By Wayne Heather, EPM Product Marketing Director, Oracle
Top-ranked Argentinian football player Lionel Messi recently moved from his club of 21 years, Barcelona, to a new club, Paris Saint-Germain. Within the first week, the club had made €21 million in revenue as fans rushed to buy his new football shirt… and this got me thinking. Just wearing Messi’s football shirt does not make you a star player like him. It does not mean you instantly have the talent and experience that have taken him years to achieve, making him one of the best in the world at his craft. That said, let’s be honest: imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
So, when other upstart EPM vendors claim to be the new Hyperion 2.0, we're flattered. But truth be told, the guys who say they are Hyperion 2.0 don’t have the years of experience, research and development expertise, or the customer success we’ve gained over the many years that we’ve been delivering EPM solutions. In playing this imitation game, it’s also very clear these vendors are missing the point in terms of the future of finance and its rapidly changing requirements. Finance today is very different from it was 20+ years ago, when we first released our Hyperion EPM applications. Even more importantly, finance 10 years from today will most likely be even more different than it is today.
The truth is that Hyperion on-premises applications are very much alive and well, and Oracle continues to deliver releases containing innovation and updates for Hyperion customers. We have many customers using Hyperion applications to close their books confidently, plan and forecast with agility, and report to their stakeholders and regulators on time. We continue to make investments in Oracle Hyperion for those who want to stay longer on Hyperion. We’ll continue to support them and continue to protect the investments they’ve made.
But the finance function is transforming. It’s no secret that the role of the CFO has changed fundamentally in the C-suite. Finance is no longer just a bookkeeping function; it’s rapidly evolving to a strategic advisory function. It's not just about finance anymore; it's about finance collaborating actively with operating functions to drive the business forward. It's about insights from financial data as well as operational data, and how these insights allow finance and other lines of business to partner more effectively in decision making.
We looked at the needs of finance today and, more importantly, to the future of finance. We took the 20+ years of experience and success we’ve had from delivering the gold standard EPM suite of on-premises Oracle Hyperion applications and reimagined them for the future. We looked at what worked well and learned lessons on where we had to improve, and reimagined Oracle Cloud EPM to address those needs for today and beyond.
According to McKinsey & Company (McKinsey: Finance 2030), finance should focus on 3 key actions going forward: Reimagine your finance model; Empower decisions with more data; Automate tasks to free up finance. We see these as key elements of the right vision for finance:
To do this we have developed a suite of Cloud EPM business processes that are flexible, incorporate configurable best practices, and most importantly, can be deployed in a modular fashion. Modularity and flexibility are key when aligning finance and operations. In planning, for instance, we need to bring together stakeholders across the organization who plan with different drivers, at different granularities, and at different cadences. Trying to capture all of that in one monolithic application is impractical. Beware of other vendors who claim to have a “unified platform” addressing all your needs in a single app.
Oracle’s approach is to deliver purpose-built business process modules for financial and operational planning that are all connected. This ensures that finance and operations retain their independence, yet are aligned on data and assumptions, and can spend time taking action instead of debating numbers.
Finance needs to consider all data available in the enterprise, as well as from external sources. There is no doubt that key decisions can’t be made based on financial data alone, but finance needs to better understand how operational and external influences impact the company’s overall performance. Imagine if you could spot trends in customer sentiment and buying behaviour across your product portfolio in different geographies, and use that to more accurately forecast demand and financial performance.
Oracle Cloud EPM makes this possible by lowering the bar for incorporating insights derived from data science, helping you improve financial forecasts and decisions. For example, you can import machine learning models from AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google TensorFlow, or Oracle Data Science cloud into Cloud EPM and run these models on financial and operational data.
Intelligent automation is the key to reducing manual labour and freeing up finance to focus on higher value-add activities. It’s about reimagining and modernizing every EPM process using automation, AI, and machine learning technologies.
We’ve embedded these technologies across the Oracle Cloud EPM suite to improve the way finance works. In account reconciliation, for example, we leverage rules and intelligence to automatically match hundreds of thousands of accounting transactions. In planning, we help you spot and remove human bias using data science, reducing the time spent preparing forecasts. Finance still spends a massive amount of time manually analysing data looking for issues, but we’re changing that through automated tracking of anomalies, trends, and exceptions using intelligent algorithms. We’re also blurring the lines between ERP and EPM in the context of critical business processes such as cash forecasting.
So, in summary, what happened to Hyperion? Hyperion continues to deliver business value for many happy customers and Oracle continues to support and invest in Hyperion applications.
However, we believe the right path forward is to chart a roadmap for Cloud EPM adoption in line with your priorities and timeframes. This will ensure that you can reimagine and modernize your finance function, and that you’re well positioned for the next 20 years. Ignore the self-serving noise from vendors who claim to deliver Hyperion 2.0.
Think of it this way: if running finance was like playing in the European football league, would you want someone on your team who just purchased the jersey of Lionel Messi and claims to be him? Or do you want the real Lionel Messi with his years of experience leading your team?