissions and role authorities. Attempting technology transitions at the enterprise scale is so daunting a challenge that it’s rarely initiated without a very clear understanding of the costs and benefits involved. The upside to a shift from on-premises to cloud ERP systems, however, can be so compelling that it often becomes a question of when to make the change, rather than why. Oracle CEO Mark Hurd is one of the industry’s leading proponents of cloud-based systems. He’s spoken frequently on the high costs of maintaining on-premises ERP systems and other mission-critical systems, and has offered compelling data in support of his arguments. At Recode Decode last year, he mentioned that “IT in the enterprise can be 10, 12, 14, [or] 15 percent of all the expenses that our customers spend.” And in a LinkedIn Influencer article he published earlier this year, Hurd pointed out that “80 percent of IT spending goes to traditional IT activities—stuff like upgrading applications, integrating mismatched components that were never designed to work together into Rube Goldberg contraptions—and tuning, testing, monitoring, patching, and other maintenance. Let’s say another 5 percent is spent on cybersecurity applications and adapting to new compliance requirements.” These are sobering numbers, and any CFO worth their salt would look to trim those expenses. Any CTO or CIO with an eye for innovation would want to deploy more of their organization’s IT budgets towards developing for the future rather than shoring up the past. Maintaining yesterday’s technology can also be a major drag on enterprise productivity. In an interview with Forbes, Mark Hurd noted that, “Some of the applications themselves are twenty years old… think about that, applications built twenty years ago trying to deal with the problems of today.” Simply transitioning from one on-premises ERP system to another might not necessarily overcome the switching costs of abandoning software in which an enterprise’s IT staff has built up years of expertise, a range of customizations, and many unique add-on functionalities. This is where a cloud ERP system’s advantages can quickly become apparent. A study conducted by Nucleus Research found that cloud deployments provided 3.2 times the return on investment as on-premises applications, and total costs of ownership were 52 percent lower. Making the shift to cloud ERP can also incur significantly fewer switching costs than many enterprise executives might think. In one example, Blue Shield of California budgeted $600,000 to manage the transition from its legacy on-premises ERP system to a cloud-based ERP solution. It wound up spending almost nothing despite transitioning roughly 6,800 employees. A more distributed company (with locations in more than one state) that has several times as many employees would potentially save millions of dollars in transition management costs by switching to a cloud ERP solution. Is your organization thinking of making the switch to cloud ERP? Beyond the cost and the learning curve, what other considerations might an enterprise have when it’s time to upgrade or switch an ERP system? Get the latest on Oracle ERP Cloud and Oracle EPM Cloud. Register for Oracle OpenWorld.

Switching enterprise software systems can be a massive undertaking. A company with thousands of employees is likely to have thousands of machines to update, with dozens or hundreds of different...

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,...

Oracle

Integrated Cloud Applications & Platform Services