Thursday, 01 October 2020 11:48

Oracle revamps cloud lineup

Oracle Fusion Cloud Enterprise Performance Management guided learning Oracle Fusion Cloud Enterprise Performance Management guided learning

Full-stack vendor Oracle has announced updates to several of its SaaS products.

Oracle Fusion Cloud Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Oracle Fusion Cloud Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) incorporate innovations in artificial intelligence, digital assistants and natural language processing, and help finance teams take advantage of touchless operations and predictive planning.

Intelligent process automation helps reduce manual tasks by automating a large portion of reconciliations, while intelligent account combination defaulting automatically codes invoices not associated with purchase orders, thus reducing invoice processing time.

The system can also automatically tag regulatory reports using advanced language processing and pattern recognition. This applies automatic checks for quality and validity, and helps ensure that certain statements are correctly explained.

On the planning side, intelligent performance management uncovers hard-to-spot data patterns to deliver actionable and contextual insights at the right time.

Corporate and project planning and budgeting capabilities improve execution of strategic corporate plans and control of approved projects, while business continuity management helps prepare for potential operational, safety and security risks, allowing finance teams to quickly assess risks, document and approve recovery plans, and keep executives informed.

Digital assistants can predict project time entry, simplify tasks and expenses entry, and reconcile month end processes for project professionals.

The software also includes "even higher protection [against insider and other threats] based on machine learning," Oracle senior vice president and SaaS global marketing head Juergen Lindner told iTWire.

ERP and EPM integrate with collaboration platforms including SMS, Slack and Microsoft Teams.

Additional industry-specific features are aimed at utilities, oil and gas, asset intensive industries, and professional services.

"2020 has been one of the most challenging years to run a business, putting added pressure on finance teams to balance short-term challenges with longer-term strategic initiatives," said Oracle senior vice president of applications development Rondy Ng.

"Our newest innovations help finance teams rapidly adapt to the current economic climate, drive new business models, and improve strategic decision-making; all designed to help our customers define their future."

In related news, jobs portal Seek has adopted EPM.

"It used to take us up to three days per person to roll over reports from one month to another, and we can now do it in minutes. We no longer have to check every formula and cell in the spreadsheet – Oracle has automated the process, reducing human error and giving us more time to analyse the data," said Seek head of finance excellence Peter Lim.

This represents "profound efficiency gains," Oracle's Lindner told iTWire.

Oracle Cloud Human Capital Management (HCM) now includes 'journeys' – a mechanism for stepping employees through complex tasks and interactions such as re-boarding employees as they return to the office, or making use of health resources provided by the organisation.

To help support employees working remotely, Oracle Connections profile pages can include 10-second video introduction to the individual.

New career development features include Opportunity Marketplace (a catalogue of short-term projects and internal job postings), and Open Jobs for My Career (flags new and relevant roles within the organisation)

Payroll data is now available in real time within HCM, and there's a new mechanism for paying employees on request for time worked in advance of their normal pay cycle.

Updates to the Experience Design Studio improves data accuracy through expanded autocomplete and localisation features.

The Diversity Dashboard within Oracle Fusion HCM Analytics highlights key statistics and trends to help HR teams better analyse employee data and improve initiatives around diversity and inclusion in the workforce.

"Employee expectations have been evolving for many years, but after everything that has happened this year, we are now navigating an entirely new workplace with new demands and challenges," said Oracle Cloud HCM senior vice president of development Chris Leone.

"This has put many HR teams in an extremely difficult position and we are pleased to be able to deliver much-needed support with the latest updates to Oracle Cloud HCM. The updates make it easy for organisations to deliver a top-notch employee experience while streamlining complex processes for HR in a new and challenging workplace."

Updates to Oracle Fusion Cloud Supply Chain & Manufacturing (SCM) help increase collaboration across supply networks, proactively manage supply chain assets, and implement long-term supply chain planning.

The logistics digital assistant provides access to real-time supply chain information through a conversational interface. It now provides easy access to order status and shipment tracking.

Oracle SCM Logistics Digital Assistant

The Oracle AI Planning Advisor uses machine learning to display recommendations that optimise new product introductions and help respond to current and anticipated production disruptions.

A new field service preventative maintenance feature provides preventative service flows and break-fix and installation capabilities.

Support for multi-tier supply chain collaboration now synchronises upstream supply information and shares it with Oracle Supply Planning Cloud.

Supply planning for project-specific material requirements is optimised with the execution of purchase orders, transfer orders, and work orders.

New channel revenue management capabilities streamline and optimise trade programs.

Integration with external systems is improved through new and modified REST APIs. Furthermore, Oracle Procurement Cloud features new deep links that provide easy navigation directly to pages within external applications.

"The last 12 months have stretched supply chains to the limit as organizations wrestle with the disruptions of COVID-19, shifting global trade agreements, rapidly changing customer expectations, and numerous other unforeseen circumstances," said Oracle senior vice president for applicatins development Rick Jewell.

"With the new capabilities within Oracle Cloud SCM, we are helping our customers navigate this complexity and build more adaptable businesses that can respond to today's challenges and whatever comes next."

The Oracle Unity customer data platform has also been updated.

New and improved features include support for both B2B and B2C brands; integration with the Oracle Eloqua marketing automation system; real-time behavioural data collection and personalisation capabilities powered by Oracle Infinity; universal digital tagging across all Oracle Fusion Cloud Customer Experience applications as well as customer websites, mobile apps, and other digital properties; deeper integration with Oracle's Data Management Platform; integration with the Sourcepoint consent management platform; and integration with the OneTrust security and privacy platform.

"Building, protecting, and differentiating a brand is no longer just about marketing products or services. It's about making sure that every single customer touchpoint and interaction delivers the best possible experience, and that is only possible if every action is informed by data," said Oracle Cloud CX and Data Cloud executive vice president and general manager Rob Tarkoff.

"To help our customers achieve this data-first approach, we continue to focus on connecting data, experiences, and intelligence across all business functions. By working closely with customers and partners, the latest updates to Oracle Unity continue to set the industry standard in customer data management."

Oracle's Lindner told iTWire that customer investments continue to intensify, especially for Fusion Cloud ERP. It's not just that revenue is increasing – so are the number of customers going live.

An important consideration is that Oracle lets customers start with any one part of Fusion Cloud and expand from there. Some vendors, he said, force a particular starting point, or offer certain functions through pieces of software they have acquired and that are costly to integrate.

There are now more than 7,300 Oracle Cloud ERP customers, with more than 5000 of them up and running.

For example, logistics company and Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) customer DHL has switched to Fusion Cloud ERP, with new regions going straight to cloud. Logistics "has been such a hot spot," he observed.

Another example from the same industry is Dubai-based DP World. It had a fragmented system using EBS, SAP and other products, but consolidated 160 ERP systems into one Fusion Cloud ERP system covering 44 countries.

Closer to home, New Zealand's The Warehouse Group moved from EBS to Oracle Cloud ERP to accommodate the shift from in-store to online sales, and benefited from operating on a single platform with a common data modem.

Oracle's decision to rewrite its applications for the cloud was made four years ago, Lindner observed. "It's taken us a while," he conceded, but it is paying off: Oracle Cloud ERP is highly rated by Gartner, he said, and in some aspects of ERP, Oracle is the only vendor rated by the firm as a leader.

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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