Taking HCM Cloud UX even further

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I attended a great webinar recently given by Chris Leone (Oracle, SVP Apps Development) on the Cloud Customer Connect site. Chris walked through some of the HCM Cloud UX changes coming in Release 13 and the updates in 2018.

First of all, if you’re not a member of Cloud Customer Connect, you should be. There’s some great content on there and regular webinars.

So, what did I learn from Chris?

Intro

During his introduction slides we obviously heard about Oracle’s commitment to embrace leading-edge technology, their desire to keep the UX fresh etc. One comment I really liked was:

Deliver a warm and approachable HCM tool that people will use

We’ve all used applications in the past that have been fussy over how steps are performed, or been told “you just need to do the process this way because that’s how the system works”. This is starting to change though and we’ve recently had a client pass-up on the chance of training as the system was intuitive enough for them to work out without assistance. “Warm and Approachable” is taking it a step further than just ‘intuitive’ so I look forward to seeing that in practice.

Improvements

These are the enhancements that I noted during the webinar:

  • All Self Service pages will be moving to a new mobile responsive layout over the next 12 months, making mobile use significantly easier
  • Type-ahead in fields
  • Better prompting/look-ups
  • A new homepage

New Homepage

We’re going to get the choice between a new twist on the existing formats (shown on the left below) and a more contemporary version in a vertical layout (on the right):

Vertical Layout

The vertical layout is particularly interesting as it combines several of the areas that you’ll want to see into a single page (Quick Actions, Tasks, Infolets). This is the MSS view:

New UI MSS

It has tabs at the top to switch between Employee and Manager actions (there could be other tabs here, for HR perhaps), quick actions on the left, and the applications on the right.

Simplified Pages

Some other really great functionality that Chris teased was dramatically simplified pages.

For some flows (e.g. promotion) you can select the areas that you wish to amend:

New UI Simplify pages

This means that the user isn’t shown sections that aren’t relevant.

Also, the areas of the screen are broken down into collapsing sections:

New UI Simplify pages 2

So when a user has finished a section and scrolls down the next area automatically expands. The demo was very slick.

Summary

The UX has taken a big jump forward over the last couple of years, however it’s continuing at the fast pace with some well-considered enhancements to keep making life better for the end-users.

The full 45 minute video can be found here (Cloud Customer Connect account required):

https://cloudcustomerconnect.oracle.com/posts/f851fbfffe

 

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Oracle Partner PaaS Workshop (day 2 – part 3) – VBCS

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Last week I attended a two-day PaaS workshop run by Oracle for its partners. We’ve been doing SaaS for a while – that is the applications such as HCM and ERP that users access in order to perform their daily tasks – however there is another stable of applications called Platform as a Service (PaaS) which either add functionality to the SaaS apps or help ‘glue them together’. These applications were the focus of this workshop – and very interesting it was too. Here’s what I learnt on day 2:

Oracle VBCS (Visual Builder Cloud Service) – renamed from ABCS

Although I’d seen some really cool new functionality up until this point, VBCS was the highlight of the workshop for me. The use-case for PaaS that I’m expecting to see the most is custom application pages within the Cloud Apps.

We were able to pick the UI theme, then start building our custom page using the drag’n’drop interface – as the sales spiel goes, it’s a no-code interface that’s ideal for the ‘citizen developer’.

VBCS

It was certainly really quick to build a couple of quick pages in a responsive layout and a number of types (text, date picker, table, buttons). Some of the data we got from the application and some data was stored within VBCS itself.

I can’t wait to try it out with some real customer use-cases.

Oracle Partner PaaS Workshop (day 2 – part 2) – Chatbots!

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Last week I attended a two-day PaaS workshop run by Oracle for its partners. We’ve been doing SaaS for a while – that is the applications such as HCM and ERP that users access in order to perform their daily tasks – however there is another stable of applications called Platform as a Service (PaaS) which either add functionality to the SaaS apps or help ‘glue them together’. These applications were the focus of this workshop – and very interesting it was too. Here’s what I learnt on day 2:

Oracle IBCS (Intelligent Bot Cloud Service)

IBCS

Yes! We wrote our own Chat-bots! This was a surprise session as it wasn’t on the agenda leading up to the event, but it was great fun to try. Some of the config was already done for us, but we were able to change the setup so that we amended the conversation flow and the chatbot responded differently to our prompts.

