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HR

Putting the human back into HR

‘The future of work lies in AI, robots, and automation’. You could certainly be forgiven for thinking this, given the headlines over the last couple of years. And it’s true – but only partially. Yes, new technologies are changing how we work, making businesses more efficient, and feeding growth. But it’s people that develop, improve, and manage these technologies – and take care of areas that can’t be handled by machines. People hold the power of innovation, and harnessing innovation should mean working better with people. As we bring more sophisticated tech into the workplace, HR teams could show us how to do this. The HR team at Indian telecoms company, Bharti Airtel, has already done so. Using our cloud technologies to modernise applications and people practices across 17 countries, they were able to save time and cut HR workloads. They were then able to divert that time towards individualised support for the 22,000-strong workforce – and bring a human touch to their work. But how exactly can new technologies and data help HR teams to be more ‘human’ and better support employees? Learning – with AI-driven training programs, you can push learning content to employees, based on their own, specific needs, as well as the future needs of the business. Workforce management – advanced analytics can help you spot opportunities for particular people within different teams, based on their skills and experience: You help those teams to innovate and succeed, and the individual has more opportunities to develop in new ways. More time for HR – automation in areas like job application triage or review management can cut the time your HR team spends on time-consuming processes. Then they can focus on more strategic work and more tailored support for employees. More power to managers – by gaining access to HR data, the managers who work with employees day in, day out, are better equipped to monitor training, goals, and performance. And through predictive analytics and Machine Learning, issues can be flagged before they arise, so managers can act pre-emptively and look after their managees in a more personal way. The power of innovation lies in the hands of people, which is why HR teams should be the driving force behind progress, innovation, and business success.  Our latest research examines ‘The Innovation Agenda’, looking at all the ways organisations are working to harness innovation effectively. Read more here.

‘The future of work lies in AI, robots, and automation’. You could certainly be forgiven for thinking this, given the headlines over the last couple of years. And it’s true – but only partially. Yes,...

Finance

Innovation is a mindset

According to a recent global survey, 54% of CFOs describe themselves as ‘uncommitted innovators’. Change can be scary – not least for CFOs trying to stand up an innovation investment case. Breaking down the challenges; justifying change with rigorous, data-driven insights; and targeting projects at well-articulated pain-points are all ways to get over the mental block. These “uncommitted innovators” are defined as ‘would like to be more innovative but rarely get the time, funding or support from the rest of the board to invest in finance process innovation.’ The good news? More than a third of CFOs self-identify as early-adopters of technology and play an active role in innovation across their organisation. One problem for the half of CFOs struggling to innovate is that it’s hard to overcome the mental blocks to change. Innovation demands investment of time and money – but also requires an appetite for risk, a willingness to fail and the leadership skills to bring employees, peers and customers along a potentially difficult journey. But perhaps the real problem is that ‘innovation’ often conjures up ideas of painful and disruptive change. It’s too easy to lose sight of the small, practical and incremental innovations that aren’t necessarily ‘disruptive’, but which build towards sustainable change. And for most organisations, its iterative product launches, service enhancements and scouting projects ought to see the bulk of innovation efforts. CFOs understand this as building an options portfolio – with a blend of risks, investment requirements and potential returns. Within a portfolio, it pays to look at the different types of innovation, too. Specialist consultancy Doblin (now part of Deloitte) lists ten. Assigning innovation projects to these categories is a great way to understand whether you’re seeking to solve pain points in the business, defend your existing markets or create new ones. It also helps prevent mission creep, which can quickly turn practical innovation projects into unwieldy basket-cases. Doblin’s model breaks the ten types into three categories: configuration (changing the way you do things); offering (changing what you do); and experience (changing how that’s perceived and delivered). That’s also a useful way of targeting the way innovation projects might shift the business model, breaking down the process into a clear, compartmentalised concepts. Take RPA as an example. “The great thing about RPA, says Mark Hulyer from Deloitte, is that allows organizations to streamline, expedite and efficiently monitor the close process and its sub processes from start to finish. Taking a crawl, walk, run approach here can be ideal where the first implementation, or first evaluation of RPA, can focus on a high value area such as, for example, performing reconciliation, allowing a team or a manager to get a taste of what RPA is really able to do. And then, as people become more and more comfortable with what automation really has to offer, start tackling more and more complex areas. “ Make innovation simple and straightforward, and the minds and bodies will easily follow. Look at how other business leaders are building innovation into their growth agenda.

According to a recent global survey, 54% of CFOs describe themselves as ‘uncommitted innovators’. Change can be scary – not least for CFOs trying to stand up an innovation investment case. Breaking...

IT

Autonomous and Innovations’ new romance

Whether it is speeding up your next rental car order or supporting scientists recreating the Big Bang that started our cosmos – Autonomous solutions can be a game changer at any company or institution tackling the on-going need for innovation. Remember the last time you landed safely at your holiday destination, picked up your luggage and pictured yourself diving into the sea until you got stuck in the car rental counter queue? Luckily, some car hire firms such as Hertz are now working hard to speed up their data collection to avoid spoiling your good mood on your next holiday or business trip. Hertz was among the first companies to introduce Oracle's fully autonomous database to tackle constantly rising data volumes, and ultimately cutting customers waiting times. Using artificial intelligence, the cloud service dramatically cut the time Hertz needs to get large data collections up and running, says Benjamin Arnulf, director of business intelligence and analytics at Hertz. "For us it is a big revolution." While in the past Hertz's IT unit needed weeks to get a new database approved, installed and fine-tuned, it can now set up projects within minutes, Arnulf says. What particularly impressed him was that the autonomous databases "can take different types and sizes of analytic workloads and get better performance without any fine-tuning on our side,” he says. Typical case of machines replacing people you may think. Not quite. Autonomous databases are more about transforming the data business, while redefining the role that database analysts (DBAs) have played, instead of making them obsolete: It frees them your staff up from generic operational tasks that can be monotonous tasks and an ordeal when approval processes drag on too long. Autonomous databases are like smart ‘co-workers’ who leave you more time to focus on innovation, no matter if you want to drive growth at a small business with a few dozen employees or if you are one of thousands of scientists conducting high-energy particle physics as in the case of CERN: Based outside Geneva, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research houses the world’s biggest and most expensive time machine, the 17-mile-long particle collider. Here, where protons collide at the speed of light, the Autonomous Data Warehouse provides reliable and secure computing capacity for data from 50,000 sensors. Boosting the performance for Internet of Things (IoT) data retrieval scenarios, the Oracle cloud solution cut "the storage required by important control systems by a factor of ten," according to Manuel Martin Marquez, Big Data Engineer and Data Scientist at CERN. While recreating the Big Bang and trying to break the speed of light isn't most people's daily business, autonomous databases can boosts innovation at any organisation as it frees up IT departments, avoids human error and makes data collection more secure. And don't forget: It may even get you your next rental car quicker, raising the chances of your next holiday coming off to a good start. Check out how business leaders are building innovation into their growth strategy.

Whether it is speeding up your next rental car order or supporting scientists recreating the Big Bang that started our cosmos – Autonomous solutions can be a game changer at any company or institution...

Marketing

The hyper trend in marketing

90% of the world’s existing data was created in the past 2 years and most of that data is linked to individuals. Think about your own interaction with businesses as a customer, not a marketer. As a savvy consumer you’ll not tolerate any barriers to purchase – meet one and you’ll find your product elsewhere. Barriers are diverse, but they share a common failure point: an inability to connect with you as an individual. It’s a clear signal that a company isn’t innovating, because the reality is that technologies exists to deliver hyperpersonal insight that makes the right connection with you. Innovation and growth If you’re not innovating you can bet your bonus that the competition is. The most successful businesses have an innovation agenda, because they understand that innovation and growth are a virtuous circle: the more you know your customers, the better you tailor experience; the better the experience, the bigger the return. These companies see that constantly fragmenting audiences demand real-time customer visibility. They take a systematic approach that continually identifies and adopts tech that brings hyperpersonal insight. It’s an ethos that a growing number of growth focused businesses adhere to: Italian casual dining company Foodation sees innovation as the platform for expansion. Using Oracle Simphony Cloud to centralise systems for its six brands, it enjoys up-to-the-minute insight across digital channels, ordering and apps. Complete visibility of customer interactions delivers the streamlined services they want, whilst boosting profitability. Foodation is not only faster than the competition, it’s smarter. Global fashion retailer Perry Ellis International (PEI) recognises that hyperpersonalisation is the new reality – growth can only come from comprehensive customer understanding and exceptional customer experiences. PEI uses Oracle Retail Customer Engagement Cloud to bring together its 21 different brands, both in the US and UK, and leverage deep insight from more than a million loyalty customers. In Spain, the Mutua Madrid Open is using hyperpersonalisation to see tennis fans and not simply a crowd. Chatbots working on a cloud platform interact with visitors – not only providing spectators with real time information but also listening to them. The result is a global tournament that is unique to every individual. Set your innovation agenda Hyperpersonalisation is not only here to stay, it’s only ever going to get more ‘hyper’c. Organisations like Foodation, PEI and the Mutua Madrid Open realise that, whilst audiences fragment, cloud services allow them to build a unified customer picture. They have set their innovation agenda ─ now is the time to set yours too.

90% of the world’s existing data was created in the past 2 years and most of that data is linked to individuals. Think about your own interaction with businesses as a customer, not a marketer. As a...

HR

When HR gets agile

Like professional athletes, businesses need to be agile to reach the top of their game. They need strength, speed, and stamina, but it’s agility that allows them to react effectively to unexpected events. And it’s often the difference between winning and losing.  In any modern business of any size, agility underpins innovation and growth. Thankfully, almost all of us recognise the need for agility: 94% of business and HR leaders report that agility and collaboration are vital to their company’s success (Deloitte, 2017). But that doesn’t mean we’re fostering agility within the HR team, where it’s most vital. Innovation requires effective collaboration, and true collaboration requires an agile approach to human capital management (HCM). Why? Because an understanding at every moment is critical to agile workforce management and crucial to giving your employees the best opportunity to show their potential. Thanks to the latest HCM tools, powered by AI, machine learning, and powerful analytics, that’s now possible. Indian credit card provider SBI Card is a good example of the above.  Having decided to integrate multiple HR systems through HCM Cloud, their HR team can be more agile with staffing, training, and workforce management – as well as enjoying clearer insights and better employee engagement. Intelligent workforce Talent data can quickly show which employees have particular skills and experience. But this can then integrate with data on productivity, performance, and even their current availability. HR teams and project managers can intelligently select teams that not only bring together a mix of capabilities – from across the business – but they can do so without disrupting other work. Thus you might be able to hire the most talented person, rather than the “obvious” one. If freelance support or new hires are required, on-boarding processes can be streamlined, with manual, time-consuming tasks automated. Or event start before new joiners’ first day. And if internal resources need to be reallocated, talent pools can be assessed and decisions made in minutes, thanks to a unified view of people across the business. Matrix structure Taking a longer term view, these technologies can even provide the freedom and agility to open up new ways of structuring an organisation. A matrixed approach has been tricky to achieve, with teams formed across functions and locations, and multiple managers for each employee. But predictive analytics and modelling can help to project any potential issues, so they don’t get in the way of collaboration – nor innovation – in the short or long term. To better understand how HR leaders view innovation, we conducted research across EMEA and APAC, speaking with businesses in every industry. Read more on The Innovation Agenda here.

Like professional athletes, businesses need to be agile to reach the top of their game. They need strength, speed, and stamina, but it’s agility that allows them to react effectively to unexpected...

Finance

Tailor-made innovation

Most business leaders recognise they need to innovate – or risk being disrupted themselves. But for many companies, relentlessly searching for the next killer idea could be doing more harm than good. The secret? Do your own (new) thing… Management guru Gary Hamel wrote more than ten years ago, “You can wait for a competitor to stumble upon the next great management breakthrough, or you can become a management innovator right now. In a world swarming with new challenges, you need to be even more inventive and less tradition-bound than all those management pioneers who came before you.” So what’s the recipe for innovation today, when ‘disruption’ has become the norm? There’s no easy answer. Each business must tailor its innovation process to the problems it can see within itself – and its markets. Even for large companies, applying macro-metrics is not that useful. According to PwC’s Strategy& report of the top 1,000 most innovative companies (a 12-year study), there is no clear relationship between R&D spending and sustained financial performance. For smaller businesses, applying a crude measure like that is even worse. A better approach is to help innovation by empowering – and, crucially, rewarding – staff for new ways of working that will incrementally and constantly change a business for the better. New processes or tweaks to service arrangements, say, can both address costs and generate growth. Any business should set goals to shape innovative thinking – such as automating processes, reducing transaction costs, speeding up customer interactions or improving net promoter score. Larger organisations can also build an innovation management group to nurture and optimise ideas. How do you know whether all this works? When the Balanced Scorecard Institute looked at measuring innovation, it stressed businesses must “define the intended results for your own organisation’s innovation-based strategic objective.” That might be more patents. Or it could be new internal processes for the business. These are the ‘activity’ metrics. Then what’s the overall strategy innovation supports? Is it revenue growth? To what level? How about customer engagement? Or the value of intellectual property assets? It could even be administrative costs. These the ‘impact’ metrics. Some of these are highly scientific. McKinsey likes two core metrics: R&D-to-product (RDP) conversion and new-products-to-margin (NPM) conversion. These work well within high-spending corporates – but they might be less useful to smaller organisations. Either way, hard data is a critical factor. Understanding how the business is really working, where the pain points are and what the market opportunity might be – in core markets, or complementary businesses to defend against disruption – gives the team focus. Take Rivigo, the company revolutionising the Indian trucking industry with more accurate journey predictions, new levels of efficiency and automation. It’s a great example of a business that’s analysed its unique position and innovated appropriately. It’s found data-driven efficiencies and better forecasting, delivered by telematics and enterprise analytics – it has 40 engineers specialising in AI and big data to do that. But it also created an  innovative concept of ‘pit stops’ to allow truck drivers to return home every night. It saw that the pain points in the business were partly about data, but also about employee experience. It was a unique blend of problems demanding a tailor-made solution. Intelligence from connected enterprise systems is hugely valuable, of course. Connecting individuals and teams can yield surprising cross-fertilisation of ideas – something Oracle itself has been benefiting from with its Industry Innovation Advisors team powered by Oracle Cloud. But whether it’s looking to innovate processes in the finance function or build a new product, the other factor unique to each organisation is vision. If leaders become obsessed with measuring innovation, this can be neglected. Large or small, organisations that have a culture of empowerment – where ideas can be quickly put into practice and connections made across geographic and functional silos – will do better… however they measure it. But deciding which to prioritise can only be done based on insights about each business – and the strategic objectives of its leaders. Check out which approaches other business leaders are taking to innovation and using it to drive growth.

Most business leaders recognise they need to innovate – or risk being disrupted themselves. But for many companies, relentlessly searching for the next killer idea could be doing more harm than good....

IT

IT Powering Innovation

Smart CEOs see change as a team effort. While somebody needs to set the course, arriving at the desired destination requires many people to work together with minimal friction and maximum efficiency. Intelligent technology is a perfect assistant for this undertaking, liberating humans from mundane tasks and allowing employees to focus on mission-critical objectives instead. It’s easy to overlook the crucial role that IT often plays in successfully managing change, given that public attention typically focuses on executive decisions at the top. In some ways, that’s understandable. Take Apple, for example. Developing a product as disruptive as the iPhone was a high-risk gamble – a decision that only an exceptional executive like the late Steve Jobs had the authority (and audacity) to make. But following that decision, it took the efforts of thousands of engineers, developers, designers, and other employees to steer the company away from its traditional computer business, turning it into the world’s most profitable smartphone maker. A success like this requires both inspiration and careful execution. Turning visions into reality may appear to be the less glamourous part of the equation but it’s equally important. Technology plays an ever-growing role in helping companies transition from past to future. By 2022, more than 60 per cent of global GDP will be digitised, market researcher IDC predicts, and growth in every industry will be “driven by digitally-enhanced offerings, operations, and relationships”, leading the analysts to conclude: “Business leaders in every enterprise must put digital transformation at the top of their priority list.” Still, acting on this insight is often a challenge. Legacy systems and entrenched attitudes – “That’s the way we’ve always done it” – can become significant burdens to organisational change. Making the transition as easy as possible is crucial, therefore, and this task starts with IT. Machine learning and data analysis, for example, can help identify internal bottle necks and optimise workflows, while offloading data into the cloud frees resources better used elsewhere in the company. The results are often dramatic. When the Australian Finance Group, one of the country’s largest mortgage brokers, decided to overhaul its approval process by employing a suite of Oracle cloud solutions, it saw a 45 per cent reduction in total cost of ownership. In Britain, patients of Turning Point, a treatment and counseling agency, saw wait times for appointments drop from four weeks to as little as two days after the organisation switched from an in-house reservation system to a cloud solution. Trust is at the center of any transformation of this kind: trust in the providers of technology solutions that need to reliably handle sensitive customer data, but also trust of executives in their own teams. Because digital change is too big a task for any one person to handle alone. Read more about how IT leaders view Innovation in our report.

Smart CEOs see change as a team effort. While somebody needs to set the course, arriving at the desired destination requires many people to work together with minimal friction and maximum efficiency....

Marketing

Is social media still marketing’s golden egg?

Social media has been marketing’s stellar performer for nearly two decades. From 2002’s launch of LinkedIn through to 2018, close to 3.2 billion people have ‘gone social’ – that’s a 13% hike on 2017. Understandably, businesses have rushed to where consumers now spend more of their time. But recent events have tarnished social’s golden egg and the fallout shows that marketers need to follow their customers – not channels. Learning the lessons Don’t panic, social media isn’t going anywhere and nor is the influence it brings you. In 2018: the global social media advertising spend exceeded US$51 billion; people spent more time on social media than watching TV; a million new users came on stream every day; and in countries such as the UK, social media marketing spend rose faster than in any other year. But it would be foolish to ignore the trends that are likely to impact social media marketing. 2018 will be remembered as the year of the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook affair. It truly shook confidence, both in the platform and social media. Surveys suggest, for example, that 1 in 10 Americans and 1 in 20 UK users deleted their accounts in its aftermath. The good news is that confidence appears to have returned. But it has taught us a very valuable lesson: the status quo can be swept away in an instant and your business needs to be where your customers are today – not where they were yesterday. Hyperpersonal – not hyper-intrusive How do marketers stay in step with customers? The answer is, as always, the smart application of technologies. And in this specific instance, technology’s ability to hyperpersonalise your interactions with customers. Whilst this demands the comprehensive collection and analysis of customer data, it is the polar opposite of the data ‘hijacking’ seen with Cambridge Analytica. This isn’t a case of using data covertly to unduly influence, but using data responsibly to give consumers the experiences they want. The right technologies ensure that you harness the full mix of channels – exploring every aspect of a customer’s experience ─ to refine marketing approaches precisely to their needs. In understanding more about your customers you will also act first and fastest should their channel preferences shift – with this agility embedded and automated. Social media is still marketing’s golden egg – and will be for some time to come. But after a tumultuous 2018, the ‘fine’ line between hyperpersonalisation and hyper-intrusion has been made very much more distinct. And it’s technology that will keep your marketing on the right side of it ─ and in step with your customers.

Social media has been marketing’s stellar performer for nearly two decades. From 2002’s launch of LinkedIn through to 2018, close to 3.2 billion people have ‘gone social’ – that’s a 13% hike on 2017....

HR

Culture powers innovation

When we talk about innovation, most of us probably think of plucky tech start-ups. Little wonder, as ‘innovation’ is one of Silicon Valley’s favourite words, and a key factor in most tech companies’ growth. So our mental images of innovation are usually of developers, programmers, and technical teams. But innovation is born when people are free to find creative solutions to challenges and run with them – and that could be within any team, in any business. That’s why 85% of business strategy leaders cite innovation as very important (CB Insights, 2018) and why so many of us want innovation to sit at the core of our companies. Making sure innovation permeates every area of a business means fostering the right culture, and this is where the HR team comes in, growing and enabling employees, allowing an innovation mindset and shaping that culture to guide business growth. This is exactly what’s happening at French construction company VINCI. The HR team spearheaded an international project that helps the entire company communicate, collaborate, and innovate, driven by better-informed managers and greater people insights. But what are the telltale signs of a culture of innovation? Leadership – An innovation led company will not be highly hierarchised, where leaders create a culture where people aren’t afraid to contribute, can fail and fail fast, set a good example and enable the flow of ideas – in every direction, and support the best ones Development – performance reviews include innovation as a key area where employees are measured. And managers are trained to encourage their teams to be innovative, as well as helping them develop and pitch their ideas. Recruitment – hiring for mindsets, not just skillsets. Talent searches look beyond qualifications to find those who have introduced new ideas, ask the right questions or have a continual thirst for learning – whether that means finding new team members or hiring from within. In essence, hiring for attitude more than skills. Collaboration – internal projects draw on different people, across different departments, and these teams collaborate closely together to achieve their goals. Networking and collaboration tools are used to enable people to contribute anytime, anywhere and on any device, ensuring the data needed is at hand and therefore that the innovation process is well oiled. Insight driven – data is just numbers, it’s the analytics ability that is key to ensuring continuous innovation. It’s about turning numbers into information that can easily be understood and read by audiences. In our latest EMEA and APAC research, we explore how organisations are prioritising and encouraging ‘The Innovation Agenda’, and how this works in practice. Learn more here. 

When we talk about innovation, most of us probably think of plucky tech start-ups. Little wonder, as ‘innovation’ is one of Silicon Valley’s favourite words, and a key factor in most tech companies’...

Finance

Focus on growing, by freeing up time.

Smart organisations treat the finance function as a navigator, showing where to invest, what strategies make sense and how to deliver them. But that can only happen when CFOs innovate for themselves – freeing up resources to plot new adventures for their businesses. There’s an argument that without the incredible wealth and banking efficiency of the Medicis in 15th century Italy, there would be no Renaissance. Innovation in art, science, philosophy and politics was based on patronage made possible by excess wealth and smart ways of moving money – while the rest of Europe was largely subsistence farming. Which begs the question for organisations in the 21st century: are they subsistence economies, where most people work hard just to stay fed? Or do they free up their best minds for radical innovation? It’s a question for CFOs, in particular. The finance function, with access to incredible amounts of data and sophisticated analytics, can identify opportunities for growth. The challenge is to find ways of doing day-to-day finance jobs more efficiently and build up ‘navigation’ capabilities to support innovation – what Accenture calls ‘the evolved CFO’. We can characterise this shift by re-christening ‘ERP’. ‘Enterprise Resource Planning’ is still essential. But by connecting systems more effectively and layering on advanced analytics, ERP is refocused on growth and resource deployment. It creates headroom for talent within finance, and across the enterprise, to experiment and innovate. It becomes ‘Earn, Rest and Play’. Companies earn more because they minimise waste, control costs and more easily identify revenue drivers. They can rest more – the unforgiving cycle of reporting locks finance function talent into an unhealthy work-life balance. And they can play – experimenting with innovative ideas that create new markets. The message is getting through. About 40% of finance executives in Hackett’s 2018 survey of companies with more than $1 billion revenue say they’ve already adopted advanced analytics; on two to three year horizon, that figure rises 80%. One of the CFOs using an ‘agile finance’ approach is Umair Junaid, CFO at Access Power, a fast-growing power producer in Africa and Asia. He wanted to improve the accuracy and timeliness of reports to enhance decision support – and automating processes with ERP Cloud enabled his team to do that without more hours at work. Or take Christophe Eouzan, Chief Accounting Officer at Orange. He needed his corporate finance team to focus on higher-level transformation initiatives. ERP Cloud automated non-strategic tasks like requisitions, purchase orders and vendor invoices. They’re now free to focus on forecasting, supply chain transparency and building a working environment designed to attract new, young talent. As Declan Tyrrell, a former CFO and CEO now working with Oracle, says: “With access to real-time data in the cloud and machine learning-infused automation, finance leaders have more time and capabilities to drive profitable change by improving decision-making, automating non-value adding tasks, managing risks and optimizing assets.” But, like in the Renaissance, there also needs to be focus to these efforts. Neil Sholay, VP of Innovation for Oracle EMEA, has been thinking about the philosophy of true ‘ERP’ businesses. And he argues they should refine five corporate “senses” to direct their efforts: They must be “human” – enhancing the experience of employees and customers. They should be connected – innovation accelerates when ideas cross-fertilise. They should be insight-drive – refined analytics give innovators confidence. They should efficient – free up talent from business as usual. They must be trusted – change can be unnerving; a supportive finance function helps. The new ‘ERP’ might not redefine Western culture as much as Columbus, Erasmus, Galileo and Da Vinci did. But with the right philosophy behind it, there is a real opportunity for a new corporate renaissance. Read more about how business leaders are considering innovation as part of their growth agenda. 

Smart organisations treat the finance function as a navigator, showing where to invest, what strategies make sense and how to deliver them. But that can only happen when CFOs innovate for themselves –...

IT

Safe Innovation: Putting the contradiction to work

With tech innovation disrupting the norm globally on a bi-monthly basis, how can businesses remain secure, innovative and not be beholden to staff bias within their departments? This is a tough challenge for any IT Director/Manager, however there is a way to use this disruption to your advantage and it may not be the way you think! When I was in a similar position some years ago (it was just when Virtualisation started to emerge), I had an internal battle to convince the naysayers that virtualisation was going to be the norm. Within a very short period of time, I had to present a concrete business case based around open source technologies and hardware maintenance contracts. At the time ALL the major HW vendors informed me that they would not guarantee their maintenance agreements if I rolled out hypervisors across the banks’ server estate. I presented the case with educated pros and cons to the banks’ board and I received agreement and go ahead! Now over 10+ years later, both OpenSource and Virtualisation technologies are the mainstay when discussing IT Infrastructure. Today, similar challenges are the new normal in regards to security. With more Data, IT Infrastructure and access to said items, there is also a massive responsibility of securing these environments. We are all now faced with 2 options - provide the security blanket yourself, or outsource it. The answer to this dilemma is, in my book, an easy one. Just as I made that leap for the bank in question 10+ years ago, I would make a similar leap now. No one company can keep up to date with security advancements, no one company can have the resources internally to guarantee appropriate security principles when technology disruption occurs bi-monthly. But what every company can do is get the right advice at the appropriate time from firms that conduct analysis, testing and have the right experience. My point is this: When considering technology change, validation, security, and cost - and the emphasis is mostly on security- most IT Teams with organisations struggle to keep up to date - period. Migrating to a multi layered security approach from outsourced cloud vendors is flexible and cost effective, with no need to hire teams of security personnel or Infrastructure personnel to manage said environments. In fact, taking into consideration the time, resources and overall cost of providing a multi layered security approach versus applying a cloud base solution, most security layers that can be applied today are agent-less, it just makes sense from all sides of a sensible discussion. Furthermore, if your provider of choice is a well-known brand, has longevity with working with security principles and IT infrastructure, you know you have a safe extra pair of hands that can guide you through that journey to online security and digital transformation. Neil Cattermull – Independent Industry Analyst @Neilcattermull Check out what business leaders are thinking about the role innovation plays in their growth agenda.

With tech innovation disrupting the norm globally on a bi-monthly basis, how can businesses remain secure, innovative and not be beholden to staff bias within their departments? This is a tough...

Marketing

Marketing, innovation, and the new measure of growth

Business fortune is no longer measured by sales alone. We’re moving beyond financial tallying, particularly when it comes to charting progress. And marketing metrics seem to be the most valued: our latest research shows customer experience and satisfaction is now the top KPI for innovation-driven growth, across all departments. But despite this, marketing isn’t recognised as having a significant role in the conversation. In fact, the marketing team is the second lowest ranked overall when it comes to which departments own innovation.  If marketing teams want to prove their value to innovation-driven organisations, then measuring, predicting, and growing their contribution should top the priority list. And it seems they’re aware of this, as ‘using data to improve performance’ is the top area where marketers hope to innovate. However, there’s a 10% gap between their aspirations and what’s actually being done.  Could IT be the team that helps to close this gap? Harmony with IT The marketing department’s reliance on technology is only growing. Global marketing IT spend is predicted to grow 7.3% year on year until 2021, with much of this likely due to expanding responsibility for the customer relationship, from first contact to loyalty, market insights, and beyond. But marketers still don’t see the IT team as an innovation partner, ranking IT as the second least important department when it comes to owning the innovation agenda. And this despite the fact that marketers often suffer from technology clutter. Marketers have adopted different solutions, systems, and tools over time, each addressing specific needs – and they need IT’s consultancy and best practice guidance to help cut this complexity, improve data flow, and drive better analysis and targeting. If they were to work more closely together, they could de-clutter, consolidate and integrate to get more out of their tools, whilst helping IT boost their own leadership position in the innovation agenda. Metrics, tools, innovation Tracking the right metrics undoubtedly supports innovation and growth, but without the tools to act, it isn’t enough. And marketers report that the most common barrier to getting new products or services to market is a lack of technology that enables execution and delivery.  With streamlined tools – that track the right metrics – marketing teams could move faster and be more innovative, all while helping their organisation to grow and beat the competition at the same time. Read our full report on how marketing teams feel about innovation – and what they’re doing to encourage it – here.

Business fortune is no longer measured by sales alone. We’re moving beyond financial tallying, particularly when it comes to charting progress. And marketing metrics seem to be the most valued: our...

HR

How HR Nurtures Innovation

Companies are certainly thinking about people when measuring business success. We found the top KPI for innovation-driven growth – across all departments – is customer experience and satisfaction. And organisations recognise the contribution of their own people, as employee productivity is in joint second place. Culture as a KPI Like a living organism, innovation needs the right atmosphere to survive and thrive. In any business, this atmosphere depends on the culture, and how carefully it’s nurtured and supported. Dealing with people at both the individual and the collective level, HR teams are ideally placed to shape and foster this culture. But HR may face an uphill struggle, as our latest research suggests many companies don’t yet recognise the role that culture (or the HR team) plays in innovation. But productivity depends, in part, on an environment where people can flourish and do their best work – and the right culture is one element of this. However, organisation culture is the joint-lowest ranked metric for innovation-driven growth, suggesting many companies haven’t yet made the connection between culture, innovation, and performance. This is where HR teams could take a leading role. And many hope to, but they’re struggling at the moment: Creating an innovation culture is an area where HR professionals want to encourage innovation, but there’s an 11% gap between aspiration and acting on that aspiration. Leadership support could be the missing piece. Leadership and roles Looking at the big picture, a company’s overall culture often reflects the attitudes and behaviours of the senior management team. And HR leaders ranked ‘commitment from the leadership team’ at the top of a list of behaviours that support a culture of innovation specifically. By working closely with senior management, HR teams could build a culture of innovation from the top down, like measuring culture and talent – and in doing so, shift perceptions about their function. Currently, IT, finance, and marketing professionals say HR is the department least likely to own innovation – and roughly one in seven professionals (14%) report HR has no role whatsoever. But in playing a leading role in changing company culture, the HR team could alter this perception while laying the foundations for greater productivity, innovation and success. HR needn’t own the innovation agenda, but it certainly has equal weight voice – and as much at stake – as any other team. To learn more about how HR and business leaders see innovation, and what they’re doing to foster it, read our report here.

Companies are certainly thinking about people when measuring business success. We found the top KPI for innovation-driven growth – across all departments – is customer experience and satisfaction. And...

Finance

Finance as guide and guard of innovation

‘Agility’ seems to be today’s buzzword of choice – but being agile is a fundamental part of innovation. Innovative companies move and change direction at lightning speed, and they depend on having the resources they need, when they need them. In other words: innovative companies depend on a world-class, agile finance team. Finance professionals are the guardians of business resources and possibilities. From getting the most out of suppliers to allocating and prioritising funds, they can help an innovation agenda to flourish, unencumbered. And many are already evolving to do this. Our latest research found 72% of finance professionals aspire to drive innovation around change management – and 65% are already acting on it. But while two thirds are working to help their organisation adapt, do they simply see this as a box to tick? Or does it reflect a bigger change in the relationship between finance teams and innovation? Mindset changes If you believe the stereotype, finance teams demand multiple justifications for every penny spent. You might therefore assume this department stands in the way of agility and innovation. But that isn’t the case. When it comes to the barriers to taking a new product or service to market, we found the pressure to deliver ROI was only cited by 7% of IT, HR and marketing professionals – the lowest rated factor on our list. Many of us might also assume revenue would be the top metric for tracking progress, but customer experience and satisfaction is the leading KPI for finance professionals, recognized by 52%. Revenue growth actually sits in joint second place, right alongside employee productivity and data quality. These changes to the traditional picture of the finance team suggest they’re well placed to support the agility needed for innovation. But innovation relies on more than agility. It depends on the right insights to make better decisions, the tools to act, and a culture that fosters innovation long-term. When asked for the most important behaviours that support their organisation’s culture of innovation, finance professionals chose commitment from the leadership team, a clearly defined strategy and roles, and a clearly defined vision. So while the ground has been prepared for innovation within the finance function, there’s still a hunger for more clarity and leadership from senior management overall. But with or without this senior steer, it seems finance teams are ready to make innovation possible. To learn how they’re doing this, read our full innovation report here.

‘Agility’ seems to be today’s buzzword of choice – but being agile is a fundamental part of innovation. Innovative companies move and change direction at lightning speed, and they depend on having the...

