Traditional software has a five-year — and sometimes even longer — adoption cycle, partly because every customer had their own customisations and needed time to absorb upgrades, he observed.
But SaaS allows quarterly updates, and while customers can slightly delay acceptance, everyone is on the same version by the time the next one arrives.
That means Oracle could measure the effectiveness of new features, and quickly make any necessary changes, he said. New features are delivered on an opt-in basis, but customers can't indefinitely opt out from an update.
The portfolio Includes comprehensive, localised financials, "deep and rich" supply chain and manufacturing software, and customer experience software.
The pace of improvement is rapid. More than 800 new features were delivered in the last four releases of ERP/EPM (enterprise performance management) Cloud, including subscription management. Oracle is preparing to introduce a digital assistant for expense reporting.
A similar number of new features were delivered for HCM (human capital management), including a responsive user interface that caters separately for tablets and phones, and a design studio allowing organisations to expose only selected features of the suite to their staff.
More than 900 new features showed up in the last four releases of SCM (supply chain management), including IoT applications and blockchain for intelligent track and trace. Lot lineage and provenance, and warranty and usage tracking features are under development.
CX (customer experience) Cloud has gained digital assistants for sales and service. A major new feature to be delivered soon is CX Unity, a mechanism for combining in-house, Oracle-provided, and online data. Uses for this feature include determining best times and channels to reach particular customer.
"We are moving from [being] a product company to a service company," said Miranda.
Concerns about quarterly upgrades forcing the pace of change are misplaced, Miranda told , as new features are opt-in. A bigger concern is customers that can’t move to a faster model, because they are missing out on value, he said. But achieving that value is not just a matter of using the latest software: an “iterative mindset” is necessary if a business is to be competitive.
Nor should Oracle Cloud customers worry about the effect of software changes on their staff. The various programs look and work like consumer applications, and people are used to frequent changes and in fact they expect ongoing improvements in business systems, he said. However, Oracle is much more prepared to make changes to the UI than to the underlying system (eg payroll), he said.
Significantly, Oracle runs its business (software, hardware and services) on Oracle Cloud. The whole company runs on one instance in the company's North American data centre, using the same software that is provided to Oracle's customers.
Most organisations are exploring what they need to do to gain the benefits of cloud, though this does require a detailed business case. Most Oracle customers already use a mix of on-premises and cloud, so the questions are how to de-risk moving a particular system to the cloud, and how to bridge any gaps, he told iTWire.
The fewer integration points there are, the better, he added. While connectivity via APIs is well established, this doesn’t address the ‘meaning’ of the data being transferred, and therefore fewer vendors means less “translation cost".
Another thing holding back some organisations is the desire to ‘sweat the assets’ (ie, to keep using on-premises infrastructure that has been fully depreciated), but this is becoming less significant, said Miranda.
New cloud users fall into four categories, he suggested:
- SMEs looking for their first ERP system, especially if they have never had their own data centre.
- Existing Oracle customers with fully-depreciated systems that need a refresh – cloud is a better choice, he said.
- Existing Oracle customers that are moving to the cloud faster than their refresh cycles would require, due to business pressures (eg, fear of disruption, or the inefficiency of a 25-year-old ERP system).
- Customers of other enterprise software vendors that have decided to adopt Oracle.
Disclosure: The writer attended Oracle OpenWorld Asia as a guest of the company.