The Modern Finance Leader

Finance Topics and Trends | November 27, 2017

Oracle vs. Workday: Who Has the Best Vision for the Future?

By Steve Cox, Group VP, Oracle Cloud Business Group

A few weeks ago I was in San Francisco, attending Oracle OpenWorld, and I saw some of the most exciting demos I’ve seen in my entire career. I’ve been in the IT business a long time, seen many changes in underlying technology and it was clear— this is not hype.  

We’re entering a world of continuous convergence. New technologies like artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML), blockchain, and the Internet of Things (IoT), when they are harnessed together, are poised to change the way we work and interact in ways we’ve only just begun to imagine. 


The future of work was on display at Oracle OpenWorld 2017. Watch the video.

For example: let’s take a peek into the future of agriculture. Soon, farmers around the world will use IoT-enabled equipment for automated crops management. They can monitor data and control that same machinery in real time in the cloud using mobile devices. The artificial intelligence embedded in the system will warn the farmers of impending issues or update them on optimal times for harvesting—and as the farmers and agricultural workers use the system, it will learn how they work, what recommendations are consistently followed, and how to help the farmer achieve maximum productivity and sustainability.

And it’s not just agriculture. In healthcare, cardiac surgeons can make 3D-printed replicas of their patients’ hearts for more personalized and effective surgical plans. And in our own homes, voice control permeates applications we use for everything—from ordering pizza to executing the monthly close of multi-billion dollar enterprises.

These technologies are driven by growing amounts of data, and it’s not going to stop. In fact, it’s just beginning. It’s estimated that the amount of data in the digital universe is more than doubling every two years. If organizations don’t make the right decisions about applying this knowledge in the most effective way, they will be at an enormous disadvantage.

Data is like water, in that it has to be contained, processed, and delivered to the point of consumption to be useful. If you do this for only parts of your organization, how can your entire organization successfully transform into a digitally-enabled, future-ready enterprise?

Quite simply, it can’t. Every decision you make about technology needs to consider how the organization as a whole can scale to operate with speed and agility in a rapidly changing world.

What Does Business Transformation Really Mean?

Businesses are bombarded daily with marketing messages about technology. Sometimes those messages sound similar but are actually promoting very different approaches to change.

This is the case with a recent Workday campaign, which describes digital transformation as simply a matter of getting the truth, without giving a complete picture of what the “truth” is. Getting the complete story is crucial considering the huge amount of data—and its potential value—that is pouring into enterprises.

Unfortunately for Workday, the truth extends far beyond the boundaries of finance and HR. Oracle, as a company with a long history of data management across all lines of business, understands this intimately. The impressive innovations showcased at Oracle OpenWorld would not have been possible without pulling data from across the enterprise, turning raw information into an exciting vision for the future of your business.

To set things straight, we have compiled this list of three myths about digital transformation that you should never believe.

Myth #1: Digitizing finance and human resources is enough.

Workday would love for you to believe this, because they sell mainly HR software, and have only recently moved into the finance realm. I agree with them on one point: modernizing finance and HR, aka “the back office,” are core to transformation success. Finance holds the reins (and the purse) to the entire enterprise, while HR ensures that the right people are in place to drive change.

But to become a truly digital, future-ready business, you need to look across all lines of business—and even outside your business, to customers, suppliers and partners.

We know this based on input from, and experience with, thousands of clients. To be successful today, companies need to operate as a unified, connected enterprise. Otherwise, advantages from innovations such as advanced predictive analytics and task automation will return limited value—specifically, limited only to people and money management, and not extended to operations or customers and partners.

Why would a company limit beneficial capabilities when it doesn’t need to? Why shouldn’t all functions be able to communicate and collaborate with enterprise-grade cloud applications that are smoothly integrated and available on mobile devices?

It’s true that Oracle Cloud customers often start with ERP and HR systems to demonstrate value and establish a model for the rest of the organization to follow. But our goal and vision is always end-to-end connectivity for a complete business transformation.

Myth #2: Point solutions that address isolated business requirements are all you need.

It can be tempting to believe that solving the most pressing business pain with a targeted solution like Workday is the best choice. The problem with this approach is that the singular solutions multiply, and the benefits of enterprise transformation move farther away instead of closer. Once you’re finished transforming finance or HR, you need to move onto customer experience, sales, supply chain, partner networks—and the list goes on.

Data from one piece of software needs to connect to data from a second piece of software that must talk with yet another piece of software. Before you know it, you’ve created an IT infrastructure that, if you looked down and traced lines over it, would look like a hairball.

Business pain might go away in the short term, but at the same time, you are building in long-term disadvantage. Instead of integrated, unified technology, this path creates a jumble of different solutions with no single view of the truth. It’s inevitable that organizations using this model will face future challenges and have trouble trusting their own data.

Myth #3: Any cloud provider can help with digital transformation. 

It has been our experience that cloud migrations go much faster than on-premises upgrades, and that the benefits nearly always exceed expectations. Even so, a move to the cloud requires careful planning and a trusted partner with experience across industries and company sizes—from the smallest companies to the Fortune 100.

That's why Oracle Cloud implementations are fast, personalized and hands-on, and our products can be adopted at a pace that accommodates the customer. We can start wherever it makes sense for the customer, but our goal is always true, lasting transformation. It's serious work, and it takes a thorough evaluation to effectively plan and implement. 

Moreover, we’ve found transformation to be an ongoing process—an exercise in agility to keep pace with whatever innovation comes next. Promises of a standard, predetermined timeline should make decision-makers wonder if a provider really understands the intricacies and co-dependencies of enterprise functions and systems.

The Oracle Cloud Vision

At Oracle, we have a clear vision of digital transformation: a complete, unified, future-ready cloud that gives you the confidence to thrive in a world of continuous change.

We’re investing in technologies that radically improve business processes, supporting the integration of knowledge and workflows across the enterprise. And we’re embedding the latest capabilities into our business software—blockchain, AI/ML, intelligent chatbots, and more—to help keep you ahead of your competitors. 

Yes, we have simple, mobile and easy-to-use finance and HR applications in the cloud. But our vision extends beyond lines of business. We want to help you prevent the business hairballs of the past, and guide you into a seamless, digital future.

I encourage you to watch the keynote videos from Oracle OpenWorld to get a glimpse into the future of your business, and download the latest Magic Quadrant report from Gartner

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.

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