Marketing

IoT ─ Giving power to customers

There’s a bewildering array of new marketing must-have technologies, including AI, machine learning and the Internet of Things (IoT). But what do they actually do ─ for you? The answer is critical to any business that wants to deliver the ultimate customer experience. IoT is the application of the web to the physical world, rather than the online one. It’s probably most visible in the apps that allow us to turn our heating and lights on from the sofa, the car or even another continent. But IoT can go so much further, which is where and why it intersects so powerfully with customer experience. How? As a recent article in Forbes put it, “With IoT, customers wait in line less and experience more…. Friction gives way to a seamless, personalized experience.” That’s the theory ─ and it’s a compelling one ─ but what about real-world application? Here is just one example of a company truly transforming the customer experience through IoT. A global hotel group, Melia Hotels International, envisaged resorts with multiple themes, with guests moving between them with ease. The sticking point was achieving this without customers hitting artificial barriers. Working with Oracle, the group rapidly developed an IoT powered smart bracelet. It’s proven an extraordinary success. The bracelet allows customers to enjoy key-free access, cash-free fine dining and shopping, and queue-free activities. Further, clever use of data allows the Group to deliver personalised suggestions, discounts and offers. They understand when and how customers use facilities to better manage demand, which also enhances security ─ no guest is ever lost if they’re wearing their bracelet. It’s a great example of how the IoT places power into the hands of customers ─ with a business that is always listening and adapting to their needs. It’s automated, it’s secure and it’s seamless.  To find out about how leaders understand and feel about the future of new technologies, read our report here.

There’s a bewildering array of new marketing must-have technologies, including AI, machine learning and the Internet of Things (IoT). But what do they actually do ─ for you? The answer is critical to...

HR

Goodbye silos, hello teams

Need departments to collaborate with one another? Lack of collaboration can slow everything down, from day-to-day work to major projects. But what if employees were digitally enabled, able to network and collaborate with people outside of their department? Last year’s digital business study from MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte Digital revealed something interesting: the more digitally mature an organization is, the more likely it is to be organized around cross-functional teams. Projects are taken on by specifically-created groups, not departments. Creating a new team for every project is no small task, but HR can take charge. With a human capital management (HCM) system that’s boosted by artificial intelligence (AI), they can supercharge team-building – and underpin how a company runs. Dream teams – using development, work history, and personnel data, you can find the right people from across the business, with the skills and experience to build the perfect project team. And you can see their availability, making resource management more intelligent too. Intelligent development – self-driving training programs help employees to continually develop their abilities, with automated prompts to keep them on track and suggest in-demand skills. Plus it’s easy for HR to group people with common development needs, for smarter training. Anticipating needs – proactively monitor for skill gaps before they become an issue, with recommendations for training or recruitment based on business needs. And if you do need to bring in new employees, find ideal candidates fast through chatbots that handle the time-consuming early stages of recruitment. Teams achieve dreams A team-based approach unites diverse perspectives and skills, avoids departmental siloes, embraces agility (as teams are quickly built and disbanded), and allows ideas to be tested and adapted at pace. And this is all because decisions can happen at the team level, instead of through a lengthy approval hierarchy. HR leaders can ensure their company is able to adopt the team-based approach they need to work intelligently, with agility, and in a way that engages and develops employees. And as projects evolve and goals change, they can quickly find new team members with the skills, experience, and availability to fill gaps – even anticipating likely future needs. But this all depends on people insights, and the intelligent systems that make them scalable. Our new report explores in depth how leaders are considering new technologies and how they are being implemented.

Need departments to collaborate with one another? Lack of collaboration can slow everything down, from day-to-day work to major projects. But what if employees were digitally enabled, able to network...

Finance

Keeping up with Big Changes

 “Bankers’ hours” seems a quaint idea in today’s fast-moving and unpredictable business landscape. Finance is now fast, 24/7 and global – and companies have to keep up. Disruptive technology continues to be both a challenge and opportunity, helping for example established banks meet new realities – and powering new competitors, the fintechs, which are unencumbered by legacy systems and practices.  In fact, technology innovation and customer adoption is increasing faster than IT capabilities can keep up. What is happening to the banking industry can be applied to any business. Take credit-card processor Square. It launched in 2009, but in 2017 had already swiped $65.3 billion-worth of transactions (a growth rate of 32% year on year) from traditional card processors with a simple product that works on any mobile device. As fintechs drive down prices, margins shrink. Traditional full-service banks can expect 20 percent of their customers to drive 150 percent of their net income; the other 80 percent either break even or lose money on every transaction. Something has to change. Become Customer-Centric Traditionally, banks have tended to operate from an internal perspective, by lines of business. But today’s customers have been trained by e-commerce and apps to expect fast, personalized service. In the past, “banker’s hours” existed because people didn’t have a choice. Today, they do – and they’re choosing 24/7, not 10am to 3pm. Crucially, each customer needs multiple products and services – from mortgages to business loans and beyond. A line-of-business approach helps the bank assign revenue and responsibility – but limits the visibility required to meet each customer’s whole needs. The IT systems underpinning these lines of business are also siloed. This cripples a bank’s ability to exploit one of its most valuable advantages over fintechs: data. The incumbent banks have lots of it – but it’s rarely used in ways that would beat out competitors. Banking Transformation Centers on Cloud There is a solution. A connected suite of cloud systems puts customer data into one comprehensive data set. Algorithms and machine learning can then identify broad-based customer needs – even as line-of-business leaders maintain control. Cloud also simplifies adoption of new technologies – such as chatbots – that fintechs use to woo customers. It also reduces IT costs and simplifies deployment of digital services. Regular upgrades are completed automatically, reducing disruption. Expensive IT specialists and on-site licences become the exceptions. Cloud streamlines reporting – which optimizes costs and decision-making – freeing up hours for bankers’ to spend on strategy and growth. By reducing costs and creating new approaches to market, banks can leverage their existing strengths: capital, and the ability to navigate ever-changing regulations. The fintechs are disruptive – but cloud levels the playing field and allows traditional banks to play to these strengths, while adding new products and services. To find out more about how technology is perceived by leaders, read our report here.

 “Bankers’ hours” seems a quaint idea in today’s fast-moving and unpredictable business landscape. Finance is now fast, 24/7 and global – and companies have to keep up. Disruptive technology continues...

IT

Automation, and the Challenge of Variety

Automation is definitely in fashion. IT leaders are wise to the opportunity to save time and resource, but need to deal with the variety of automation projects, how to showcase their value to the rest of the business but also, fully reap the benefits of this latest technology for their own department. Every automation project is different, varying by person, process, department, and organization – particularly when it comes to the exact mix of automation and human work. Preparing for this variety is critical, especially as more deployments are requested from across the business, so categorization is vital. Categorising Automation We asked analyst and advisor Neil Ward-Dutton about automation projects, and he suggested three types of work that can use automation, to differing degrees: Prescriptive – routine work, that’s rules-based. This includes simple customer enquiries or basic supplier interactions. Transactional – work based on a definable process, but that still requires human involvement to make it happen (eg. customer on-boarding). Exploratory – when you know what you’re trying to achieve, but not what will need to be done in advance. In other words, more investigative work, usually reliant on people with specific training – such as complaints management. With any project fitting into one of these three general types, any company can create a template architecture for each. These could then be used as a first-step basis for any automation projects, across any department, helping to deploy faster and efficiently. Selling it in More automation means more data. This may seem obvious, but perhaps only to IT teams and those used to working with data every day. With automated processes creating data as they go, the door is opened to real time insights across the whole business – from invoicing patterns to online product trends to fraud detection. Making this clear to lines of business can help them appreciate the true value of automation, and understand the requirements of the project. After all, real time data could be fed through analysis or data visualization tools to create the kind of ‘live insights’ that just weren’t available before. And that means faster, better decisions that help teams take their work to the next level. Reaping the immediate benefits The benefits may be most exciting in the IT team, as we’ll soon see automation and AI technologies embedded in the actual tools used for architecture and development. For developers it could mean an ‘AI Assistant’ that suggests ways to connect databases, or automatic predictions of possible issues, based on current versions of products or dev tools. Either way, productivity will be boosted, allowing resources to focus on more value – add tasks. If you want to find out more about how new technologies are resonating with business decision makers, please read our latest report.

Automation is definitely in fashion. IT leaders are wise to the opportunity to save time and resource, but need to deal with the variety of automation projects, how to showcase their value to the rest...

HR

How AI is fueling smarter recruitment

  Prior planning and preparation prevents poor performance – a phrase that could be soon be out of date. With the advent of new technologies, and in particular Artificial Intelligence, businesses will soon be able to predict the outcome of different scenarios, before they even come to fruition.   From an HR standpoint, these technologies could transform how we look after team members, find new ones, and initiate HR measures in time to maximize the retention of your employees.   According to Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital report, 72% of business leaders already recognize that AI, robotics and automation are important – but less than a third (31%) are ready to act. So, how can HR teams actually use AI and predictive analytics?   Know your teams Previously, HR professionals checked how happy people were during quarterly, biannual, or even annual reviews.   Now, managers and HR teams can monitor mood and attitude through chatbots with their teams each week. They can check on training programs to see who’s working on their development and who’s dropped off. And they can review skillsets and new opportunities in seconds, helping to keep employees engaged and feeling valued.   In other words, they can reduce staff turnover. With an intelligent Human Capital Management (HCM) system that uses predictive analytics, managers can draw on dozens of datasets to forecast the potential of employees leaving, work out what to do, and then act. And if new team members are needed, it can fuel smarter hiring too.   Anticipate your needs Through the filter of predictive analytics, data on current talent can help you work out which skills and people you’ll need next. You’ll be able to do workforce planning far in advance, finding the experience and capabilities that will matter in a year – or three – and molding the teams you know the business will need. Your AI-based system could also reveal where you should look for candidates and the possible impact on the team they’d be joining – not to mention the business as a whole. It could even reach out to the best people, making an automated but personalized first approach. People are the Business A prerequisite of these insights is a full transparency of skills and personality traits over all employees. This has been a wish for a long time for HR. Today we can realize this due to the almost endless capacities in managing complex data in Clouds. People are the business. Besides the needed equity capital means, the most important factor to secure future success of a corporation is having engaged people. AI capabilities as described above can help to identify what your people truly yearn for and assess the risks and chances of putting them in the position they are longing for. By using AI and predictive analytics to better understand the workforce, HR leaders can drive greater value and manage risk more effectively. But how do they currently view AI? Read the results of our latest survey to find out.

  Prior planning and preparation prevents poor performance – a phrase that could be soon be out of date. With the advent of new technologies, and in particular Artificial Intelligence, businesses will...

Marketing

Marketing’s Top 3 tips for getting AI right

Successful Marketing leaders are using AI to drive better pipelines and finding new opportunities on a regular as we’ve seen in our previous blog. We’ve already looked at AI’s potential and application ─ now it’s time to get down to the business of AI implementation. Barriers and benefits AI’s huge potential and rapidly maturing technologies should make implementation a shoe-in, right? Wrong. 2017 data from IDC suggests that 49% of global organisations see internal buy-in as a significant threat to adoption ─ despite the fact that 55% believe that AI will have an impact on customer service within the next two years. Unsurprisingly, a quarter of organisations see investment as a problem. Consequently, selling AI to colleagues is going to be a primary role for marketeers. But you’ve got this ─ you’re the Marketing Leaders! You need to demonstrate that investing in AI will energise the business AND deliver to the bottom line. With AI driving factors such as more effective acquisition, improved cross-sell, higher purchase value, customer retention, improved customer experience, improved employee experience and greater efficiency through automation ─ what’s not to like? Culture, discipline and capability You have a huge opportunity here ─ with Marketing leading the whole business towards AI and an innovation focused future. Successful implementation of AI will ask three things of you and your business: Culture: this is about mindset and desire. Innovation powers your business ─ constantly looking for new ways, improving and optimising. Exploiting all of AI’s innovative potential across all of your business demands a culture of creative freedom and aggressive experimentation. Discipline: creativity is wasted unless it exists in a disciplined innovation framework that can prove the ROI. Employees are free explore AI’s potential and generate new ideas, but these must be tested and constantly refined until the best drive new and better ways of doing business. Capability: you need the right people, proper investment (both in financial and skills terms) and technology. Your tech needs to be an innovation toolbox ─ which could contain resources such as re-usable cloud services ─ to bring new ideas to the market at speed and scale. As with any technology, the journey to successful adoption demands the right partner ─ it’s the final, critical success factor. At Oracle, we have the mindset, discipline, experience and resources you need to fully exploit AI and prove your smarts as the marketing leader. Take the decisive step on your journey to AI-driven marketing innovation.

Successful Marketing leaders are using AI to drive better pipelines and finding new opportunities on a regular as we’ve seen in our previous blog. We’ve already looked at AI’s potential...

Finance

Pyramids to Diamond – What Finance leaders need to know

The finance function is changing shape. Until quite recently, the traditional pyramid structure was entirely appropriate, but the advent of new technologies mean that organisations need to rethink their shape, quite literally. Up to now, most finance functions would look something like this: A CFO at the top supported by functional leads in areas such as treasury, reporting, and financial control and planning – a leadership layer. Senior people in their teams share niche insights on managing risk, evaluating performance or driving value. Beneath them a larger cadre of technical experts deliver analysis to create those insights. And at the base, large teams to gather the data and perform basic processing and analysis. But with the advent of sophisticated technologies to process data automatically, that’s changing. When a business has systems such as Oracle ERP Cloud to automate much of the data gathering, checking and ordering, its requirement for that army of technicians withers. That’s why the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, the unified voice of the AICPA and CIMA, has a new shape in mind for the modern finance function. “A new operating model for modern finance is emerging,” says Peter Simons, associate technical director at the Association. “It should enable finance to better support business agility.” That shape is a hexagon – albeit one narrower at the top than the bottom. Finance still requires leaders – senior decision-makers and strategic influencers for the whole organization. But beneath them, technical experts are augmented by those with softer skills – business partnering, influencing and innovating. And they’re increasingly supported by the AI-based technologies in ERP systems that boost their ability to support other functions across the business, upping their workload. The data processing and data collection layers are already getting much smaller – a process that will continue as new technologies such as blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine Learning (ML) become commonplace. This evolution will be uncomfortable for some in the finance team. Assembling accurate data and extracting basic analysis – for internal and external reports, for example – are well-defined, straightforward and easily verifiable tasks. Undertaking more sophisticated analysis to generate insights that will drive decisions across the enterprise is much less clear-cut. “Finance professionals can tend to overemphasize the importance of data integrity, given how important this is for statutory reporting,” explains Simons. “In data exploration, by contrast, finding patterns or correlations to determine whether something is directionally correct may matter more than total accuracy.” Hence the growth and evolution of those middle layers. The Association explored this in a recent report  on the changing mindsets and competencies that finance leaders will need to nurture in their teams. The shifts are clear: from collecting knowledge to interpreting it; from data processing to stakeholder interactions; from supplying basic answers to asking sophisticated questions. These mirror wider changes in organizational structure, from pyramid to diamond, as every function begins to see the automation of rote tasks – and as systems connected by the cloud allow for consistent, reliable and real-time data feeding into the analytical and decision-support teams in the middle layers. Cloud-based Enterprise Performance Management not only facilitates this shift – it’s driving it in increasingly large numbers of organizations. But those finance leaders who embrace this change of shape – who invest in the technologies that drive it, and the new skills required in that crucial middle layer – will see competitive advantage. When finance has the agility to deliver faster, better analysis and the connections across the business to ensure it’s properly deployed, the whole business benefits.   Find out more about how CFOs are building new bridges by reading our recent report here.  

The finance function is changing shape. Until quite recently, the traditional pyramid structure was entirely appropriate, but the advent of new technologies mean that organisations need to rethink...

IT

Blockchain – Are you really ready?

Blockchain, the cloud-based distributed ledger, is one of the hottest emerging business technologies and has clearly become one of the latest buzzwords. But how do you know whether you are ready to deploy it for your company? Blockchains provide a shared, immutable, secure record of transactions across a business network, so embarking upon a blockchain project will require commitment to a process that goes beyond one’s own organization or business. It also means joining or creating an extended business network to improve the processes. CargoSmart, a Hong Kong-based software solutions provider, has approached its business from that angle and has developed an application that cuts the complexity of documentation in global commerce. The solution speeds up the process of collecting and confirming data from parties along the supply chain by nearly two-thirds, e.g. reducing clearance at customs and time consuming inspections, while boosting data accuracy and helping to avoid costly disputes. "Blockchain technology provides immutable records and a trusted network to offer secure and traceable documentation,” Steve Siu, CEO of CargoSmart, says. The other question to answer is whether you need to verify or authenticate a digital or physical asset across the network or business chain. While the most obvious form of blockchain is in authenticating digital assets like music or digital wallets, it also applies to physical assets. Certified Origins, a Tuscany, Italy-based community of small family farms is producing extra virgin olive oil that is exported to the US. Following its motto "trust through traceability," the Tuscans are deploying blockchain to boost transparency across its supply chain. Consumers value brands like Belluci providing provenance "from the tree to the shelf," Andrea Biagianti, CIO of Certified Origins, says. In this case, not only does the asset need to tracked at every point in the supply chain, it also means that there is faith and trust ultimately in all the suppliers involved in that chain. Like many technologies, while blockchain will certainly bring efficiencies and transparency to any transactions, deploying blockchain effectively means breaking down siloes, both within the organisation and way beyond. The success of blockchain relies on leaders that think and reach out beyond their traditional perimeter and are willing paradoxically, to take a risk that will lead to a more trustworthy business environment.   To find out more about which technologies are leaving the other behind, please read on here.

Blockchain, the cloud-based distributed ledger, is one of the hottest emerging business technologies and has clearly become one of the latest buzzwords. But how do you know whether you are ready to...

Finance

Automation – Finance made faster, better and more valuable

Finance is embracing its new best friend, automation. Many organizations have heard of robotic process automation – or RPA – and every day more of them deploy software bots to boost efficiency and control costs, often in the cloud. Many financial processes can be automated. A good example is the close, consolidation and reporting process, the bane of every finance operation, as it is very resource consuming and comprises a high level of risk. However, as Deloitte recently discovered, of the literally thousands of activities involved in book closings, there are essentially none that can’t be automated. From a CFO’s point of view, the implications and consequences of this are immense: numbers are reliable, staff can concentrate on high value activities, closer to business needs, and the data can start to be used for predictive analysis, rather than concentrating on the rearview. Another challenge that CFOs are dealing with more and more is the exponentially increasing amount of data available to make decisions, but in the end hindering that very process, because of the “data swamp” effect. Here also Deloitte made a startling discovery: Of all the data that exists in the world, less than half of one percent is actually being used. To harness the torrent of data, CFOs can turn once again to automation, with solutions that simplify matters : automated cloud-based platforms and tools filter out the “background noise” and expose the really valuable data hidden in the mix. Data visualization tools, for example, can provide quick-and-easy graphic interpretations of complicated data sets. An efficient vizualisation means getting to the point, bringing stakeholders on board faster and ultimately simplifying decision making. All of this is great news for finance – and for the rest of the business too. Finance organizations can use the efficiency savings from automation and other technologies to focus on financial planning and predictive analysis as well as sponsor other projects aimed at helping the business grow and profit. Find out more about how CFOs are becoming the new bridge builders in our recent report.

Finance is embracing its new best friend, automation. Many organizations have heard of robotic process automation – or RPA – and every day more of them deploy software bots to boost efficiency and...

IT

What on Earth is Autonomous?

Research shows that Autonomous databases are the second most-valued technology, likely due to people working to keep on top of surging data volumes now and well into the future. It’s also the tech making the most noise in the press, and people want to hear more. But what exactly does Autonomous mean? Children don’t follow rules. Living and learning, they carve out a path to adulthood through years of trial and error. Each insight helps to build the intelligence necessary to master a world full of challenges far too complex to be described by a simple set of rules. While computers, generally speaking, are still struggling to be as intelligent as a toddler, expert systems have proven to be superior even to the smartest adults. Much of recent progress in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) has come from adopting a strategy that mimics the natural way of gathering insights. The advantages of AI are many, and they go far beyond having friends automatically tagged in social-media streams or voice assistants looking up the weather report.      AI is at the core of any autonomous offering and in a business environment, it offers a wide range of use cases that includes helping companies improve the security of their systems, reducing the need for human effort on maintenance related tasks, speeding up processes through automation, and identifying new business opportunities. In a way, the smart algorithms that are embedded in autonomous platforms resemble an expert guardian who never gets hungry, doesn’t need sleep, and can – better yet – easily expand its field of expertise. Take tasks like database resource allocation, security patching or product upgrades; they are all critical but tend to be time-consuming and resource-intensive. By incorporating a range of advanced machine-learning techniques, autonomous cloud can make such things largely hassle-free instead, requiring little human intervention. Given the advantages of autonomous cloud solutions that are self-driving, self-securing and self-repairing, Oracle expects that more than half of all enterprise data will eventually be managed autonomously. Research group IHS Market sees AI and machine learning as a key driver of cloud service adoption, forecasting the global business to grow to $374 billion annually by 2022. By that time, Oracle predicts, more than 90 percent of all applications and services will use AI on some level – because in a connected world with ever-growing demands on IT, there’s much to gain by making machines smarter bit by bit, adding knowledge and understanding with every computational cycle, so that algorithms can learn to handle tasks that require a good dose of intelligence. Even if it’s of an artificial kind.

Research shows that Autonomous databases are the second most-valued technology, likely due to people working to keep on top of surging data volumes now and well into the future. It’s also the tech...

HR

AI: your talent’s secret weapon.

The world of work is changing, fast, and HR teams face a new landscape. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Work 2018 report predicts 75 million jobs will disappear by 2022, but 133 million new roles will be created, thanks to robotics and AI. Man vs machine. That’s how many thought about Artificial Intelligence in the past: humans on one side and computers and robots on the other. But AI should mean man and machine work better together: Humans augmented by technology. And the HR department could be where this combination is driven from. Instead of HR technology, intelligent ‘people systems’ could help us manage our own careers, our teams, and our company’s future. So what could AI-enhanced human capital management (HCM) tech do to make work less complex and more intelligent? Insight: With a constantly refreshed database, managers have a complete picture of the skills and experiences available to them, and can find the best person for a given task in seconds. Using predictive analytics, they’re even able to chart which skills and team members they’ll need next year, and the year after that – fast, easy workforce planning. Support: Chatbots answer routine employee questions instantly, whether they want to know about their remaining leave or other routine enquiries, thus freeing up HR analyst time for the more complex issues. And regular sentiment analysis, analyzed in near real-time, means HR can keep an eye on morale. Development: Employees are guided directly by an intelligent system that knows the skills they need to excel in their current and future role. Proactive alerts recommend and help them stay on top of training and compliance. And managers receive tailored reports and recommendations, based on what their team is doing. Recruitment: Instead of manually searching for candidates, what if your system found the candidates with the right skillset and got in touch with them automatically? And had the answers to almost every question they could ask before an interview? Value: With AI taking care of more repetitive, manual tasks, employees can focus on tasks where they add the most business value – plus those they get the most value from themselves. And within the HR team, people are freed up to focus time and resources on looking after people more personally. This is just a glimpse of the future, but we wanted to see how people view AI now. So we asked over 4,000 business leaders for their thoughts and feelings in our latest survey.

The world of work is changing, fast, and HR teams face a new landscape. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Work 2018 report predicts 75 million jobs will disappear by 2022, but 133 million new roles...

Marketing

How smart CMOs are using AI

We’ve seen how AI can replicate and automate intelligent human analysis at scale, in our last blog. Potential is one thing, but how can the modern marketeer apply it ─ and what does it deliver? AI results Let’s start with results. A 2017 eMarketer report shows that marketing leaders apply AI to marketing’s sweet-spots digital transformations:  personalisation (54%); customer understanding (54%); identifying and reorganising customers across channels (48%); and targeting and acquiring prospects (41%). AI is delivering. Companies report: greater marketing efficiency and effectiveness (86%); better data analysis and new insights (79%); boosted creativity (74%); and improved decision-making (71%). With metrics like these, it’s hardly surprising that Gartner predicts global AI spending to jump from $450 million in 2016 to over $28 billion by 2021 AI in action Technological convergence means that companies can now start doing much more powerful marketing: From lead management and scoring, to insight gathering and customer database management, marketers can harness the power of technology to deliver more powerful messages to their customers.    Lead scoring can now be driven by machine learning, with campaigns now delivering up to four times the pipeline than accounts nominated using traditional processes. We’re seeing other practical applications for customers: a healthcare customer using AI to optimise messaging saw a 200% increase in click-through rates. AI can automate and standardise processes that were once “activity sinks”, allowing marketers to focus on what they do best. AI implementation The lessons for the smart marketing manager are to: start small; get the data right; match the right technology to the right challenge (initially where intelligent automation can make a big difference); test and measure; and enhance and report. Finally ─ and critically ─ find the right technology partner. AI needs data from, and has the power to transform, the whole business ─ so scalable, flexible and interoperable solutions will always bring the best returns.   In the next blog, we’ll look at the implementation of AI ─ how the modern marketeer can gain understanding, excitement and buy-in. To find out more in the meantime, take a look at our Insights.

We’ve seen how AI can replicate and automate intelligent human analysis at scale, in our last blog. Potential is one thing, but how can the modern marketeer apply it ─ and what does it deliver? AI...

HR

What your HR peers actually think about technology

Fast tech progress is fantastic – isn’t it? For those in Silicon Valley, new products, rapid development, and swift growth are all key to success. But how do people in the business world love new technologies? Or do they think they’re frustrating and overhyped? Every country, company, and team has a variety of opinions and feelings about technology – and Oracle wanted to find out what they were. So over 4,000 professionals were asked about six key technologies: artificial intelligence, blockchain, chatbots, autonomous databases, cloud security, and Internet of Things. The results were insightful and revealing, no more so than in the HR team. Cloud security wins In every line of business, and every country, cloud security is the top technology for innovation – and the most implemented too. This wasn’t a surprise, as Gartner predicts the global public cloud services market will grow 21.4% this year, topping $186 billion. And more and more companies are moving systems into the cloud all the time. HR professionals rated cloud security as the top technology that delivers, perhaps because it guards the most precious asset: employee data. But it seems they love autonomous databases just a little more – the most loved technology for HR professionals, probably due to their reliable, self-driving nature, which allows HRs to focus on other areas. Bot or not You might think HR teams would also love chatbots, but they were rated the most annoying of the technologies, equally-most overhyped, and lowest in delivery. And only 50% feel chatbots are important: the lowest rated tech by HR pros – even though 53% have already implemented. We suspect some may have recognized the potential of chatbots, and rushed to deploy them, but most have yet to realize that potential. Whether guiding applicants through the interview process or answering employees’ FAQs about their remaining leave, or pay day, chatbots can improve communication while lightening the load for HR teams. For now, there’s still some way to go before HR teams embrace these pay-offs. Artificial Intelligence Currently, 70% of HR professionals recognize the importance of AI, but 10% fewer have implemented yet – the biggest tech gap for HR. AI can drive better, faster decision making, whether that’s creating shortlists of job candidates, processing thousands of quarterly reviews, or identifying and addressing gaps in training programs. And these opportunities to work smarter – and find new insights, fast – should prove very tempting to HR teams. To see the full report on our research findings, and find out how people in other countries and companies really think about these technologies, click here. 

Fast tech progress is fantastic – isn’t it? For those in Silicon Valley, new products, rapid development, and swift growth are all key to success. But how do people in the business world love new...

Marketing

Be ahead of the game with future(s) proofed marketing

Avoid the tunnel vision. Look at the wider landscape. Don’t use data to look at individual channels performance now, but to create personal and compelling content that your customers want today and tomorrow. There’s a saying in sport that you should watch the game, not the ball. What this means is, the smartest players are several moves ahead ─ they anticipate where the ball might be next rather than where it is now. In evolving strategies to adapt to and deal with each scenario, these players are influencers ─ not just participants. There’s a valuable marketing lesson here. The smartest marketers anticipate a range of rapidly changing situations. In this scenario, the ‘ball’ is the marketing channel, be it a traditional or the “new” digital routes ─ focus on one of these because it’s latest and trendiest and you’ll be left behind. The ‘game’ is customer engagement. Your ability to ‘see’ here is your data, whilst your ability to ‘anticipate’ is the customer insight you derive from it, the ways this is shared across your organisation and how you harness it all to business goals. Data fosters creative ideas. Ideas come to life in content. Content will always be adaptable to channels ─ but not adapted to a channel. If you create content specifically aimed at the one or two channels of the moment, it will only be relevant for that moment. Using data to create flexible content that adapts, however, and you can purpose it for the channels of this moment… and the next. Data also drives insight. Insight leads to understanding. And better understanding means we can deliver both personalised and scaled marketing assets. Not only can you then show your customer wants specifically, but you can anticipate their needs, delivering the services they want in this moment…and the next. Nobody knows what the marketing environment will look like in a year, let alone 10 ─ but your data means that you don’t need to. Predictive analytics, now possible through technologies like AI or Cloud computing will be giving you that extra edge to help differentiate and stay ahead of the game or even the whole tournament. To find out more about how Oracle can help you future(s) proof marketing, try out our CX ROI tool. 

Avoid the tunnel vision. Look at the wider landscape. Don’t use data to look at individual channels performance now, but to create personal and compelling content that your customers want today and...

HR

HR as an agent of AI change

The benefits of AI to HR are here now. It can improve employee productivity, direct employees on where and how to grow skillsets, and boost job satisfaction, ultimately empowering the HR function to play a more crucial role in the organization. Change is the only constant. It’s a cliché, but in the business world that cliché is absolutely true – nothing stays the same for long. And when it comes to technology, change seems to be particularly fast, no more so than with artificial intelligence (AI). But to get ahead of the curve and make this change work for them, organizations need AI leadership, and the HR team is perfectly placed to take the first steps, and show the way. With the right preparation, HR can become an example – and an agent of AI change. Data-driven chatbots, steered by AI, can source new talent an organization internally or externally, as well as sharing crucial information during the recruitment process. They can also help to deal with high volumes of queries from, and interactions with, current employees. And through AI, parts of training programs can be automated, based on an employee’s particular career path, with learning recommendations shared at the best times. To find out what people think of AI at work, we surveyed 1,320 employees and HR leaders from around the world. Here are some of our findings: Work Life unbalance: Almost three times as many employees use AI in their personal lives as those who use it at work – 70% vs 24%. Outside of the office, AI touches entertainment, transport, personal finance, and our relationships. HR falling behind: Only 6% of HR leaders are actively deploying AI currently, despite the fact that 93% of employees would take direction from AI or a robot now. Career consequences: The majority believe failing to adopt AI will negatively impact their own careers, colleagues, and organization – 79% of HR leaders feel this way, and 60% of employees. The obstacle course: Around three quarters (74%) say cost is a barrier to AI adoption, while 69% said technology failures are, and more than half (56%) are worried about security risks. Fast action needed: The overwhelming majority of HR leaders – nine in ten – are concerned they won’t be able to adjust to rapid adoption of AI as part of their job. And 72% of HR leaders report that their organization provides no form of AI training program. To learn more about how HR can get ahead of the AI curve, and be an agent of change, read our full AI at Work report.

The benefits of AI to HR are here now. It can improve employee productivity, direct employees on where and how to grow skillsets, and boost job satisfaction, ultimately empowering the HR function to...

Finance

Cognitive tools that deliver for CFOs.

Cognitive tools and technologies, defined recently by Deloitte in a related blog, include artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictive analytics, many of which mimic (to varying degrees) how the human brain thinks. Here is a summary of their findings and thinking with regards to the applications for CFOs Cognitive solutions can help companies get smarter and more efficient over time—just like humans do, only faster and more accurately. Far from esoteric, these solutions can have very practical uses. For instance, artificial intelligence and machine learning software can help organizations spot non-paying and late-paying customers pro-actively by tracking their behaviour over time and flagging repeat offenders. And they can help on the payments processing side by using machine learning to recognize priority invoices, discard duplicate payments, and uncover fraudulent purchasing patterns. Cognitive also encompasses the field of predictive analytics, which harnesses a variety of statistical techniques to help finance organizations effectively navigate an uncertain future. With advanced cloud-based analytics, finance can erase the line traditionally separating transactional and performance management systems. It enables both sides of finance—operational and strategic—to come together on a common system, helping financial planning and analysis teams efficiently zero in on factors that are driving (or hurting) growth and profitability. After deploying advanced analytics in the cloud, the CFO can quickly and easily get to the data that can help him add value to the organization as a strategic partner—such as profitability by product and customer. Cognitive solutions also have the potential to help CFOs conquer one of their toughest chores: producing quarter-end earnings reports for Wall Street. Increasingly, CFOs are the face of the company when it comes to explaining all things financial to investors, analysts, journalists, and regulators. It's a role that requires fast access to relevant facts and trends—and cognitive technologies can help.  Recently we showed a Fortune 50 telecom company an effective cognitive tool running on Oracle Cloud. In just minutes, the tool sifts through volumes of P&L statements going back a decade or even longer. Using machine-learning tools and natural language processing chatbot technologies, the tool creates a report in plain English summarizing revenue and growth drivers over the entire period. It’s a job that may likely have taken an army of financial analysts months to do.   Cognitive tools are just one family of tools re shaping the finance departments: find out more about how new technogies are perceived by CFOs and other leaders in our report.

Cognitive tools and technologies, defined recently by Deloitte in a related blog, include artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictive analytics, many of which mimic (to varying degrees)...

Finance

Could chatbots become a fan favorite?

Sport and technology have a long history, but 2018 marked a significant milestone: Video Assistant Referee tech finally made its World Cup debut. Tennis embraced Hawk-Eye years ago, but football was much slower to adopt this kind of technology to help athletes and officials. But it isn’t just those on the pitch, or court, who are seeing the impact of technological change. Mobile apps can improve the fan experience, whether you’re at home or in the stands, by sharing match info and stats. And for those lucky enough to be attending matches in person, chatbots have now entered the scene. Welcome, chatbots While we soak up the atmosphere, match organizers are starting to use chatbots to make our experiences more enjoyable, more personal, and less stressful – all through the device we each have in our pockets. The word ‘bot’ may conjure images of impersonal machines, but with the right data and learning capabilities, bots can deliver highly personalized fan experiences. They’re can be ‘digital assistant’, responding quickly and accurately to questions, so fans can focus on the action. And they’re already out there: At the latest Mutua Madrid Open, a chatbot, fueled by artificial intelligence (AI), made communication with tennis fans faster and easier. Part of the Open’s strategy to engage younger fans and be more innovative, the ‘Matchbot’ gave attendees information on players, schedules, and results via their mobiles. But it also provided details on guest services, event access and parking. Plus, with its machine learning capabilities, every interaction made the bot a little better, helping to improve answers. Heineken Urban Polo did something similar. An AI-based ‘digital assistant’ was available through Facebook Messenger, responding to questions about the match or the range of hospitality events taking place – whether that meant the bar and DJ locations, sharing timings, or providing details on players. Always learning These chatbots are fueled by data. Oracle’s Intelligent Bots software gathers information based on previous interactions with customers services, across various touchpoints, and combines this with event data on a centralized platform. The bot can then create a range of answers to questions, while its machine learning capabilities mean it will improve its responses over time. And as chatbots become more intelligent, and manage more complex requests, spectators will enjoy an even better sports experience – certainly one that justifies the price of admission. To find out all digital Innovation is delivering on its promises, read our report.

