Tuesday Aug 27, 2013

Announcing the General Availability of PeopleSoft In-Memory Project Discovery – The Key to Tapping the Potential of Unstructured Data

We recently launched a new analytical application focused on enabling project-driven organizations to answer complex questions that until now were all but impossible to address even with the latest business intelligence tools and technologies.

The new application, called PeopleSoft In-Memory Project Discovery, is a true example of an Oracle Engineered System in that we have architected a business solution that takes advantage of the latest Oracle Middleware and Hardware to accomplish something that would otherwise be too complex, expensive, and risky for almost any other organization to attempt to build on its own. By leveraging Oracle’s Endeca Information Discovery business intelligence technology and Oracle’s Exalytics hardware for high-performance analysis, we have built a dashboard-focused interface over the PeopleSoft Projects suite to give project-oriented executives and managers the ability to correlate structured project and resource data with associated unstructured data. Okay, I know: that sounds rather mundane. So, to illustrate why this is “much more than just another BI dashboard,” let’s take a look at an example.

Imagine that you are the Vice President of facilities at a multi-campus university, and you read in the morning news that one of the subcontractors performing work for the school has been charged with defrauding customers by installing defective fire suppression systems. You know there have been a number of these systems installed throughout the university’s buildings, but unless you have your staff manually read through every project-related contract entered during the past three years, you literally have no way of knowing which projects might have exposure to these defective systems, how much was spent on these systems, and when they were installed. This situation leaves your university exposed to significant legal, financial, and safety risks every day until it is remediated. The inability to relate unstructured data (such as clauses in your contracts, text in your contract attachments, and so on) to volumes of structured data (such as project locations, project financial figures, purchase orders, and so on) is the barrier to eliminating these risks.

Untapped Potential...Unstructured Project and Resource Data

Figure 1. The Untapped Potential:  Correlating Unstructured Project and Resource Data with Structured, Transaction Data

With the power of PeopleSoft In-Memory Project Discovery, however, you can mine project artifacts and deliver answers to your complex problem in seconds. By typing a few keywords into PeopleSoft In-Memory Project Discovery, you can learn where the defective systems were implemented and eliminate the costs that the university would otherwise incur for staff or temporary workers to pore over text related to your projects and could immediately mitigate the legal, financial, and safety risks associated with the subcontractor’s work. You could identify for the university all of the exposure to the defective fire suppression systems, draw up and institute remediation plans within hours, and immediately begin implementation of the plans to eliminate the risks. Pretty remarkable, wouldn’t you say? (Note that this scenario is just one example of what the application can do. There are many other high-impact scenarios to which you can apply the tool, such as using it to drive more profitable staffing decisions in a professional services organization. The whitepaper listed below can help you learn more about other scenarios.)

You can think of PeopleSoft In-Memory Project Discovery as a tool that enables you to unlock the value trapped in unstructured project and resource data, visualize that project and resource data as actionable information, and tighten your project financial controls at unprecedented speeds. It offers the ability to analyze project and resource transaction data based on data stored in related documents and other unstructured formats. A user types keywords, and the application immediately treats those keywords it finds in documents as reporting dimensions by which you can filter your project and resource information. The application also provides you the ability to view project and resource metrics changing in real-time as structured and unstructured data filters are applied and you close in on the answers you need to make informed decisions. The PeopleSoft In-Memory Project Discovery dashboards come with pre-configured alerts (which you can personalize) for key exceptions, such as budget overages, to draw your attention to important issues before they become problems and enables you to save sets of filters which you may want to apply to your data on a recurring basis.

A View of PeopleSoft In-Memory Project Discovery's Project Financial Dashboard

Figure 2. PeopleSoft In-Memory Project Discovery to Correlate Your Unstructured Projects Content with Your Project Transaction Data 

As of today, PeopleSoft In-Memory Project Discovery taps into data residing in PeopleSoft Project Costing, PeopleSoft Resource Management, and PeopleSoft Program Management. If you’d like to learn more about the application and how it can not only help you answer perplexing questions but also give you a strategic advantage to drive more profitable operations, please take a look at the whitepaper, video feature overview, press release, and datasheet; contact your Oracle Application Sales Manager; or contact us by emailing Roxanne.Johnson@oracle.com or Mark.Rosenberg@oracle.com.

