By Angela Culver, Oracle GVP Customer Marketing & Measurement
During the early days of the pandemic, some companies put digital transformation plans on hold as they reassessed for the unexpected. Others took their cloud capabilities to new heights to meet changing demand, accelerating their timeline to become fully transformed enterprises.
Now, as the end of the pandemic may be getting closer, many people are asking: Where’s the best place to focus digital transformation efforts in 2021? Based on what Oracle SaaS customers and industry leaders are saying, we expect organizations to focus on these four areas in their 2021 digital transformation efforts:
Pandemic disruption made finance leaders realize they need to act (and react) faster than they have in the past. Those using on-premises applications struggled to help their businesses be nimble, but companies using Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP and EPM were able to adjust faster using machine learning-driven process automation, cross-function collaborative planning, predictive analysis, and scenario modeling.
Our customers have told us that during the pandemic, they saw the true value of these technologies for more effective forecasting despite volatility and for efficient, touch-less period closes. Matt Bradley, an Oracle Senior Vice President, summed up his observations during a five-part webcast series on reimagining agile finance:
“CFOs already in the cloud feel relief that they’ve been able to close the books virtually and collaborate across time zones to rapidly model and adjust scenarios in real-time. Those who haven’t moved to the cloud may be feeling some regret at not moving forward with plans to modernize, especially in areas critical to crisis management, such as strategic planning and scenario modeling.”
In 2020, it was more important than ever for organizations to have full visibility across their supply network. This allowed them to get ahead of supply disruptions and demand swings with quick decisions. For many the pandemic was a catalyst, accelerating cloud transformation.
For example, beloved butter (and many other foods) manufacturer, Land O’Lakes, saw more disruption in an eight-week period in 2020 than it has experienced in the last eight years simply because it had to repurpose food normally packaged for foodservice outlets to go to retail stores instead. As a result, it had to revise plans daily to meet the new changing demands of the market.
The company decided to move from an on-premises version of Oracle Transportation Management to the cloud version, which proved instrumental in helping it meet unprecedented demand without missing a beat.
Land O’Lakes experienced the high risk of old solutions for supply chain management and made a swift change; we expect more companies to follow its lead in 2021.
Customer expectations for quality service were already evolving before COVID-19. Suddenly, their needs shifted dramatically across the globe, in all industries, and spanning business-to-business and business-to-consumer sales channels. In order to keep up, Oracle customers relied on technology to help deliver on the increased demand for a memorable and immersive customer experience (CX).
For Exelon, a Fortune 100 energy provider that considers CX a competitive differentiator, Oracle Customer Experience (CX) offered a comprehensive solution that went far beyond CRM in order to meet their current and long-term needs.
Exelon had already committed to digital transformation to stay ahead of disruptive competitors before 2020, and when the pandemic hit, it served to underscore the value of this commitment.
When one of Exelon’s more than 10 million customers reached out to an agent with a question or problem, the agent could access a single, 360-degree view of that customer to deliver a more personalized and empathetic response.
This human-centric capability continues to be a differentiator for Exelon, and the company is also becoming more efficient at customer service. Improvements include a 20% reduction in back-office work and a 10% increase in online bill payment completions.
A new Oracle Cloud HCM study of workplace mental health has uncovered a growing need for organizations to help their employees manage their mental wellbeing, an area that is ripe for the opportunity to use tools enhanced with artificial intelligence (AI), as discovered in our survey with Workplace Intelligence.
The survey found that 78% of the global workforce said the pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health and that they would rather talk to a machine than a person. In the same survey, 75% said AI has helped them at work by providing the information they need to do their jobs, automating tasks, and reducing stress.
These tools could take the form of user-facing digital assistants or software automation that eliminates tedious, unsafe or time-consuming tasks. What’s most important is that AI can make the workplace a safer and less stressful experience.
For example, Office Depot is using Oracle Digital Assistant pre-built integration with the Oracle Cloud CX Service to minimize in-person contact when a customer has a question or service issue. Instead of coming into the store, the customer can use the Assistant, which automatically addresses basic support questions, intelligently hands-off support issues to a human agent, and then shares the initial conversation thread with the agent. This capability let Office Depot serve more customers remotely when fewer of them were able to come to the store for service issues.
2020 forced many companies to embrace digital transformation faster than originally planned. Like Land O’Lakes, changing demand meant they simply could not wait to expand their capabilities. For other companies such as Exelon and Office Depot, the time they’d already invested in digital transformation gave them valuable tools to serve customers in new ways during a disruptive and trying year.
The lesson for all companies is that the time to modernize is now – it has never been more important to be agile and in the cloud.
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