HCM Cloud at the V1 Oracle Apps Day

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We held our annual Oracle Apps day in London earlier this month so I thought I’d share a little about the event for those that couldn’t make it.

The acquisition by Version 1 has allowed us to expand our traditional annual Cedar event significantly, to the point where we have 7 concurrent streams of content and around 250 customer attendees.

There have been a couple of recaps of the event from a general perspective, however this one focuses on the HCM Cloud stream.

Paddy’s Welcome

The day kicked off with a welcome from Paddy Meany, Version 1’s Practice Operations Director. This was the point we realised it was a full event as the Version 1/Cedar and Oracle attendees were ushered into a separate room to watch the welcome via a TV link as the main room was so full of attendees.

01 - Paddy Welcome

OpenWorld Announcements: Roadmap & Strategy – Tracy Martin

The first session in the HCM Cloud stream was from Tracy Martin – VP of HCM Cloud Strategy.

Tracy highlighted the themes from OpenWorld around the innovation that Oracle continues to bring to HCM Cloud across all fronts, including areas such as Chatbots, Machine Learning, AI, Blockchain, User Experience or further depth and breadth within HR functionality.

Oracle Recruiting & Learning Clouds

Next up were Tom Stewart and Rickesh Patel who demoed some highlights of the Learning and Recruiting Cloud products and how they fit in with a company’s Talent Management strategy.

04 - Tom and Rikesh

Experience Design Studio & Conversational UI

Following straight on, Rickesh then showed us the functionality that is imminent in upcoming releases for Experience Design Studio and then spoke about the Digital Assistant capabilities that can be enabled within HCM Cloud.

05 - Rikesh.jpg

What has Star Trek Taught us About the Cloud & Other Universes?

Leading up to lunch we had probably the most intriguing session of the day as our own Graham Varley shared 5 lessons for Cloud implementation success, by drawing parallels from Star Trek episodes.

06 - Graham and Star Trek

Cloud Deployments – What Do the “Great Ones” Do?

Straight after lunch Tracy Martin took the stage again to share some key characteristics of the most successful Cloud deployments and also some of the bear traps to avoid.

07 - Tracy 2

Reducing Costs in HR Service Delivery

Jules Peters and Divya Singh ran a session on how HCM Cloud can support an organisation’s HR transformation program – Jules rarely stops moving so apologies for the poor photo.

08 - Jules and Divya

Managing the Fusion Update Cycle

I had the final session of the day and shared some strategies for getting the maximum value from the Quarterly Releases while keeping the effort for each update to a minimum.

The Social

Finally, all the attendees came back together for a social.

09 - Social

It was a great day, and I’m sure it’ll be even bigger next year.

Branding Fusion and the Visually Impaired

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The latest versions of Oracle HCM Cloud look gorgeous and you can create some great first impressions with a well put together theme:

NvpFZlCKDa

This is great when you need to create an attractive conference slide to catch attention, however when it comes to real-world branding there are complications such as how to provide a user experience that suits everyone in the company – particularly those with less than 20:20 vision.

Nice touches like jaw-dropping photo backgrounds and gradient shading tend to get dropped in favour of making a higher-contrast landing page that’s accessible to all.

It doesn’t have to be like this however as you can use the logon URL to change the theme on a per-session basis. This means that you can create the look that you want for the users who want the ‘fully branded’ look-and-feel and provide an alternative logon URL to provide a higher-contrast theme to the same pod for those that prefer a clearer look.

e.g.

Default theme:

https://pod.oraclecloud.com/fscmUI/faces/FuseWelcome

Alternative theme:

https://pod.oraclecloud.com/fscmUI/faces/FuseWelcome?fndThemeName=Aquamarine

 

UoB ‘properly live’ on Oracle HCM/ERP Cloud

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UoB Logo

Over the last 6 weeks the project that I’ve been working on for the last year – University of Birmingham – has gone live with their New Core programme.

New Core comprises a number of moving parts, but front-and-centre of it all is Oracle HCM Cloud and Oracle ERP Cloud. The reason I say ‘properly live’ is this isn’t one of those posts where someone says “we’re live” but it’s really only a part of the employee population or a subset of the modules … this is a big bang deployment of both pillars across the entire University.

The important points for me were:

  • It’s Oracle’s largest Higher Education Fusion implementation in Western Europe
  • UoB has 17,500 employees and 60,000 customers
  • Just on the HR side, it’s:
    • Core HR
    • Absence
    • Benefits
    • Compensation
    • Time & Labour
    • Taleo
    • Payroll

university-of-birmingham-aston-webb-building

The full announcement can be found here.

Oracle’s Q4 Results and a hidden gem

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Oracle posted some storming Q4 results last week, beating both Safra Catz’s own guidance and analyst expectations. Total Quarterly Revenues were $11.1 billion, up 1% in USD and up 4% in constant currency compared to Q4 last year.

Oracle CEO, Safra Catz said “Our high-margin Fusion and NetSuite cloud applications businesses are growing rapidly, while we downsize our low-margin legacy hardware business. The net result of this shift .. to cloud applications was a Q4 non-GAAP operating margin of 47%, the highest we’ve seen in five years.”

That all sounds very healthy.

Oracle CEO, Mark Hurd continued with “Our Fusion ERP and HCM cloud applications suite revenues grew 32% in FY19.”