Sport and technology have a long history, but 2018 marked a significant milestone: Video Assistant Referee tech finally made its World Cup debut. Tennis embraced Hawk-Eye years ago, but football was...

Marketing

Marketers – the new detectives

Customer relationships are not the sole remit of the marketing department, however marketers can play a key role in highlighting the issues that prevent a company from being fully committed to improving their customers’ experience. Up to 20 years ago, Customer relationships were the responsibility of one or maybe 2 departments within a business, often working in isolation. In recent years, new thinking has been applied to how organizations should view and build relationships. We are now firmly in the era of customer centricity, where every part of the business plays a role in nourishing and growing the link and understanding of customers. In an age of ‘Customer obsession” data, a 360 customer view, customer success is a ‘total business’ responsibility. In this context, not only has Marketing acquired revenue growth responsibility, but its effectiveness has been enabled by digital technologies. This means that Marketing now has sight and insight to provide to other areas of the business - that it previously could not support - in developing the quality of their customer relationships. By leveraging the data now at their fingertips, marketers can become the internal detectives of any organisation, helping uncover and pinpoint potential “weak” points that need addressing. Let’s take a look at a few of the issues that marketing can help fix: Product: the business is pitching the wrong, inferior or badly tested product to customers. Capture: teams are incorrectly populating CRM systems, or the CRM system itself is flawed, which means customer understanding is low. Application: teams’ inability to see meaningful outputs from the CRM, starving them of insights. Pre and After Sales: poor, insufficient on-boarding and/or aftersales support. Resolution: inadequate problem resolution, with ‘solutions’ fudged and lessons neither shared nor learned from. Technology: outdated solutions that do not meet the purposes of nowadays’ needs. Insight: a failure to ‘recognise’ customers’ behaviour and understand when and where they need support. By bringing data-based insight and solutions to these challenges, Marketing is now in a position to support and help the business as a whole transform into a fully customer centric entity. What’s more, in applying technologies such as AI (Artificial Intelligence) and machine learning, this process becomes proactive, automated and embedded into every customer interaction. See how marketing can further demonstrate the value of good Customer experience with our CX ROI Tool.

Customer relationships are not the sole remit of the marketing department, however marketers can play a key role in highlighting the issues that prevent a company from being fully committed to...

HR

4 Steps to winning with the Cloud.

Recruiting, retention, and the employee experience can all be improved with better access to data. Most HR leaders know this, and see cloud-based human capital management (HCM) as the way to deliver on this promise. But convincing other stakeholders can be tricky. According to Matt Richards, MD at KPMG, around half of proposals to upgrade to HCM cloud technology are denied. So how can HR leaders deliver a proposal that succeeds? Structure the business case The C-suite receives constant requests for funding. You’ll be competing with plans for new facilities, or strategies to move into new markets, and most of these proposals will have clear profit projections. This means using common language and KPIs as the finance department for example. If you can tie your request back to the company’s bottom line then you can avoid your case being moved to the bottom of the pile. Stress that this is an investment that will shape the future of the organization, and underpin development in other areas. Then show how results will be tangible and trackable too, in both the short and long term. Urgency After asking why an investment should be made, the second question will probably be ‘Why now?’. There’s natural caution surrounding any major change, so set out why the investment should happen immediately. Without this, it’s unlikely that anything will happen, even with agreement that it’s an important project. Be clear that postponing the move to the cloud could cost the business. The right problems A good investment solves problems. While HR leaders are aware of the challenges their teams face, and how cloud HCM can help, things may not be as clear to other execs. In your business case, explain how business challenges will be met – not just HR concerns – in order to convince others your project is a worthy one. Think specifically about increased revenue, decreased costs, or improved productivity, and use plenty of data to back up your points.   Planned success Moving HCM to the cloud is a significant change, and one that will be disruptive. So, the final element of the business case is to plan how that disruption will be minimized over time: A clear narrative that includes change management, business readiness, and process audits should show that this project is both doable and valuable. It also investing in new skills: HR staff that have strong analytical skills or project and change management experience will be an invaluable asset in the roll out of new systems, ensuring their success. To learn more about building a business case for the cloud, download our guide or read more about how AI is also a key technology to transform and empower the HR function.

Recruiting, retention, and the employee experience can all be improved with better access to data. Most HR leaders know this, and see cloud-based human capital management (HCM) as the way to deliver...

Finance

Ready or not… Robotics Process Automation

Shared services centers are, by definition, characterized by process-driven, repetitive tasks. Pioneering organizations are already showing what automation can do to make them more efficient. New opportunities are round the corner. Robots are nothing new in factories. But over the past two years, many services-based businesses – and service teams – have made the connection between single-task robotic desktop automation and much deeper robotic process automation (RPA). Research shows almost half of shared services centers (SSCs) have implemented RPA at some level. We're seeing a slew of case studies shared via solution providers, conferences and online forums such as the Shared Services and Outsourcing Network (SSON). It’s still early days. And reported "failure" rates of 30% to 50% show RPA needs to be implemented carefully; and not oversold. In the dash for results, mistakes are easy to make. It’s not the “robots” The technology is the “easy” piece. Software agents will repeat tasks indefinitely at low cost and without errors. How those tasks are designed, and whether the organization is prepared to adapt to new ways of working, are bigger questions. Many providers (at least in the early days) sold business units on the idea that they didn’t need the IT department – they could make quick decisions, automate a process with next to no overhead, and get quick results. But IT does need to be involved - at the very least for governance access to systems. And when (not if) things go wrong, IT is a key ally. Seeing is believing Taking a more considered approach helps secure the benefits – and also shows more clearly how RPA can evolve. Research shows that before adoption, automating procure-to-pay is the most common objective for practitioners. RPA test sites broaden their horizons: accounts payable becomes a prime target. Post-implementation? They’re more likely to see full-blown financial analysis as RPA-ready. Where’s the catch? The first hurdle is budget. Management needs to be convinced on returns. Process standardization and resource allocation are always factors. Then change management becomes key. But our data does not show fear of job losses to be a significant factor. At a recent RPA conference, 54% of the delegates we surveyed intend to redeploy FTEs into higher-value work. What’s next? SSON Analytics’ Intelligent Automation Universe shows how RPA is delivering in finance and accounting, HR, procurement and customer service – a breadth of use-cases that highlights how far RPA has progressed. But it’s just the start. Applying cloud and artificial intelligence technologies pushes RPA’s potential even further, with SSCs playing a crucial role. Find out how organizations are leveraging new technologies in our report Delivering on the promise of Digital Innovation.

Shared services centers are, by definition, characterized by process-driven, repetitive tasks. Pioneering organizations are already showing what automation can do to make them more efficient. New...

IT

Cloud cover: Avoiding the 5 most common cloud security issues

Cloud adoption just keeps climbing. Public cloud services are now used by 85% of IT and cybersecurity professionals, up from 57% in 2013. But could there be a security storm in the air? Each year Oracle and KPMG produce the Oracle and KPMG Cloud Threat Report, based on a survey examining public cloud usage and cybersecurity measures. The latest findings show there’s plenty of confidence, but we see some mistakes more often than others – here are our top 5. Responsibility Cloud services can make security easier, but there are certain things they can’t do – like keep an eye on how careful employees are with their credentials. It’s best to clear on responsibilities from the very beginning, so iron out what you’re responsible for and what your cloud provider will look after early on, to make sure there are no gaps. Training One of the most common ways an organization can be breached is through an average employee. The most common attack vectors are phishing scams, and it takes just one person making one mistake to expose your company. In this case, it’s training (and not some fancy tool) that will make the difference. Automation Detecting and reacting to cloud threats is the top challenge for security organisations. But only 14% of the Cloud Threat Report respondents said they could analyse all relevant security event and telemetry data. This lack of insight is usually due to cloud services rolling out faster than SecOps can support. By removing manual processes and automating more responses to risks, you can help to relieve this problem. Compliance Being compliant doesn’t necessarily mean you’re secure. Compliance is mainly about data confidentiality, integrity, and availability. But it’s still tricky to meet compliance goals without an expert leading the way. It’s wise to make sure there’s one person who can look at the whole picture – at a global level if necessary – and work out the best way to meet compliance responsibilities. Leadership In the name of speed, lines of business often rush rolling out cloud services, without involving security operations. And that can mean failing to meet basic security requirements. Leadership is the answer. By having one person who oversees deployments, teams can roll out efficiently while still keeping the organisation protected. To find out more about how to deliver with new technologies, please read our report : Delivering on the promise of Digital Innovation.

Cloud adoption just keeps climbing. Public cloud services are now used by 85% of IT and cybersecurity professionals, up from 57% in 2013. But could there be a security storm in the air? Each year...

Marketing

Hyper-personalization at scale- the reality of CX

We’re all familiar with the good, the bad and the ugly of ‘personalised’ customer experience. The good sees marketing communications targeted at the right time, with the right message across the right channels. The bad is when any one of these touchpoints goes wrong. The downright ugly is the failure of all three. And of course, the impacts of each are amplified at scale. Customers know a good experience when they see one, expect it in every brand interaction and will punish those who don’t live up to expectations. So how can you personalise at scale effectively? It’s a four-step by step process, with each stage dependent on the other. Basically, we need to align four variables: Info…Know…Show…and Grow. Info is your data. The data revolution has hit hard and fast, so many organisations’ data is siloed, fragmented, duplicated and out of date. Marketing, for example, might hold one database and Sales another, which is the perfect recipe for bad engagement and ugly experiences. Now is the time to take advantage of technologies to: unify data; collect and maintain it consistently; and ensure it’s interoperable across your business. Know is your segmentation. Based on your accurate and consolidated data, you can now find out who your customers are with confidence, no matter the size of the segment. It’s important to remember, however, that personas change over time (often rapidly) ─ so segmentation is never ‘done’. Show is your analytics: the power to turn information into insight. It’s this insight that delivers ever-more granular levels of engagement based on who your customers really are. An important and often overlooked factor here is usability: data needs to permeate your organisation and cannot be the preserve of ‘data specialists’. For this to happen, your analytics need to be instantly accessible, easily understood (by everyone) and produce insights that are relevant, actionable and demonstrate ROI. Grow is self-explanatory: with info, know and show aligned you can begin to explore new and better ways of delivering the experiences that your customers value. Using smart technologies will also help you to walk the often fine line between helpful hyper-personalisation and creepy intrusiveness. These smart technologies ─ AI and Machine Learning, for example ─ will ensure that you not only meet, but anticipate, expectations at scale. But many businesses fall at this final fence. Data changes ─ fast. Segmentation changes ─ fast. What you need from your data and how staff want to use it changes ─ fast. So you need to be able to change ─ fast. Across the journey, technology can bring new levels of personalisation and deliver good customer experiences. The intelligent application of technology, however, will take you to the next level and elevate CX from the ‘good’ to the ‘great’. Our report Delivering on the Promise of Digital Innovation, shares the thoughts and experiences of executives from some of the top brands in the world.

We’re all familiar with the good, the bad and the ugly of ‘personalised’ customer experience. The good sees marketing communications targeted at the right time, with the right message across the right...

HR

Hopes for AI and workplace realities

What image comes to mind when I say ‘artificial intelligence’? Only a few years ago, many would have talked about a human-like robot from a Hollywood blockbuster. But now, things are a little different. We know AI touches multiple areas of our everyday lives, from the phones in our pockets to the services we use to shop, travel, and enjoy our downtime. In a recent study Oracle conducted with HR advisory and research firm Future Workplace, 70% of US employees reported using some form of AI in the personal lives. But that doesn’t match their workplace experiences, where less than a quarter (24%) use AI. Our AI at Work study looks at the use of AI in the workplace now and into the future, particularly within the HR function. And after surveying over 1,300 employees and HR leaders in the US, across a spread of industries and functions, we’re optimistic about AI’s future: Productivity boosts: 46% of employees estimate a productivity boost of at least 10% in the next three years, thanks to the introduction of AI into the workplace – and 62% of HR leaders predict the same. Greater efficiency: 59% of employees and HR leaders feel that the greatest benefit of AI would be improved operational efficiencies. Bots in HR: 58% of HR professionals report that AI bots are already being used during the employee lifecycle. However, there is still some way to go, as 35% of employees are concerned or scared about how AI will impact the future of work. And only 21% believe that their organization is ‘adequately prepared’ to handle artificial intelligence. But HR leaders recognize its power, particularly for greater insight. More than a quarter (29%) report that it’s currently being used by their business to collect data on customers and employees, while over half (51%) agree that this is an area where AI could be used. This is no longer a technology of tomorrow, but one that they can champion and see the potential of today. Harnessing this data through the latest cloud software, augmented with AI, could yield new levels of insight into talent data, assisting with recruitment, development, churn detection, and flight risk prediction. All while improving efficiency. Our report Delivering on the Promise of Digital Innovation, shares the thoughts and experiences of executives from some of the top brands in the world.

What image comes to mind when I say ‘artificial intelligence’? Only a few years ago, many would have talked about a human-like robot from a Hollywood blockbuster. But now, things are a...

Finance

Blockchain – enabling a network of trust

Standfirst: Big investments from blue-chip names and innovative organizations in emerging markets tell us that blockchain will be a foundational technology in a global, connected business ecosystem. It’s time for your finance function to take a look, says Dee Houchen.   “Keep it simple, stupid.” It’s a time-worn phrase. But as global supply chains become more complex and businesses need to boost agility, it’s one we come back to time and again.   Blockchain is one technology that holds out huge promise for this simplicity revolution. At the most basic level, a blockchain is a just a database. But each entry is recorded permanently. The database is hosted across several locations (mostly in the cloud) – with no party having more administration rights than any others. And it’s cryptographically secure. Both sides can see any transaction, and it can’t be tampered with later.   That’s one reason banks have been investing heavily in blockchain innovation. They’ve recognised that it’s both an opportunity to speed up and make secure payments systems – and a challenge to their existing business model.   Blockchain databases do much more than just store data. We’re already seeing businesses use “smart contracts” – applications immune from tampering, running on a blockchain – to manage transactions automatically. When an event, such as a delivery or a timesheet, is recorded, the smart contract automatically triggers, say, a payment or notification. The use cases for corporate finance functions are no less compelling than for banks.   • Payments can be streamlined, simple and secure – and the centralized, permanent ledger leads to less complex auditing. • Identity management and know-your-customer requirements are easier on shared ledgers. There is consensus on counterparties and events. • Settlement of financial instruments is simpler and more reliable.   It’s going to accelerate digital transformation in the finance function, freeing up human talent to focus on higher-value work, not processing or checking transactions. Result? A boost to productivity.   So where’s the catch? In simple terms, blockchain is not yet a mature technology. But the building blocks are in place. Standard protocols such as Hyperledger are up and running. That’s enabled Oracle to build the Oracle Blockchain Cloud Service – offering plug-and-play blockchain capabilities that can be fully integrated into the Oracle platform. It’s an out-of-the-box solution – from management console, right through to security and beyond.    That simplicity is why IntellectEU is using Oracle to build its own blockchain solutions for new business ideas. Specialists like them – and big players like banks, insurers and governments – are exploring now to build applications that will redefine how we transact and store data in the future.   In a world where trust is paramount and businesses need to massively accelerate processes without sacrificing security, blockchain really is the simple solution to delivering your tomorrow, today.   Our report Delivering on the Promise of Digital Innovation, shares the thoughts and experiences of executives from some of the top brands in the world.

Standfirst: Big investments from blue-chip names and innovative organizations in emerging markets tell us that blockchain will be a foundational technology in a global, connected business ecosystem....

IT

Beyond the Idea: Digital Transformation at Scale

Execution is the crucial business difference between an idea and an innovation. But innovation also doesn’t end after the initial execution. A successful, small-scale deployment can lead to roll-out across an entire business. And the continual process of analysis, revision, upgrading, and fine-tuning requires more and more innovation at every stage. In my experience, there are many challenges that affect the success of a new initiative when it reaches this stage. But I think there are three that can be anticipated – and countered – when an idea is still in its infancy. Scalability The thought of deploying a new process or technology across a company can make even the most seasoned CIO nervous. Early tests may be successful and worthwhile, but once we reach the point of business-wide implementation, the difficulty and expense levels can rocket. If scalability can be considered at the start – across technology, people, and processes – you could save headaches down the line. Prioritisation Imagine having so many new ideas flooding in that it’s impossible to choose which one to act on first. It sounds like a wonderful scenario, but if it happens then you may have to conduct some triage. Which innovations would have the greatest effect? Could that widget be developed and rolled out with minimal disruption? Is that system strong enough to support these new demands? And, perhaps most importantly, which ideas will benefit the business now, versus the longer term? Separating the tactical from the strategic can help with prioritizing both long-term innovation and the fast, simple gains. Incentivize People cannot be forced to want change, but they can be incentivized to embrace it. When rolling out a new innovation, make sure there are measurable targets for staff and managers alike – and tie these targets to incentives. A reputation for innovation can be one of the strongest recruitment tools available to a business, attracting new talent at every level. But the ability to recognize the potential of an innovative idea, guide it through build and testing, and shepherd it to launch, is a rare talent in and of itself. Our report Delivering on the Promise of Digital Innovation, shares the thoughts and experiences of executives from some of the top brands in the world.

Execution is the crucial business difference between an idea and an innovation. But innovation also doesn’t end after the initial execution. A successful, small-scale deployment can lead to roll-out...

HR

How AI and ML are affecting people’s workplace

Will artificial intelligence transform the world of work? In short, yes. According to McKinsey, around a fifth of current jobs, globally, will be replaced by automation and artificially intelligent technologies. But millions of new jobs will emerge too. Gartner expects AI will create 500,000 more jobs than it eliminates by 2020. And Professor Costas Markides believes this disruption will provide opportunities to re-skill, learn new competencies, and enjoy better jobs. All of which means big change for HR professionals. Robo-recruitment We can expect hiring practices to shift dramatically, from a focus on specific roles and particular skills to general competencies. And this will affect training, which will need to be more frequent and personalized to accommodate the pace of change and diversifying roles. In fact, the growing adoption of AI and Machine Learning (ML) generally may drive further use in the HR team specifically. Career pathing, performance reviews, and retention could all be improved by automatically integrating and analyzing different datasets, leaving HR professionals to devote more personal attention to employees and their career progression or providing the best guidance for their development. But leaders must also be cautious. While the automation of AI or ML can bring speed and scale (to recruitment, for example) it can also ingrain biases from historical data if used and interpreted wrongly. A previous tendency towards CVs from Oxbridge graduates could become a built-in preference unless there is sufficient understanding of the algorithms and assumptions. Ethical automation David D’Souza, from the UK’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, talks about the ‘ethics of automation’, and asks an interesting question. Will businesses use automation to improve lives, or just improve profits? To my mind, businesses can do both. Freeing workers from repetitive tasks allows them to spend their time and energy on more challenging and value-adding, work. This then feeds into a virtuous cycle of greater job satisfaction, performance, and progression, all helping to support the performance of the business. But the understanding and adoption of AI is still evolving, as we found when surveying HR leaders and employees in the US, with Future Workplace. Read our full report to learn what we discovered, and what it could mean.

Will artificial intelligence transform the world of work? In short, yes. According to McKinsey, around a fifth of current jobs, globally, will be replaced by automation and artificially intelligent...

Finance

Generating New Business Models through IoT

The proliferation of connected sensors in everything from machinery to packaging is generating orders of magnitude of more data for CFOs and leadership teams. The resulting analysis doesn’t just explain their operating better – it reveals new business opportunities, too. We’ve got used to the idea of the “value-adding CFO” whose data-driven view of the business helps identify opportunities for investment in innovation. With near-ubiquitous connected sensors – producing granular data about operations, logistics, customer interactions and product use – their analysis has become increasingly strategic. In this era of the Internet of Things (IoT), what’s at stake isn’t just efficiency and productivity. This wealth of new data allows the complete re-imagination of the business. Today’s analytics can process the big data generated by IoT in ways that would have been impossible a few years ago. Yet the potential from the current ecosystem is still just beginning to be understood.  Today we’re seeing smart parking spaces in Dubai, an IoT service layer that augments third-party businesses and helps them build new relationships with their customers. National Statistics is using data from smart meters to understand when people are at home to time their surveying visits. The cloud means we can access, analyze and act on real-time data generated by IoT sensors embedded in products after they’re sold. Many businesses use this data to offer a service, rather than just sell a product. The same data, aggregated and anonymized, can be a product in its own right and if analyzed in conjunction with AI can be a gold mine to understanding peoples’ behavior and new product opportunities.  Those who use their new understanding of people’s behavior – and potential efficiencies in their own value chain – can design whole new products or services and business models. It’s compelling: IoT provides enterprises an ability to connect not with their devices, but with their customers. No wonder the World Economic Forum is predicting the number of IoT devices will exceed 20 billion by 2020. Vehicles are set to be this decade’s big IoT breakthrough known story. Connected via the cloud, the sensors embedded in today’s cars can tell manufacturers a huge amount about their performance, help them service their customers proactively – and reveal usage patterns.  But the key to success for others will be those companies that have the people and technology to understand typical customer usage patterns for their connected devices, can identify anomalies and then have the integrated supply chain, customer service or development systems  to re-imagine and execute delivery, servicing  or new product design fast and efficiently. It’s the finance team who can have the imagination to convene cloud-enabled IoT initiatives. The CFO’s position at the heart of the enterprise puts them in pole position to derive value from the IoT data revolution. It speaks to their traditional focus on risk (IoT can revolutionize liability and auditability) and cost (through productivity). More importantly, it helps them see opportunities to deliver growth from new business models.  As powerful new technologies such as IoT become mainstream, we are starting to grasp their potential for transforming how we work and create value. Over the last decade, productivity growth globally has slowed across all sectors, but CFOs can lead the next wave of prosperity, creating intelligent finance functions able to effectively seize the opportunities created by these technologies and best practices they continuously deliver. Explore the productivity data, compiled by the OECD, for your country, in our interactive infographic

The proliferation of connected sensors in everything from machinery to packaging is generating orders of magnitude of more data for CFOs and leadership teams. The resulting analysis doesn’t just...

Marketing

Small CX Change ─ BIG CX return

In the last blog we talked about the importance of GENUINE Customer Experience, and in this we’ll look at three top three tips to ensure you can deliver it. So what are you waiting for? The answer to that question is the apparent complexity. We all know that brand perception doesn’t begin and end with the product. A raft of touchpoints create the ‘experience’ ─ reputation, CRM, support, delivery, technologies, and many, many more. Optimising this can seem daunting, but don’t panic ─ Customer Experience isn’t rocket science. Nor (and this might seem odd coming from someone who works at Oracle) does it mean immediate investment in a new technology stack. Small CX changes can lead to big CX returns. Start small: you don’t need to do everything at once. Successful transformation is a systematic, iterative process. As an example, let’s think about CX-optimising a single marketing campaign: Build a team of cross-business expertise (e.g. data science, product, Sales, CRM, account leads, content creators) and harness the right skills. Look at existing customer data to see behaviours ─ and how Marketing can improve their experience. Explore all the functionality of existing assets ─ our research shows customers typically use only 20% of our solutions’ potential (see tip 2). Using the actions above, identify aspects of the campaign where a small change can make a big difference ─ and prioritise. Implement changes in your campaign and monitor outcomes carefully ─ A/B testing is a good approach. Measure ROI to demonstrate CX value ─ see Oracle’s ROI Calculator here Use what you’ve got ─ but better: use the assets you already have in new ways to enhance CX. Your existing technology partners can and should help. As an example, Oracle worked with a telecommunications customer that wanted to speed up its engagement with customers over fast-emerging social media platforms. Our engineers found that the company’s existing technology could, with some fine tuning, do this without any significant investment. The company slashed its channel implementation time and now closes engagement gaps quickly. It shows how a good partner focuses on your needs rather than simply “shifting product”. Scale up: taking this approach will allow you to show how small changes can have big impacts. As the process continues, you may pick off the low hanging fruit ─ and further improvement may need additional investment ─ but you will have a ready-made business case based on demonstrable ROI. CX is not a destination, but a journey and there will always be new and better ways of engaging with customers. In the next blog we will look at how personalisation ─ even at scale ─ can deliver benchmark CX performance.  

In the last blog we talked about the importance of GENUINE Customer Experience, and in this we’ll look at three top three tips to ensure you can deliver it. So what are you waiting for? The answer to...

IT

Eureka! Overcoming Challenges to Innovation

The best ideas often appear out of nowhere – a sudden strike of inspiration. A ‘Eureka!’ moment. And one of the biggest challenges for businesses working to make innovation part of their day-to-day activity is to help increase the frequency of these moments. But what about ensuring innovation can survive and thrive for years to come, not just the short term? Encouraging staff to experiment and innovate may be a crucial first step, but for momentum behind your digital transformation, there must be commitment at the top levels. And its absence is just one of many challenges that can hinder progress. Senior commitment Decisions by senior management are driven by priorities, necessities, and emergencies. Each P&L owner will want to know how an innovation program could help them to achieve their own – and their department’s – goals. What can they, and their people, get out of this change? It’s possible to paint a vivid and compelling picture of digital transformation’s impact, provided it’s clearly tied to meeting a specific business need. Then, with management on board, creating structured processes for innovation can help to bolster it within each department. And implementing performance KPIs, based around innovation, can drive progress. But in my experience, program longevity and buy-in aren’t the only obstacles in the road. Fear: Failure is a part of innovation, and one which can’t be avoided. But persuading people to see failure as an opportunity to learn will never be easy – and adapting a business’s culture doesn’t happen overnight. Speed: Staying ahead of the competition means any progress needs to be fast, but iterative development takes time. Legacy technologies can hold innovation back, and knowing which newer technologies support innovation at speed can unlock success. Focus: Which ideas should be implemented first? Which are long-term and strategic vs short-term and tactical? How should innovations be prioritized? Clear leadership and decision-making should hone focus and drive progress – not hinder it. If you want to learn more about the challenges facing digital transformers, and how you might be able to navigate them, then read our report: Delivering on The Promise of Digital Innovation. Inside, we’ve gathered together the thoughts of 20 executives at some of the world’s leading brands for inspiration and guidance.

The best ideas often appear out of nowhere – a sudden strike of inspiration. A ‘Eureka!’ moment. And one of the biggest challenges for businesses working to make innovation part of their...

HR

Artificial intelligence. Here and now.

New technologies and innovations have always fascinated us: it’s one of the reasons science fiction has been so popular for so long. We can’t help being intoxicated by the possibilities of new inventions, and for years, artificial intelligence (AI) was considered just that: a possibility, not a reality. But that’s no longer the case. AI and Machine Learning (ML) are streamlining our personal and work lives, and many HR teams have realised the potential of AI to help them truly support personnel in their day to day roles– both current and future. And it may be chatbots that showed the way. Social media Richard Bassinder, from Yorkshire Building Society, notes the growing popularity of customer service bots. Rather than tired, static FAQ pages – or waiting on the phone helpline – he sees customers asking increasingly sophisticated questions of bots. They experience faster service, and staff focus on the more complex requests, delivering more valuable service. And bots will be used by HR too. Forrester predicts that by 2020, job applications for 20% of large global enterprises will involve candidates interacting with chatbots before recruiters. Existing staff could also direct questions to bots, allowing HR teams to avoid repeatedly answering the most common queries, and instead provide a better level of support for specific employee needs. And one of those needs is development. Personalised development Dr Becky Sage, CEO of Interactive Scientific, points out that AI is often approached with caution – even feared. And she should know: her company looks at how people interact with the scientific world. But she believes AI could be used to create personalized learning experiences, based on how data is measured and fed back, and how different people explore it. For HR teams striving to deliver tailored development programs, this could open doors to training that better caters to each employee’s specific needs and preferences. But it isn’t the only possibility out there born from combining data with AI or ML. Working with Future Workplace, we surveyed over 1,300 US employees and HR leaders, across a variety of sectors and functions, to create our AI at Work [EP1] report – and find out what’s really happening with AI in HR. Read it to learn what it’s unlocking now, and could bring in the future.

New technologies and innovations have always fascinated us: it’s one of the reasons science fiction has been so popular for so long. We can’t help being intoxicated by the possibilities of...

Marketing

The Anatomy of a CX Specialist

Buzzwords can be a problem: they are a shorthand that turn complex issues and carefully crafted solutions into a quick phrase, or even worse, an abbreviation. Once this happens, all the complexity and care can turn into just another meaningless button on a marketing dashboard. Which leads nicely into Customer Experience…or CX. It’s one of the hottest buzzwords in marketing today. Organisations are falling over themselves to demonstrate their shiny new CX strategies and solutions ─ but are we in danger of losing its true meaning? Forgetting what CX means presents very real dangers: today’s customers (individually and collectively) have the power to make or break brands, so Customer Experience IS the product.  So what skills should a CX specialist possess? Technology is hugely important in CX ─ for the first time in history we have the ability to meaningfully listen to and learn from customers. But this blog is called ‘The Anatomy of a CX Specialist’ for a reason ─ because essentially, CX is about human interaction, human emotion and human relationships. Cut a CX specialist in half (please don’t do this!) and you will need to find expertise from across your whole organisation. They should be able to inform the what, who, how and where of modern business. As examples: Know your customer: A CX specialist knows what customers want should be the bedrock of every business, so CX analysis needs to be embedded within, and inform, product development from the outset. Be a source or have access to Insight: effective segmentation can only come from understanding who your target customers are ─ so CRM teams need powerful CX insight. Lead Content and Media strategies: CX analysis must lead digital and brand teams if they are to understand what moves customers ─ inspiring the most meaningful content and optimising the impact of media and marketing campaigns. Get involved in every aspect of the business: CX needs to be everywhere. As Customer Experience permeates every aspect of your business, you need to find a way of plugging the expertise of data scientists into the everyday activities of all your teams. GENUINE CX is the perfect mix of people and technology: without technology you’ll never be able to listen to your customers; but without human understanding, all the technology in the world can’t package CX up into a button on a dashboard.  Marketing has the chance to lead here, embedding CX across businesses and demonstrating value (both of CX and Marketing!). In the next blog we’ll look at how your teams, partners and technologies can allow you to adapt to better identify, anticipate and deliver. Because ultimately, if you don’t listen to and learn from your customers, somebody else will.    

Buzzwords can be a problem: they are a shorthand that turn complex issues and carefully crafted solutions into a quick phrase, or even worse, an abbreviation. Once this happens, all the complexity and...

Finance

Putting AI to Work

Overblown claims for artificial intelligence (AI) have left many in business skeptical of its potential. But CFOs are learning just how powerful these new tools already are, says Dee Houchen. Some researchers say development of artificial intelligence (AI) might stall as the limitations of the technologies become clearer. But if the skeptics looked at leading finance functions, they’d see AI already hard at work. Today’s connected systems generate huge amounts of data – that all flows through finance. And any place you find data-driven processes, you’ll find AI solutions to help. So where should you look for an AI advantage? By breaking down the gains into three core areas: efficiency, insight and influence. Robotic process automation (RPA) is a great example of the efficiency angle. But “touchless” transactions – intelligently merging purchase orders, goods receivables and invoices – are just the start. Oracle is working with businesses on recommended user actions, intelligent document reconciliation, automated audit, close orchestration and compliance. AI works best with large data-sets, and it’s here that its insight capabilities become clear. At both ends of the supply chain, smarter analysis can optimize stock, logistics, payments, pricing and more based on high volumes of internal, supplier and customer data.  Influence takes us to a higher level, applying AI to build out continuous close and smarter exception monitoring, for example, allowing finance to describe the business in new ways, creating opportunities to see whole new business models.  Oracle works with businesses using our Adaptive Intelligent applications to deliver these gains – with AI, that’s baked into the core of the application, not bolted on as an afterthought. Imagine if your finance function could support real-time supplier performance measurement and dynamically adjust discount rates, scheduling payment terms to match day-to-day working capital requirements. Using more sources of data, especially through leveraging the power of the cloud, to build out better solutions also helps break down silos between finance, marketing, operations and other functions. “With machine learning we are able to use credit analytics in a very different way,” says Tina Singh, chief digital officer at Mahindra Finance. “By combining new credit models with data on cost of customer acquisition, and on customer behavior and their mobility patterns, our marketing function can target customers more effectively.” As powerful new technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and intelligent automation become mainstream, we are starting to grasp their potential for transforming how we work and create value. Over the last decade, productivity growth globally has slowed across all sectors, but CFOs can lead the next wave of prosperity, creating intelligent finance functions able to effectively seize the opportunities created by these technologies and best practices they continuously deliver. Explore the productivity data, compiled by the OECD, for your country, in our interactive infographic.

Overblown claims for artificial intelligence (AI) have left many in business skeptical of its potential. But CFOs are learning just how powerful these new tools already are, says Dee Houchen. Some...