Thursday Jun 14, 2012

PeopleSoft Upgrades, Fusion, & BI for Leading European PeopleSoft Applications Customers

With so many industry-leading services firms around the globe managing their businesses with PeopleSoft, it’s always an adventure setting up times and meetings for us to keep in touch with them, especially those outside of North America who often do not get to join us at Oracle OpenWorld. Fortunately, during the first two weeks of May, Nigel Woodland (Oracle’s Service Industries Director for the EMEA region) and I successfully blocked off our calendars to visit seven different customers spanning four countries in Western Europe. We met executives and leaders at four Staffing industry firms, two Professional Services firms that engage in consulting and auditing, and a Financial Services firm.

As we shared the latest information regarding product capabilities and plans, we also gained valuable insight into the hot technology topics facing these businesses. What we heard was both informative and inspiring, and I suspect other Oracle PeopleSoft applications customers can benefit from one or more of the following observations from our trip.

Great IT Plans Get Executed When You Respect the Users

Each of our visits followed roughly the same pattern. After introductions, Nigel outlined Oracle’s product and technology strategy, including a discussion of how we at Oracle invest in each layer of the “technology stack” to provide customers with unprecedented business management capabilities and choice. Then, I provided the specifics of the PeopleSoft product line’s investment strategy, detailing the dramatic number of rich usability and functionality enhancements added to release 9.1 since its general availability in 2009 and the game-changing capabilities slated for 9.2.

What was most exciting about each of these discussions was that shortly after my talking about what customers can do with release 9.1 right now to drive up user productivity and satisfaction, I saw the wheels turning in the minds of our audiences. Business analyst and end user-configurable tools and technologies, such as WorkCenters and the Related Action Framework, that provide the ability to tailor a “central command center” to the exact needs of each recruiter, biller, and every other role in the organization were exactly what each of our customers had been looking for. Every one of our audiences agreed that these tools which demonstrate a respect for the user would finally help IT pole vault over the wall of resistance that users had often raised in the past. With these new user-focused capabilities, IT is positioned to definitively partner with the business, instead of drag the business along, to unlock the value of their investment in PeopleSoft.

This topic of respecting the user emerged during our very first visit, which was at Vital Services Group at their Head Office “The Mill” in Manchester, England. (If you are a student of architecture and are ever in Manchester, you should stop in to see this amazingly renovated old mill building.) I had just finished explaining our PeopleSoft 9.2 roadmap, and Mike Code, PeopleSoft Systems Manager for this innovative staffing company, said, “Mark, the new features you’ve shown us in 9.1/9.2 are very relevant to our business. As we forge ahead with the 9.1 upgrade, the ability to configure a targeted user interface with WorkCenters, Related Actions, Pivot Grids, and Alerts will enable us to satisfy the business that this upgrade is for them and will deliver tangible benefits. In fact, you’ve highlighted that we need to start talking to the business to keep up the momentum to start reviewing the 9.2 upgrade after we get to 9.1, because as much as 9.1 and PeopleTools 8.52 offers, what you’ve shown us for 9.2 is what we’ve envisioned was ultimately possible with our investment in PeopleSoft applications.”

We also received valuable feedback about our investment for the Staffing industry when we visited with Hans Wanders, CIO of Randstad (the second largest Staffing company in the world) in the Netherlands. After our visit, Hans noted, “It was very interesting to see how the PeopleSoft applications have developed. I was truly impressed by many of the new developments.”

Hans and Mike, sincere thanks for the validation that our team’s hard work and dedication to “respecting the users” is worth the effort!

Co-existence of PeopleSoft and Fusion Applications Just Makes Sense

As a “product person,” one of the most rewarding things about visiting customers is that they actually want to talk to me. Sometimes, they want to discuss a product area that we need to enhance; other times, they are interested in learning how to extract more value from their applications; and still others, they want to tell me how they are using the applications to drive real value for the business.

