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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)...

IT

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Kings Of The Road - The fleet management system steering a course to cloud success.

By Dominic Collard A few minutes in the company of Simon West-Oliver, and you understand why he’s so ebullient. As the director of sales and marketing for DRIVE Software Solutions, he has just notched up its one-millionth vehicle on the road. That makes DRIVE, the company’s best-selling software product, one of the most popular fleet management systems in Europe. Its customers range from the obvious - those providing hire-purchase schemes, short-term rentals and global businesses with large fleets - to the more arcane. Such as The Forestry Commission, whose 200 agricultural tractors, civil engineering machines, all-terrain vehicles and timber harvesters need a platform to manage their lifecycle, just as much as executive saloons and white vans do. The story of DRIVE’s success can be traced all the way back to World War II, when the company began life as the vehicle logistics division of the UK’s war effort. A few name changes and many technological leaps forward later, the DRIVE platform launched in 1995 to fill the gaping hole in the market at the time, for a system that combined fleet management with vehicle financing. Today, that same appetite to stay one step ahead of its customers’ needs has ushered in the next big phase of DRIVE’s journey. The move to cloud. “By 2020, we expect all our customers will be accessing DRIVE via cloud,” says Simon. He explains that the benefits for its customers are too compelling to ignore. “They get improvements pushed through more regularly and with no interruptions. It is much safer and more secure. The whole platform runs much faster. And overall, it will cost less.” For DRIVE, cloud means an opportunity to think much bigger than they’ve been able to. The ease, speed and low cost of getting onto the platform suddenly puts more potential customers on its radar. Now in DRIVE’s sights are the legions of the self-employed and small businesses – the plumbers, painters, taxi firms and couriers who make up the backbone of the UK economy. Just a slice of that action is a multi-million pound prospect. More exciting still is how the geographically-agnostic nature of cloud computing gives them a road into the US and China, where the car leasing sector dwarves that of the UK. Key to delivering this vision is not simply about adopting ‘cloud’, but partnering with the Oracle Cloud. DRIVE’s decision to go with Oracle may be infused by a 25-year history of working together - but Simon is clear that it was made with an eye to the future. “When you look at where the automotive industry is heading - driverless vehicles, predictive maintenance, stricter environmental regulations - we need to be developing our software on a platform that lets us be very agile and innovative.” The technology he is referring to is the cutting edge world of AI, machine learning, automation and Big Data, where Oracle is leading the way. But Simon is not an IT man, and neither are the customers he speaks with. And this, he says, is the point. “I want to have a conversation about how our software can improve driving performance, can alert you if someone behind the wheel could be a risk, can calculate the total cost of ownership of your fleet and the optimum make and model for your needs, and warn you when a vehicle has a mechanical issue before it becomes an expensive fix. These are the things that matter to my customers.” The choice to move to cloud with Oracle is precisely because he can have those conversations with confidence. He has learned how by being on the other side of the fence, as Oracle’s customer. “The education and coaching aspect is a really important part of what Oracle offers; and a lesson for us in how to bring our own customers on their cloud journeys.” Confidence also comes from knowing that “innovation...it’s in Oracle’s DNA,” says Simon. “Oracle has always embraced new concepts and maintained its edge. And that means our software maintains its edge too.” It is not a platitude. The launch of a new product - ODO - which has been specifically developed for smaller businesses, is an example of what DRIVE is now able to achieve. “We developed and launched the whole thing in just 12 months. Previously it would have taken five times as long, and many more people. In fact, the drain on our resources would have probably made it prohibitive to even start.” Less than a year in the market, more than 6,000 vehicles are now on the ODO platform. The Oracle name also means Simon has a strong story to tell his customers about the security of their data and the reliability of the software. “As we start to strike up new conversations with customers who might never have heard of us, having a globally recognised and trusted partner in your corner provides huge reassurances.” For that reason, the partnership with Oracle is very visible in DRIVE’s marketing, says Simon. “We see it as a signpost to success.”  