In this picture you can see that we used our bot to query ERP Cloud for information on a Purchase Order.

Learn more about it here.

Oracle Partner PaaS Workshop (day 2 – part 1) – MCS and MAX

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Last week I attended a two-day PaaS workshop run by Oracle for its partners. We’ve been doing SaaS for a while – that is the applications such as HCM and ERP that users access in order to perform their daily tasks – however there is another stable of applications called Platform as a Service (PaaS) which either add functionality to the SaaS apps or help ‘glue them together’. These applications were the focus of this workshop – and very interesting it was too. Here’s what I learnt on day 2:

Oracle MCS (Mobile Cloud Service)

On day 1 we’d exposed a web service from an application and added some logic, notifications and a data form in front of it using ICS and PCS. Next we used Mobile Cloud Service to mobile-enable the form. MCS exposed the form as a mobile API which we could then consume.

Oracle MAX (Mobile Application Accelerator)

A reasonably new feature of Oracle MCS is the Mobile Application Accelerator. Most of those in the workshop were techies, but there wasn’t the time to code a proper front-end for our new mobile API. The solution was to use MAX. It’s a tool built to assist a non-technical staff to create cross-platform mobile applications using only a drag’n’drop web
interface:

MAX

Within a couple of minutes, the application that we’d created was available and working on our mobile phones. We could enter the data for a new purchase order and within moments the data appeared in ERP Cloud.

Oracle Partner PaaS Workshop (day 1) – ICS and PCS

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Last week I attended a two-day PaaS workshop run by Oracle for its partners. We’ve been doing SaaS for a while – that is the applications such as HCM and ERP that users access in order to perform their daily tasks – however there is another stable of applications called Platform as a Service (PaaS) which either add functionality to the SaaS apps or help ‘glue them together’. These applications were the focus of this workshop – and very interesting it was too. Here’s what I learnt on day 1:

Oracle ICS (Integration Cloud Service)

ICS is a Cloud-based integration platform which comes with a decent set of pre-built adapters. If you’re concerned with the cost of custom integration to stitch together your Cloud and on-premises applications then ICS – which comes with a host of ready-to-use integration points could help.

The version I saw had around 50 adapters allowing you to retrieve data from, or send data to, systems such as Concur, LinkedIn, NetSuite, SalesForce, SAP, SuccessFactors, plus all the major databases and – of course – Oracle Cloud apps such as HCM Cloud and ERP Cloud.

Here’s a screenshot from the lab where within a few minutes we drag’n’dropped to create a REST interface to add a purchase order via the pre-built ERP Cloud connector:

ICS

Find out more here.

Oracle PCS (Process Cloud Service)

PCS is a Cloud-based integration platform that allows you to move the data between the end-points exposed by your various systems (or by ICS). If you can imagine the point-and-click screens that your systems have to configure workflow, this looks very similar but works across all the systems in your estate.

In the workshop we tried adding processes, forms, conditional rules and notifications:

PCS

The Eagerly Awaited Internet Trends Report 2017

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Mary MeekerEvery year, Mary Meeker – partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers – releases her ‘Internet Trends Report’. It is probably the most eagerly awaited slide deck of the year (alongside Stacey Harris’ HR Systems Survey and Research report – which if you haven’t yet filled it in, you can do so here). Mary’s Internet Trends report gives a facts and figures based summary of the current state of the marketplace, and predicts how that’ll change over the coming years. It’s lengthy, but always a treasure trove of information.

The slide deck can be found here, however I’m going to highlight a few items of interest and point out how they’re relevant in the world of Oracle.

Mobile vs Internet use

Both mobile and internet use are still on the rise, however the increase in mobile handset shipments is decelerating. Are we approaching saturation point with mobiles? There are 3.4Bn internet users – approx half of the World’s population – and this is increasing by 10% each year, with the number of mobile handsets shipped at just below 1.5Bn – with more than 80% of those Android.

What’s also intriguing is the number of hours spent each day using your mobile is now averaging 3.1 hours (up from 0.3 hours 8 years ago), however this isn’t coming at the expense of Desktops/Laptops (which averaged 2.2 hours last year and 8 years ago). So the amount of time we spend interacting with digital media has increased hugely in that time.