IT

Building a Greenhouse for Innovation

Da Vinci. Einstein. Edison. Just some of the minds that shaped our world, innovating and transforming almost every field of activity – from painting to technology to business. If they’d been born in the late 20th century, they’d probably be working at (or running) some of the world’s most innovative businesses right now. And doing well: digitally innovative companies are 26% more profitable than competitors, according to research from MIT. But why is innovation important to your business, specifically? Before you try to harness innovation, you should have a clear vision of what you’re trying to achieve, and why. Then you can present your vision in management meetings, discuss it with peers, bring it up in conversations, until everyone knows why innovation and digital transformation are vital to the company. And when your vision has been communicated, you can begin shaping a culture that nurtures it. Cultivate the culture A culture of innovation encourages exploration and experimentation, all the time, at every level – from boardroom to server room, and corner office to middle cubicle. Events such as hackathons or ideas competitions show innovation is a priority, and inspire everyone to get involved, but they aren’t enough on their own. Innovative thinking should be part of each working day.Toyota is a perfect example of innovation culture, as anyone can suggest ideas, from a simple widget to a new process. Globally, Toyota was the best-selling automotive brand of 2017, [1] so you can’t argue with their results. But a culture like this must be underpinned by the right tools for innovation to flourish. Tools for transformation Innovation relies on flexibility, agility, and tools that support fast experimentation, whether it’s better APIs, faster analytics, or scalable cloud capability. You want your innovators able to work from anywhere, with better insights, and smooth access to data. This way, they can quickly find out what works and what doesn’t, adjusting as they go. Recently, I took part in a series of Oracle roundtables exploring how several leading brands are transforming their businesses to encourage innovation. All of the participants agreed that culture and tools are the foundations of change, but they’re just the first steps. Read our report, Delivering on The Promise of Digital Innovation, to learn what else these business leaders recommend. 

Da Vinci. Einstein. Edison. Just some of the minds that shaped our world, innovating and transforming almost every field of activity – from painting to technology to business. If they’d been born in...

Finance

How to Build the Finance Function of the Future

A little over two years ago, we launched this publication with a vision: the finance team is the co-pilot of the business. In the short years since then, the vision and role of finance has continued to expand. Today, it’s not enough even to be the co-pilot. Finance leaders must also be the change agent of the organization—innovating today, predicting tomorrow, and shaping the future. The single-most important question finance leaders need to be asking is, “What will tomorrow bring, and how can we prepare for it?” Part of our mission here at Oracle is to provide the technology your team needs to easily get answers to that question. Let me give you an example. Imagine you’re a CFO on a morning run, listening to your favourite podcast on your phone. Suddenly, you receive an urgent alert: a last-minute competing bid could short-circuit an acquisition your company wants to close on today. You stop in the middle of your run; this could derail everything. A million questions run through your mind: Can we increase our bid? By how much? If we do, will the deal still be profitable? Machine learning, voice interactions, intelligent automation and more should work with your finance systems to give you the answers you need within minutes—so that the all important deal doesn’t fall apart. To see how, watch this video. Before you can be this CFO, you need to become the aforementioned change agent. The technology you’ve relied on to date has served your business well. Yet with new technologies and use cases emerging every day, yesterday’s ERP can’t keep up. Tomorrow’s ERP—built on machine learning—can automate day-to-day operations today, so your team can focus on guiding the business, instead of processing transactions and running reports. As companies produce and receive a seemingly unending amount of data from internal and external sources, it’s finance specialists who are best positioned to radically improve productivity, and connect historical and predictive insights to strategic planning and goals. Cloud-based ERP applications with built-in machine learning capabilities are critical to this reset of the finance function. Not only do they continuously execute labor-intensive tasks in the background, they learn as they do, continually finding new ways to improve efficiency. At the same time, they feed rapid-fire responses to “what-if” questions posed through chatbots, rich-context dashboards, and other tools at your fingertips.   Getting Ahead of Change Continuing to do things the same way as yesterday is risky. Already, almost half (49%) of agile businesses have evolved their business models. We see organizations moving away from: A single-target operating model with end-state goals, to the adoption of multiple, simultaneous, dynamic business models. Incremental improvement programs and initiatives, to leveraging applications that use machine learning to automate continuous improvement and best practices. Labor-intensive transaction processing, to the relentless automation of routine processes—freeing up finance professionals to focus on strategic activities. Copying agile models, to building agile business systems that enable anticipation of and response to change. Managing stores of data, to creating and sharing meaningful insights with leadership across the organization. Thinking of the back office as a cost centre, to looking at back-office functions as value generators. Siloed, inflexible technology solutions to a single, connected cloud that is always up-to-date, costs less, and is easier to manage. Think about traditional 12-month sales forecasts that roll over without critical evaluation. Intelligent cloud applications let businesses update their forecasts in real time, drawing on deep contextual data to make smart adjustments daily. This is one of the reasons we are seeing a resurgence in practices like zero-based budgeting, which embed ongoing review and re-adjustment in asset planning and management based on current data. Equipping Finance Teams for the Future Yesterday’s ERP often requires expensive and lengthy reimplementation to upgrade—meaning that the organization enjoys the benefit of upgraded software only every two to five years (or more). The cloud eliminates all that with: Frequent updates driven by the vendor on a 90-day cycle 3.2x higher ROI and 52% lower running costs Risk of technology obsolescence totally removed—you’re always on the latest and greatest It’s the last upgrade you will ever need. The cloud is always up-to-date with the latest features, as well as legislative and regulatory requirements in your market. This is true continuous innovation, rolling out new modern best practices and capabilities on a regular basis. With a trusted innovation partner acting as your cloud provider (and technology expert), finance teams are unleashed to become the strategic contributors the organization of tomorrow needs. And of course, in the war for top talent—especially in finance—providing opportunities to help mold the future of an organization (rather than just manage numbers) offers a huge advantage. When finance leaders become change agents, embracing the continuous innovation of cloud ERP, they can: Drive greater business insight. Better meet regulatory requirements. Automate for management-by-exception as a standard practice. Use flexible hierarchies, dynamic reporting and scenario analysis/testing. Gain greater understanding around investment for agile and robust cost control. Cloud ERP Is the Future of Finance Technology is driving the next wave of business productivity, and finance leaders have a unique opportunity to lead this change. Traditional, on-premises ERP simply no longer equips finance leaders or their teams with the capabilities they need for success—today or tomorrow. Leaders who embrace the right technology are better equipped to anticipate and predict what comes next—becoming the change agent, and leader, that every business needs to succeed. In future stories, we’ll take a closer look at how finance leaders can innovate today, predict tomorrow, and shape the future—all with the power of continuous innovation in the cloud. Find out how simple it is to do your enterprise resource planning and lower costs with Oracle Cloud. Try the ROI calculator

A little over two years ago, we launched this publication with a vision: the finance team is the co-pilot of the business. In the short years since then, the vision and role of finance has continued...

Marketing

AI and Chatbots: How to Use Dynamic Data to Fuel Extreme Analytics and Drive Personalization

Data and analytics are now at the heart of customer experience, and companies are embracing artificial intelligence to help them use data better. Modern technologies allow businesses to develop customer experience maturity, connect systems, and remove silos. The result is a common data source which can drive more effective ways to engage customers and propel business growth. Comprehensive data collection, analysis, and application allows for richer customer insights across your entire organization. We are now in the age of ‘’Extreme Analytics.’’ Artificial Intelligence Creates an Absolute 360-degree Customer View Did you know that right now only 0.5% of all the data in the world has been analysed, or used? (1) Because of data fragmentation, the “360-degree view of customer” has been elusive.  Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing that. At an elevated level, AI brings customer data to life; it uses machine intelligence (2) to filter through, analyse, learn from, and interpret big data in ways us mere mortals aren’t able to. This superhuman power makes sense of millions of data points to tell a 360-degree story of individual customer needs, wants, and expectations–and, it only gets smarter each time new data is fed to it. With machine learning, you have an extremely powerful way to: Access and make sense of disconnected big data Make more accurate predictions of buyer behaviour Personalize experiences to every single customer in real time Different sets of high-quality data are logically integrated to create valuable leads, opportunities, and long-term customers. More importantly, you’re able to pool data into a taxonomy that is easy to understand and analyse.  This data falls into three categories: First-party data (data collected directly from the customer) Second-party data (data collected from partner sites) Third-party data (data collected anonymously by cloud solutions) Companies paving the way in modern customer experience use technology fuelled by AI to make data more valuable and enhance how they connect with their customers. More intelligent interfaces, such as Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, learn more about an individual’s preferences over time. More accurate results and relevant answers to queries will be become the norm in customer experience. Chatbots Act as a ‘Self-Serve’ Way to Connect with Customers Your customers have a growing number of channels at their disposal. To be where customers already are, savvy businesses are integrating chatbots into popular messengers and apps to deliver the level of personal service that’s expected at the first “hello.” With chatbots, data and machine learning join forces to extend an always-open arm of your customer service team and use data to tailor the experience. The second your customer finds you, you’re ready, willing, and able to knowledgeably respond. Fifty-one percent of customers believe a business needs to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (3) Through chatbots, you’re able to: Make your business be available to prospective and current customers 24/7 Provide a private environment that customers trust Meet your customers on the channels and apps they’re already using, providing self-service to avoid phone calls and emails This new user experience will be more conversational and evoke the feeling of a “safe space” for customers to convey their wants and needs–chatbots give customers a way to interact with your business in a not only convenient, but very private manner. Businesses that adopt technology to enable this type of experience will be able to analyse data in real time, make recommendations to the customer as soon as they need it, and even recommend things the customer may not yet realize they need.   Chatbots are your opportunity to bring machine learning, big data, and mobile together. Their technology combines simple customer queries, through text or spoken language, with intelligence based on predefined rules. Chatbots’ ability to parse questions for actual meaning and intent is a very powerful tool for businesses aiming to deliver smarter experiences. Strategic data collection and analytics have the power to drive competitive business advantages. Stay ahead by integrating extreme analytics into your customer experience strategy. You’ll find the first five steps to take within Extreme Analytics Customer Experience with Artificial Intelligence.    Get smarter customer experiences with Oracle Cloud Analytics. Try the ROI calculator

Data and analytics are now at the heart of customer experience, and companies are embracing artificial intelligence to help them use data better. Modern technologies allow businesses to...

IT

The Five Key Areas Where Artificial Intelligence & Automation Could Most Impact Business

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is quickly finding a place at the heart of the enterprise, with it set to affect 25 percent of technology spend going forward, according to Accenture[1].  Enabling better-informed decisions by augmenting human intelligence with powerful computing and precise data analysis, and then automating the tasks that follow, AI and automation - like an AA battery – have the power to energise business and help them drive towards success. AI-centric innovation can leverage many potential applications, so where should companies start, especially given Forrester’s caution that in 2018, 75% of AI projects will underwhelm because they fail to model operational considerations?[2] Here are five key areas for consideration: Driving value from data: We live in a world where data is big and insight needs to be in real-time.  As data sets become larger, new, automated, AI-enabled tools will speed up the ability to find the needle in the haystack and then ensure appropriate action is taken. These tools will also have an incredibly powerful role to play in how data is managed. Taking on the tasks of running, patching and optimising databases and data warehouses, these new offerings will deliver unprecedented availability, performance, and security—at a significantly lower cost by eliminating the cost of human error stemming from manual processes. Rebalancing the cyber warfare: Another area where humans can’t keep up is around the rapidly expanding challenges inherent to enterprise cybersecurity. There are too many devices, too many applications, too many users, too many infringements and too many megabytes of log files for humans to make sense of it all, and then react in a timescale that would make a difference. In today’s world, that potentially could be milliseconds. Businesses will need to rely on AI and automation to automate the detection, prevention and response to security breaches, performance anomalies, and vulnerabilities. Only by using machines to fight machines will companies be able to reprioritize and rethink about how they defend their information.  The search for operational excellence: Businesses are under increasing pressure to reduce time-to market for new applications and services.  At the same time, they are overwhelmed by the distributed nature and volume of their operational systems, finding their siloed form hindering their ability to make good decisions, troubleshoot issues and drive cross business collaboration.  Cloud, while simplifying things in certain areas has added an extra dimension, making it increasingly difficult for IT teams to optimise enterprise systems and prevent catastrophic failures. AI can automate the many various monitoring and control requirements needed to keep enterprise systems running at their best, helping identify anomalies that human teams would have missed, enabling new levels of optimisation. Boosting business performance: Embedded AI capabilities within core business applications are helping make the decision-making process simpler and more efficient for business professionals across the organisation. In Finance this has the potential to improve activities like supplier negotiations, especially at times like end of quarter reporting when companies are also focused on optimising cash flow needs and balancing costs. In HR, recruiters would be better able to identify the best candidates in the shortest time. For Marketing professionals AI is already being used to help them run more personalised campaigns around next best offers.  Creating conversation from chat – Finally, a good area to start with AI is chatbots, especially given the rising importance of the customer experience set to be a key competitive battle ground for 2018.   With new AI enabled platforms available that make it quick and easy to build and train Intelligent Bots without the need for specialist AI skills. Without doubt, AI will be an increasingly important element of the business environment, and is not something that can be watched from the sidelines.  Given that the benefits of AI are really quite simple - speed from automation and the ability to make better decisions - if the guy in front makes a better decision than you and does it faster, you are going to be outraced.  You can’t afford to sit back and wait. To learn more about how you can prepare your business for AI, and empower your organization to exploit it now and in the future, read our Transformational Technologies for Today brief . You’ll discover how cloud acts as both an enabler and an accelerant and explore Oracle’s capabilities in AI, IoT and blockchain—powerful on their own, but transformational when combined.    

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is quickly finding a place at the heart of the enterprise, with it set to affect 25 percent of technology spend going forward, according to Accenture[1].  Enabling...

HR

Machine Learning: Predict and Engage your Workforce for Better Performance

In the second of a two-part series, Andy Campbell, HCM Strategy Director at Oracle, examines how machine learning is changing the way HR  attracts, develops, and retains future leaders. The electric light did not come about from the continuous improvement of candles. Disruptive innovation is happening fast in HR, and machine learning (ML) is at the vanguard of that innovation, transforming talent management, providing complete workforce insights, and increasing operational efficiency. In my previous article, I explored the impact of ML on employees: most significantly the opportunity to transform the employee experience and engagement. But what about HR leaders and their employers? What is the impact here? Let’s begin with a quick definition of ML. This is an advanced form of artificial intelligence that processes vast volumes and variety of data, surfacing the analytical insight HR leaders need to attract, onboard, engage, and retain employees. Moreover, ML has the potential to learn, improve, and refine recommendations based on the results from previous outcomes, thereby helping HR leaders develop programs based on smart data. These are just some of the advantages for employers of deploying an ML-based HCM strategy. 1. Meeting the demands of millennials and other generations HR leaders are turning to modern training methods to manage a multi-generational workforce and tech-savvy millennials who expect instant outcomes. Moreover, different individuals are characterized by different learning styles. ML personalizes that training—capturing valuable employee data, learning experiences, and behavioral appraisal of potential employees. The ML algorithms provide suggestions when it comes to training the workforce, thus making training programs more rewarding. Programs can also be modified on the fly to improve training outcomes. 2. Blowing bias away Despite the prevalence of unconscious bias training, it’s still too easy for bias to creep into a performance appraisal. ML moves beyond spreadsheet analysis by carrying out employee assessments via regular, unprejudiced performance appraisals, utilizing the characteristics of other high performers. Similarly, you can utilize ML to evaluate the career path of your employees and prepare them for career progression. 3. Predicting future talent needs ML can combine trends on talent retention with forecasted needs to determine future skills. It can then   plan the potential for internal candidates to fill the gaps, and anticipate the requirement for external recruitment, enabling organizations to gain a sustainable competitive edge in the war for talent. 4. Streamlining the recruitment process ML is steadily optimizing every stage of the recruitment process, equipping HR leaders with personalized research tools to identify the best talent. For example, ML technology can analyze vast numbers of resumes based on factors such as keywords, location, qualification, and expertise. Moreover, natural language processing provides predictive language analysis to accelerate recruitment—allowing HR leaders to shortlist candidates more quickly, unbiased, and with fewer errors. 5. Transforming the candidate experience ML has a powerful role to play in improving the candidate experience. For example, candidates have the potential to interact with a fast, all-knowing, and always-on chatbot. These robots can provide information about other relevant jobs, discuss potential career paths, and share more information about the role and the culture of the organization. The result? An increased likelihood that the organization will hire the right candidate. Make no mistake, ML in all its forms—natural-language processing, conversational agents, and decision support—are transforming HR processes. Now is the time for application leaders to invest in this innovative technique to drive efficiencies, adoption, and an improved employee experience.   Optimise your workforce with Oracle HCM Cloud. Try the ROI calculator

In the second of a two-part series, Andy Campbell, HCM Strategy Director at Oracle, examines how machine learning is changing the way HR  attracts, develops, and retains future leaders. The electric...

HR

5 Ways Machine Learning Transforms Employee Engagement

In the first of a two-part series, Andy Campbell, HCM Strategy Director at Oracle, explores how machine learning has the potential to transform the employee experience and engagement.   You can’t help but feel some sympathy for machine learning (ML). Too often, it is maligned for being a disruptive threat to employees, automating processes and potentially devouring jobs at an alarming pace.    They need not be alarmed. In truth, ML—whether it’s in the form of natural language processing, conversational agents, or decision support—has a significant role to play in transforming the employee experience, increasing engagement, and improving career progression. So, let’s examine five ways that HCM solutions incorporating ML can positively impact the lifecycle experience of the employee.     1. Performance development   ML can map employees’ career paths and set them up for career progression, providing guidance on the opportunities and actions others in similar positions may have taken to progress within the organization. ML can support employees with customized training and learning recommendations, based on what other candidates have undertaken to be successful—information that a supervisor may not always provide. With ML, organizations can actually democratize learning and development initiatives for each employee at appropriate timelines. ML can also examine past performance trends of individuals, teams, or departments, allowing steps to be taken to improve future outcomes.   2. Remote guidance and learning   Remote guidance is an area where ML can make a marked difference. From innovative, interactive learning to real-life simulated scenarios for skill assessment, ML can provide targeted advice for remote problem solving based on past experiences, and the opportunity to collaborate and share advice. Analytics can also be used to identify areas/personnel where training/reskilling may be necessary or to deliver customized training and development programs for employees.   3. Reducing bias in appraisals and career progression   One of the many challenges for supervisors during performance reviews is to remain impartial. ML can evaluate performance data without any personal bias for the candidate. The tools can remove human prejudices, building a more equitable, diverse, and unbiased workplace.    4. Managing Rewards and Benefits   Benefits and Rewards administration can be tedious, especially in complex, hierarchical organizations. One of the biggest gainers from the use of ML would be this component of employee engagement. For example, ML can help predict which benefits will have the greatest positive impact on the workforce, or how reward strategies correlate with indicators such as performance, leadership effectiveness, or profitability. Modern HCM solutions incorporating ML also enable the seamless integration of innovative employee benefits with traditional incentive packages—creating a novel and compelling employee experience.    5. Streamline and accelerate decision making   By removing the manual ‘number crunching’ and facilitating predictive analytics, ML supports more informed and timely decision making. Unhampered by location and time zones, applying ML can enable a more quantifiable, trusted decision regarding employees, based solely on comprehensive content analysis. Far from being the threat to employees it is often perceived to be, ML has the potential to innovate and transform employee engagement. While it’s important to balance the human factor with technology-enabled solutions, ML moves HCM into a new dimension—one that puts you a step ahead of your competitors.     Optimise your workforce with Oracle HCM Cloud. Try the ROI calculator

In the first of a two-part series, Andy Campbell, HCM Strategy Director at Oracle, explores how machine learning has the potential to transform the employee experience and engagement.   You can’t help...

Marketing

Big Data + Analytics = Irresistible Customer Experiences

In 2013, a research by Walker predicted that by 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the main differentiator. While most organizations and marketers have prioritized customer experience as top business priority for a few years now, they don’t always know how to get customer experience right. Marketers who are delivering optimal customer experience know that data is king. True customer understanding requires collecting, analysing, understanding and using customer data to help deliver personalised experiences. Extreme analytics—analytics driven by context—creates the potential to hyper-personalise these experiences and drive customer loyalty. Natural language processing with analytics running in the background, for example, will make consumers feel that they are receiving a unique personalized experience, even though they may not communicate voice-to-voice or face-to-face with anyone from the company. No matter what device the customer uses to initiate contact, the technology will be in place to translate, interpret, understand behaviours, and anticipate needs. This is extreme analytics in action: using new sources of data to ensure every customer receives a unique and rewarding experience, no matter which channel - human or digital – they choose to use. While big data and data analytics are a part of almost everything we as marketers do today, both are still overhyped and misunderstood. In our hyper-connected world, it’s amazing how disconnected our approaches to serving our customers has become. Many organizations have still not figured out how to create clean, powerful linked data assets. Digital marketers need to be able to leverage data to optimize customer experience in terms of these six key areas:  1.    Unlimited Scale and Flexibility: An analytics solution must be built from the ground up with big data technologies to handle the inevitable scale that Internet of Things (IoT) will demand. 2.    Individual Level intelligence: A unified and intuitive user experience to support completely different tasks, roles and people – making it easy to learn and manage. 3.    Accuracy at Scale: Analytics data must advance beyond approximate trends to an accurate source of digital performance that is trusted by the business for decision making 4.    Cross-Channel Insights: Collect and connect all customer brand engagement regardless of any connected device.  The ability to collect and connect all customer engagement data is key in transforming your marketing from a series of independent interactions with a “visitor” to a single conversation with an “individual.” 5.    Data activation and Openness: Analytics data should be open and available for easy extraction and integration into your marketing ecosystem Strategic data collection and use had the power to create competitive business advantages for your organization. Keep ahead by exploring the five steps to integrate extreme analytics into your customer experience strategy. You’ll find these steps and more within Extreme Analytics Customer Experience with Artificial Intelligence.   Get smarter customer experiences with Oracle Cloud Analytics. Try the ROI calculator

In 2013, a research by Walker predicted that by 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the main differentiator. While most organizations and marketers have prioritized customer...

Finance

What is the Future of Finance Leadership?

In the digital age, what does the future of finance leadership look like? Today’s CFOs are on high alert, as they need to reimagine their role in direct response to digital disruption, ever-increasing volumes of data, closer stakeholder scrutiny, and ongoing regulatory change. CFOs must use this moment to design a future state for the finance function and define technology’s role within it. It’s widely acknowledged that automation — made possible by the cloud and machine learning, in particular — will eliminate many rote tasks that finance staff currently spend much of their time performing. Account reconciliations, which are often done using spreadsheets, can already be performed automatically in the cloud. In the near future, it’s expected that intelligent process automation can automate the entire financial close, making it an ongoing process where staff only intervenes to manage exceptions.   Does this mean that accounting jobs will soon become obsolete? In our work with professional bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), we’ve found that — while certain tasks will be eliminated — finance professionals with the right skill sets will be needed more than ever.   Becoming Data Gurus “The historical, transactional part of finance is really a commodity, not a competitive advantage,” said CIMA vice president Nick Jackson in a recent webcast. “Part of the investment CFOs should be making is in real-time data, and the other part is in real-time analytics.” Jackson stressed the value of real-time data as a strategic asset, one that finance professionals can understand and analyse to get answers to the organization’s most important questions. “Data alone cannot solve our problems, no matter how good we get at automating and cleaning it. The finance department is perfectly placed to be the human interface needed to make this process work properly.” Because of their training with numbers and mathematical formulae, finance professionals are perfectly positioned to be the “human interface” that interprets the data, makes recommendations, and guides the business forward on its next strategic step. Rather than being made redundant by technology, the explosive growth of data puts the analytical skills of finance professionals at a premium. “There’s always another question to ask,” said Jackson. “It’s evolving the finance function as a business partner role, to interpret what drives the insight from the number that comes out from the report, to what is actually happening within the part of the organisation it relates to. “I believe finance leaders will become change agents for the business,” he adds. “With the tools and people in place, the next key component for driving effective change is how you manage the business data that results.”   Where does the cloud fit in? The ability to effectively manage real-data is where the cloud becomes essential. By leveraging a shared data model across cloud systems — including finance, HR, supply chain and customer experience — organizations gain a single source of truth across the organization, and can build a reliable view of each customer. Once established, a connected cloud delivers innovation across the enterprise on a continuous basis, with new capabilities and best practices rolled out regularly by the cloud provider. This continuous innovation is one of the key benefits of cloud. In a recent Oracle survey, a whopping 85% of respondents cited “Staying current on technology” as the top benefit of finance in the cloud. Leveraging new technology (such as machine learning) to automate and scale people-intensive processes and create new services is much easier when you have immediate access to these capabilities as they evolve.   People, Process and Technology As with any transformation, however, it’s not just about technology. When considering the future of your finance organization, you must consider it hand-in-glove with your organization’s business strategy. Look at the goals of the business first; identify where your organization wants to go, and what skills your finance team will need to support that journey. Then identify the tools, technologies and processes that will help give finance the right answers — as well as automate as many rote tasks as possible, so that your people have more time to focus on what really matters.   Find out how simple it is to do your enterprise resource planning and lower costs with Oracle Cloud. Try the ROI calculator

In the digital age, what does the future of finance leadership look like? Today’s CFOs are on high alert, as they need to reimagine their role in direct response to digital disruption,...

IT

What CIOs need to know about the 2018 game changers

It is no secret that cloud is a major game changer, acting as a catalyst for the arrival and adoption of a whole host of disruptive new emerging business technologies and models.  Chatbots, artificial intelligence and blockchain promise new opportunities for businesses growth by driving personalized engagements, delivering new sources of revenue, and reducing service and infrastructure costs. With so much change happening so rapidly, what do CIOs need to know about the key emerging technologies as they seek to ensure they successfully support the business? The Artificial intelligence (AI) bubble Humans are being challenged to keep up and make sense of the rapid proliferation of data - across Finance, HR, Sales or Marketing systems or in Operations around systems management and security. While AI promises an answer, serious implementations are currently few and far between; according to McKinsey only 20 percent of AI-aware firms say they are currently adopters of the technology, and as Forrester says in its Predictions 2018: The Honeymoon For AI Is Over report, moving beyond the hype will require hard work around planning, deploying and governing it correctly.   As an alternative, companies should consider the 25 percent of enterprise applications and other cloud tools that we believe will include a custom AI-based capability by 2020[1].  These will allow organisations to take advantage of all the benefits of AI, without having to develop the specialised skills to develop it. Automation, everywhere One of the topics that often comes up in conjunction with AI is automation: Forrester predicts this market will accelerate faster in 2018 as firms look to squeeze performance and insights out of previously commodity operations.   Automation will help organisations to spot performance irregularities and identify security risks in real-time and potentially, entirely remove human error; Expectations are that operations currently experiencing 20,000 human-managed interventions per year to soon fall to just 20 human-managed interventions each year and more than half of all enterprise data will be managed autonomously in the cloud by 2020[2]. Chatbots take over customer support Chatbots have evolved to full conversational interfaces for accessing information and conducting business transactions, and are proving a fantastic tool for enhancing customer service and increasing productivity. With increasingly sophisticated conversational platforms arriving, it is expected that most customer support interactions will be handled by intelligent chatbots by 2020[3]. Blockchain will disrupt, and more than just finance Another disruptive technology force, blockchain, is transforming the global financial industry, amongst others. Already, more than 2,500 new blockchain-related patents have been filed, and its financial impact is predicted to top US$176 billion by 2025[4]. It’s still early days though.  At the end of 2017, Deloitte reported that only 8 percent of 27,000 new blockchain projects that surfaced in the market in 2016 remained active.  Things are changing.  Enterprise class cloud services are arriving and 30 percent of blockchain proof-of-concepts are expected to get approval[5], showing it certainly has the potential to become the disruptive standard in multi-party and complex agreement commerce. Financial services and supply chains will lead the way, followed by healthcare, retail, and the public sector. IoT will finally get integrated Gartner’s technology predictions for 2018 foresaw the proliferation of intelligent objects , driving a ‘shift from stand-alone intelligent things to a swarm of collaborative intelligent things’. While more than 50 billion connected devices are already in circulation today, only 1 percent of IoT data is currently analysed and utilised and the focus is on devices and connectivity—not business outcomes and action[6]. This trend is fast changing. In fact, businesses should be burning with excitement about the opportunities ahead in 2018, with products and tools around technologies such as blockchain, chatbots, and machine learning becoming mature enough for real-world projects.  To learn more about how you can prepare your business for AI, IoT and blockchain -and empower your organization to exploit them now and in the future, read our Transformational Technologies for Today brief . You’ll discover how cloud acts as both an enabler and an accelerant and explore Oracle’s capabilities in AI, IoT and blockchain—powerful on their own, but transformational when combined.        

It is no secret that cloud is a major game changer, acting as a catalyst for the arrival and adoption of a whole host of disruptive new emerging business technologies and models.  Chatbots, artificial...

IT

Collide Technologies to Change Your Business Universe

The word collide conjures up in my mind the 1 billion particles that CERN collides every second at the large Hadron collider in Geneva. A 27km ring of superconducting magnets that speeds up particles to near the speed of light and causes them to collide and hence discover new and amazing things about the universe. It's an example of the incredible ability of humans to strive to learn more about the world that we live in and find new ways to improve ourselves. I liked this concept of colliding things together to try and create something new, as I looked across some of Oracle customers and the amazing things they were building. I noticed that many of the most innovate projects were created by colliding different technologies and business problems together to produce something new. Most of our customers do not have a 27km particle collision machine for their experiments. However, they do have something just as revolutionary and previously unimaginable. They have access to Oracle’s hyper-scale, next-generation cloud platform. A platform that gives businesses access to power that was previously unobtainable and a set of technologies that can be switched on or off at will. These technologies can be collided together to create results that transform the way that businesses operate. For example, what happens when you take Trust and collide it with technologies like Big-data, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and IoT? Customers all over the world are struggling to understand whom to trust. Consumers are demanding that companies selling goods prove where their raw materials come from and that they comply with specific certifications. Leveraging IoT, suppliers and manufacturers are digitising their manufacturing processes and logistics operations; more data is captured about a product's journey than ever before. Blockchain has created a way of storing and sharing this information to improve transparency, traceability and trust. Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, the Group Chairman and CEO of DP World, one of the most significant global logistics companies in the world, said "Supply chain intelligence, blockchain and artificial intelligence will make the global supply chain faster, cheaper and more productive." Oracle is working with DP World to help them transform their industry and give their customers unprecedented transparency and trust. Blockchain is becoming a critical enabling technology for them. Continuing on this theme of traceability, Oracle is working with some organic food producers who are using blockchain to record the movements of their produce through the supply chain so they can showcase to end consumers where it has been and where it came from. As well as trust, customers are also demanding better service. Many forward-thinking companies are looking to AI to help deliver on these demands. As an example, organisations like the Mutua Madrid Open are building chatbots in partnership with Oracle to help their fans get access to information. The Mutua Madrid Open, one of the leading tennis tournaments in the world held in Madrid, launched a chatbot equipped with Artificial Intelligence to speed up communication with tennis fans. The chatbot, a computer program that uses artificial intelligence to maintain natural conversations with users, offers information on the development of the event, players and results, as well as details on services, access and parking. It is also a channel for the sale of tickets and gets discounts on merchandising products. The MatchBot, as the tournament has baptised it, is available in the mobile application of Mutua Madrid Open, as well as on the tournament website. It is also possible to exchange information through Facebook Messenger and Twitter with the direct message system. This innovation makes the Mutua Madrid Open become the first major tournament to incorporate a chatbot, whose purpose is to enrich the user experience to facilitate at all times the information you are looking for, becoming a virtual assistant to answer all the questions of the fans. Incredible things are happening today as customers take the technologies that we provide and collide them with the hardest problems that their businesses face, allowing them to innovate and access greater value. What will happen when you collide these transformational technologies with your businesses most significant problems? To learn more about how you can prepare your organization for AI, IoT and Blockchain, and empower your companyto exploit them now and in the future, read our Transformational Technologies for Today brief. You’ll discover how cloud acts as both an enabler and an accelerant and explore Oracle’s capabilities in AI, IoT and blockchain—powerful on their own, but transformational when combined.  

The word collide conjures up in my mind the 1 billion particles that CERN collides every second at the large Hadron collider in Geneva. A 27km ring of superconducting magnets that speeds up...

Marketing

The Marketing Case for A Chief Data Officer

Our approaches to serving customers have become so disconnected that it’s stunning. There’s a real opportunity for companies to gain a competitive advantage by providing superior customer experiences. They can do this by taking a more strategic approach to how they manage their data assets. Failure to do this risks damaged reputations, revenues and hinders the ability to succeed in new markets. The role of data within organizations must change from being departmentally siloed, to being centrally managed. Breaking down these siloes is more of an organizational challenge than a technical one, requiring a data strategy, the correct level of ownership, and corporate governance. This means having a C-level supported, organization-wide understanding of the customer, broad executive level ownership, and a well-managed change control process to ensure ongoing data quality and trust in the data across the organization. Capitalizing on your data requires you to re-orient the whole organization around the customer, and likewise, how your customer interacts with your brand throughout the entire customer journey. It’s only at this point that you can do the kind of analysis that generates genuine insights and can drive personalized customer experiences.  Forward-thinking organizations will add advanced natural language processing to their analytics strategy to translate actions, interpret behavior, and anticipate needs – even if it’s the first contact between the customer and the business. This is extreme analytics in action: using new sources of data to ensure every customer receives a unique and rewarding experience, no matter which channel - human or digital – they choose to use. CX = The Case for a Chief Data Officer Data-centric use cases mainly focus on customer acquisition, whether increased website visitors, optimized purchase funnels, targeted remarketing programs or personalized advertising. This only scratches the surface. Data can be used to impact every touchpoint for the customer beyond sales and marketing, including customer support, service and loyalty. Once data is connected to form deep meaningful customer intelligence, you use that insight to provide relevant and seamless customer experiences (CX). These are the opportunities waiting for companies that think more broadly about their data assets. Companies that provide CX leadership are creating a new position called the Chief Data Officer. I consider it more of a persona than a job title. However you define it, this person is responsible for breaking down data siloes and figuring out what it means to turn data into a competitive, proprietary business asset. Dynamics Driving Change – Get on or Get Out of the Way! Data as a business asset is hardly new.  So, what’s the urgency to accelerate this?  Customers demand highly relevant, contextual experiences: Consumers are savvy, well informed, and demand top-notch, relevant brand experiences. This challenges brands to better understand the discreet needs of individuals and to use that intelligence to deliver the most personalized experiences possible. Enterprises that embrace a data-driven culture by harnessing all data at every opportunity in order to differentiate itself across the complete customer experience will be rewarded by their customers. Channel proliferation and the Internet of Things (IoT): The volume of digital interactions and their complexity keeps growing. The way customers engage with your brand almost always involves a variety of channels and devices. IoT expands the definition of a digital touchpoint beyond a human to any network-enabled object. Companies must rethink how to leverage all this new data to drive real-time decisions and avoid the creation of more data siloes. Data security concerns: A data breach can immediately destroy a brand’s reputation. As software is increasingly delivered as a service over the cloud, and behavioral data volumes grow and fragment, data security rises to the top of executives’ priorities. Companies must re-consider how they manage their customer intelligence with the clear recognition that the data chain is only as strong as its weakest link. When data is considered a business asset, it has the power to create competitive business advantages for your organization. It will require a cultural shift for many organizations, but now is the time to start. The alternative is to be left behind and lose your most valuable customers to your competitors. Stay ahead by exploring the five steps to integrate extreme analytics into your customer experience strategy. You’ll find these steps and more within Extreme Analytics Customer Experience with Artificial Intelligence.   Get smarter customer experiences with Oracle Cloud Analytics. Try the ROI calculator

Our approaches to serving customers have become so disconnected that it’s stunning. There’s a real opportunity for companies to gain a competitive advantage by providing superior customer experiences. ...