During this trip, I was very pleased to hear that several of our customers not only thought the co-existence of Fusion applications alongside PeopleSoft applications made sense in theory, but also that they were aggressively looking at how to deploy one or more Fusion applications alongside their PeopleSoft HCM and FSCM applications.

The most common deployment plan in the works by three of the organizations is to upgrade to PeopleSoft 9.1 or 9.2, and then adopt one of the new Fusion HCM applications, such as Fusion Performance Management or the full suite of  Fusion Talent Management. For example, during an applications upgrade planning discussion with the staffing company Hays plc., Mark Thomas, who is Hays’ UK IT Director, commented, “We are very excited about where we can go with the latest versions of the PeopleSoft applications in conjunction with Fusion Talent Management.”

Needless to say, this news was very encouraging, because it reiterated that our applications investment strategy makes good business sense for our customers.

Next Generation Business Intelligence Is the Key to the Future

The third, and perhaps most exciting, lesson I learned during this journey is that our audiences already know that the latest generation of Business Intelligence technologies will be the “secret sauce” for organizations to transform business in radical ways.

While a number of the organizations we visited on the trip have deployed or are deploying Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition and the associated analytics applications to provide dashboards of easy-to-understand, user-configurable metrics that help optimize business performance according to current operating procedures, what’s most exciting to them is being able to use Business Intelligence to change the way an organization does business, grows revenue, and makes a profit. In particular, several executives we met asked whether we can help them minimize the need to have perfectly structured data and at the same time generate analytics that improve order fulfillment decision-making. To them, the path to future growth lies in having the ability to analyze unstructured data rapidly and intuitively and leveraging technology’s ability to detect patterns that a human cannot reasonably be expected to see.

For illustrative purposes, here is a good example of a business problem where analyzing a combination of structured and unstructured data can produce better results. If you have a resource manager trying to decide which person would be the best fit for an assignment in terms of ensuring (a) client satisfaction, (b) the individual’s satisfaction with the work, (c) least travel distance, and (d) highest margin, you traditionally compare resource qualifications to assignment needs, calculate margins on past work with the client, and measure distances. To perform these comparisons, you are likely to need the organization to have profiles setup, people ranked against profiles, margin targets setup, margins measured, distances setup, distances measured, and more. As you can imagine, this requires organizations to plan and implement data setup, capture, and quality management initiatives to ensure that dependable information is available to support resourcing analysis and decisions.

In the fast-paced, tight-budget world in which most organizations operate today, the effort and discipline required to maintain high-quality, structured data like those described in the above example are certainly not desirable and in some cases are not feasible.

You can imagine how intrigued our audiences were when I informed them that we are ready to help them analyze volumes of unstructured data, detect trends, and produce recommendations. Our discussions delved into examples of how the firms could leverage Oracle’s Secure Enterprise Search and Endeca technologies to keyword search against, compare, and learn from unstructured resource and assignment data. We also considered examples of how they could employ Oracle Real-Time Decisions to generate statistically significant recommendations based on similar resourcing scenarios that have produced the desired satisfaction and profit margin results.

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Although I had almost no time for sight-seeing during this trip to Europe, I have to say that it may have been one of the most energizing and engaging trips of my career. Showing these dedicated customers how they can give every user a uniquely tailored set of tools and address business problems in ways that have to date been impossible made the journey across the Atlantic more than worth it. If any of these three topics intrigue you, I’d recommend you contact your Oracle applications representative to arrange for more detailed discussions with the appropriate members of our organization.

About

This blog is dedicated to topics focused on PeopleSoft Applications, including Human Capital Management, Financials, Enterprise Service Automation, Asset Lifecycle Management, Procurement, Supply Chain and Customer Relationship Management.

For information about legislative updates to our PeopleSoft Applications see the PeopleSoft Legislative Updates Blog.

For information about PeopleTools see the PeopleSoft Technology Blog.

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