Oracle slant:
Oracle has improved the responsiveness of the HCM Cloud in recent versions, and this is – rightly – going to continue in future releases. It’s important that the desktop interface is still improved at the same rate, as the figures show that isn’t declining.

Conversational Input

The report states that 20% of searches are now performed by voice command, rather than text input. In the age of Siri/Google Assistant/Alexa this should be no surprise, but it does illustrate that we’re on a path towards voice interfaces being more commonplace. The accuracy of systems understanding voice commands is also on the increase – it’s now around 95% (which is about the same as humans).

Oracle slant:
Clearly chatbots (whether interacted with via voice or by typing text) are the future for much of HR Self Service interactions.

Doormen = Foremen

We were tickled by the pictures of doormen in apartment blocks becoming more like foremen and needing a room to use as a warehouse for holding all the parcel deliveries that come in via the post for residents each day.

Augmented Reality

Lowe’s Augmented Reality app to provide in-store directions to goods on their shelves is very cool.

Oracle slant:
Augmented/Virtual Reality is going to be important in the field of learning. Most people learn better by ‘doing’, so a situation where trainees can perform a task in a virtual environment – free of consequences if they make mistakes while learning – is a useful tool. I’m not sure we’ll see AR/VR in HCM Cloud any time soon though.

Instant Gratification and Gaming

Millennials are growing up surrounded by gamification, and apps and games that give instant feedback by ‘levelling up’ quickly. Different games are preferred by the generations, but many of the mechanics that drive players to return are consistent across the games. We’ve all seen sites that rank your profile as XX% complete, but what is newer is the rise of services such as Twitch – where live games are streamed to interested viewers – which is considerably more popular amongst younger generations than older people. An example of this it the recent League of Legends World Championship received 43 million unique viewers.

Oracle Slant:
Oracle Cloud Connect now highlights its top 10 users of the month, rewarding those who’ve put effort in to the platform. Instant feedback is also coming to the HCM Cloud, in the form of kudos now becoming real-time performance feedback, rather than the annual routine that we used to follow.

Developer / Designer Ratios

A short topic that caught my eye was the change in Designer vs Developer ratios over the last 6 years. Back then, companies such as Atlassian, IBM and LinkedIn reported ratios of 1:25, 1:72 and 1:11 respectively, with Developers far outnumbering Designers. The ratio has moved in significantly however, with companies now reporting a ratio of between 1:5 and 1:9.

Oracle Slant:
Oracle’s Apps UX team have been at the forefront of designing the HCM Cloud user experience, and can be seen at most Oracle events evangelising the design paradigms that they’ve used in this process.

The Rise of Digital Healthcare

The number of companies that focus on personal health has grown very rapidly, but this growth isn’t just in the field of wearables, as one might expect. Companies offering health-related datasets to dramatically reduce the time needed for clinical trials (and hence speeding time-to-market), patient Electronic Health Records and tests for genetic disorders that you can take via the mail (e.g. 23andMe) are all areas of growth.

Oracle Slant:
Oracle HCM Cloud has a whole module for this, My Wellness.

Free Oracle HCM Cloud backgrounds

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It’s a common practice to change the background colour of your environments to give a visual clue which is which. This helps reduce confusion and lessens the risk of entering test data into Production.

Whilst the core project team might easily remember which colour corresponds to which environment (e.g. blue=Prod, red=Dev, green=Test) it’s not so easy for more occasional users. There is a solution for this.

We’ve created some semi-transparent backgrounds that prominently feature the name of the environment. They’re semi-transparent so that your background colour of choice can still show through. Here’s what they look like:

Fusion Backgrounds - Test on Green

You should be able to see the words Test and Testing on top of the green background. This gives less frequent users more certainty they’re logged on to the correct environment. I’ve chosen a green background colour here, but any (reasonably dark) colour can be chosen and the lettering will still show.

Here is the Development background image on top of a red background colour.

Fusion Backgrounds - Dev on Red

The images work with both Release 11 and 12, and can be downloaded here:

Testing

Development

Remember, the lettering is semi-transparent so they might look like a blank image until you select a background colour behind them:

How to use

I’d be happy to create additional environment backgrounds if enough people show an interest.