HR

The Changing Role of HR in an AI World

The Changing Role of HR in an AI World We live in an era where there’s perhaps more focus than ever on how an organization treats its employees. Stories about gender-based pay gaps, lack of diversity, and sexual harassment are front-page news around the world. The ensuing outrage from stockholders and the public have pummeled share prices and reputations, with more than a few top executives going from C-suite to unemployment line as a result. If there were ever a time when HR leaders needed to be more actively involved at the highest levels of the enterprise, it’s now. The value that a great HR executive can bring to an organization is enormous, from preventing that loss of reputation to boosting worker engagement and productivity, to being the moral compass of an organization. To do that effectively, HR executives will need to develop a deep understanding of technology, both in terms of how it’s changing the workplace, and in how it is changing the nature of the HR function itself. Technology as a Workplace Driver Technology is pervasive in everyday life, and that creates expectations on the part of employees that they will have the same convenience and flexibility with technology in the workplace. This isn’t just about ease of use and mobility, either: They expect to have a strong social component as well that lets them see, share, like, innovate, and engage across organization, time and distance.  Much of the time, though, the technology in the workplace fails to measure up to what employees own and use themselves. When people find themselves using technology they find limiting, and that cuts off that constant social contact, it can lead to frustration and demands for companies to rethink workplace technology. Given the competition for the best employees, it’s important for both retention and productivity for executives to listen to those demands. After all, these technologies are challenging our established norms engagement, and are the key to making a workplace less hierarchical, more open, and thus more likely to be innovative. HR is the channel for that message to reach executives, along with strong counsel on how to meet those demands (and the consequences for not doing so). At the same time, some of the cutting-edge technology that’s becoming part of the workplace also creates uncertainty and stress for employees. If you think about what’s going on with artificial intelligence, with robotics, and how those will change the workplace and people’s jobs, you can see why employees would be concerned. They are asking themselves if there will be a place for them in that workplace, how they should prepare for those changes. Again, the place workers (and their managers) will expect to provide those answers is HR. That means having a solid understanding of the implications of this technology and provide information and guidance to employees.  Technology as a Value Tool It’s just as important for HR to have the technology it needs to provide the data and insights that will help leaders understand what’s happening with the workforce and how to increase performance. It’s no longer enough to have a “gut feel” about how things are going – just like other parts of the organization, HR needs to be data led. There are opportunities to gain insights from internal company data as well as by mining things like social media posts, using Oracle’s Human Capital Management products. We’re applying our long expertise in technology as well as working with partners to deve lop specific tools to help develop, sustain and measure the productivity of great employees. Because this is becoming a data-driven function, HR directors need to build great relationships with people who know technology in their organizations, and with experts outside as well. They need to have conversations with their peers in IT and operations, so that decisions about technology across the organization are made in ways that ensure HR’s needs are included. In short, the skills an HR director needs are changing, and if you don’t understand data, you’re in the wrong job.  There’s another powerful reason for HR leaders to build those relationships and have those conversations, especially with peers in marketing. Why? Marketing is in the business of listening to customers and using data to do it. HR likewise needs to be in the business of listening to employees and learn how to use data for the purpose – and be as innovative and challenging in what they offer to employees as marketing is for customers. Maintaining the Moral Compass Beyond its role in recruitment, retention, and engagement – or, perhaps more accurately, because of this role -- HR is the natural provider of the moral compass at the board level.  HR leaders are in a position (and have the obligation) to  speak truth to power, and always to be conscious of, consider, and raise issues of ethical behavior. Again, this requires a deep understanding of and ability to articulate the impact of technology on an organization and particularly its people – and asking hard questions about what data we are capturing and how we use it. Technology can enable companies to monitor productivity with incredible precision, tracking activities to the second. Just because that is possible, though, doesn’t mean that it is either desirable or humane. Do we really want, for example, to be measuring how long people take for toilet breaks and then using that as part of measuring their productivity or value to the organization?. While flexible work arrangements are good for the employee and their work- life balance, zero- hour or on-call only contracts are potentially exploitative – how do you provide ethical flexibility? As we put more robotic devices into place, how do we make sure that how and where we do so are not reinforcing unconscious bias?  Given the importance of HR to keep the organization running efficiently and effectively – and with the tools and data to make the right decisions and demonstrate value -- HR directors are now some of the most vital people in the C-suite. With a deeper understanding of data, they can make huge contributions to creating and maintaining a productive and ethical workplace.   Optimise your workforce with Oracle HCM Cloud. Try the ROI calculator  

The Changing Role of HR in an AI World We live in an era where there’s perhaps more focus than ever on how an organization treats its employees. Stories about gender-based pay gaps, lack of diversity,...

Finance

Is technology obsolescence over for finance systems?

They came for the cost reduction. They stayed for the innovation. That’s the key finding of a recent Oracle survey looking at trends in ERP (enterprise resource planning) and EPM (enterprise performance management). In a survey of more than 400 finance and IT leaders, 79 percent of respondents said they have either moved their finance applications to the cloud, or plan to do so over the next two years. The reasons behind the move are primarily economic—including the desire to avoid infrastructure investments (45%) and on-premises upgrades (33%), as well as lower TCO (38%). A strong majority of respondents (63%) achieved the economic benefits they initially set out to attain. But something surprising emerged from the survey results. When asked about the top benefits of ERP in the cloud, an overwhelming 85% of respondents cited, “Staying current on technology”—far outpacing any of the other advantages cited. The ability to keep up with the unprecedented pace of business change—implementing the latest best practices and innovations on a regular basis—is an entirely new phenomenon. In this model, new capabilities are rolled out to the finance function several times a year (similarly to IOS updates with a mixture of compulsory and optional enhancements). In the traditional world of on-premises systems, it is unthinkable to update ERP at such a breakneck pace. Years often pass between upgrades—and with every passing year, the risk of the business falling behind competitors grows, as well as the risk of exposure to security breaches. With cloud, the risk of technology obsolescence drops to zero—putting the business on a more solidly competitive footing. The move to finance cloud applications is the last upgrade you will ever do. And the capabilities available in the cloud today can immediately add more value to the finance function. When asked what they could do in the cloud that they could not do with their on-premises applications, the responses included: Connected enterprise planning Produce full monthly reporting packages within 4 days of month end Easily generate reports that meet customer needs Generate a P&L at the press of a button Emerging Technologies Are Set to Transform Finance The cloud is also the primary delivery mechanism for new and emerging technologies: blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cognitive computing, intelligent process automation, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Finance professionals are exhibiting a keen interest in these technologies. Roughly 4 out of 10 are already exploring these areas—in keeping with their desire for innovation and new capabilities. Many of these emerging technologies fall squarely into the charter of the finance function. For example, blockchain has a number of use cases that could impact finance and the supply chain, while AI and machine learning can detect patterns in huge data sets that a human being could never uncover, potentially reducing and even correcting for material risks. These technologies have the potential to automate routine transaction processing, eliminate manual tasks, and reduce the likelihood of errors. Such automation will free up finance professionals to spend more time providing forward-looking guidance, uncovering and recommending new opportunities to senior management. It’s Not “Cloud First, it’s “Cloud Now” With the benefits clearer than ever, finance in the cloud has become the new standard for the office of finance. The discussion is no longer about when to make the move. It’s now. As the pace of business change accelerates, finance leaders recognize that the technology of the past won’t help them keep up with the competition. Moving to the cloud is an opportunity for companies to re-invent and transform their business processes. With the regular cadence of innovation delivered by the cloud, and zero risk of technology obsolescence, finance leaders will be well positioned to help build the business of tomorrow, today. Find out how simple it is to do your enterprise resource planning and lower costs with Oracle Cloud. Try the ROI calculator

They came for the cost reduction. They stayed for the innovation. That’s the key finding of a recent Oracle survey looking at trends in ERP (enterprise resource planning) and EPM (enterprise...

Marketing

Go wild, indulge or kickback by the pool ─ the bracelet that’s the key to holiday cool

  The dream What’s your holiday dream? Go wild? Indulge? Kick back by the pool with a glass of something cool?   The holiday realty though…not so much. Lock yourself out of ─ and your cash in ─ your room. Not enough money with you to buy that ‘must have’ in the mall. Miss a spur of the moment romantic dinner because your card is by the bed. Stress over where to put your wallet when you’re windsurfing in a skin-tight swim suit. Sound familiar?   Now imagine a holiday where cash and IDs and cards and keys are a memory as distant as the world you left behind. A holiday where everything ‘just works’ without a second thought. A holiday where all the resort has to offer opens up to you with the wave of a wrist. And crucially ─ a holiday where no wallet spoils the line of your Speedos.    Melia Hotels International and Oracle have imagined that holiday ─ and turned the dream into a reality. In just four months, they have developed a personal passport that marries beautiful form with efficient function with new levels of guest freedom. And it looks great, whatever you’re wearing.   The journey Seamless experiences are central to Melia’s business model as it launches a new breed of resort ─ offering different vibes depending on a guest’s whim. From adrenalin-fuelled adventure to sumptuous shopping to laid-back luxury, Melia’s new resort has it covered. The trick is transporting customers from one experience to the next ─ taking them on a journey through a resort without borders.   With summer 2017 in full swing, Melia began looking to see how customers could be eased through its multi-themed resort. Cue Oracle’s Innovation team ─ and agile, ideating, Post-IT note toting rapid reaction force.   Oracle and Melia’s Digital Technology Group went from initial framing to ideation to workshopping to prototyping to final customer presentation ─ in 4 months. With Agile methodologies keeping them ahead of a rapidly evolving brief, the team developed and delivered a step change in wearable hospitality tech ─ the Melia Bracelet.   The Melia Bracelet of course gives guests keyless access to their rooms. But there’s more: the Melia Bracelet allows guests to pay for everything across all three ‘vibed’ areas of the resort. But there’s more: the Melia Bracelet allows guests to tailor interests and buy add-ons based on them. But there’s more: the Melia Bracelet allows cash and card-free mall shopping. But there’s more: the Melia Bracelet allows the hotel to know where guests are ─ adding another level of safety and security ─ whilst also informing better planning, based on factors such as footfall.   It is a bracelet that harnesses and integrates Oracle technologies such as Oracle SOA Cloud Service, Oracle Mobile Cloud Service, Oracle Stream Analytics and the Oracle Database Cloud Service. Oracle has brought them together to provide the seamless experiences that Melia’s predominantly young and tech-savvy customers expect in every other aspect of their lives.   The reality Imagine a holiday where your hotel room unlocks itself as you approach, welcoming you with your choice of music and lighting. A holiday where your preferences tailor experiences to enhance your stay. A holiday where you book dinner at a restaurant you’ve never seen but are sure to love, buy a new top from the hottest label (with a personalised discount) and get your name on the VIP list at the best nightclub with the flick of wrist.   Imagine no more, because the bracelet is making the dream a reality at Melia’s Sol Katmandu Park Hotel and at the newly opened Calviá Beach The Plaza ─ right now. And built on Oracle’s cloud platform, it will evolve ─ with plans to adopt AI to bring new levels of personalisation to the holiday experience. This constantly adaptable tech gem will keep guests constantly coming back for more ─ and drive in-resort revenue.   Gabriel Escarrer, Vice President and CEO of Meliá Hotels International s in no doubt as to what has made this project special:  "In Meliá Hotels International we have imagined a new vacation where the guest can enjoy all the services of the hotel without worrying about carrying identification or money.  And we have made it a reality thanks to an innovation project in collaboration with Oracle." “Co-innovation has been central in enabling Melia to bring their imagination to life”, explains Neil Sholay, Vice President of Digital, Oracle EMEA. “Melia started this project with an idea and a passion to improve the guest experience. This project proves that by combining Melia’s expertise in hospitality with Oracle’s business innovation and technology strength, it is possible to take truly transformational ideas and turn them into reality. In a matter of weeks, together we have co-created an experience beyond expectations”.   Go wild? Indulge? Kick back by the pool with a glass of something cool? The choice now really is yours.   Happy holidays!

  The dream What’s your holiday dream? Go wild? Indulge? Kick back by the pool with a glass of something cool?   The holiday realty though…not so much. Lock yourself out of ─ and your cash in ─ your room....

What Autonomous Gives A Business

  Our customers’ stories are the best proof of the value an Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud (ADWC) can add. Through the power of AI, businesses are discovering they no longer need to put up with the inefficiencies and time-consuming maintenance of traditional data warehousing solutions. Read on to learn how ADWC provided the platform for two organisations to transform and push the boundaries of what’s possible.   Hertz—driving transformation Global car rental company, Hertz, with 10,000 premises worldwide, needed to move to a modern, flexible, and world class data warehouse solution to support business efficiency and growth. ‘Every time we wanted a new database to be set up, it took a week to get the approval’, explains Hertz’s Director of Business Intelligence and Analytics Benjamin Arnulf. ‘It then took another week to get the database installed, patched, tuned, and data loaded.’ Clearly, for a business operating at the scale of Hertz, their existing solution wasn’t offering the agility they needed. So how did moving help? By switching to Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud, Hertz were able to complete the two-week long launch process in mere minutes. ‘We created the instance in three minutes’, Benjamin says. ‘Three minutes to create the instance, five minutes to load the data, and then you can use the database. It’s so fast, and so easy to use.’ Hertz are now expecting to be able to launch and run multiple projects with no maintenance required, meaning DBAs’ time will be focused on innovation rather than patching and other manual tasks. Vendors can be paid quicker, cars can arrive faster, and savings can be re-invested into customer services. As Benjamin says, ‘it's going to be a game-changer for Hertz.’ Listen to Benjamin Arnulf explain more about the benefits of the Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud.   DXM—pivoting to digital DX Marketing Group—a mid-size insights company based in the US—were undergoing a transformation. Originally a fully print-based marketing firm, the company were changing their focus to data-driven targeting, deep level research and analytics. The transition to a digital marketing company—particularly one with an intense focus on data—required a warehousing solution that is sophisticated, flexible, and in the case of DXM, accessible to those not technically minded. And that’s exactly what Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud delivered. ‘One of the things that we’re looking at building is a data management platform that non-technical people can actually build themselves’, DXM Chief Technology Officer Jerry Gearding said. ‘The Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud will help us roll out a data management platform that our data analysts and data scientists can build and use themselves without involving any IT resources.’ By deploying the Autonomous Data Warehouse, DXM now benefits from a system that’s not only intuitive, but has also been elastic enough to grow as they have acquired more customers. Another major plus is that ADWC’s advanced, realtime analytics all run in the database itself, meaning other systems aren’t creating network latency by constantly pulling data.   AI-powered transformation It’s clear that no matter what type or size of business you run, traditional data warehousing lacks the flexibility, elasticity, and intelligence needed to enable you to transform your operations for the modern world. The next generation of data warehousing provides the freedom to pour time, money, and resources into the areas that really need it, giving you the ability to fulfil your full potential. 

  Our customers’ stories are the best proof of the value an Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud (ADWC) can add. Through the power of AI, businesses are discovering they no longer need to put up with...

What Help do You Need with GDPR?

Only 17.4% of businesses are ready to manage their GDPR obligations, according to recent research1. That’s right, less than one in five companies is actually currently ready for GDPR, despite it having been announced more than six years ago, enshrined in law for over two years, and applicable since May 2018. Moreover, the survey results reveal that IT is where most are falling behind. Fortunately, there are ways you can get the help and support you need. The degree of GDPR maturity among businesses varies across different parts of the regulation. For example, more businesses are compliant in risk (77%) than any other area, perhaps because many GDPR projects start with Article 30 Records of Processing initiatives. By contrast, IT application (48%) and security (53%) compliance are the two areas where the fewest numbers of businesses are mature. Application compliance is related to Articles 15-20, and requires that you take account of how your applications facilitate and defend individuals’ rights under GDPR in relation to the personal data being processed in those applications. In practical terms, this usually means embedding functionality within your software that supports individuals’ key privacy rights, such as the right to be forgotten. This can be highly complex as it requires a strong knowledge of the application code, its logic, how it uses personal data, its data model, and how it integrates with other applications. Moreover, it also involves clear knowledge of GDPR’s hierarchy in relation to other legislation, as there may be circumstances in which other laws take precedence over privacy rights.    Secure your infrastructure IT security compliance relates, in particular, to Article 32 where businesses have to adequately secure personal data hosted in their IT architecture. Key initiatives here are data protection, access control, monitoring of logs, and security configuration and patching. While these are generally less complicated to implement than application compliance, relatively few companies have made sufficient progress. This is despite the fact that Oracle offers numerous technologies for making IT security compliance straightforward, both for the cloud and on-premises. For example, Italian commercial banking group, UBI Banca2, implemented a hybrid SOC (Security Operations Centre) strategy. That comprises Cloud Application Security Broker (CASB), for security across its entire cloud stack, as well as Advanced Security, which provides transparent data encryption for its core on-premises databases. Greek integrated telecommunications provider, WIND Hellas3, took a similar approach to achieve GDPR compliance for its on-premises and cloud infrastructure. Indeed, Oracle has created a next-generation, cloud-native, comprehensive security and identity platform, called Identity Cloud Service (IDCS), that provides modern identity for today’s applications. This, along with CASB and other components, comprises Oracle’s Identity SOC, which is the cornerstone of the Oracle Trust Fabric. Identity SOC is an always-on, automated security solution that can detect and respond to advanced threats and persistent attacks—helping protect users, applications, data and workloads.   Minimise risk and make your applications ready Oracle gives you additional options when it comes to many of the IT-related and risk aspects of GDPR. Our consultants can help strengthen your knowledge so you can decide the best way to move forward. For example, Oracle Consulting can help you run tests to predict where personal data is held in your applications and how it is used. They can deploy a variety of powerful Oracle tools that include the Database Security Assessment Tool (DBSAT) and Oracle Configuration and Compliance Cloud Service. For databases, Oracle also has the technology to encrypt, mask, anonymize and implement strict access control rules, and much more. --- 1 Oracle Community for Security with the contribution of Oracle and Protiviti, collected data from 236 companies, across 16 industries in Italy, between March and June 2018, asking 11 key GDPR questions. The survey is being extended to Europe, Middle East and Africa—please share your own organisation’s status at http://bit.ly/2rMIiot. 2 UBI Banca secures their cloud using Oracle CASB cloud service. [https://blogs.oracle.com/cloud-platform/ubi-banca-secures-their-cloud-using-oracle-casb-cloud-service] 3 WIND Hellas reduces risk and improves EU GDPR compliance with Oracle Cloud. [https://www.oracle.com/customers/wind-hellas-1-casb-cl.html]  

Only 17.4% of businesses are ready to manage their GDPR obligations, according to recent research1. That’s right, less than one in five companies is actually currently ready for GDPR, despite it...

Smarter than automation — think autonomy

How many of us today can imagine the world before mechanical automation? Yet, who can clearly visualise the new age of autonomous technology, propelling itself towards us ever faster? Auto-replenishing refrigerators, human-sounding medical diagnosis bots, unmanned drone-taxis, smart factories—and all manner of other advances—will be part of everyday life before we know it. As we consider the potential of using such technology to innovate in new ways, let’s consider how far we’ve come with automation. Take driverless vehicles—they’re actually not so new. Indeed, aircraft autopilot systems have been in widespread use for decades and free up their pilot supervisors to concentrate on other tasks. Similarly, automated manufacturing lines and mechanical robotics have dramatically improved production quality, and—crucially—sped up product innovation.   Man versus the future In both these examples of automation, it’s the mix of man and machine that’s key. The machine does the routine, consistent, ever-vigilant tasks, while humans are freed up to take on the creative work or responsibility. According to PwC*, this will continue to be the case with AI and autonomous technology. For example, most people have heard how AI has beaten a chess grandmaster. But perhaps fewer know that a human working in partnership with an autonomous player—a so-called 'centaur'—can usually beat AI. Again, the mix of man and machine trumps the machine alone. For people worried about their future that’s good news. Just as with automation, PwC says autonomy will encourage a gradual evolution in the job market that will be net positive. New kinds of jobs will offset the ones that are lost. You’ll still work, but far more efficiently with the help of AI.   Time to get smarter Similarly, in IT, autonomy will help people work smarter. Oracle’s software is leading the way and already delivers far-reaching benefits that can help you to innovate in completely new ways. This self-driving, self-patching, self-repairing and even self-designing technology means reduced man hours, fewer errors, increased uptime, enhanced performance and constant access to the latest technology updates. And there’s even more benefits for line-of-business users—self-repairing production lines, finance process automation, intelligent candidate screening in HR, new insights from advanced analytics that can dig deeper into data than ever—the list goes on. Product innovation can look much further ahead, with clearer insights on customer needs, and harnessing the latest technology—all thanks to smarter thinking by man and machine.   Wizard technology Complex IT tasks can be made much easier, faster and more accurate. Consider integrating applications and processes, for example—the latest software can provide machine-learned ‘best next action’ recommendations to eliminate human errors in complex data mapping. Machine learning can also suggest the best user selections for process flows, while AI can drive the generation of integration flows by mining the successful execution of thousands of integrations at runtime. The latest autonomous software can also sense and raise alerts for application integration connectivity issues, and also notify when data storage thresholds are exceeded.   Be first to innovate So how does all this apply to you? How ready are you to innovate and deliver the next generation of intelligent software? Your business objectives will have a major bearing on what capabilities are most important, and how you use autonomous technology to get closer to your customers to better understand their needs.

How many of us today can imagine the world before mechanical automation? Yet, who can clearly visualise the new age of autonomous technology, propelling itself towards us ever faster?...

Build Your Customer Experience Digital Transformation Roadmap

You know that a valuable customer experience is key to customer loyalty, but where do you start on your transformation journey? Forward-thinking companies have been found to grow 14% faster than laggards[1], but with every business being so unique, knowing how you can transform may seem like a challenge. Let us give you some tips to build your own tailored roadmap, providing you with a framework to uncover opportunities, and enabling you to deliver your CX vision. Before you start planning your roadmap, it’s vital to assess your maturity, and review your current digital capabilities, data sources, and gaps in your infrastructure. This will enable you to create an integrated digital platform, capable of delivering experiences your customers will love.   Reviewing your capabilities A digital platform is essential for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s necessary for connecting your systems. Without a platform, applications and data are fragmented, and cannot be seamlessly joined to create compelling experiences. More broadly however, a platform isn’t just a product, but a way of thinking. Being able to react quickly and adapt to change is essential for transformation, and for that, alignment is needed between people, processes, data and tools. A successful digital platform comprises of three core components, which we call ‘layers of information’. These include: Systems of innovation The topmost layer, this refers to customer-facing channels. Systems of innovation should be flexible and capable of integrating new channels as they emerge. As such, they must be built to accommodate change. Systems of differentiation These are the frontline digital platforms and services that are critical for enabling you to transform. Think technology like the cloud, IoT, and big data analytics. They are data-driven, and are enabled through core analytical capabilities. As a result, they generate—and are informed by—insights, helping companies create competitive differentiation. Systems of record This is the final layer, and is comprised of everything from product systems and core applications to external systems and data sources. They are primarily data-driven, and so need to be built to last.   These layers of information can be mapped against your core capabilities (elements like channel management, application development and analytics), which you can then break down further into individual attributes. This will provide you with a basic framework that maps your capabilities in relation to product and customer experience, and highlights what will act as the foundation of your transformation.   Creating your digital roadmap Once you have your framework, it’s now time to develop your transformation roadmap, setting out the specific actions that will enable you to realise your CX vision. Your roadmap needs to be clear and actionable, providing the next steps you must take to make progress. It should outline the CX architecture needed, as well as provide a progressive plan to evolve—while also remaining flexible enough to adapt new business priorities. Your roadmap also needs to anticipate the introduction of new technologies—for example, 78% of brands say they have already implemented, or are planning to implement, AI and AR by 2020[2].   When implementing your roadmap, you should remember things won’t go right all the time—and that’s perfectly fine. In fact, in an age where young digital companies have achieved huge growth through a ‘fail fast’ approach, making mistakes and learning from them is a vital step to success. To this end, you should look to test a new customer experience innovation every four weeks or so. Revitalising your CX may seem daunting, but by carefully considering where you need to improve, breaking the process down into small, actionable chunks, and searching for new opportunities, you’ll quickly discover the path to transform your business. Having the right tools for the job is key to realising your full potential. Watch a demo of Oracle Smarter CX, and learn how the cloud can help you on your transformation journey.     [1] ‘Product development in the era of IoT: tying the digital thread’, Aberdeen Group, 2017 [2] ‘Can virtual experiences replace reality?’, Oracle, 2016

You know that a valuable customer experience is key to customer loyalty, but where do you start on your transformation journey? Forward-thinking companies have been found to grow 14% faster than...

Crunch time—what’s cloud ERP really worth?

How effective are your financial processes today? Are they helping you to simplify decision-making so you can respond flexibly to market changes, or slowing you down and making you less competitive? You can now take a quick and simple online test to discover how much value you can unleash from implementing the latest, cloud-based ERP technology. Cloud is now the standard environment for ERP and, according to the latest research*, 76% of finance organisations have firm plans to move there, with 51% planning to make the move within the next 12 months. The main reason quoted by finance leaders for moving ERP to the cloud is its potential for budget savings (47%), while the main benefit reported by those that have already made the move is staying current on technology (81%). Yes, cost savings are also an important benefit reported by those that have implemented ERP in the cloud (63%). But usability benefits (76%), increased flexibility (65%) and, as already mentioned, staying current on technology are the top three benefits. So the cloud is now both the default, and also the most functionally effective way of implementing ERP—according to its actual users.   Discover new value So what are all those new functional capabilities worth in real money? And what’s the full value of moving ERP into the cloud for your business specifically, once you’ve also factored in the cost savings? There is now a useful online tool that can tell you. Simply enter a few details about your organisation to get started, such as annual revenue, industry and number of employees. The tool will calculate your personalised estimate of the overall financial value of cloud-based ERP, and also provide individual analyses of how it can help you in each of these five areas: Improve decision making to drive more profitability Increase finance staff productivity Reduce accounts payable processing costs Minimise software support and upgrade costs Optimise planning and budgeting cycle times   Access endless innovation Finance organisations that have made the move to cloud are enjoying major cost savings, as expected, and they’re also benefitting from access to a wide range of new technologies. There’s no more rip and replace every two years, followed by a steep user learning curve. Instead, there are incremental releases of software updates that drip-feed new functionality directly into everyday use. Moreover, advanced capabilities, such as intelligent process automation, machine learning and next generation analytics, are also being made available. That means businesses that have migrated their ERP solutions to the cloud are able to make faster decisions, and are also able to create major, new, additional sources of value with the new technology. In turn, that’s making possible a wide range of competitive benefits for cloud ERP users that are simply inaccessible to everyone else, helping them establish unassailable operational advantages. Find out how much you can gain — use this online tool to create your own personalised report on the value of using Oracle ERP Cloud to simplify your decision making now.  

How effective are your financial processes today? Are they helping you to simplify decision-making so you can respond flexibly to market changes, or slowing you down and making you less competitive?...

Create new value in your supply chain

Industry 4.0 technologies are enabling organisations to innovate across their production and supply chains like never before. But the risks associated with implementing new technology means projects are often limited in scope to help ensure positive returns on investment. So how do you unleash the full value available by taking a single, holistic, end-to-end approach to innovation across your entire supply chain? Indeed, how can you put a figure on the potential ROI from doing that—one that you can weigh against the potential risks? There is now a powerful online tool that can help you do exactly that based on your own specific business circumstances. Technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet Of Things and Robotic Process Automation, among others, are ushering in a new era of product development and manufacturing. New capabilities—made possible through connecting your supply chain operations, functions, devices and data in the cloud—are enabling businesses to innovate in completely new ways. Indeed, the modern digital supply chain now starts in product design. It includes all your raw-materials’ suppliers and stretches through each of your in-house production processes. It also includes your sales channels and distribution network, reaching through to post-sales support to finally capture customer feedback—which can then be fed back to inform product design in an infinite development loop. By creating a digital framework—to view these elements as part of a single ecosystem—you can create powerful new economies across existing operations, and also identify new ways to innovate.   How can your business benefit? You can now put a figure on how much value you can create for your business by using a helpful online tool. Simply enter a few details about your business to get started—annual revenue, industry and number of employees—and discover the potential opportunity overall, along with a detailed, personalised breakdown of how you can: Cut back on the costs of supply chain operations Minimise maverick spend Reduce operations costs for logistics Increase operating profit via improved product lifecycle management Optimise inventory carrying cost   Get the full picture In each of these five areas, you can also gain access to a wide range of supporting content—videos, customer success stories, blogs, eBooks and more—to help you see how you can drive maximum success. Your personalised report will summarise the findings of the tool, with links to yet further resources, for use in your business cases. Because, while 67% of UK manufacturers recognise Industry 4.0 as an opportunity, only 25% feel they have an adequate understanding of its issues, implications, threats and opportunities*—this is your opportunity to join that group.   Now is the time to deliver Now is the time to act in adopting an Industry 4.0 approach to your supply chain. We are at a watershed moment where those businesses that are first to drive economies and identify new opportunities in their business processes will enjoy considerable competitive advantages over those that follow. Moreover, as well as the cost benefits, the first movers will also get a head start on how to innovate within their supply chains, enabling them to deliver successive waves of value faster.   Find out how much you can gain — use this online tool to create your own personalised report on the value of using Oracle Supply Chain Management Cloud for your business now.

Industry 4.0 technologies are enabling organisations to innovate across their production and supply chains like never before. But the risks associated with implementing new technology means projects...

Want to grow faster? Employ HCM cloud

The value of human capital management (HCM) software to HR teams is well understood. But exactly how much can your organisation benefit from HCM software as it strives to grow in today’s competitive markets? It can be challenging to understand the value of new processes or state-of-the-art capabilities—such as the latest artificial intelligence (AI)—especially if you don’t yet have any experience of them. Fortunately, there is a useful online tool that will help you get to grips with both what you can achieve, and also how much the new capabilities are worth to your business specifically. Effective, modern HR systems can save your business time and money in countless ways. For example, in the recruit to onboard phase, they can help you identify current skills gaps. When combined with an appropriate model for how your business is likely to grow they can even forecast the skills you will need for the future. Automation can be used to filter large numbers of applications and CVs quickly, and AI used to identify specific candidate attributes—perhaps using intelligent bots—or to search through previous applications. It also has the potential added benefit of removing human bias by focusing on the practical skills and experience required for a role, rather than a candidate’s most attention-grabbing CV entries. A single, common platform can help make offer generation easier, and improve the employee experience during onboarding. That same platform can make HR’s job far easier, helping to grow productivity, and also meeting other goals such as compliance.   How much can you gain? In fact, these are just a few of the headline benefits of the latest HR systems, and focused on one area, for recruit to onboard. But what are modern HR systems actually worth to your organisation in practice, in your particular market and operational circumstances? There is a powerful, quick and easy-to-use online tool for recruit to onboard that will create a personalised report for your specific business requirements. Simply enter a few details about your business to get started—annual revenue, industry and number of employees—and you will gain access to a detailed analysis of how you can save over five key areas: Reduce voluntary employee turnover Optimise employee replacement expense Speed up time to hire Minimise outside recruiting costs Increase percentage of right hires   Best practice advice The tool puts a figure on the overall savings you can make, as well as providing estimates for how that breaks down across each of these five areas. Moreover, there is a wide range of supporting content—eBooks, videos, blogs, customer success stories and more—within each section to help you visualise best practice to grow your business. Finally, your personalised report will summarise the online tool’s findings, with links to further resources, for use in your business cases. When used correctly, effective digital HCM experiences have been shown to drive positive changes in areas that impact employee engagement. Forty percent of employees believe their organisations promote flexible working and 38% believe their employer is concerned with their wellbeing*—both of these statistics could potentially be improved upon with effective cloud-based HCM software.   The number’s up on delays Using our online tool, you will—perhaps for the first time—be able to understand exactly what your business specifically can gain from updating its recruit to onboard systems and processes. HR technology is currently advancing at a faster rate than ever and successfully recruiting the best talent has become a competitive necessity. There is a danger that those companies that do not embrace the new ways of working will be left behind—both in their industry sector, and also in their very ability to find and retain the best people in the future. Find out how much you can gain — use this online tool to create your own personalised report on the value of using Oracle Recruit to Onboard: SMB Edition for your business now.

