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Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

Is Finance Finally Cool? Emerging Tech Says, Yes

Lynne Sampson
Managing Editor

I’ve been coming to Oracle OpenWorld since I first joined the company nine years ago, and I've learned something new every time. But this year, there’s a different vibe. The demos, sessions and vision presented so far are the coolest I’ve seen—and we’re only halfway through the show.

It kicked off on Sunday with Oracle founder Larry Ellison’s keynote, showcasing the world’s first “self-driving” database. Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud uses adaptive intelligence to virtually eliminate the need for human intervention—patching, tuning and backing up on its own. Now that’s what I call cool.

But adaptive intelligence isn’t just for databases. There were demos on display for finance, HR, sales, supply chain, and other lines of business at the Oracle Cloud User Experience. Consumers today are used to interacting with applications like Siri or Alexa, but those capabilities haven’t yet crossed over into our working lives. The demos I saw indicated that’s all about to change.

A few examples:

  • Intelligent chatbots that you can talk to via your mobile phone. These act as virtual assistants, automatically performing tasks such as entering your travel expenses into Oracle ERP Cloud when you snap a picture of a receipt.
  • Augmented reality that captures an image of a business card and turns it into an opportunity in Oracle Sales Cloud. Intelligent bots then augment the information about your new prospect from public sources (such as their social media accounts), including information that could help you advance a sale—like alerting you when it’s your contact’s birthday and reminding you to call them.
  • Blockchain ledgers that display a record of transactions to all participants in a contract. In this demo, the contract is for a pre-approved employee business trip; the ledger automatically displays expense transactions as soon as the employee confirms them in Oracle ERP Cloud, and pays the hotel as soon as the expense is recorded in the blockchain. Blockchain contracts such as these could eliminate the need for purchase orders, payables and receivables.

There were more inventive use cases on display, from hiring a new employee using your smartwatch, to asking your virtual assistant to pull up the talking points for an upcoming business meeting. These capabilities were built using Oracle Cloud applications and Oracle Platform as a Service.

The best part is, some of these capabilities don’t even need development; they’re already embedded directly into Oracle Cloud applications. These capabilities span applications and functions, making your business smarter, more automated, and more efficient across lines of business.

Enriching Cloud Applications for Finance with Adaptive Intelligence

In their general session for Oracle ERP and EPM Cloud, Oracle’s Rondy Ng and Matt Bradley gave the example of “dynamic discounting.” Using machine learning, Oracle ERP Cloud can look at real-time internal and external supplier data to evaluate suppliers and recommend the best dynamic discount candidates. The system is fully integrated with cash flow modeling and advises to whom and when to offer dynamic discounts for the best return.

The cloud is now table stakes, Ng told the audience. Going forward, businesses need to think about what the next generation of cloud applications will look like. Finance teams should be looking at cloud applications that combine their own data with public data and use embedded AI to recommend smarter business decisions.

Emerging Technologies and the Future of Finance

In their session on agile finance, Oracle’s Steve Cox and Deloitte’s David Carney invited a panel of customers to discuss the future of finance. Carney predicted that, in the next two to three years, AI will become most disruptive technology in finance.

The reason, he said, is that the more use cases you feed to intelligent bots, the more they learn, developing better recommendations and making more accurate predictions of future forecasts. Carney believes that payables, purchasing, and reconciliations can be automated the most quickly, with other functions following as the AI gets smarter.

All of this begs the question: what will finance professionals do in the future? If they’re not processing transactions, finance teams will have more time to devote to strategic activities: analyzing new market opportunities, re-imagining the workforce, or looking for the next merger or acquisition. Business acumen and interpersonal skills will be paramount for success in the digital finance function.

What’s Next?

Blockchain is a hugely popular topic at this year’s Oracle OpenWorld; one of my colleagues arrived at a blockchain session 10 minutes early to find attendees lined up outside the door and around the corner! More on these sessions coming soon.

Missed Oracle OpenWorld? Join us at Modern Finance Experience 2018.

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Comments ( 1 )
  • Alex Wednesday, October 4, 2017
    Blockchain is absolutely incredible. You should see how much was invested just these past few months!

    UnikoinGold is a utility token for esports betting and tournaments built on the ethereum blockchain and they're killing it! Mark Cuban, Pantera Capital, and Ashton Kutcher funded them. You guys should definitely talk about them on the blog.
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