By Dominic Collard A few minutes in the company of Simon West-Oliver, and you understand why he’s so ebullient. As the director of sales and marketing for DRIVE Software Solutions, he has just notched...

Innovation

We’re partnering with B-Hive to support fintech startups and scale-ups

This month we’ve been pleased to announce our fast-tracked monetisation ecosystem program in collaboration with B-Hive. Created for mature startup and scale-up fintechs, we’re calling the program ‘Fintech ScaleUp’ and registration for it opens today. The initiative itself will start in January when we’ll be working with B-Hive to select 15 startup or scale-up fintechs to take part in two program sessions that will run in both Brussels and London.   We’re excited to work with B-Hive. It’s a European collaborative innovation fintech platform that brings together major banks, insurers and market infrastructure players. With the collaboration, we want to create more business opportunities for mature fintech startups and scale-ups, but reduce the time in the market with a six-week, fast-tracked monetisation programme. The initiative will establish joint business models between ourselves and said fintechs, so they can earn a proof of concept and enter one of the existing monetisation models on Oracle Cloud.   We’ll be selecting the tech startup or scale-up fintechs who show the highest potential to reach their goals and become a top-tier fintech company. The focus across the six-week program will be on open banking, fraud detection and data monetisation. Both tech and financial services companies will benefit from ‘Fintech ScaleUp’, gaining access to a variety of fintech companies that have found enterprise-strength solutions to some of the biggest challenges the financial industry is facing today.   Mark Smedley, Vice President, Global Financial Services Industry Solutions is leading the initiative from our side. He said, “The goal of the Fintech ScaleUp program is to support fintech companies and help them become scalable and successful, and provide them great sales opportunities in a short period of time. They will have access to Oracle’s client base of financial services industry players, be a part of Oracle Cloud’s extended ecosystem and make use of our cloud software. We will also provide mentoring and insights for the startups, with B-Hive’s help of course.”   Are you a fintech interested in getting involved? You can register by contacting b-hive.eu.

This month we’ve been pleased to announce our fast-tracked monetisation ecosystem program in collaboration with B-Hive. Created for mature startup and scale-up fintechs, we’re calling the program...

Making sense of digital transformation: Breaking innovation down to five essential senses

It’s not unusual for a business to compare itself to the human body. It’s a good metaphor.   Much like a person, a successful business relies on a range of senses to understand its environment (the market) and respond in the best possible (delivering what customers want). And, like the body, it then brings together the right systems and resources within the organisation to deal with change and jump on new opportunities.   This process has always been the secret to success, but in today’s age of customer-centricity the “senses” an organisation needs to inform its decision-making have evolved. Customers expect companies to understand them on a one-to-one level and offer them ultra-personalised, ultra-convenient, and ultra-secure experiences across every possible channel and platform.   So what are these senses? And how can they help businesses to better understand themselves and their customers and thrive in tomorrow’s market?   We’ve worked with more than 400,000 companies big and small, including many leading organisations that have reinvented themselves time and time again, and our experience has given us a clear vision of what matters most in this era of digital transformation.   The winners of tomorrow will be:   Human Your customers are people. It might seem like an obvious thing to say but a customer-centric approach also needs to be a human-centric one. With that in mind, consideration for what customers are thinking, what they want, what they need, what their challenges are, needs to be at the core of every decision your company makes. The same goes for your employees and employment models. A human-centric account to your people is paid forward as a human-centric approach to the people they serve.   Connected The more connected your business is internally, the more quickly it can absorb information from the market and customers, ensure this data is directed to the right teams, and guarantee that it’s then factored into crucial decision-making. It’s also worth noting that the more inputs and data sources you have, the more complete your understanding of the market will be, and the better informed your strategies will be across the organisation.   Insight-driven The first step is to have all these data sources feeding valuable information into your business, but it’s just as important to make sure you can turn this data into insight and package it up in a useable form. It’s one thing to draw information from your various sense, but it’s how that information is processed that dictates your response – for instance, knowing to avoid a pothole up ahead while driving or bracing yourself for the smell of methane when walking by a farm.   Your people, your systems, and your processes should all be guided by this quest for insight. This is easier said than done for many businesses, but technologies like AI and IoT have now made it possible to turn raw data into valuable insight more easily than ever.   Autonomous There’s no rest for the modern business. Customer-centricity is no longer just about your existing products or services. It’s about innovating constantly, finding ways to keep people engaged with new experiences. But you can’t do that with legacy systems that suck up hours of your time to manage, protect and upgrade.   That’s why companies will begin the move to autonomous systems – self-governing, self-repairing, and self-protecting technologies that free up more time for innovative thinking and intrapreneurial initiatives. This is an important point – the move to autonomous is not just a systems upgrade, it’s fundamentally new way of thinking about tasks and structures in the business.   Trusted Finally, as we leave more processes to automation and AI, customers need to trust that these technologies can fulfil their needs. In fact, trust will become a company’s most valuable asset. A business’ reputation and the way customers view its services will make or break its future, especially in a digital economy where transparency is so hard to come by.   Consider this example. You might trust a service that creates personalised greeting cards for your friends, but would you trust it to know what tone and language to use for each card? Would you trust that your personal messages remain private? The point is that for people to have faith in automated services, or for employees to embrace autonomous systems, you need to demonstrate why they should be confident in these and make that trust and security are considerations whenever you roll out new ways of working. These five senses are by no means out of reach. In fact, many businesses are have already made significant progress on one or more fronts. From the hospitality sector (Meliá Hotels) to port management (DP World), an innovation mindset has resulted in quick wins in a short period of time and set these organisations on a path to further success ahead.  The next step for these and other companies undergoing a digital transformation is to fully develop all five senses in a strategic and integrated way. 