The value of human capital management (HCM) software to HR teams is well understood. But exactly how much can your organisation benefit from HCM software as it strives to grow in today’s competitive...

Performance Management in Workplace 2.0

Businesses are realising that in order to grow, they need to put their employees first. Performance management has been placed under the spotlight, with traditional strategies proving to be rigid, slow, and unsuitable for modern businesses. In the era of Workplace 2.0, a new kind of performance management is needed. Smart companies are embracing the new technologies available to them, using a data-led approach to optimise work conditions and maximise employee engagement. Through a tailored, employee-centric performance management strategy, the individual needs of each employee can be met, enabling high performers to deliver, and turning laggards into more effective employees.   Always-on performance management Employee expectations have never been higher. Thanks to shifting sentiment about the nature of work and a tight labour market, it’s no longer enough for employees to simply deliver for their businesses. In order to grow, businesses need to deliver for employees. With this in mind, performance management needs to shift from a compliance mindset that concentrates on rooting out underperformers, and instead focus on supporting and developing employees. One way to do this is to reassess the role of appraisals. In an age of personalisation and digital transformation, the traditional annual appraisal model looks increasingly outdated. In fact, in a survey done by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), it was found 73% of senior non-HR leaders thought annual appraisals were ineffective. Rather than subscribing to the annual appraisal ritual, businesses need to enable employee growth throughout the whole year, encouraging constant support and feedback, and forming developmental strategies tailored to the needs of individual members of staff.   Combining data with behaviour Relying purely on sales targets and other metrics to assess performance will never give the full performance picture. Setting goals is still vital, but business growth means broader organisational objectives need to come first, after which they can be cascaded down to employees to help inform their personal objectives. Employees need to be given a sense of purpose and a clear roadmap for development—that’s revisited regularly—and with recognised support resources that support their strengths and enrich their lives. This should take into account their own roles, their team objectives, and their personal and career ambitions. This is a major move on from the traditional pay check-focused employee, who took their lead from their boss and whose only formal personal development opportunities were formulated during their once-only annual review. Indeed as automation creeps into many process-driven and transactional jobs, employees’ roles are becoming more complex. An altogether more holistic approach to measurement needs to be taken, focusing less on outputs, and more on behaviours. Behaviours such as being a team player and contributions towards the wider objectives can again be prioritised. This will help support the organisational culture and employee engagement—a trait which is becoming recognised as key for growth. In fact, companies with an engaged culture have been found to have a 65% higher share price and 26% less employee turnover. By combining smart measurements with strategies to encourage the desired values and behaviours, businesses can create a stronger, more motivated workforce.   A smart approach to compensation In its 2017 Global Talent Trends study, Mercer found that fair compensation was the number one motivator for employees. However, in order for compensation to achieve maximum effectiveness, businesses need a smarter approach. Linking pay to the broad performance conversation risks creating misaligned incentives, and may have a negative impact. Instead, businesses should be channelling compensation to places that need it, such as talent acquisition, or areas of high staff turnover. Pay should also be incremental, responding to the needs of individual employees, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.   The future of performance management The year of the employee is not about handing unaccountable power to employees, but rather about finding ways to manage their performance and maximise their engagement. By combining smarter measurement with individually optimised performance management, employers will get the opportunity to develop and grow—both their employees, and their business. By combining smart measurements with strategies to encourage the desired values and behaviours, businesses can create a stronger, more motivated workforce.

Businesses are realising that in order to grow, they need to put their employees first. Performance management has been placed under the spotlight, with traditional strategies proving to be rigid,...

Product development: The digital thread in Industry 4.0

The rules of product development have changed. Smart, connected products are providing a wealth of opportunities for those prepared to innovate. By utilising IoT and data-centric methodologies, businesses can drive efficiency and continued refinement across their whole product lifecycle. We’re living in the era of Industry 4.0, otherwise known as the fourth industrial revolution, which is characterised by the digitisation of manufacturing. The endless amount of connections available between devices in the modern age is empowering companies, enabling them to link up traditionally separate elements to become more efficient and customer-centric. Product Development teams increasingly need to support the development of connected products and systems.   Connecting siloed business elements Chief among the technologies driving change is the industrial internet of things (IIoT)—a subset of IoT which has enormous potential to enable companies to innovate and adapt new business models such as “Product As A Service”. Although cost cutting is certainly a big draw, IIoT’s ability to connect operations is the real gamechanger. For example, data can be used to improve operational equipment’s uptime and availability. But to achieve this, siloed teams need work more effectively together. The phenomenon of being able to link up various operations in this way is known as the “digital thread”—an advanced communication network which allows for a much more integrated approach to manufacturing. To make the thread work, various processes throughout product development connect information “silos”. This creates a complete, data-rich network that weaves together elements throughout the development cycle, all the way through the lifecycle of products from idea inception through release, in-field use and service. With product demand being higher than it’s ever been, the reduced cycle time and smart insights the digital thread provides is quickly becoming essential to manufacturers.   Virtual Worlds A central benefit of the digital thread is being able to predict problems before they occur, which can be done by creating a “digital twin”. A digital twin is a virtual model of a process, product, physical asset, or service. This effectively allows manufacturers to run simulations in a virtual environment, which in turn can assist in predicting problems further down the line. In terms of operational assets, digital twins enable manufacturers to build and test equipment and processes before investing in real world infrastructure. Asset Performance Management (APM) has grown in importance as a consequence, with digital twin insights allowing for proactive and predictive maintenance before costly mistakes happen. Digital twins are also vital for product development, as they can give insights into how the products are actually used, so that product design can be adapted accordingly.   Management through the entire product lifecycle The digital thread doesn’t just benefit the manufacturing process. Enabling the digital thread across the full product lifecycle from Innovation through Development to Commercialization has substantial benefits, which is where Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software comes in. Data, processes, decisions, and results from all stages of the product lifecycle can be fed into PLM software, providing a single source of information that can drive considerable operational performance. This can be invaluable to things like compliance, as data is fully traceable and easily accessible. PLM software is also useful for tracking product definition through its lifecycle, recording changes and maintaining the relationship between various bills of material (for example, between engineering and manufacturing bill). Of course, none of these tools or platforms would mean anything if businesses don’t adapt their working methods to accommodate them. Today’s most innovative companies have started using Agile—a working methodology based on the principles of adaptive planning, early delivery, continuous improvement, and the ability to respond quickly. Agile methodology emphasises collaboration between separate teams and iterative design, making it an ideal methodology for the fourth industrial revolution.           A new age of product development Businesses are quickly discovering the opportunities that Industry 4.0 brings. loT is ushering in a new era where data is used to predict errors, streamline process, and aid collaboration across the supply chain. By embracing Industry 4.0, forward thinking businesses are enabling themselves to innovate, evolve, and ultimately become more profitable. Use this online tool to create a personalised report on the value of deploying Oracle SCM Cloud for your business.    

The rules of product development have changed. Smart, connected products are providing a wealth of opportunities for those prepared to innovate. By utilising IoT and data-centric methodologies,...

ERP cloud top trends in 2018

Although businesses are coming for the money, it’s the innovation they’re staying for—that’s according to our report The End of Technology Obsolescence, ERP Trends in 2018. Despite savings being one of the main reasons for your business to move to the cloud, it’s the ability to simplify how you stay up-to-date, as well the endless opportunities access to the platform enables, that are the real game-changers. Modern businesses are changing at an unprecedented rate, and for the first time ERP can keep up. Technology obsolescence is a thing of the past thanks to not needing on-premise systems, and with the cloud offering access to the latest innovations and updates, businesses can keep pace with the competition.   Going beyond economics In a survey of more than 400 finance and technology leaders, the primary motivation for moving to the cloud was economic. Reasons included wanting to avoid infrastructure investment (45%), lowering the total cost of ownership (38%) and avoiding on-premise upgrades (33%). Questioning leaders on what the biggest benefit of the cloud is however paints a very different story. An overwhelming 81% agreed that “staying current on technology” was the biggest benefit, along with usability benefits (76%), increased flexibility (65%) and improved collaboration (59%). While the economic benefits of the cloud are by no means small, it’s clear that the competitive nature of ‘always-on’ technology is the real draw. In our research on Intelligent Finance, Frank Sorrentino, CEO of ConnectOne Bank, echoes this: “Bankers ask me all the time, ‘How are you running that business, at that size, with that growth rate, with that reputation and with that level of service with as few people as you have?’ We are living in a cloud-based world. And as far as I am concerned, there is no better place to be.”   Transforming business through emerging technologies What puts cloud-adopters on a particularly strong trajectory is the wealth of new technologies that are emerging. Blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), and the internet of things (IoT) are transforming supply chains, operating reporting, and the way businesses work—and it just so happens that the cloud is their primary delivery mechanism. Many of these technologies are built for finance, such as Blockchain. Other areas in which they can assist is automating routine transaction processing, eliminating manual tasks, and reducing the likelihood of errors—all things that will allow professionals to simplify tasks and free up time.  Roughly 4 out of 10 leaders are already exploring these technologies. When asked, 43% said they were interested in AI, with machine learning (40%) and IoT (40%) also popular.   A simpler way of reporting Interpreting data is crucial for decision making, however survey data suggests current ERP systems aren’t delivering the meaningful insights needed. Although 60% of people asked use their ERP system to directly generate reports, nearly half (49%) also use spreadsheets with data pulled from the system of record. The fact that businesses feel compelled to take their data further with ad-hoc spreadsheet reports shows ERP systems don’t provide the flexibility and insights businesses require. The problems with managing reports via spreadsheets are well-known. It should therefore come as no surprise that, among companies that have begun or are planning to move ERP to the cloud, 70% said accounting-to-reporting was the first business process they plan to tackle. This was closely followed by procure-to-pay (67%) and budget-to-approval (62%).   The cloud has become the new standard With over three quarters of people we asked (76%) saying they either have or will soon move to the cloud, there’s now no question cloud ERP has become the standard. It’s not hard to see why. The overwhelming positives of the cloud outweigh the perceived negatives of migration. From access to emerging technology to up-to-date systems, the cloud provides opportunities to save money, simplify tasks, and drive real transformation. Find out how much you can gain—use our online tool to create a personalised report on the value of deploying Oracle ERP Cloud for your business.  

Although businesses are coming for the money, it’s the innovation they’re staying for—that’s according to our report The End of Technology Obsolescence, ERP Trends in 2018. Despite savings being one...

How robotics can humanise your workforce

Previously in this blog series, we’ve explored some examples of how businesses and software vendors are using automated intelligence (AI) and application programming interfaces (APIs) to innovate with disparate data sources—combining them to deliver greater value for customers and workforces. Another area of innovation that’s improving the way organisations go about their business and the way they serve their customers is robotic process automation (RPA). For many, when they think of RPA, they think of large, cumbersome mechanical processes augmented by robots and industrial machinery. But take a moment to consider how many repetitive, low-value, mechanical and time-consuming—yet essential—tasks are carried out by members of your workforce.   What is RPA? For some time, one of the main barriers to automation has been the ability to replicate human operations for repetitive tasks. RPA bridges this gap with robots that are easy to train, don’t require changes to your underlying legacy systems, and—crucially—can execute flawlessly. Beyond the physical robotic applications that we’re perhaps more familiar with, software robots can also be trained to log into a system, enter information, port data between SaaS and on-premise applications, and commit transactions—just as human operators would do. So what about your business? How many of your daily business operations—the tasks and processes you perform routinely—could now be taken over or enhanced with RPA? And if your workforce was relieved of the burden of those tasks, how would you take advantage of the extra resource made available?   RPA in action Consider these two cases in point. US-based broadcast group, Sinclair, implemented its ‘One Sinclair Experience’ transformation after a period of major merger and acquisition activity. Their aim was to provide a simple, tablet-based interface for marketing consultants to sell their national solutions at a local level—comprised of offerings from across all the newly acquired companies. The resulting tablet-ready experience uses RPA as part of a solution that’s drawn together back office services from across all the companies, resulting in 12x faster process and 45% lower total costs.   In another example, an Italian manufacturer is using RPA with its process to synchronise its customer data across a number of existing legacy systems. Process automation both eliminates the risk of human error and has created additional integration options.   Combining RPA with the power of AI At present, RPA is still somewhat in its infancy as far as widespread digital adoption is concerned. But, as other innovations more forwards in parallel, an increasing number of possibilities for cross-technological collaboration are emerging. Businesses now have new and improved ways of completing their tasks and fundamentally challenging the way they operate and serve customers. And by combining the efficient and precise execution of tasks by RPA with AI, businesses can enjoy greater productivity at reduced cost, while also benefiting from increasingly connected innovation. Shared libraries of integrations and pre-built connections can make it even easier to quickly automate new processes, blending in technologies such as conversational AI to steer your RPA with suggested next best actions.

Previously in this blog series, we’ve explored some examples of how businesses and software vendors are using automated intelligence (AI) and application programming interfaces (APIs) to innovate with...

The Customer Experience (CX) is changing — here’s how to keep up

Customers have never had higher expectations. Competitors are upping their game when it comes to delivering customer experiences, using the latest technology to stand out from the crowd. Staying static isn’t an option—to keep pace, businesses need to transform. Modern customers have more choice than ever before, and companies are jostling for attention. With more choice comes more power, and if your Customer Experience (CX) isn’t up to scratch, customers will choose a competitor without a backward glance.   Taking advantage of emerging technology Delivering frictionless, automated and personalised CX isn’t something that’ll happen overnight. But with CX leaders growing 14% faster than laggards, the value of delivering an exceptional customer experience is becoming more and more obvious. With the emergence of virtual reality, AI (Artificial Intelligence), IoT (Internet of Things), and other technologies, businesses have an increasingly large amount of options in their CX toolkits. IoT is proving particularly useful, providing real-time insights into customer interaction, trends, and product performance. IoT also enables businesses to see how customers use their products, allowing them to improve future interactions. Hyper-personalisation is also a new major CX trend. By leveraging rich, data-driven insights, products, services and content can be highly personalised, creating a unique experience for each customer, and forging a much deeper connection than traditional CX. Personalisation extends to chatbots, which can utilise customer and corporate data to deliver personalised answers to questions. Not only are chatbots more cost-effective than a human agent, but they are also able to anticipate queries, enabling them to answer faster. Finally, there is a major switch in the type of customer journey businesses are mapping. In the past, offering an “omni-channel” experience has been the gold standard, and businesses would build their touch points acknowledging that a customer may switch channels at any time (for example, contacting a company via social media, then switching to email). This concept is now evolving to “organic channels”. Organic channel experiences combine multiple channels dynamically, enabling each to form an element in a unified whole. Rather than customers moving from channel to channel, organic channels are optimised to enable customers to combine channels simultaneously, so that they create their own unique experience. There is a common thread running through each of these technologies: adaptive intelligence and machine learning. Using data to iteratively generate experiences means CX can be more flexible and relevant that it has ever been before, enabling it to evolve and meet the needs of today’s customers.   Five steps to CX transformation The above technology may seem advanced, but with a solid, grounded strategy, there is no reason any company can’t implement modern CX architecture. Of course the needs of every company are different, but generally speaking there are five steps that should be considered: Outline the company vision. Undertake a CX assessment that maps out your current CX drivers, and outlines what you’d like your company to be known for. What would your ideal CX look like? Map the customer journey. Where do you succeed and where do you fail? Map out your current customer journey so you can work out where you are able to improve. Digital maturity mapping. Look at your current marketing practices and see to what extent you are utilising technology. Review digital capabilities and data. What technologies are on the market that can plug the gaps found in the previous step? Research what cloud applications and infrastructure could benefit you most. Make sure to map the types of data you’ll need to enable your future CX infrastructure. Build and implement your CX strategy. Finalise your strategy and build a roadmap that will enable you to transform your CX.   Building individual experiences Each customer is an individual, and for the first time technology is enabling businesses to treat them as such. By putting smart insights at the centre of your CX architecture, you’ll be creating truly unique, customer-centric experiences that can transform and evolve as the customer does. Ultimately, CX isn’t about pushing you ahead of the competition, but rather creating a tailored, frictionless environment that pulls you closer to your customers and creates loyalty. Take a quick tour of Oracle CX Cloud to discover how to transform your CX and deliver a seamless, highly-rewarding brand experience.  

Customers have never had higher expectations. Competitors are upping their game when it comes to delivering customer experiences, using the latest technology to stand out from the crowd. Staying...

GDPR: Five ways to close the data security gap

The GDPR is here – but are you compliant? Here’s our pick of the top five priorities to demonstrate you have the right safeguards in place.  Following much anticipation, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) —the European Union’s legislative answer to greater consistency and protection when handling and processing personal data – is now in force. You’ve probably heard a lot about the potential fines for failing to comply, but there’s far more to it than that. From potential bans on data processing to data subjects’ legal rights, to compensation following a breach—there is a wealth of reasons to take your GDPR compliance decisions very seriously. Given this, you may have already taken care of consent management, key data discovery tasks, and ensured you’re upholding your subjects’ rights concerning access, rectification, portability, and the right to be forgotten.  However, no matter where you are in your GDPR compliance journey, you need to explore the latest data protection and security technology. It is implicit in article 32 (security of processing) where the regulation requests data processors to implement appropriate technical measures and ensure the ongoing confidentiality, integrity, availability and resilience of processing systems and services. Here’s our suggested list of top five priorities that you can start actioning today to help towards GDPR compliance.   1. Ensure you can demonstrate accountability As of this month, transparency when handling data is more important than ever before. Indeed, reporting on how you’re managing data, and demonstrating the measures you’ve taken to process it securely (to guarantee confidentiality, integrity and availability), are essential parts of GDPR compliance. Accountability should also be demonstrated by documenting your technology decisions. This includes providing a rationale for why you selected those technologies that reduce the probability of a breach, or enable you to easily investigate the impact of one after it happens.   2. Explore encryption and anonymizstion capabilities It’s true, there’s a host of technology out there designed to help you comply with the GDPR. But the regulation doesn’t explicitly name any technology you must adopt:  you have to make your own decisions, taking into account the technology available, the costs of implementation and the nature, scope, context, and purposes of the processing you’re doing—in addition to the rights of your data subjects. That said, however, the capabilities that are highlighted in GDPR have been done with good reason. Simply, they’re powerful examples of tools you should consider. Articles 32 and 34, for example, call out encryption and anonymisation technologies. Exploring these technologies, and scoping out what they could do for you and your data subjects, is certainly a worthwhile activity. Database encryption and database masking for example can provide simple ways to encrypt and anonymize data. What’s more, they’re relatively simple to deploy and implement.    3. Set appropriate access controls Your data protection measures can be industry-leading, but without the right policies and measures in place to enforce who can access what data, your efforts could all be for nothing. It’s vitally important you explore capabilities for: Authorisation—set who can access what data and reduce your attack surface by reducing privileges to the minimum necessary to execute every task, and use policies to avoid errors and bypasses. Authentication—make sure your systems can check the identity of the person, account, object, system, or procedure that is requesting access. With the right controls in place, you’ll not only gain peace of mind, but if things go wrong, the source can be traced easily and quickly—which is essential for demonstrating a conscious decision to comply, and disclosing detailed information about leaks.   4. Analyse logs regularly and store responsibly  Logs play an essential part in both preventing data breaches and, in the event of an incident, proving what happened, and who or what is to blame. They can be used to help you: Analyse and prevent incidents Understand what’s happened and prevent it from reoccurring Demonstrate what’s happened and why Even in a worst-case scenario, logs can help you demonstrate compliance, and mitigate the level of punishment for suffering a breach. These logs and audit trails should cover all IT assets, across on-premises, cloud, databases, applications, firewalls, middleware components, and all other devices.   5. Keep your systems up-to-date using secure configuration and patching One of the biggest causes of data breaches is quite simply out-of-date software and patches. It’s hardly surprising that many organisations fail to stay on top of updates when an activity like patching can cause system downtime. Modern systems however make this process much easier. For instance, discovery and patch management software and tools can help organisations maintain maximum uptime, while being uncompromising on subject data availability. In this post there are many Oracle technologies implicitly mentioned such as, for example, those collectively known a Database Security, Identity SOC (Security Operation Centre) and Oracle Management Cloud: for more information point your browser here: www.oracle.com/goto/gdpr.   Next steps It’s important to understand that the aim of the GDPR isn’t to penalise organisations who are in breach of compliance. Rather, one of its key objectives is to help better secure individuals’ data. These five priorities can help you take major steps toward achieving GDPR compliance. But ultimately, GDPR is all about managing data security well, and tearing down the walls between data subjects and those holding and processing their information. To ensure long term success you need to keep up with state of the art security—continuously refining and improving the way you secure and protect data with the latest advances in technology.

The GDPR is here – but are you compliant? Here’s our pick of the top five priorities to demonstrate you have the right safeguards in place.  Following much anticipation, General Data Protection...

Talking the value of autonomous IT

The phrase ‘data is the new oil’ is no longer a particularly profound observation, especially in today’s rapidly advancing world of innovation. Businesses are fundamentally built on the foundations of how information flows between various parties and functions. As more data becomes available from external sources such as the Internet of Things and connected devices, greater storage and computing power are required if organisations are to realise the full potential of this valuable resource. In this blog, we’re going to take a closer look at how automation, enabled by AI and machine learning, is transforming the way organisations manage and utilise data, through the recent adoption of the Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud. This is a database, designed for data warehousing, that’s capable of self-patching, self-tuning and upgrading—all while running normally—so as to eliminate these manual, human, error-prone tasks. The simple elasticity of the data warehouse also gives businesses the freedom to scale when needed, preventing unnecessary overspend on unused compute or storage capacity during periods of lower demand. Furthermore, you can immediately run analyses on your data with included web tools or use popular market BI analytics tools. So what do users think about it and what value does it deliver? Let’s hear about two different types of organisation.   From figurative to literal oil Measured by production, AkerBP is the one of the largest independent oil companies in Europe. For legal reasons, the company needed to be able to provide reporting on a number of alarm systems—some of which were offshore—however the requests can be very sporadic. Sometimes the calls wouldn’t need to be made for weeks, and the cadence was not predictable. AkerBP Database Architect, Erik Dvergnes, experienced how easy it was to test the Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud platform for this purpose. By setting up the account, creating an instance and copying several data exports to the store, he was able to connect the database with SQL Developer and immediately start running queries. Despite the size of the data sets—1.1 billion rows in some instances—the queries ran in seconds rather than minutes, and could be turned off when not required.  He was impressed that this met his needs: “The flexibility of Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud in terms of CPU usage is outstanding and unique in the market.”   Calling on all database admins The second largest telephone assistance and online search directory in Germany, 11880.com, needed a data warehouse and reporting solution to support their business reporting. They discovered that Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud’s performance was both comparable with existing in-memory data warehouse databases and also worked smoothly with their Informatica platform and their Oracle BI tools. 11880.com’s chief executive, Christian Maar, was delighted that it’s freed up his DBA’s time to focus on architecture and application optimisation, rather than admin tasks. He was also hugely impressed by its speed, availability and scalability: “Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud is the optimal solution for a medium-size company like 11880.com. Fast, flexible, no admin and in the Cloud.”

The phrase ‘data is the new oil’ is no longer a particularly profound observation, especially in today’s rapidly advancing world of innovation. Businesses are fundamentally built on the foundations of...

Essential enablers for implementing a modern product strategy

Continuous improvement across your entire mix of products and services is essential to innovate and stay competitive nowadays. Digital disruption requires companies to transform, successfully manage a portfolio of profitable offerings, and deliver unprecedented levels of innovation and quality. But creating your product portfolio strategy is only the first part—four key best practices are necessary to successfully implement it. New technologies—the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Social Media, 3D printing, and digital collaboration and modelling tools—are creating powerful opportunities to innovate. Increasingly customer-centric propositions are being delivered ‘as-a-service’ via the cloud, with just-in-time fulfilment joining up multiple parts of the supply chain. Your products and services have to evolve continually to keep up, causing massive amounts of data to be generated that has to be fed back in to inform future development.   Common language To minimise complexity, it’s essential that there is just one context for all communication. You therefore need a standardised—and well-understood—enterprise product record that acts as a common denominator for your business processes. And that means every last piece of information—from core service features to how your product uses IoT sensors; from business processes to your roadmap for innovation, and all other details—gets recorded in one place, in the same way, for every one of your products, from innovation through development to commercialisation. That will make it far easier for you to collect and interpret product information; define service levels and deliver on them; support new business models, and manage the overall future design of your connected offerings. Moreover, it enables your product development methods to become more flexible, so they can be updated more frequently, enabled by innovations in your supply chain, supported more effectively by IT, and improved over time.   Greater quality control in the digital world… By including form, fit and function rules—that describe the characteristics of your product, or part of it—within the product record, you add a vital layer of change control. It enables you to create a formal approvals process for quality assurance. For example, changes made in one area—whether to a product or part of it—may create problems in other areas. The form, fit and function rules force you to perform cross-functional impact analyses and ensure you’re aware of any consequences. As part of this, you can run simulations with ‘digital twins’ to predict changes in performance and product behaviour before anything goes wrong. This obviously has major cost-saving implications, enabling far more to be understood at the drawing-board stage. Moreover, IoT applications can be leveraged to help product teams test and gather data of your connected assets or production facilities.   Transparency and effective communications The enterprise product record should also contain a full audit trail of decisions about the product, including data from third parties, and from your supply chain. The objective is full traceability from the customer perspective—with evidence of regulatory compliance, provenance of preferred suppliers, and fully-auditable internal quality processes. Additionally, it’s often helpful to be able to prove the safety and quality of your product and processes, as that can be a key market differentiator. Powerful project management and social networking capabilities support the collaborative nature of the innovation process.   Lean and efficient Overall, your innovation platform should be both lean and efficient, based on the continual iteration of the following key stages: Ideation, where you capture, collaborate and analyse ideas Proposal, where you create business cases and model potential features Requirements, where you evaluate, collaborate and manage product needs Concepts, where you accelerate product development and define structures Portfolio analysis, where you revise and optimise your product investment Seamless Integration with downstream ERP and Supply Chain processes   The result: Powerful ROI Being able to innovate effectively in a digital supply chain delivers returns from both top-line growth—with increased revenues and market share—and reduced costs from improved safety, security, sustainability and fewer returns. Find out how much you can gain—use this powerful on-line tool to create a personalised report on the value of deploying Oracle SCM Cloud for your business. Calculate your benefits Contact:  Author: Ulf Koester, Solution Director Oracle Innovate  https://twitter.com/@Ulf_Koester https://www.linkedin.com/in/ulfkoester/ https://blogs.oracle.com/author/ulf-koester

Continuous improvement across your entire mix of products and services is essential to innovate and stay competitive nowadays. Digital disruption requires companies to transform, successfully manage a...

HR today: right skills, right place, right time, right price

The only constant in today’s work environment is change. If you’re going to grow and stay competitive in this era of digital transformation, your business has to keep up—and HR must too. A wide range of factors all mean that HR constantly has to grow and transform—changing demographics, new business models, economic uncertainty, evolving employee expectations, the bring-your-own-device revolution, increased automation, AI, the relentless search for cost savings, and more. Things are different today. In the past, business change processes typically had a start and target end date, with specific deliverables that were defined in advance. Now change is open-ended, and its objectives evolve over time—based on the world as it is, rather than a set of assumptions. An agile model for transformation is therefore essential, along with a decision-making process that can survive constant change. The fact is that people are still—and will always be—the most important part of any business, so HR has to be closely aligned to your overall business goals, delivering benefits to the whole organisation. Every move your HR team makes should be focused on how to deliver the right skills in the right place, at the right time and at the right price, to achieve your business’s goals.   Workforce planning To manage your workforce effectively as the needs of your business change, you need to know what talent you have, where it’s located—and also what skills you are likely to need in the future. It’s much easier to fill skills gaps when you can see, or anticipate, them.   Deliver maximum value from your own people And it’s much easier to do if you’ve already nurtured a culture of personal improvement. Giving people new opportunities to learn and develop, and a sense of control over their own careers will help you maintain up-to-date skills within your business and also identify the most ideal candidates—whether for promotion, relocation within the company or to take on specific roles. Moreover, it should enable them to, for example, pursue areas of personal interest, train for qualifications, or perhaps work flexibly—all of which will improve loyalty and morale. You can also look for skills gaps that you absolutely must recruit externally to fill, and understand how best to do that, especially at short notice. What are the most cost-efficient and effective channels, for example? You might consider whether offshoring for skills is helpful, or maintaining a base of experienced temporary workers that you can call on.   Unknown unknowns Yet these are all known gaps. Organisations now also have to consider recruiting people for unknown jobs too. Some estimates suggest that as much as two-thirds of primary school children will end up working in jobs that don’t yet exist. So what new roles are being created in your industry, and how are you selecting people that will be able to grow into them?   Maximise the value of your HR function Your HR organisation must be capable of, and ready to support these changes, and that means three things. First, the strategic workforce planning activities described above, supported by modern data and analytics. Next, HR has to provide the very best employee experience possible, enabling personal development and support. Finally, they need to be able to support the process of constant change itself, and move to a more agile way of operating.   Get the culture right Creating and nurturing a strong culture is essential here, and that relies on close co-ordination between HR, line managers and employees. Having a core system of record on everyone’s roles and various skills supports all these objectives, and can help you to grow your business through the modern era of change. Find out how much you can gain—use this powerful on-line tool to create a personalised report on the value of deploying Oracle HCM Cloud for your business. Calculate your benefits Contact:  Richard Cheeseman, Director HCM Applications Marketing EMEA richard.cheeseman@oracle.com LinkedIn    

The only constant in today’s work environment is change. If you’re going to grow and stay competitive in this era of digital transformation, your business has to keep up—and HR must too. A wide range...

Cloud: Look before you leap—and discover unbelievable new agility

All around the world, finance teams are now fully embracing the cloud to simplify their operations. The heady allure of reduced costs, increased functionality, and other benefits are driving the migration. Yet what’s getting people really excited is the unexpected flush of new business agility they experience after they’ve made the change. At long last, the cloud is becoming accepted as the default environment to simplify ERP and EPM. Fifty-six percent* of finance teams have already moved to the cloud—or will do so within the next year—and 24% more plan to move at some point soon.   Major cost benefits in the cloud Businesses are making the change to enjoy a wide range of benefits. According to a recent survey by Oracle*, reducing costs is (predictably) the main motivation, with improved functionality in second place—and culture, timing and the ability to write-off existing investments also key factors. The financial motivation breaks down into a desire to avoid infrastructure investment and on-premises upgrades, and also to achieve a lower total cost of ownership. And Cloud is delivering on its promise in all these areas—across both ERP and EPM, 70% say they have experienced economic benefits after moving to the cloud.   Leap for joy at cloud agility But the biggest overall benefit of moving to the cloud—quoted by 85% of those who have made the change—is staying current on technology. Moreover, 75% say that cloud improves usability, 71% say it increases flexibility and 68% say that it enables them to deploy faster. Financial gain is the top motivation for moving to the cloud, but that’s only the fourth-ranked advantage overall once there. It turns out that the main strengths of the cloud are in areas that help finance organisations improve business agility. These are pretty amazing numbers. It would be unheard of, until fairly recently, for any decent-sized organisation to consider migrating its core ERP or EPM systems without a very, very good reason. Now, the majority of companies believe that the advantages of such a move—and specifically, moving to the cloud—overwhelm any downside.   The commercial imperative Indeed, the benefits are more likely viewed as a competitive necessity. Cloud eliminates the old cycle of new system launches every two or three years—replacing it with incremental upgrades several times each year, and easy, instant access to additional features and capabilities. And that is, no doubt, what’s behind the figures above. Finance professionals have an increasingly strong appetite to experiment with and exploit the latest technologies. AI, robotic process automation, internet of things, intelligent bots, augmented reality and blockchain are all being evaluated and used by significant numbers of organisations. They’re improving efficiency in their day-to-day operations, joining-up operating processes across their business and reducing manual effort (and human error) through increased automation. Moreover, AI is increasingly being applied to analytics to find answers to compelling new questions that were, themselves, previously unthinkable—providing powerful new strategic insights. Finance organisations are becoming more agile—able to think smarter, work more flexibly, and act faster using the very latest technical capabilities.   But it’s only available via cloud-based ERP and EPM Increasingly, all these advances are only being developed as part of cloud-based platforms. And more and more advanced features are filtering down to entry-level cloud solutions—at least in basic form—encouraging finance people everywhere to experiment with what’s possible. That means, if you’re not yet using these tools in the cloud, you’re most likely falling behind your competitors that are—and that applies both from the broader business perspective as well as from the internal operating competency viewpoint. The cloud makes it simple to deploy, integrate and experiment with new capabilities, alongside whatever you may already have in place. It has become the new normal in finance. It seems like we’re now at a watershed moment where those that embrace the potential of cloud will accelerate away from those that do not, and potentially achieve unassailable new operating efficiencies. The good news is that it’s easy to get started.  According to MIT Technology Review in a 2017 report, 86% of those making a transition to the cloud said the costs were in line with, or better than expected, and 87% said that the timeframe of transition to the cloud was in line with, or better than expected.   Don’t take a leap of faith—put a number on it Discover how much your business could benefit from moving your finance systems to the cloud with our powerful on-line tool. Based on just a few business details, find out how much you can save with a personalised report on the value of a unified ERP and HCM cloud platform in the cloud. Calculate your benefits Contact: Author: Dee Houchen, Product Marketing Director at Oracle dee.houchen@oracle.com https://www.linkedin.com/in/deehouchen/ _______ * Except where stated otherwise, all figures in this article are taken from ‘Combined ERP and EPM Cloud Trends for 2018’, Oracle, 2018.  

All around the world, finance teams are now fully embracing the cloud to simplify their operations. The heady allure of reduced costs, increased functionality, and other benefits are driving the...