Again, this sounds positive. Others, such as Diginomica, highlight the mentions of recent wins from competitors, including Diebold Nixdorf (from SAP), Helmerich & Payne (from Epicor), Tiffany and Experian (from SAP/Microsoft).

This is also a very good sign. This is where most of the reported coverage finished however. There was a hidden gem at the bottom of Oracle’s press release that I haven’t seen highlighted in many reports. Mark Hurd also said:

These strong results extend Oracle’s already commanding lead in worldwide Cloud ERP. Our cloud applications businesses are growing faster than our competitors. That said, let me call your attention to the following approved statement from industry analyst IDC:

Per IDC’s latest annual market share results, Oracle gained the most market share globally out of all Enterprise Applications SaaS vendors three years running—in CY16, CY17 and CY18.

Very interesting indeed …

In-App Guides #1 – Oracle Guided Learning

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Last month I started looking at in-app guides and Fusion – with the aim of finding the best service to increase user adoption and decrease the need for training.

The first that I’ve managed to see working is Oracle Guided Learning. It’s a product that they’ve acquired (Iridize was one of the market leaders pre September 2018’s acquisition) and I’ve been lucky enough to speak to one of the key people from Iridize who is now forging ahead within Oracle. I’ve also managed to speak to some of the people within Oracle University – as Oracle Guided Learning (OGL from now on) is a service that is now part of Oracle University. Here’s a taste of what I’ve learnt:

How does it look?

It looks good.

Here’s an intro popup upon logon:

OLG1

This can either appear every time or be gone for good once dismissed. This welcome can be multi-step and contain content such as video:

OLG2

The main selling point is the interactive guides that step the user through key tasks however. These are triggered from the drawer on the right-hand side:

OLG3

The users can select which process they want to be guided through, thus:

OLG4OLG5

There are some other nice bells-and-whistles, such as the ability to add information beacons and helpful messages beside certain fields:

OLG6

All considered, a very slick offering.

How is it implemented?

Technically, it’s embedded via a JavaScript ‘hook’ into the Fusion application. What is interesting is the model that OGL is sold in. Instead of selling the application with a monthly/annual price, it’s sold as a managed service. Oracle University has a library of pre-built process walkthroughs that they deliver, but you’re not stuck with vanilla as the client is able to customise some of the flows.

What could be important is that OU look after the maintenance for you, so that if a field changes they will perform the changes to ensure it still works. And as they’re part of Oracle they get the releases early so will make the changes in good time.

How is it sold?

It’s sold as a Cloud service product – so you’d subscribe to it in the same way you would your Cloud apps – and the cost is a percentage based off of your Fusion contract value.

Want to know more?

If you’d like to know more please do get in touch.

 

Hands-on with Chatbots (part 1)

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I spent two days last week with a couple of colleagues in Oracle’s city office looking at Chatbots – or ODA (Oracle Digital Assistants) to give them their correct name. It was a really useful workshop.

chatbots

I had been under the misapprehension that chatbots were earlier on the hype cycle than they actually are. Yes, a chat interface will replace most self-service UIs, but that’s 3-5 years off, right? Maybe not.

The growth of messaging apps over the last few years has been incredible. With 6 of the top 10 downloaded apps on the App Store being messaging apps and the spread of chat beyond just the workplace to groups of friends and families – spanning all generations – it’s a technology that almost everyone is comfortable with.

The workshop started with some case studies of companies who already have chatbots live. Examples included:

  • The State of Geneva chatbot allowing citizens to access election results
  • Hermes chatbot allowing users to track parcels
  • Danish Technical University helpdesk chatbot provides FAQs, helpdesk tickets and passwords resets, plus a finance chatbot for expenses, procurement and invoices (integrated with EBS)
  • Pernod Ricard chatbot integrated with JD Edwards
  • Engie (2nd biggest utility company in the World) has a chatbot for Taleo to speed up the hiring process
  • plus about 8-10 more covering government, gaming, sports, brewing etc

So it’s pretty clear that there are many examples of chatbots live, but were they working? It seems like the answer was ‘yes’ there also. Some of the examples above also gave success metrics. The Hermes chatbot has achieved a 50% deflection of customer enquiries away from service agents. They receive 17,000 calls a day and even when a chatbot cannot completely resolve the issue and needs to pass on to a service agent the human interaction time is reduced as the chatbot has collected much of the information needed. The payback time for the chatbot was an astonishing 3 days.

So, after convincing us of the viability of chatbots in the wild already, how do we go about creating them? I’ll address that in part 2 of this post.

Photo credit: Grant Ronald

Fusion and in-app Guides

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I’ve heard a couple of clients recently mentioning that they’d like to have some kind of in-app guide setup to walk their self-service users through common tasks in Fusion, so I thought I’d investigate.

There are quite a few companies that operate in the same area, here are the ones that I found with a short googling session:

Service Cost
Appcues Varies
Iridize Acquired by Oracle, now known as Oracle Guided Learning
MyGuide $1-3/user/month
Pendo Varies
Toonimo Request a Quote
Userlane Request a Quote
WalkMe Request a Quote
Whatfix Request a Quote
UserPilot $119/mth for <2.5k users, $239/mth for up to 10k users

There are also a couple of Open Source alternatives Joyride and Bootstrap Tour. Although they’re free to use, you’re going to need to code to get anything up and running so they’d be significantly higher maintenance.

Over the next few weeks I’ll investigate some of these options and post the results.