Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

  • July 23, 2019

Transforming the Back Office with Oracle AI Apps for ERP

Nora Pantfoerder
Product Manager

Artificial intelligence offerings are taking enterprise resource planning (ERP) to new heights. From transforming accounts payable to recommending dynamic discounts, emerging technologies are automating transactional processes and driving smarter business decisions.

At the forefront of these transformational technologies are Oracle Adaptive Intelligent Apps, allowing you to focus on strategy and optimize for innovation. To get a deeper understanding of the market landscape and learn how Adaptive Intelligent Apps for ERP can influence your organization, we attended Oracle OpenWorld London. Matthew Bradley, senior vice president of product development and enterprise performance management at Oracle, and Beat Nuolf, director of product management for AI Apps for ERP at Oracle, took a deep-dive into the technologies powering a smarter back office.

Moving from Operations to Innovation

By leveraging the new transformative technology available for the back office, organizations are able to focus on strategy to drive improvement and increase performance across the board. Fundamentally, AI Apps for ERP are streamlining your day job so you can spend more time on innovation.

"By innovation we mean improving or enhancing existing processes to offer new services to your customers and new offerings to suppliers. A lot of this is coming through from the access to data and being able to leverage newer algorithms against that data to actually arrive at better insights and outcomes." - Matthew Bradley, Senior Vice President of Product Development and Enterprise Performance Management, Oracle

A key characteristic of the current market is how quickly it's changing. Whether based on new competition, regulatory compliance, and/or security, an organization's ability to adapt and react quickly to change is imperative for long-term sustainability. That means digesting large volumes of data and understanding what changes are signalling a need for innovation. AI Apps for ERP give you an opportunity to see these signals in near real-time so that you can adapt and react sooner. Achieving this state of agility against change is the ultimate accelerant for revenue efficiency.

"Our overall goal is to help you run your organization quicker, smarter, and faster than your competition." - Matthew Bradley, Senior Vice President of Product Development and Enterprise Performance Management, Oracle

Emerging Technology

Powering the transformation of the back office is a myriad of technology that can roughly be grouped into four buckets: IoT, machine learning, intelligent applications, and blockchain.

With IoT creating an interrelated system of technology devices, the ability to capture and transfer data has never been easier. Being able to access all of this data (from every single device) and sort it in an intuitive way gives organizations the leverage needed to transform their back ends. For example, you can get a deeper understanding of when scheduled maintenance needs to occur and what the impact on your operating system will be if certain machines are down.

With the vast amounts of data made available through IoT, machine learning gives us access to the algorithms needed to parse all the collected data, derive correlations, and deliver quick insights. This begins the shift from rule-based approaches to model-driven approaches that learn over time from user interactions and ongoing data analysis.

Taking this analysis and delivering learned insights to an end user takes shape in the form of intelligent applications. An intelligent application will learn based on the context of user input and personalize recommendations to improve existing processes. For example, when your business runs forecasting analysis, an AI App for ERP would improve the accuracy of that forecast based on robust data analysis combined with human input that identifies changing business needs.

The final piece of technology powering next-generation ERP Apps is blockchain. This record-keeping technology provides a new way to represent data and process transactions between different parties. With the complex interplay of decentralization and cryptography, a blockchain network can heighten security and verify transaction data by the consensus of network participants.

"The end goal isn't to expose users to all this underlying technology but to expose a better way to do what you're currently doing, so you can improve the productivity and accuracy of completing that task." - Matthew Bradley, Senior Vice President of Product Development and Enterprise Performance Management, Oracle

Embedded Intelligence and Automation

Two areas of focus specific to AI Apps for ERP are intelligent process automation and intelligent performance management. Aligned with Oracle's overall AI strategy and primarily accelerating the automation potential of finance activities, these two areas provide context for better planning and faster time-to-action.

From an intelligent process automation perspective, this means identifying repetitive tasks and automating the activity to free up human capital so that employees can focus on higher value tasks. At an ERP level, this solution would include things like touchless transactions—for example, automatically filing an expense report based on a photograph rather than manual data entry. Similarly, at an EPM level, close orchestration can automate entire schedules based on the completion of one task kicking off the succeeding task.

Intelligent performance management focuses on connected planning to get access to more information and operationalize that data for more accurate outcomes. By bringing in third-party data from external providers and leveraging machine learning algorithms, predictive analytics can inform planning decisions based on a more comprehensive set of data. For example, AI Apps could run a time-series forecast based on your history to provide a forward projection that not only includes the evaluation of data against different algorithms but also leverages past user interactions.

Artificial Intelligence and Smart Data

The business value that artificial intelligence offers is unrivaled. From freeing up human capital to interpreting data in new ways, the insights these tools provide allow organizations to stay agile and work smarter. But, the impact of any artificial intelligence offering (and even any machine learning algorithm) is entirely dependent on quality data.

"At the end of the day, artificial intelligence is only as smart as your data." - Beat Nuolf, Director of Product Management for AI Apps for ERP, Oracle

Addressing this paradigm is Oracle's acquisition of DataFox and subsequent focus on smart data. With DataFox's data engine powering AI Apps, quality and comprehensive data will drive better predictions and deeper insights—specifically, focusing on smart data that is dynamic, contextual, and embedded across systems. Together, this data strategy leads to better insights so you can focus on innovation and make smarter business decisions.

How AI Apps for ERP Work

Collectively, the aforementioned technologies and smart data strategies work together to power Oracle AI Apps and provide your organization with better decision making. Below you can see how user interaction, decision science, and smart data all play a role in delivering relevant recommendations within an intelligent application.

With this system rooted in quality first, and third-party data and algorithms that learn based on user feedback, AI Apps for ERP can begin delivering enterprise-wide benefits:

  1. Automate Smarter: Reduce processing costs, information latency, human error, and single points of failure
  2. Work Smarter: Influence strategic initiatives through smart insights and recommended actions
  3. Optimize Smarter: Increase agility and efficiency with smart business processes

Available Today: Supplier Recommendations

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Available Today: Intelligent Payment Discounts

Intelligent Payment Discounts generate vendor-specific discount offers for early payment of outstanding payables based on in-the-moment supplier intelligence. By optimizing early supplier payment discounts, Intelligent Payment Discounts can capture savings for your organization that would have been missed by traditional discount terms.

Unlike traditional discounting approaches, machine learning algorithms and data-driven discounts can constantly adjust and optimize recommended discount offers as parameters change over time. Rather than being locked into a pre-negotiated contract, Intelligent Payment Discounts follow a sliding scale that automatically adjusts the discount rate on an ongoing basis from the invoice date.

Coming Soon

Even more AI Apps for ERP are on the Oracle roadmap. Automated Expense Audits will be able to identify and review expense anomalies; Procure-to-Pay will be an intelligent invoice matching application that automates invoice line to PO line matching; and Order-to-Cash will offer smart receipt-to-payment matching to improve efficiency and accuracy.

Learn more about AI Apps for procurement and finance professionals. Check out Oracle AI Apps for ERP.

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