You’ve got to start with the customer experience

Visionary business leader Steve Jobs once remarked: ‘You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.’ From someone who spent his life creating definitive customer experiences in technology itself, these words should carry some weight—and are as true today as ever. The fact is that customer experience is a science, and relevance is its key goal. A powerful customer experience is essential to compete today. And relevance is what cuts through the noise of the market to actually make the connection with customers.   The fundamentals of success For companies to transform their customer experience, they need to be able to streamline their processes and create innovative customer experiences. They also have to be able to deliver by connecting all their internal teams together so they always speak with one consistent voice. But that’s only part of the story. Customers have real choice today. They’re inundated with similar messages to yours and are becoming increasingly discerning in their tastes. Making yourself relevant depends on the strength of your offering and content, and the effectiveness of your audience targeting. It also depends on your technical capabilities. Many of your competitors will already be experimenting with powerful new technologies to increase loyalty and drive stronger margins.   The value of data Learning to collect and use relevant customer data is essential. Data is the lifeblood of modern business—it’s the basis of being able to deliver any kind of personalised service on a large scale. Businesses need to use data to analyse behaviour, create profiles for potential new customers, build propositions around those target personas and then deliver a compelling experience. They also need to continually capture new data at every touchpoint to constantly improve their offerings. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have a key role to play both in the analysis of the data and also in the automation of the customer experience. These technologies are developing at speed to enable us to improve our data analysis, pre-empt changing customer tastes and automate parts of service delivery.   More mature digital marketing You can also now add in all kinds of technologies to the customer experience mix that are straight out of sci-fi. The internet of things (IoT) is here, with connected devices providing help in all kinds of areas—from keeping you on the right road to telling you when your vehicle needs maintenance, from providing updates on your order status to delivering personal service wherever you are, and much more—enabling you to drive real transformation. Moreover, intelligent bots are making it much easier to provide high-quality, cost-effective, round-the-clock customer support—able to deal with a wide range of issues—and using ML to improve their own performance over time. Augmented reality makes it possible to add contextual information, based on your own products and services, to real-world moments. So, if you’re a car manufacturer you may wish to provide help with simple roadside repairs (e.g. change of tire) via a smartphone app.   Always omnichannel Finally, whether at the pre-sale or delivery stage, your customer experience platform must give you the ability to deliver consistency at every touchpoint. Whatever channel, whatever time, whatever context, your customers must all believe that your whole business is one person. Indeed, as Michael Schrage, author of the Harvard Business Review, said: ‘Innovation is an investment in the capabilities and competencies of your customers. Your future depends on their future.’ So you have to get as close as possible to your customers to learn what they want today, and understand what experiences they are likely to want tomorrow. Work backwards from that and use any technology that can help you deliver it.   Watch the demo Take a Quick Tour of Oracle CX Cloud to discover how to transform your customer experience, and deliver a seamless and highly-rewarding brand experience.   Take a tour Contact: Author: Manon Badel Naltchayan EMEA CX Cloud SaaS Senior Marketing Manager at Oracle https://www.linkedin.com/in/manonbadel/  

Visionary business leader Steve Jobs once remarked: ‘You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.’ From someone who spent his life creating definitive...

How APIs help make application integration intelligent

Artificial intelligence (AI) represents a technology paradigm shift, with the potential to completely revolutionise the way people work over the next few years. Application programming interfaces (APIs) are crucially important in enabling the rapid development of these AI applications. Conversely AI is also being used to validate APIs, themselves, and also to analyse and optimise their performance. Wikipedia defines an API as a ‘set of subroutine definitions, protocols and tools for building application software’. In slightly less dry terms, an API is basically a gateway to the core capabilities of an application, enabling that functionality to be built into other software. So, for example, if you were creating an app that needed to show geographic location, you might choose to implement Google Maps’ API. It’s obviously much easier, faster and future-proof to do that than to build your own mapping application from scratch.   How APIs are used in AI And that’s the key strength of API—it’s a hugely efficient way of enabling networked systems to communicate and draw on each other’s functionality, offering major benefits for creating AI applications. Artificially intelligent machine ‘skills’ are, of course, just applications that can be provided as APIs. So if you ask your voice-activated smart device—whether it’s Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant, or any of the rest—what time you can get to the Town Hall via bus, it’s response will depend on various skills that might include: Awareness of where you are—from a geo-location API Knowledge of bus routes and service delays in your area—from a publicly available bus company API Tracking of general traffic and passenger levels—from APIs that show user locations provided by mobile device manufacturers Being able to find the town hall—from a mapping API None of these APIs needs to know anything about the others. They simply take information in a pre-defined format and output data in their own way. The AI application, itself, has to understand each API’s data parameters, tie all their skills together, apply the intelligence and then process the data.   Everything is possible That means you can combine the seemingly infinite number of APIs that exist in any way you like, giving you the power to produce highly advanced applications—and create unique sources of value for your business. You could potentially build apps to enhance the customer experience, improve your internal processes, and analyse data more effectively to strengthen decision making—and perhaps even identify whole new areas of business to get into.   How AI is being used to improve APIs APIs are the ideal way of getting information into AI applications and also helping to streamline analytics—yet artificial intelligence also has a vital role to play within API development itself. For example, AI can be used to automatically create, validate and maintain API software development kits (implementations of APIs in multiple different programming languages). AI can also be used to monitor API traffic. By analysing calls to APIs using intelligent algorithms, you can identify problems and trends, potentially helping you tailor and improve the APIs over time. Indeed, AI can be used to analyse internal company system APIs, for example, helping you score sales leads, predict customer behaviour, optimise elements of your supply chain, and much more. Get the complete picture To learn more about how you can build powerful applications with the potential to change how you work—using APIs and other forms of integration—join us for our upcoming live webcast on gaining a 360-degree view of your business.  

Artificial intelligence (AI) represents a technology paradigm shift, with the potential to completely revolutionise the way people work over the next few years. Application programming interfaces...

GDPR: What are the priorities for the IT department?

All too often it is assumed that GDPR compliance is ‘IT’s problem’ because having your personal data and technology in order are such vital parts of it. But compliance must be an organisation-wide commitment. No individual or single department can make an organisation compliant. However, in planning discussions around GDPR compliance, there are clear areas where IT can add significant value.   1. Be a data champion The potential value of data to organisations is increasing all the time, but many departments, business units and even board members may not realise how much data they have access to, where it resides, how it is created, how it could be used and how it is protected. The IT department can play a clear role in helping organisations understand why data, and by extension GDPR, is so important in order to realise the value of such data and how to use and protect it.   2. Ensure data security GDPR considers protection of personal data a fundamental human right. Organisations need to ensure they understand what personal data they have access to and put in place appropriate protective measures. IT has a role to play in working with the organisation to assess security risks and ensure that appropriate protective measures, such as encryption, access controls, attack prevention and detection are in place.   3. Help the organisation be responsive GDPR requires organisations to not only protect personal data but also respond to requests from individuals who, among others, want to amend or delete data held on them. That means that the personal data must be collected, collated and structured in a way that enables effective and reliable control over all personal data. This means breaking down internal silos and ensuring an organisation has a clear view of its processing activities with regard to personal data.   4. Identify the best tools for the job GDPR compliance is as much about process, culture and planning as it is about technology. However, there are products available which can help organisations with key elements of GDPR compliance, such as data management, security and the automated enforcement of security measures. Advances in automation and artificial intelligence mean many tools offer a level of proactivity and scalability which don’t lessen the responsibility upon people within the organisation, but can reduce the workload and put in place an approach which can evolve with changing compliance requirements.   5. See the potential An improved approach to security and compliance management, fit for the digital economy, can give organisations the confidence to unlock the full potential of their data. If data is more secure, better ordered and easier to make sense of, it stands to reason an organisation can do more with it. It may be tempting to see GDPR as an unwelcome chore. It should however be borne in mind that it is also an opportunity to seek differentiation and greater value, to build new data-driven business models, confident in the knowledge that the data is being used in a compliant way.  Giving consumers the confidence to share their data is also good for businesses. The IT department will know better than most how the full value of data can be unlocked and can help businesses pull away from seeing GDPR as a cost of doing business and start seeing it as an opportunity to do business better. Learn more about GDPR and how Oracle can help. Also, join our webcast, ‘How Oracle infrastructure can help you achieve GDPR goals’, to explore how sophisticated server and storage capabilities can help you more easily achieve your objectives.

All too often it is assumed that GDPR compliance is ‘IT’s problem’ because having your personal data and technology in order are such vital parts of it. But compliance must be an organisation-wide...

Autonomous a new lens for analytics

Welcome to the era of intelligent, self-driving software. Just as self-driving vehicles are set to transform motoring, self-driving software promises to transform our productivity, and strengthen our analytical abilities. Perhaps you drive an automatic car today—how much are you looking forward to the day your car will automatically drive you? And how much more preferable would smoother, less time-consuming journeys be—always via the best route, with fewer hold-ups, and automatically avoiding unexpected road congestion—where you only have to input your destination? The technology is almost here, and similar advances are driving modern business applications. AI and machine learning are finally coming of age thanks to the recent advances in big data that created—for the first time—data sets that were large enough for computers to draw inferences and learn from. That, along with years of SaaS application development in cloud computing environments, means that autonomous technology—harnessing both AI and business intelligence—is now fuelling self-driving software… for both cars and cloud applications.   Autonomy—beyond automation Automation has, of course, been around for years. But autonomy—running on AI and machine learning—takes it to new levels. Today’s software is truly self-driving—it eliminates the need for humans to provision, secure, monitor, back-up, recover, troubleshoot or tune. It upgrades and patches itself, and automatically applies security updates, all while running normally. Indeed, an autonomous data warehouse, for example, can reduce administration overheads by up to 80%.   Intelligent thinking But the greatest value is perhaps in what AI enables you to discover from your data. When applied to analytics, it can identify patterns in huge data sets that might otherwise go unnoticed. So, for example, you could apply AI to sales data to identify trends—who bought what, where, when and why?—and apply those to improve the accuracy of your future forecasts. Alternatively, if you were looking for a vibrant location for new business premises, you might use AI to search for an area with a strong social media buzz around its restaurants and bars. You could teach the software to look for specific words or phrases, and harness machine learning to improve results over time. AI technology is already widely used in HR to take the slog out of sifting through huge numbers of job applications. As well as being faster and requiring less manpower, it’s able to remove both human bias—critical in the highly subjective area of recruitment—and also identify the best candidates based on factors such as the kind of language they use.   Knowledge and power for everyone These technologies are coming online now—today—for everyone. In the past, most database reporting was typically run by data analysts or scientists to update pre-existing dashboards and reports. Nowadays there are many more business users who are demanding access to such insights, which is being made possible by tools that are far easier to use. Anyone can experiment with large samples of different data sets, combining multiple data formats—structured and unstructured—and discovering new trends. They can get answers in context, at the right time, and convert them into simple-to-understand insights, enabling decisions to be made more quickly for competitive advantages.   Smarter and smarter… Yet it’s the strength of those insights that’s really compelling. As one commentator observed: ‘Machine intelligence can give you answers to questions that you haven’t even thought of.’ The quality of those answers—and their underlying questions—will only improve over time. That’s why it’s becoming a competitive imperative to embrace the power of intelligent analytics to ensure you can keep pace with market leaders.   Discover how… In my last blog, I shared how organisations can profit from data warehouses and data marts, and how Oracle’s self-driving, self-securing, and self-repairing Autonomous Data Warehouse saves resources on maintenance allowing investment in data analytics. So why not see how easy and fast it can be to gain new insights from your existing data? Join us for our upcoming live webcast where you’ll learn how to create a self-driving data warehouse resource in seconds and how that’s optimised for your analytics needs.

Welcome to the era of intelligent, self-driving software. Just as self-driving vehicles are set to transform motoring, self-driving software promises to transform our productivity, and strengthen our...

HR Analytics: Delivering the freedom to grow

Connect with Richard on LinkedIn or drop him a line at richard.cheeseman@oracle.com Analytics have found important applications in almost every conceivable line of business today – and HR is certainly no exception. In general, there has been a drive towards evidence-based management and a desire to improve business performance and improved productivity of/from our people. By giving HR professionals reliable and timely visibility of the workforce, HR analytics are taking many of the biggest challenges out of obtaining workforce insight, and enabling HR teams to spend more time supporting employees and the business. But the transformations and growth that HR analytics are enabling aren’t just happening inside the HR department – far from it in fact. Here are the three big ways that HR analytics are not only helping businesses adapt and grow – but also enabling entirely new kinds of business transformation.   1. Managing risk with a future-facing look at your workforce One of the biggest problems with traditional approaches to HR data analysis is that they’re always looking back instead of forwards. They help you understand why things might have happened, but when you’re trying to help the business grow and move forwards, insight into what happened yesterday isn’t always very useful. The use of predictive analytics gives you a reliable look at what’s happening right now, delivering insights about the challenges you’re likely to encounter in the future. Machine learning can improve predictions and forecasts enabling us to make proactive decisions in advance of the problem occurring. Your analytics might show you that you’ve got a high number of people that are likely to leave the business soon – a problem that could either be solved or greatly exacerbated by a significant business change. Being able to see that risk coming helps you mitigate it proactively. By looking at the potential problems of the future, you can even identify what really needs to change now. HR analytics help you plan the right moves today, so that you have the freedom to grow tomorrow.   2. Making sure you have the right people and skills to grow Regardless of what growth or change look like for your business, executing your plans and turning your vision into a reality is going to require having the right people with the right range of skills – and they won’t necessarily be aligned with what you have now. Businesses are becoming more digital and that requires new organisational models, new ways of working, new leadership styles as well as new skills. Workforce planning is critical. If you haven’t got the right people then you cannot deliver on the strategy. HR analytics can help you understand if you really do have all of those skills you need for the future, where they are, what the gaps are, and what is the potential to develop people you have before turning to external hires.   And don’t forget - the success of the transformation process itself is highly dependent on having the right skills to manage the process, such as project managers, data analysts and analytic leaders. Once you’ve mapped out your plans, HR analytics will help you understand if you really have everything you need to move forward with them successfully.   3. Becoming an employee-centric workplace HR analytics don’t just serve the HR department and help it operate more efficiently – they also play a vital role in helping companies become truly employee-centric and deliver great employee experiences. They also help build a truly bias-free culture across the organisation and data enable us to understand the issue better and thereby institute new strategies to remediate.  With an objective view of the workforce, HR can consistently make equitable decisions for all, and make the right choices every time. This can be from something as large as whether this is a gender and diversity issue, and help us look at areas for solutions such as recruitment and reward. The end result is a workplace where every person feels that their own needs are understood and prioritised, enabling greater opportunity for personal development, working efficiency, engagement – and true individual freedom to grow. See how fully-integrated HCM gives you the freedom to grow However you want your business to transform, HR analytics can help you understand exactly what challenges you’re up against, where your biggest opportunities are, and what you’ll need to execute change successfully. Find out how much you can gain—use Oracle’s on-line tool to create a personalised report on the value of deploying Oracle HCM Cloud for your business.  

Connect with Richard on LinkedIn or drop him a line at richard.cheeseman@oracle.com Analytics have found important applications in almost every conceivable line of business today – and HR is certainly...

More Leads. More Opportunities. Less Work.

Marketing automation has taken a massive amount of manual effort out of nurturing prospects and managing marketing communications. But, it’s not just about making communicating with leads simpler, less time-consuming and more cost-effective. Automating your marketing operations can also help your business transform the way it generates and converts customers, delivering huge bottom-line results. In a recent study conducted by VentureBeat, it found that 80 percent of marketing automation users saw an increase in leads – and that for 12 percent, that increase was greater than 50 percent. Clearly, for those that can master marketing automation, big results and significant new opportunities await. But how exactly does marketing automation give businesses the freedom to transform lead generation and management?   How marketing automation gives you the freedom to transform Marketing automation is so much more than just automated communications. By changing the way you approach and conduct routine lead generation tasks, it gives you the freedom to completely transform the way you manage your pipeline in a number of key ways.   Set hard and fast rules for lead scoring and profiling An important part of establishing automated marketing processes is defining what a sales-ready lead looks like, and what makes a prospect strong and potentially valuable. If marketing and sales teams have previously been operating by ‘feel’ or using a loose and undefined list of metrics to determine when someone might be ready to buy, this hard and fast definition can be hugely useful to their operations. Having one definition of what makes a sales-ready lead means that marketing and sales can speak the same language, and only move prospects on when they are truly ready – by everyone’s standards.   More consistent and timely communications Lead generation and management can be fickle. Hitting a prospect at the right time through the right channel can be the difference between a conversion, and a valuable lead falling out of your pipeline completely. When communications are sent manually, that happens all the time. After all, even the best marketers and salespeople are only human. The great thing about marketing automation? It isn’t. With automated marketing and sales communications, you can always stay in touch and top of mind with right-time engagement – helping to stop prospects from falling out of the pipeline at critical moments.   Ask less of your prospects upfront, and get to know them better over time We’ve all done it. You arrive at a landing page for a piece of content you’re interested in exploring, you’re met with a 10-field form seeking to capture every detail about you, and you close down the tab, never to return. With marketing automation, it’s much easier to track prospects throughout their buying journeys and build up a deep understanding of their needs over time – instead of demanding everything upfront. By making it easier and less intimidating to enter your pipeline at the point of first engagement, you’ll naturally encourage a lot more prospects to do so. And as an added bonus, they’ll even be more willing to share a greater amount of data over time, because they’re only asked one or two things at a time – and they don’t have to repeat to give you their email address or company name over and over again, because you only ask for information you’re missing.   More time to do what you do best Sometimes, managing and converting valuable leads needs a hands-on approach – but that doesn’t mean that automation can’t help. By taking care of the routine, day-to-day aspects of lead generation, your best people are free to spend more time putting their talents to use and adding real value for prospects. Whether that means more face-to-face time with potential new customers, managing direct engagements, or digging into marketing analytics to uncover valuable new insights, it’s all valuable stuff that they simply don’t have enough time to do effectively today.   Simplify automation. Transform lead generation. Marketing automation gives you the freedom to transform almost every aspect of generating and managing leads – but that doesn’t mean that getting started with it needs to be difficult. Like all business transformations, marketing automation exists to make your life easier, and we can help you make the entire transformation process as simple as possible. Take a Quick Tour of Oracle Integrated Cloud to discover how to transform your customer experience, and deliver a seamless and highly-rewarding brand experience.

Marketing automation has taken a massive amount of manual effort out of nurturing prospects and managing marketing communications. But, it’s not just about making communicating with leads simpler,...

Why you need to think ‘people first’ to simplify change

Follow Dee on LinkedIn or drop her a line at dee.houchen@oracle.com However you want your business to transform, all successful change begins with and relies on people. For many companies, HR and Finance integration has become a powerful use-case for ‘people first’ transformation in the cloud – enabling simpler change for everyone. When you think about digital transformation, chances are you immediately think of innovative new technologies, new digital processes, and the capabilities that have driven the forth industrial revolution – AI, Machine Learning, the Internet of Things, and automation. Those are all going to be very important in shaping the digital future of your business, but there’s one key piece of the puzzle missing from that list – people. Ultimately, it will always be people that drive change. If a change is simple and makes sense to your people, it will always be adopted widely, and to great success. HR and finance integration is the perfect example. By giving both teams the freedom to simplify how they work, and improving efficiencies for everyone, cloud-based HR and Finance integration has become a powerful use-case for cloud transformation across many businesses. With integrated HR and Finance, you can give both teams the freedom to simplify their working lives, their way.   Four ways HR and Finance integration makes digital change more manageable for everyone:   1. Making sure you’ve got the right people to make change happen Whatever change you’re planning, it needs to be led and managed by the right people. Sometimes that’s going to require hiring new talent, developing new skills, and gaining new resources – decisions that HR and finance need to plan out together. When HR and Finance are integrated, it’s easy for all departments to see where those resources are needed, and gain a clear picture of what kind of investment or development will be needed to ensure success.   2. A shared definition of what good performance looks like helps change deliver the right results When HR and Finance are integrated, both departments share the same definition of success. That fundamentally changes their relationship, and ensures that even when they’re not directly collaborating, their efforts are driving the business towards a common goal. That means there’s no more crossed wires during change projects, and no more conflicting goals – making it far simpler to ensure success for everyone.   3. The day-to-day gets simpler, so change-makers are free to focus on the important things Transformation projects – digital or otherwise – require a lot of work from people across the business. By integrating HR and Finance in the cloud, routine tasks for both departments become much simpler, and take up far less of your peoples’ time. That means they’re free to focus on the things that really matter, like innovating, driving the business forward, and helping to simplify change for every person and every department across the business.   4. A shared language enables better bottom-line results Integrating HR and Finance makes sense. Both departments handle resources that the business depends on to succeed, so it’s only right that the two should be able to collaborate, share data, and speak the same language. Once the departments can speak the same language, they can measure and define the same tangible and intangible KPIs – working together to improve things like workplace diversity, equality in pay, and the bottom line.   Your first steps to success Integrating HR and Finance in the cloud is a simple change that’s going to make a huge variety of future business changes simpler for everyone. It’s one change for you that gives both departments complete freedom to simplify future transformation projects for everyone – in a multitude of ways. Learn how much you can save with a personalised report on the value of a unified ERP and HCM cloud platform.

Follow Dee on LinkedIn or drop her a line at dee.houchen@oracle.com However you want your business to transform, all successful change begins with and relies on people. For many companies, HR and...

Seize the Freedom to Innovate with Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 is bringing big changes to how businesses communicate, operate, and innovate – whether they’re ready for it or not. By seizing the initiative and using industry 4.0 technology to optimise their product mix now, organisations can get ahead of the curve and take their place as leaders, instead of playing catch up later. Industry 4.0 has arrived – but there’s no reason to be afraid. It’s the future of your business, and it’s going to give you the freedom to innovate across everything – from your product development cycle, to the ways you learn about your customers. Like all major technological changes, Industry 4.0 gives businesses a choice: transform, or be transformed. By understanding the opportunities Industry 4.0 represents for your business and leading change today, you can seize the freedom to innovate and proactively optimise your product mix, instead of having to play catch up once your competitors blaze the trail. Deliver the perfect product mix with Industry 4.0 A great product mix is fuelled and informed by three key things: Views, expertise, ideas and insights from people across your business and supply chain Timely insights into customer demands and preferences A product team that has the time and freedom to come up with innovative ideas and strategies The good news? Innovative industry 4.0 technologies can help you gain and enhance all three, giving you complete freedom to innovate with confidence at every stage of your product lifecycle.   Smarter communication fuels stronger product strategies The best and most innovative product ideas are created when people from across the business can share their thoughts and develop new concepts together. Unified communications and collaboration platforms can help manufacturers break down the silos that naturally form in consumer product companies, and make it easier for people to communicate and collaborate from anywhere. With a broader range of people involved at the idea generation and refinement stage, businesses can build a product strategy that really makes the most of the varied expertise and insight held by people at all levels of the company, and at all stages of the supply chain.   A common language for data helps everyone learn and understand more It isn’t just bringing more opinions and insights together that’s going to help you build a better product mix. Standardised data and analytics platforms means anyone can learn from data pulled from across your business and customer base. When your people are free to help themselves to timely data insights, everything they do is better informed. By putting insights in front of the right people at the right time, you can even help inspire innovative ideas as people from across the business share their unique interpretations of what those insights might mean for the company.   Automate the delivery and discovery of insights Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are two of the biggest driving forces behind the fourth industrial revolution. By processing huge volumes of data and automatically delivering them to the right people and teams as actionable insights, both AI and ML play a vital role in building a stronger product mix. With data constantly being gathered from customers, and from across your supply chain, AI and ML are the keys to ensuring you can act on information quickly and seize powerful opportunities for innovation before your competitors. Embracing industry 4.0 technologies is the key to getting ahead today, but utilising AI and ML across your business will help keep you there.   Free skilled people to do what they do best Thanks to robotic process automation and sophisticated new platforms, large, routine parts of the product lifecycle can now be automated – so your people have more time to focus on innovation, strategy, and product mix optimisation. Whether that’s admin teams completing data entry tasks, or senior product leads compiling reports and data from multiple sources, in an industry 4.0-ready company, skilled people aren’t bogged down with routine tasks – they have the freedom to innovate.   Deliver the right product mix, at the right time, in the right way Want to find out more about how industry 4.0 technologies can help you deliver a product strategy that’s optimised for your customers and your business? If you've enjoyed this article, follow Ulf on Twitter and check out his other articles.

Industry 4.0 is bringing big changes to how businesses communicate, operate, and innovate – whether they’re ready for it or not. By seizing the initiative and using industry 4.0 technology to optimise th...

How to Profit from Data Warehouses and Marts

Author:  Jon Tutcher, Cloud & Core Technology Director, EMEA, Oracle Corp Data is only valuable if you can monetise it. Here’s how to extract true value from your data, and make the best profit by leveraging data warehouses and marts.   Making Data Make Money Whenever anybody talks about the challenges around business data, they talk about the scale and complexity of data. They talk about how you need to manage vast quantities of data from different sources. But that’s only the first hurdle. For many, the real challenge is in how you can extract value from your data, monetise it, and ultimately profit.   How Are Companies Monetising their Data? Data is only as good as the value you can extract from it. So, organisations in all industries are finding new ways to monetise their data to get the most out of their vast business intelligence. In general, there are three main ways we see companies achieving this: Creating revenue streams by turning data into new assets Analysing business intelligence to uncover new opportunities Using operational data to enhance efficiency and mitigate risk   All three monetisation strategies can effectively turn raw data into real business value with measurable income and cost savings, they just do it in very different ways. What all three have in common though is that each one requires comprehensive analytics and a standardised and manageable data foundation to succeed. Take Oracle customer, DX Marketing, for example. By using Oracle Database Cloud Service and Oracle Business Intelligence Cloud Service, they were able to dramatically accelerate the speed that they can turn data into actionable customer insights – increasing revenue by 25%, and effectively turning more data into greater income.   Cloud Speeds Deployment Time is the enemy of any data monetisation approach. The more resources you need to spend establishing data warehouses or marts, injecting data, and analysing it, the less net value and profit it will generate. Speed is of the essence, and that’s why those looking to really profit from data warehouses are taking them to the cloud. The cloud lets you spin up data warehouses in a fraction of the time compared to on-premises data stores. And often, cloud services are better integrated with analytics and visualisation tools – helping you more rapidly get value from your data.   Simpler Maintenance, Superior Profit The faster you can establish data analytics, the faster you can profit from your new data warehouse or mart. But monetising data isn’t just about quickly spinning up an analytics solution. Profitable monetisation also demands that your data warehouses and marts don’t require vast amounts of resources to maintain, monitor, and patch in the long term. We wrote a previous blog on how Oracle’s self-driving, self-securing, and self-repairing Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud (ADWC) can help organisations spend fewer resources on maintenance. This is a huge boon for those serious about profiting from data. By reducing maintenance demands, you can spend less keeping the data warehouse lights on, and invest more time and energy in analytics and other high-value tasks that improve data profitability. Oracle ADWC can also reduce much of the risk of data management. By removing human error from the equation, you can enjoy a more streamlined, safer approach to your data.   Bringing All the Data Together Managing data from varied sources is also essential to ensuring maximum profitable monetisation. From third party data, to customer intelligence and operational insights, only by collecting and integrating a whole range of data will you stand to get the deepest insights, and ultimately the most profit. But cleansing data from all these different sources, and then transferring it correctly to your data warehouse can be a big challenge for some organisations – especially those that don’t have a wide range of data scientists and experts in house. Cloud services come to the rescue again here.  Oracle, for example, offers fully integrated, intuitive data tools for integration (Oracle Integration Cloud) and analysis (Oracle Analytics Cloud), that makes extracting intelligence from multiple sources much simpler. 

Author:  Jon Tutcher, Cloud & Core Technology Director, EMEA, Oracle Corp Data is only valuable if you can monetise it. Here’s how to extract true value from your data, and make the best profit by...

How the right systems can help simplify your path to GDPR compliance

Tackling GDPR compliance goes way beyond changes to database security. To help simplify compliance, organizations must consider data being handled in production systems that’s often far more vulnerable than stationary warehoused information. That starts with systems that have robust security controls implemented with GDPR in mind. When we think about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and addressing compliance, it’s often easy to simply think about large volumes of data residing in databases and warehouses. But in reality, that’s only half the picture. Only a relatively small amount of your data exists in the database, with the rest being handled in your production systems. Here, it’s often far more vulnerable to malicious attacks and breaches. To make sure that you cover all bases as part of your GDPR compliance efforts, you need to look beyond databases, and also take a systems-focused approach to data security. Having the right robust and secure systems in place could make the difference between mitigating the risk of a data breach and being extremely vulnerable to attack. In this blog, I’ll outline 4 key things that I believe systems need to support, enable, and deliver for midsized companies in order to help simplify and streamline GDPR compliance.   1. Confidentiality (making sure data is only accessible on a need-to-see basis) Ensuring data is only accessible by those who actually need it makes up an important part of mitigating the risk of a data breach under GDPR. The fewer people with access to a particular set of data, the less likely it is to be compromised – and the easier it is to track down the source of the breach in the event of a breach. Robust policies can help you control access, but alone, they will only go so far. To enable deep confidentiality, your systems need to be able to encrypt and decrypt data automatically, without consuming CPU performance. Oracle’s SPARC CPUs contain crypto cores that offload and handle decryption workloads, designed to ensure that security doesn’t compromise performance. The process is simple: flip the switch and enable greater security through in-hardware encryption. In addition, role-based access helps you control who can see what, and helps you track access – something that’s also incredibly important when it comes to meeting the GDPR requirements around accountability. Controls can even be taken a step further using time-based access. This enables you to set hard and fast policies for who can edit what – and crucially – when. This is particularly useful for minimizing the risk of the nightmare scenario of an out of hours breach – when systems are at their most vulnerable.   2. Integrity (accounting for data and tracking modifications) We’re creating more data than ever before, much of which needs to be accessed and altered on demand. With such a huge volume of data requests happening 24/7/365, traditional approaches to file integrity checking simply aren’t up to the task. Oracle ZFS storage systems, for example, use end-to-end checksums to detect and correct silent data corruption. If a disk returns bad data transiently, ZFS will detect it and retry the read. If the disk is part of a mirror or RAID-Z group, ZFS will both detect and correct the error: it will use the checksum to determine which copy is correct, provide good data to the application, and repair the damaged copy.   3. Availability (ensuring data is always available on-demand) The GDPR requires you to ensure that data you hold on individuals is conveniently available at all times. But this can be particularly difficult to ensure if you’re struggling to maintain system availability. Fortunately, modern systems have made processes such as patching (that can cause system downtime) much easier. For instance, Oracle SPARC systems running Solaris enable you to take snapshots of production environments. These snapshots can then be used to test and experiment with patches and changes, and can be instantly rolled out as a new production environment. The result: no downtime to apply the patch, fewer instances of patching errors in production environments, and ultimately, greater system and data availability.   4. Accountability (knowing who’s done what, when) Proving who is accessing and using data, and reporting on that to provide accountability has been security best practice for years. But with the arrival of GDPR, it’s now a real obligation. In today’s developing threat landscapes, modern systems not only need to log every activity, they must have remote logging enabled, meaning all logs are sent to another center so that they can’t be modified. The upshot is if someone breaches the system, it’s very difficult to cover their tracks.   GDPR security compliance should be no different to data best practice Systems are an important part of the compliance puzzle. Indeed, having the right systems capabilities and procedures in place can go a long way towards facilitating compliance with GDPR’s security requirements, and can simplify many of the most complex parts of the puzzle. What’s more, it’s vitally important to enable security best practice in your organization, which ultimately is what GDPR is all about. So as you prepare your organization for GDPR compliance, think beyond your databases and consider how more sophisticated and secure systems could help you adopt a holistic approach to compliance and data security.

Tackling GDPR compliance goes way beyond changes to database security. To help simplify compliance, organizations must consider data being handled in production systems that’s often far more...

