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CloudWorld 2017: 3 Takeaways for HR Professionals

David Sason
Director of Content & Product Marketing

Last week’s annual Oracle CloudWorld conference in New York City was its usual blend of technical deep dives, industry-specific insights, and thought leadership sessions that drew business leaders from all over the world. 

The whirlwind one-day event was particularly enlightening for HR professionals, as the HR track featured sessions on digital transformation and human capital management analytics, and a well-received use-case presentation. 

HR Analytics

For HR professionals who couldn’t make it to a surprisingly unfrozen midtown New York last week, here are three takeaways: 

1. HCM should be focused on the individual, not the team
Halfway into his Oracle Cloud keynote speech, Thomas Kurian—president of Oracle’s product development—turned his focus to human capital management: “We want to make this system not about the company but about the individual employee as a part of the organization.” Before touching on Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud’s innovative features for employee volunteering and fitness and health monitoring, Kurian outlined the three-pronged potential for the formerly “static” systems. An HCM system, he said, can be a place where employees can share and promote who they are, both professionally and personally; where peers can collaborate, offer feedback, and educate each other; and where each manager has instantaneous, real-time access to analytics that aid better decision-making. 

Thomas Kurian talks about HR

2. The “consumerization” of IT is changing HCM in a big way
“For the first time in 50 years, there’s better technology outside of work than inside work,” said Bertrand Dussert at his packed session, “Digital Transformation: HR in the Cloud.” “We emulate [the business-to-consumer world] in both technology and patterns of use.” 

The HCM transformation and thought leadership VP went on to explain the main business-to-business trends that have shaped Oracle’s development roadmap, namely deep “mobile-first” functionality and a consumer-grade user interface. But Dussert went beyond aesthetics to speak of how a great UI makes user experience paramount. For that reason, Oracle HCM Cloud wields a “findability” design based on search, rather than the portal-heavy approach of past releases. 

Dussert also reminded us of the importance of the first item in HCM Cloud’s three-pronged “Engage, Inform, and Adapt” mission. “Eighty percent of information comes from elsewhere: Glassdoor, friends,” he said. “People become better employees if you tell them how to succeed at your company.”  

Bertrand Dussert speaks about the Digital Transformation of HR

3. Cloud is the key to business agility
CEO Mark Hurd kicked off the conference with the aptly named “The World Ahead,” in which he called the cloud computing revolution “a generational shift” in technology. In addition to the business savings of eliminating data centers and shifting from capital to operating expenses, the cloud brings unparalleled flexibility—and scalability—to the business back end. 

The HCM world is seeing this shift at every level, with cloud models enabling rapid workforce expansion—or contraction—globally in virtually every vertical market. Brick-and-mortar retailer Macy’s has used the cloud to aid in faster employee training and move its online business closer to an omnichannel model for its customers. 

At a later keynote speech, PwC analyst Mike Pearl asserted that a cloud-first technology is essential for the type of innovation shown by the Netflix success story. This cloud use case from a few years back—which saw upstart Netflix conquering a too-little, too-late Blockbuster Video—was a welcome change from well-worn Uber anecdotes, judging from the audience reaction.  

Perhaps most insightful was a presentation from Zach Nelson, Oracle’s executive vice president of cloud strategy, whose experience with the cloud world in his long career (including his time at NetSuite) brings a uniquely valuable perspective to Oracle. He offered “5 Cloud Lessons Learned” for any company undertaking the journey:

  1. Every company is a cloud company. 
  2. Embrace hybrid models. 
  3. Deliver omnichannel experiences. 
  4. Harness the power of data aggregation, and then find interesting ways to profit from the data. 
  5. Change is the only constant. 

Nelson’s best food-for-thought moment came at his speech’s end. After citing successful undertakings by Salesforce.com and NetSuite, he reminded us of the most exciting of the cloud’s many paradigm shifts: “In the cloud, customization is not a dirty word.”

To learn more about Oracle HCM Cloud, please visit www.oracle.com/hcm

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