Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

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

Lynne Sampson
Managing Editor

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. 

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