How API control ensures integration success

Co-authored by:  Barry O’Reilly, Director, PaaS Business Process Management EMEA Kulvinder Hari, Senior Director Cloud Integration EMEA A connected enterprise drives innovation and enables organisations to deliver the superior experience that customers demand. With streamlined cloud platforms and APIs enabling simpler and faster connections at scale, businesses of all sizes can connect and extend their services while staying in total control throughout the integration lifecycle. Previously, we’ve talked about how integration and innovation are linked. Truly innovative ideas aren’t necessarily about bringing new solutions or tools to your organisation—it’s about connecting existing systems, touchpoints, and data in new ways. But the way businesses create and manage integration points is also going through a period of transformational innovation. Platforms have evolved to speed innovation, leverage existing investments and deliver rapid business decisions with 360-degree view.   Integration starts in the cloud Integration has been an important part of on-premise development for some time. But in today’s business world, the cloud is taking integration to completely new levels. In the cloud, integration tools are easier to acquire, simpler to experiment with, and can connect far more disparate services (with far less effort). Cloud platforms offer visual extension tools that can help you: Get LOB professionals involved in the integration journey with intuitive user interfaces Add Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence capabilities to broaden business process automation Provide multi-channel options to facilitate all possible interactions with users, process owners, and administrators. In the cloud, it’s easier than ever to join customer-facing portals with back-end payment systems, connect HR performance data with financial reports, or perform any other common integrations across the enterprise. Not only are cloud platforms simplifying integration and putting powerful capabilities in the hands of more organisations, they’re also helping businesses develop more advanced, truly unified integration strategies to monetise their data, services, and the connections between them.   Enter the API In a world dominated by the fast-paced digital economy, APIs have become a popular technology to connect and extend applications. By abstracting underlying information and only exposing the information relevant to an integration, APIs have made creating secure new integrations faster and simpler, allowing disparate services to interact with each other and extend their reach. For example, successful cloud native architectures require a strong API design to tie back into the app as a whole. An API management solution facilitates the connection of data and business functions so that organisations can enable access to applications via mobile, cloud, and on‐premises environments and can automate a variety of integration scenarios via standard interfaces. But, as with all integrations that you create and deploy, API’s connections need to be managed sustainably. As the number of APIs created by businesses increases, businesses need to ensure that their API environments are visible, manageable, standardised, and properly secured. Oracle API Platform Cloud Service for example provides a completely new API management user experience on top of a proven API gateway — from API design and standardization, to security, discovery, consumption, and monitoring.   Why API Management matters API management allows organizations to realize the value of existing assets by unlocking their full potential. A good API management system provides a simple yet robust platform for creating, documenting, and publishing APIs. It also simplifies the process of finding and understanding existing application services in order to incorporate them into new applications. API Management in the cloud is enabling a truly hybrid approach to integration, where businesses can continue to make the most of previous investments, while gaining new capabilities on top of them.   A new way of thinking about integration One great example of a business that has used API integration to transform its services is Trunk Club. Trunk Club is an online, personalised shopping service that delivers hand-picked clothes to shoppers’ homes. Trunk Club customers share their style preferences with the company online, talk with a stylist by phone or online who then builds a selection of clothes, and view and approve that selection via TrunkClub.com or a mobile application before the trunk is shipped to their home. Because Trunk Club is built on an API-centric microservices architecture, each element that’s needed to put together a customer’s trunk of clothes—data about customers, products, price, and so on—comes from its own service, and the API pulls it together and puts it into a format that the front end can consume. Trunk Club uses Oracle Apiary Cloud Service so its developers can easily build and share API models without coding – making collaborative development and all aspects of API management easier. Quite simply, smarter and easier API management has enabled Trunk Club to deliver a truly unique service, tailored to the needs and demands of the modern customer.   Choose what to connect, not how to connect it Between cloud platforms, API-led integrations, and co-existence strategies, we’ve seen a major shift in the way organisations like Trunk Club can use integration. In the past, the focus was on the ‘how’. The concern was primarily a technological one: how do you even begin to connect disparate silos across your IT estate? With the rise of simpler cloud integration tools, the question today is ‘what do you want to integrate?’ Now that you know the technology foundations are in place in the cloud, you can shift your attention to what needs to be integrated to deliver the greatest innovations to your business. In today’s IT environments, almost anything can be integrated to unlock new value. Once you have an idea of what to integrate, the only thing standing between you and true innovation is a functional use case. But as your integration portfolio grows and the number of APIs and microservices you’re managing grows, it’s essential that you stay in control. Integration can help you design a better-connected future, but integration management ensures that everything you’ve designed continues to deliver its intended results throughout the integration lifecycle.  

Co-authored by:  Barry O’Reilly, Director, PaaS Business Process Management EMEA Kulvinder Hari, Senior Director Cloud Integration EMEA A connected enterprise drives innovation and enables organisations...

Future Trends from Oracle Cloud at IP EXPO

Whether you’re starting or are going through digital transformation, IP EXPO Manchester 2018 promises to bring the latest IT innovations to transfer, power and change the way your teams work to drive your business forward. IP EXPO Manchester is part of Europe’s number one enterprise IT event series, IP EXPO. Launched by organisers Imago Techmedia in 2015, the event now encompasses six events under one roof. This year they aim to bring 6500 attendees together across the two days covering conference will cover hot topics around cloud, IoT, cyber security, data analytics, DevOps, AI, networks and infrastructure. Oracle Cloud will be the Future Tech Demo Zone sponsor showcasing new demos such as our Bloodhound SSC VR experience in this area and technology behind it in this space. Alongside our demos we will also be participating in a number of speaking opportunities at the event covering Cloud Platform, Big Data, Blockchain, Security and IoT. If you’re considering or plan to be at IP EXPO, please join us at any of the sessions below and visit the IP EXPO website.    1. PANEL: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Following the Crowd to the Cloud In this panel debate Jason Rees (Oracle Cloud) will join Adam Pulsakowski (Citrix), Mark Mulvany (DellEMC) and Mark Benson and Chris Marks (Esteem) to discuss some of the transformational journeys they are seeing with the move to a Cloud operating model, as well as the pitfalls of simply “following the crowd to the cloud”. When/Where? Networks & Mobility Theatre, Day 1 at 11:00 – 11:30 Speaker: Jason Rees, Senior Director for Oracle Cloud Technology Foundations PANEL: Future Trends – Blockchain, Serverless, Machine Learning & Edge Computing 4 of the hottest trends in IT explained in 45 minutes! This IP EXPO Bytesize panel will give attendees an executive overview of the latest in Blockchain, Serverless, Machine Learning & Edge Computing. The four panelists, each a leading expert in their respective field, will each share a bite-sized overview of a given topic during one education packed session. The sessions are designed to be interactive so attendees plus our social followers will have the opportunity to ask their questions to the panel in an extended Q&A. When/When? Keynote Theatre, Day 1 12:20 - 13:20 Speaker: James Allerton-Austin, Senior Director of Product Management   2. A Modern Approach to Cloud Computing  Oracle Cloud Infrastructure combines the elasticity and utility of public cloud with the granular control, security, and predictability of on-premise, to deliver high-performance, availability and cost-effective infrastructure services.  This session will explore what makes Oracle Cloud Infrastructure different in how it is architected and the benefits this delivers to customers wanting to consume IaaS right through to Oracle's growing Cloud Platform and Software service portfolio that run on this Infrastructure.  We will also highlight examples of customer deployments and migrations, of both new and existing applications, to the Oracle Cloud Platform. When/When? Cloud Architecture Theatre, Day 1 at 13:00 – 13:30 Speaker: Leo Leung, Director of Product Management for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure   3.How Kubernetes and Serverless are Killing DevOps Join this session for a guided talk on climbing up the modern application development stack. You will start at base-camp: the operating system, then proceed via containers and container orchestration to finally summit at serverless computing. With a panoramic view from the top of the stack you will learn how these emerging technologies can streamline your operations and engineering, saving you money and letting your developers focus on your business instead of managing infrastructure. Along the way you will encounter such specimens as Oracle Linux, Docker, Kubernetes and serverless Functions-as-a-Service platforms such as the Fn Project. Finally, before descending to base-camp for a nice cup of tea, you will discover how native species such as the DevOps will have to adapt or die in this new habitat. When/Where? DevOps & Serverless Theatre, Day 1 at 14:20 – 14:50 Speakers: Thom Leggett, Director of Oracle Cloud Container Development & Owain Lewis, Senior Principal Software Engineer Container Development   Bringing Enterprise to the Blockchain – Moving from Science Experiment to Practical Business Mainstream Blockchain is one of the most popular talking points in the IT industry today, with thousands of technical proofs, use-cases and experiments being planned and delivered to show the value of this technology.  For all of this, when asked about production deployments of Blockchain for the real enterprises of today, most of the proponents of this value will demur when it comes to talking production. Bridging this gap between science experiment and an enterprise quality platform for the modern business requires a great deal of work. Much of which is done by the growing community of vendors who are collaborating to deliver not just the technical requirement and use-case solutions for Blockchain, but also the practical tools to use Blockchain in a meaningful way within a business. Join this session to hear about the 5 key qualities that any practically usable enterprise Blockchain will need to deliver and how the collaboration of enterprise vendors is making the practical use of Blockchain a reality for organisations in 2018. When/Where? IoT, Analytics & AI Theatre, Day 1 at 15:40 – 16:10 Speaker: James Allerton-Austin, Senior Director of Product Management Oracle   4. Infrastructure, Data and Bloodhound Supersonic Car: what it means for your Enterprise Cloud Oracle has teamed up with the Bloodhound project to smash the land speed record and inspire future generations of budding scientists and engineers. During this session hear how Oracle Cloud is helping Bloodhound to collect, analyse and broadcast data from more than 500 sensors installed on the Bloodhound SSC (Supersonic Car) to classrooms around the world to inspire the next generation of inventors. The same Cloud technology that is underpinning Enterprises large and small today. When/Where? Keynote Theatre, Day 2 at 11:40 – 12:10 Speaker: Jason Rees, Senior Director for Oracle Cloud Technology Foundations   5. Using Docker and Microservices for Developing Cloud Native Applications Learn how Oracle Linux provides the necessary open source components to enable development and deployment of cloud native applications, including the Oracle Container Runtime for Docker and Oracle Container Services for use with Kubernetes. This talk will also highlight some of Oracle’s container native open source projects including Fn, Smith, Crashcart and Railcar. When/Where? DevOps & Serverless Theatre, Day 2 at 12:20 – 12:50 Speaker: Vipul Sharma, Technical Architect Oracle Cloud Infrastructure   6. Security in a Multi-Cloud and Hybrid World  Hybrid cloud is fast becoming the IT service delivery platform of choice for businesses worldwide and helping businesses modernise, transform and innovate, it also brings new risks. Getting to the cloud quickly is worth far less if it means cracking a hole in your security that could lead to loss of customer data and the associated damage to the company’s reputation. Agile development and DevOps means applications and sensitive data are constantly changing, requiring frequent updates of telemetry and data collection strategies. Today, applications and workloads are run from a range of on-premises, private and public cloud databases; each one potentially provided by a different vendor, and located almost anywhere in the world. Let’s discuss how best can you protect your data and intellectual property across a hybrid cloud and can any security team ensure that its corporate security policies and industry regulations are applied appropriately across such a diverse and fast-changing environment? When/Where? Cloud Architecture Theatre, Day 2 at 13:00 – 13:30 Speaker: Luke Fensome, Cyber Security Consultant Oracle   Come and talk to us at IP EXPO Manchester in the Future Tech Zone. As well as new interactive demos, Oracle experts will be on-hand to welcome you for 1-2-1 meetings. Visit us at IP EXPO Manchester on Wednesday 25th and Thursday 26th April to network and learn about the Oracle Cloud and sign up for free cloud credits!  

Whether you’re starting or are going through digital transformation, IP EXPO Manchester 2018 promises to bring the latest IT innovations to transfer, power and change the way your teams work to drive...

The Oracle Business Podcast

Why UK businesses should see AI as an opportunity today

Author: Rain Newton-Smith,CBI Chief Economist It’s hard to separate the hype from facts, especially when it comes to new technology. With so much attention given to Artificial Intelligence in the media, it’s no wonder many companies feel overwhelmed and are holding off on investing until the frenzy dies down and a clear business case emerges. This scepticism is warranted, but only to an extent. AI may have varying potential for different industries, but that also means it’s the perfect time to explore its relevance for your organisation. If the UK is to compete with other global tech hubs, and particularly with Silicon Valley where VC funding grows on trees, we must take matters into our own hands and be unafraid to experiment with new ways of working. Encouragingly, the CBI’s research found that 25% of UK businesses have invested in AI technologies or plan to do so in the next five years. There is also a widespread acceptance that we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible. For instance, many of the retailers we work with believe AI will have an even bigger impact on their industry than analysts expect, from smarter online chatbots to advanced warehouse automation with the potential to transform their supply chain. This begs the question of where to start. There is certainly an imperative to invest in new ways of working, but this investment still needs to be strategic. When it comes to AI, this means looking at your operations and the roles within your organisation and determining which routine tasks or time-draining processes can be automated. For some companies, it might be easiest to draw inspiration from other businesses, or from other industries. Take the automotive sector, which has made great strides in its use of automation and Artificial Intelligence. According to a McKinsey report, car manufacturers around the world stand to save $215 billion in the short to medium-term by optimising their value chain processes with AI.  There are of course barriers to investing in new technologies. Small and medium-sized businesses in particular tend to think the cost of finance is higher than it is in reality. In truth, interest rates in the UK are lower than ever at the moment, which has brought down risk and made long-term technology investments more feasible. This is not meant to advocate irresponsible spending, but rather to highlight that despite a climate of socio-political uncertainty, conditions in the UK are ideal for companies looking to experiment with new technologies. The CBI is also throwing its weight behind AI, having recently called on the Government to establish a joint commission with the aim of assessing the technology’s impact on people, jobs and the economy. It’s worth making one more point around ownership. Any company that wants to approach AI strategically needs a guide, someone with both the technical skills and vision to understand where new technologies are going and how they can best serve the business. Appointing a qualified individual to take on this role needs to be a priority. If you haven’t already, listen to The Oracle Business Podcast ‘Technology fact, or future fiction?’ episode. You can also find out how Oracle Cloud technology has helped other growing businesses like yours by reading Oracle’s Modern Business Magazine.    

Author: Rain Newton-Smith,CBI Chief Economist It’s hard to separate the hype from facts, especially when it comes to new technology. With so much attention given to Artificial Intelligence in the...

Cloud Expo Europe 2018 – Oracle Virtual Stream

This year Oracle are taking centre-stage at Cloud Expo Europe 2018 as we join them as a Premium Partner across all of their co-located conferences. Cloud Expo Europe is the largest technology experience in the UK as well as the world’s biggest independent Cloud event. It runs from Wednesday 21st – Thursday 22nd March at The ExCel in London with an expected attendance of 190.000 industry leaders and tech experts. Oracle Stream at Cloud Expo Europe   Oracle will have its own stream of thought leadership content at the cloud event covering Cloud Platform, Big Data, Blockchain, Security and IoT.    See full details below on session titles and speakers.    CLOUD EXPO EUROPE KEYNOTE THEATRE – “What Do Data - Driven Innovators Do That Others Can’t?” John Abel - VP Cloud and Technology UKI March 21st - 14:35-15:00 This fast-passed session will explore how successful companies are using data and emerging technologies to help engage positively with their customers at the right moment in time. Through a series of industry examples and a live interactive Chatbot Challenge, John will demonstrate how new predictive technology will help you make the data talk so you can deliver the most appropriate outcome for your customers and employees. If you’re interested in this session, you might also enjoy this.   SMART IOT KEYNOTE THEATRE - "How Data Drives the Fastest Car on Earth" Caroline Apsey - Business Development Leader AppDev & Integration, Oracle  Asaf Lev - Bloodhound Technical Leader, Oracle March 22nd – 13:05-13:30 How does data drive the fastest car in the world and how is it inspiring a generation? See how data and analytics allow insight into every aspect of the Bloodhound car, allowing the engineering team to assess issues they didn’t know they had. What if you could do the same for your business? If you’re interested in this session, you might also enjoy this.   BIG DATA WORLD KEYNOTE THEATRE – “Bees, Space & Data Science - How to Find Value from Data Science in Social, Environmental and Business Applications?" Ian Sharp - Lead Data Scientist Oracle March 21st– 10:55-11:20 In a world where change is constant, how do you predict trends and make sense of your data? If data is your most valuable asset, are you maximising the opportunity it presents? We’ll look at some innovative uses of data, how it is collected and how it is used to drive reliable and meaningful transformation. If you’re interested in this session, you might also enjoy this.   SECURITY OF THINGS THEATRE (Blockchain focus) – "Bringing Enterprise to the Blockchain - Moving from Science Experiment to Practical Business Mainstream"  James Allerton Austin - Senior Director of Product Management, Oracle Cloud Platform March 22nd – 10:00-10:25 Blockchain is one of the most popular talking points in the IT industry today, with thousands of technical proofs, use-cases and experiments being planned and delivered to show the value of this technology.  For all of this, when asked about production deployments of Blockchain for the real enterprises of today, most of the proponents of this value will demur when it comes to talking production. Bridging this gap between science experiment and an enterprise quality platform for the modern business requires a great deal of work, much of which is done by the growing community of vendors who are collaborating to deliver not just the technical requirement and use-case solutions for Blockchain, but also the practical tools to use Blockchain in a meaningful way within a business. Join this session to hear about the 5 key qualities that any practically usable enterprise Blockchain will need to deliver and how the collaboration of enterprise vendors is making the practical use of Blockchain a reality for organisations in 2018. If you’re interested in this session, you might also enjoy this.   SECURITY STRATEGIES, INNOVATIONS AND SERVICE PROVIDERS THEATRE - "Get Smart; Stop Reacting to What Happened and Prevent What Might Happen with the Next-Generation Systems Management"             Tania Le Voi - Director of Product Management Oracle March 22nd - 14:30 - 14:55 Customers are less tolerant of tech failures as they expect their tech infused customer experience to constantly get better. At the same time, the level of technical change required for that fast-changing experience makes IT complex to manage and further raises the risk of outages and security breaches. The Oracle Management Cloud Service helps IT and business leaders understand how their business is functioning, it uses machine learning (it’s fabric) to assess why problems are occurring, and uses those same monitoring capabilities to also secure and protect. This session will introduce you to next-generation security and systems management to provide your customers with a positive experience. If you’re interested in this session, you might also enjoy this.   DEVOPS INNOVATION & CLOUD EVOLUTION - "A Modern Approach to Cloud Computing" Jason Rees - Senior Director, Oracle Cloud Technology Foundations, UK, Ireland and Israel March 21st - 11.20 – 11:45 There is more than one approach to cloud computing and as a major cloud provider we treat every customer journey as unique.  This session will explore the modern approach to cloud computing by looking at the use cases where customers want to deploy in the cloud, on premises, in their own data centers or across all three options.  We will highlight several real life customer case studies to help you plan the strategy for your cloud approach. If you’re interested in this session, you might also enjoy this.   INFRASTRUCTURE, STORAGE & VIRTUALISATION THEATRE - "Concerned About Your Infrastructure Security?" Vipul Sharma - Technical Architect, UK and Ireland - Oracle 21st March – 14:15-14:40 Come and talk to us at the ‘Oracle Cloud Coffee area’ is a space which Oracle can utilise to chat to customers, host meetings and generate an overall Oracle presence at the event. You can join us for coffee in our specialised lounge with sofas, coffee tables and Oracle experts who will provide a welcoming and relaxing place for people to meet, learn about the Cloud and sign up for trials. If you’re interested in this session, you might also enjoy this.  

This year Oracle are taking centre-stage at Cloud Expo Europe 2018 as we join them as a Premium Partner across all of their co-located conferences. Cloud Expo Europe is the largest technology...

The Oracle Business Podcast

Data doesn’t have to be BIG, but it does have to be clever

Authored by  Nina Monckton – Chief Insight Officer NHS BSA You might not think there’s a huge amount small and medium sized enterprises can learn from a massive public sector organisation like the NHS, especially when it comes to the way they use data, but dig a little bit deeper and you might be surprised.  The NHS Business Services Authority provides a range of critical central services to NHS organisations, contractors, patients and the public, from managing NHS student bursaries to procurement services and prescriptions. In the past year, we processed over 1 billion prescriptions, helped 7.4 million patients with their NHS health costs, managed a budget of more than £34 billion, and delivered £581 million in savings to the NHS and its patients. Those are some big numbers, and most importantly to us some big savings that we uncovered by analysing the huge amount of data we have access to.  This helped us to pick up fraud and errors, identify where we were and weren’t getting value for money, better understand our customers and how they were actually using NHS services. Together, these insights helped make our operations more efficient. While these wins are specific to the services the NHS delivers, finding ways to cut costs is a common goal for businesses of all shapes and sizes, no matter the industry they work in. For SMEs, making improvements in these areas can be a catalyst for growth, and the good news is that every modern organisation has access to data they need to achieve this.  For those wanting to do more with data but unsure where to start, here are three things to bear in mind: 1.Think insights, not data Despite today’s popular narrative, your data is not really that valuable on its own – it’s just a commodity.  Insights are the valuable outputs that will serve your business, so rather than trying to capture all kinds of information and ending up with massive unwieldy dataset, think about what question you want to answer and work back from there. If you’re not insights or outcomes led, it becomes very easy to be misled by data. 2. Keep your data up to date While many companies stockpile data, and have been for longer than they have known how to use it in some cases, it’s important to recognise when your data is no longer relevant or useable.  For us, many other people across the NHS use our data to inform big decisions so it’s especially important that we’re critical of the data we use and share. The same is true for SMEs.  Good data is complete, relevant and up-to-date. 3. Bigger isn’t always better Even though we have access to vast quantities of data, our analysts and data scientists don’t just go fishing in one massive pool of information.  Instead, we provide particular people with access to particular datasets for a particular purpose.  This helps us to be more mindful and focused in what we’re doing, and is a much more manageable way of working. By using data more intelligently, companies can make significant improvements to their working models and really understand what their customers are after, but they need to handle their data with care and review it regularly to ensure it is fit for purpose. Before they begin any analysis, businesses need a clear idea of what they’re collecting, why they’re collecting it, and what they’re planning to do with it. Find out more about how the NHS BSA is using Oracle technology on Forbes here. If you haven’t already, listen to The Oracle Business Podcast Driven by Data: How to Thrive episode.     You can also find out how Oracle Cloud technology has helped other growing businesses like yours by reading Oracle’s Modern Business Magazine.  

Authored by  Nina Monckton – Chief Insight Officer NHS BSA You might not think there’s a huge amount small and medium sized enterprises can learn from a massive public sector organisation like the NHS,...

Why every DBA should love automation

Author:  Jon Tutcher, Cloud & Core Technology Director, EMEA, Oracle  As both the importance and quantity of your data grows, Database Administrators are beginning to feel the strain. Here’s how a new approach to data management can make things easier for your people – while giving you the freedom to deliver data-driven transformation. Data, We Have a Problem The value of data in business is not a secret. Data is the new capital – your most important asset, and the good news is there’s more of it available than ever. The biggest challenge now isn’t obtaining data, it’s making the most of it, especially in the face of limited resources. Businesses holding and managing huge quantities of data are ready to use it to drive transformation, but a lack of resources and aging database environments that are difficult to maintain mean that they simply don’t have the freedom to do so. The fact of the matter is, a huge opportunity is being missed. A Brand New Approach If you’re waiting for the good news, here it is: there’s a new approach to database management that can solve these problems, making your Database Administrators more efficient and productive,  giving you the freedom to transform your business. Allow us to introduce, Database Automation. Database Automation is a term used to describe a “self-driving” database, that eliminates the complexity of data management while offering greater reliability, security, and operational efficiency – and for a lower cost. In short, it means that you don’t have to be restricted by your own limitations, but can free up resources to do more with your data – no matter the size of your organisation. The benefits are numerous and varied, but let’s give you 2 that are key. First is ease of use. Normally, spinning up a data warehouse or data mart, connecting it to your data, and being able to analyse for insights is a job that can take weeks. With an autonomous cloud-based warehouse, this time is reduced to a matter of minutes. This means that you have the potential to react to market changes more quickly, and gain the insights needed to be more competitive as an organisation. And when markets change as quickly as they do, that ability to roll with the punches can be a powerful weapon in your arsenal. The second key benefit is the ability to reduce the amount of time your Database Administrators spend on routine maintenance tasks and reactive fire-fighting. In many organisations, so much of a DBA’s time is spent being pulled in several different directions at once; trying to keep the service level maintained whilst doing time-consuming, yet essential, operational work. As an autonomous data warehouse takes care of everything for you, like tuning, scaling and security patching, your people are free to focus their talents on the things that really help your business to grow and succeed. Time spent on operational work is vastly reduced, which leaves a great deal more room for innovation and important data analysis.  It also means any chance of human error associated with these tasks, is eliminated; which in turn reduces any unnecessary risk. Ultimately, this new level of data management can help you perform beyond your limitations, ensuring the instant availability of data that really makes a difference. You’re able to scale at will, have the ability to gain rapid and actionable insights, and use the talent in your organisation in a more efficient and productive way. In short, you have complete freedom to transform. What’s more, as an autonomous data warehouse is hosted in the cloud, all your capital expenditure on hardware and software is instantly transferred to an operational expense – so your up-front outgoings are reduced. Sound good? To learn more about overcoming current data management challenges, watch our recent Webinar where we explored how automating common database management tasks can help you deliver real business value and achieve much more with limited database resources.

Author:  Jon Tutcher, Cloud & Core Technology Director, EMEA, Oracle  As both the importance and quantity of your data grows, Database Administrators are beginning to feel the strain. Here’s how a new...

Why there’s no innovation without integration

Author: Barry O’Reilly, Director, PaaS Business Process Management EMEA Co-authors: Joost Volker, Director Cloud Platform Business Development EMEA; Kulvinder Hari, Senior Director Cloud Integration EMEA Innovation isn’t just about creating entirely new apps and services. It happens when organisations have the freedom to look beyond the constraints of new and old services, and use technology to connect and extend them together. Every business that wants to succeed needs to innovate. For some, that’s going to mean creating new applications and services from the ground up, but innovation isn’t just about the “net new”—it’s as much about what you connect as it is about what you create. Few companies can execute the same green-field approach to innovation used by start-ups, nor would they want to. Instead, true innovation for most organisations is about the way you connect the old with the new—extending and enhancing the existing brand.   Modern tools and capabilities can help you connect existing investments to new services to deliver rapid innovation that helps you make use of both old and new applications, while generating greater value from both. The different kinds of change It’s easy to think of innovation as an entirely customer-facing concept. Some of the best-known examples of modern innovation are incredibly customer-focussed, from hyper-convenient new consumer experiences such as those delivered by Amazon Go, to the customer-focused UI experience built into Tesla cars that uses apps and APIs to connect drivers to the outside world. The most powerful and transformational innovations are not mere gimmicks. They bring the strength and power of an organization to a new channel, to a new service offering, or to a new engagement platform. The approach and engagement with customers is new and innovative, but the existing strength and reliability of the brand is maintained through innovation. This is how established businesses are outmanoeuvring their start-up competitors. By leveraging new integration tools, established businesses can create new integration points between existing investments to improve efficiency, reduce waste – and ultimately build innovation into both internal and external processes and channels while continuing to drive value from existing investments. Enabling Innovation In today’s fast paced market, every company, large or small, understands that innovation is a top priority. Across all industries and companies of all sizes, we are witnessing the adoption of start-up type models and approaches to innovate rapidly and innovate at low-cost. Just like start-ups every company needs to try new things. Many may not work but those that do could be revolutionary. In this innovation culture brainstorming, ideas, and improvements are welcome from all levels of the company and from every employee. The most promising ideas are implemented rapidly and at low cost in trial or pilot mode, and those that work are scaled up and rolled out. For this approach to work, companies are switching from traditional IT to an innovation platform that can provide two key features: The ability to innovate at speed and at low cost The ability to scale up what works Everyone is a start-up now, and the world craves innovation. If you use the cloud innovation platform of a start-up to deliver but connect this innovation to your existing value, you can out-perform your competitors. Accelerating the pace of change Whether your innovation is driven by seasoned IT experts, line of business teams, or a collaborative effort between the two, there are new technologies that are making it easier and faster to extend and integrate old and new systems. Modern innovation tools can offer self-learning capabilities to make it easy to build new extension and integration points in applications. Likewise, deep analytics tools can help you understand how extensions and integrations are performing, and if there are further opportunities to explore. Cloud tools and innovation platforms also offer a range of time and cost saving features that can enhance the way you connect and extend systems. The cloud can help you scale seamlessly, allowing you to test innovations in a localised area, and build them out as they prove successful. Similarly, a fully connected cloud platform makes it easy to share code across multiple systems—so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to build extensions and integrations across the enterprise. Arguably most important of all is the rise of API-led development and integration. APIs are fundamental to achieving the pace and scale required to succeed in the digital economy. Some large corporations have built their entire business and revenue streams on top of APIs: Expedia and Ebay generate 90% and 60% of their revenue through APIs respectively. The API opportunity is clear, but integrating them into your business can still be daunting. With more APIs comes greater complexity and management challenges, which can in turn lead to a lack of integration, control, and standardisation. As such, API management needs to be a key component of your integration strategy, so that you can unlock the value of API integration while keeping your environment under control and optimised. The importance of an integration platform It’s tempting to think you can drive innovation in your business by purchasing innovative applications and systems. But when these innovations can be bought and deployed by any business, it means they can never truly help you build the competitive advantage you need to get ahead alone. A complete integration platform can help you build your own bespoke integrations between systems, and deploy genuinely new extensions that can help you outmanoeuvre the competition, solve your biggest challenges, and carve your own path in increasingly crowded and competitive markets. Next steps If you’d like to learn more about how to integrate your systems to drive innovation, watch our recent webinar, The Integrated Way to Become More Agile and Innovative.

Author: Barry O’Reilly, Director, PaaS Business Process Management EMEA Co-authors: Joost Volker, Director Cloud Platform Business Development EMEA; Kulvinder Hari, Senior Director Cloud Integration...

The General Data Protection Regulation - How Oracle Security Solutions Can Help

Author: Patrick McLaughlin, Oracle Fellow specialising in Security The GDPR – an evolution of the 1995 Data Protection Directive Organizations are scrambling to understand the impact of the new European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)1. The General Data Protection Regulation, which is set to replace the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC, was designed to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens’ data privacy, and to reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy. With far-ranging oversight, its impact includes but is not limited to: » Potential fines up to 4% of annual revenue turnover » Reviewing and modifying organizational processes, applications, and systems » New and more stringent privacy and security requirements to be addressed by organizations that collect and handle personal information (PI) from EU residents Addressing GDPR compliance requires a coordinated strategy involving different organizational entities including legal, human resources, marketing, security, IT, and other departments. Successful GDPR compliance cannot be achieved without a seamless and secure information strategy across the various entities. In turn, this would require well-coordinated policies and technologies. Organizations should comply by formulating a clear strategy and action plan to address the GDPR requirements by May 25, 2018. The GDPR and requirements for security The GDPR has a specific article (25) called ‘Data protection by design and default’ includes: “implement appropriate technical and organisational measures, such as pseudonymisation, which are designed to implement data-protection principles” and “integrate the necessary safeguards into the processing in order to meet the requirements of this Regulation and protect the rights of data subjects”.   The level of abstraction gives controllers, working in unison with their processors flexibility in terms of the safeguards that are put in place and leaves the judgement of what is necessary based on each particular situation. For example, the amount of safeguard would take into account the sensitivity and amount of personal data. A related article (32) in the GDPR, ‘Security of processing’, is also found in the DPD (article 17), but it less prescriptive in the latter and applies mainly to the controller. In the GDPR we find the following “… the controller and the processor shall implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure a level of security appropriate to the risk, including inter alia as appropriate:  (a)  the pseudonymisation and encryption of personal data; (b)  the ability to ensure the ongoing confidentiality, integrity, availability and resilience of processing systems and services; (c)  the ability to restore the availability and access to personal data in a timely manner in the event of a physical or technical incident; (d)  a process for regularly testing, assessing and evaluating the effectiveness of technical and organisational measures for ensuring the security of the processing.” It’s clear that both encryption and pseudonymisation (data-masking for example) are presented as strong candidates to implement, but equally clear that the controller and processor must decide if they are needed given their assessment of risk. Risk should primarily be assessed from the perspective of data subjects, but clearly both parties will consider the risk to their own organisation if a data subject risk materialises (another part of the GDPR requires controllers to produce a data protection impact assessment − guidance is available from Article 29 Working Party). Article 32(b) is classic security in that it refers to confidentiality, integrity and availability and to the need to take the state of the art and indeed costs into account. As with article 25 there isn’t an exact recipe for securing processing prescribed.  This ensures GDPR can work with all sizes of companies processing all kinds of personal data and ensures the regulation is technology independent.  However, customers must work out what is appropriate and if something goes wrong e.g. a data breach, there needs to be a high probability their interpretation of what was appropriate aligns with that of the supervisory authority. Article 83 says that if a data breach does occur the supervisory authority should take into account among other things, the technical and organisational measures implemented by them pursuant to articles 25 and 32. How Oracle solutions can help address GDPR Some questions naturally arise from this: What is the state of the art in security? What is appropriate or at least a good starting point in relation to protecting personal data. Starting with encryption, Oracle enables the encryption of any sensitive part of Oracle databases.  Customers should use this to encrypt personal data, at-rest on disk and when sent over communications to and from the database. The Oracle database has the facility to mask or pseudoanonymise personal data. This can be done dynamically in real-time for data attributes retrieved from the database, e.g. changing a date of birth from dd-mm-yyyy to **-mm-yyyy, or done statically/permanently on a whole copy of the database e.g. to pseudoanonymise personal data within tables before exporting those tables for used for application testing or in conjunction with software development. There is as facility within the database to ensure that database administrators and other uses do not have excessive access e.g. being able to read or even change personal data, and there are facilities for detecting and blocking SQL injection attacks as well as for building detailed audit records, for example in relation to changing personal data. Most customers start with encryption and data masking given their clear link to Article 32(a). For several years personal data is stored and processed on public clouds (Oracle and several others).  There have been high profile data breaches on public clouds and many people are surprised to learn that this was due to the customer not fulfilling their security responsibilities rather than being the fault of the cloud service provider. Simple mistakes can be: not configuring customer applications properly or not ensuring that encryption is turned on.  In Summer 2017, three high profile breaches in the US, all exposed significant amounts of personal data. There is an industry wide category of solution for protecting public cloud services (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS) called CASB (Cloud Access Security Broker).  All organisations who are subject the GDPR should strongly consider deploying a CASB solution.   The Oracle CASB uses machine learning to help maximise protection of clouds services. CASB can be used as a preventative and detective measure. There are additional solutions that can be used across hybrid cloud (Oracle and non-Oracle cloud) that are also founded on machine learning to ensure proper configuration of applications and services and to detect anomalous behaviour among users.  These more advanced solutions can be layered on top of CASB to provide modern tooling for a security operation centre to detect and respond to cyberthreats against personal (or other sensitive) data both on premise and in multi-vendor clouds. Next steps If you’d like to learn more about GDPR compliance, what it means for your organization, and the tools that can help you achieve it in a way that’s right for you, join us at our upcoming live webcast. We’ll explore the security solutions available in greater detail, and explain how a blend of the right security tools can help you simplify GDPR compliance and protect yourself, your organization, and your customers against the damaging impacts of a security breach. *1 The information in this document may not be construed or used as legal advice about the content, interpretation or application of any law, regulation or regulatory guideline.  Customers and prospective customers must seek their own legal counsel to understand the applicability of any law or regulation on their processing of personal data, including through the use of any vendor’s products or services.

Author: Patrick McLaughlin, Oracle Fellow specialising in Security The GDPR – an evolution of the 1995 Data Protection Directive Organizations are scrambling to understand the impact of the new European...