By Lynne Sampson and Margaret Harrist, Oracle
In a year when nothing went as planned, many companies faced the fact that their current systems don’t provide the data insight or flexibility they need to adapt to change.
A number of trends were fast-tracked this year, from online shopping to curbside pickup to food delivery. While younger consumers tended to use such services more frequently, the needs and expectations of a wide swath of consumers suddenly changed—and business models had to change fast.
Finance teams had to quickly plan whole new strategies. They needed both access to accurate data as well as the ability to provide thorough analysis of a variety of scenarios. Spreadsheets and disjointed systems were wholly inadequate for the challenge.
Oracle’s focus on innovation
Even in normal times, modern finance teams need to focus on insight and strategy. But too many are still mired in manual processes that don’t add value to the business—and that’s a concern that many finance leaders have shared with Matt Bradley, senior vice president of applications development for Oracle Fusion Cloud Enterprise Performance Management (EPM).
“First and foremost is this theme of agility; how can we help finance become much more agile and introduce a level of capacity so they can handle much more analytical processes,” Bradley said during a joint session at Oracle Live on September 29. “We're also hearing that organizations want to leverage machine learning and advanced analytics and drive the business forward leveraging this next-generation technology. And most importantly, they want to change the nature of finance and become a business partner to help organizations deepen collaboration.”
In the past year alone, Oracle delivered more than 900 new capabilities and innovations in its quarterly updates—and more than half came directly from customer feedback, said Rondy Ng, senior vice president of applications development for Oracle Fusion Cloud Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).
“This is the most complete, broadest, and deepest ERP offering on the market today,” Ng said during the event. “And that’s not just against any other cloud ERP vendors on the market, but also in comparing with our own flagship on-premises products like Oracle E-Business Suite and PeopleSoft. It’s ready for any size customers, from mid-sized companies all the way to the largest global enterprises and in any country and any industry.”
Here are some of the new innovation areas Ng discussed at the event, and how they can help your business.
Touchless operations help increase efficiency
- Intelligent process automation. Configurable, intelligent rules and patterns help to automate manual tasks, helping to speed up the financial close and account reconciliation. When you automate a large portion of reconciliations, you have more time to focus on more complex issues that require human judgement.
- Intelligent account combination defaulting. When you get an invoice not associated with a purchase order, machine learning automatically predicts and enters code segments for those invoices—and it gets smarter over time, learning from past predictions as you use it. This helps you automate routine and mundane data entry, and reduce invoice processing time.
- Automated tagging of regulatory reports. This new feature eliminates manual tagging of regulatory reports (such as 10K and 10Q) using your SEC XBRL taxonomy, advanced language processing, and pattern recognition. It frees up time for Oracle Fusion Cloud EPM customers, so you can focus on validating and improving required reporting and narratives.
Predictive planning helps you make better decisions
- Intelligent performance management. IPM helps you quickly uncover correlations so that you can act faster. It uncovers hard-to-spot data patterns, delivering actionable, contextual insights at the right time—helping you improve the quality and business impact of your financial and operational decisions.
- Business continuity management. Everyone recognizes the need to prepare for the next disruptive event—including the operational, safety and security risks that might come with it. With business continuity management in Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP, you can quickly assess risks, document and approve recovery plans, and keep executives informed to minimize the reputational, operational and financial impact to your company.
- New corporate and project planning and budgeting capabilities. Say your organization has an objective to grow in another part of the world. To do this, you’ll have to open a new office, hire more staff in the market, launch manufacturing operations, and more. All these projects have costs associated with them that need to be tracked and managed. Combine Oracle Cloud EPM planning with Oracle Cloud ERP project management to better execute on such plans and control project costs. You can model ad-hoc scenarios for indirect and capital projects. You can also create a single business flow to improve visibility into your costs, reduce approval times, and execute projects faster.
Improve employee productivity and collaboration with digital assistants
- Project time entry. The Oracle digital assistant predicts time entry for projects, simplifies tasks associated with time entry and submitting expenses, and reconciles month-end processes for project professionals.
- Expanded collaboration platforms. The digital assistant helps teams collaborate using common platforms including SMS, Slack and Microsoft Teams.
Advanced capabilities for utilities, oil and gas, asset intensive industries, and professional services
- Joint venture management for utilities and oil & gas: This functionality helps you speed up retroactive billing adjustments, partner reimbursements, and partner contributions. The increased automation helps improve the accuracy of joint venture accounting, shorten the financial close, avoid costly billing disputes, and reduce project costs.
- Complex procurement capabilities for asset intensive industries. This helps ensure compliance with contractual obligations over the duration of a project. By creating and managing supplier invoices matched to purchase orders with retainage payment terms, you can hold back retainage and only release the retained amount once the contract is completed.
- Flexible resource scheduling for professional services. Project-centric organizations can benefit from flexible scheduling while planning, requesting, and assigning labor resources to a project. You can plan for a specified number of hours or variable hours each week, generate resource requests, and evaluate resource capacity based on the weekly hours requested and total hours available.