It’s not unusual for a business to compare itself to the human body. It’s a good metaphor.   Much like a person, a successful business relies on a range of senses to understand its environment (the...

Customers

World’s first AI smart hives network helps conserve declining global honey bee populations

By John Abel Bees are key to our survival on the planet. They pollinate a third of all the food that we eat, but their numbers have been in decline. Indeed, between 1985 and 2005 England alone saw a 54% drop in the number of honey bees. To help conserve the honey bee population, Oracle has announced that it is collaborating with the World Bee Project to create ‘The World Bee Project Hive Network’. This is the world’s first network of connected smart hives that will use cutting edge technology to help conserve honey bees. The World Bee Project Hive Network will remotely collect data using a network of connected beehives. The data will then be fed into Oracle’s Cloud, which will use analytics tools including artificial intelligence (AI) and data visualisation, to give researchers new insights into the relationships between honey bees and their environments. Our collaboration will allow researchers to ‘listen’ to the honey bees – analysing intricate acoustic data captured inside the smart hives, including the movement of bees’ wings and feet. Combined with other precision measurements – including temperature, humidity and honey yield – researchers will be able to closely monitor bee colonies, detecting patterns and predicting behaviours. This will enable conservationists and bee keepers to take action to protect colonies, such as preventing swarming at the wrong time of year or removing predators like the invasive Asian Hornet. The data and insights gained by using Oracle Cloud will be made available to research and conservation projects working to protect bees around the world, and ultimately arm researchers with the information needed to work with governments and beekeepers to help reduce the decline in honey bee populations. The project has launched in the UK, but will be rolled out globally so that, for the first time, we can paint a truly global picture of the health of the bee population. As the data collected will cover the world we will see how honey bees can be successful. especially when we layer weather, mapping and free government data to enrich the view a scientist or bee keeper has of the health of a beehive. As the volume of data increases the machine learning will start to see patterns in the data which provides a new approach to understanding honey bees. Conservation today cannot happen without technology. The World Bee Project Hive Network is an extraordinary example of how one of the world’s oldest traditions – bee keeping – is embracing cutting edge cloud technology to safeguard the future of the world’s most important pollinator.

By John Abel Bees are key to our survival on the planet. They pollinate a third of all the food that we eat, but their numbers have been in decline. Indeed, between 1985 and 2005 England alone saw a...

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 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....

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

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...

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...

IT

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...

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...

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...

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.[WT1] 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

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...