Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2018

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Mary Meeker has delivered her annual Internet Trends report and – as usual – there’s a lot to consider. Others have picked it over for general points of interest so I won’t repeat that, so instead I’ll focus on possible ramifications for Oracle’s Cloud Apps.

Mary Meeker

Mobile Users / Internet Users

There was no growth (in 2017, compared to 2016) on new mobile phone shipments. Have we reached smart-phone saturation point? Also of note is that it’s now a completely two-horse race with no alternative to Android (~85% market share) and iOS (~15%). Growth in internet users sits at about 7%, so this growth is on platforms other than mobile. Internet usage now sits at 3.6 billion people, ~50% of the World’s population.

Although there’s no increase in mobile phone sales, those that are using the internet on their smartphones are spending more time using them. Of the average 5.9 hours/day, the majority of this is on a mobile device (phones & tablets).

internet hours

The new HCM Cloud newsfeed UI – which is responsive on mobile devices – cannot come soon enough in this respect.

Chat use is Rocketing

The main chat platforms – Whatsapp, FB Messenger, WeChat, Instagram and Twitter – have risen sharply in the last few years.

chat usage.png

The leader – Whatsapp – is now at an incredible 1.5 billion monthly active users and is still climbing.

Any concerns that we may have about the adoption of Chatbots within Oracle Cloud should be lessened as customers will surely be comfortable using multiple chat interfaces by the time they are released.

Machine Learning

Google’s reported accuracy for its Machine Learning software has passed the 95% level that is used as the benchmark for human accuracy. The Amazon Echo install-base is now up to 1/4 of US households and there are now 30,000 “skills” in its repository of commands.

All this means that voice is increasingly important. I’ve heard of Oracle Voice – and seen a video of a salesperson adding an entry into Oracle Cloud in the back-seat of a taxi via voice – but haven’t heard of any other delivered offerings in this area. I’ve also seen the Steve Miranda demo during the Oracle Soar announcement (if you missed the demo, it’s 2 minutes and can be seen here).

Personalisation

Mary also spoke about personalisation of the user experience of a service by using data – both from the individual and collective data.

personalisation.png

She also mentioned a paradox related to this personalisation. Companies obviously need to store more information about each user in order to effectively personalise the service to the individual’s needs, however there is increasing caution about which companies hold personal data.

Clearly, the HCM Cloud parallel is the imminent newsfeed UI which adapts its content to the user and the intelligent defaulting of fields based on machine learning algorithms.

Regulation on Data

Unsurprisingly given the Cambridge Analytica / Facebook debacle Mary highlights rising concerns about what companies are doing with our data. Many countries have updated data privacy laws (including the EU’s GDPR). What is more of a shock is that the data privacy laws in the US haven’t changed since 1974.

regulation

Oracle’s investment over the last couple of years in building out its global data centre coverage will definitely help allay concerns where customers have requirements to deploy in countries where the regulations are more rigorous.

Security and Malware

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that relying on the same security that you did 2, 3 or 5 years ago is just inviting trouble. There is 12x the number of observed malware attacks than there was 2 years ago. Mary says “Adversaries are taking malware to unprecedented level of sophistication & impact … and for some the prize isn’t ransom, but obliteration of systems & data.” 

That Oracle have increased the focus on security precautions and detecting malware with their autonomous threat detection and machine learning algorithms is definitely a good thing here.

Bite-size Learning

Mary also trumpeted the massive growth in the use of video for consumption of educational content.

learning

This ties in very nicely with Oracle Learning Cloud, which enables the delivery of bite-sized videos, either stand-alone or as part of a series, to aide continuous learning within a company.

For those with time to kill, the full (294 slide) deck can be seen here:

 

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What is Oracle Soar?

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Oracle held a webinar tonight, unveiling their newest offering – Oracle Soar – with the strapline “the last upgrade you’ll ever do”.

Act 1

The webinar started with Larry outlining the premise that if you’re an eBusiness Suite Financials customer you can ‘upgrade’ to ERP Cloud (here the term ‘upgrade’ was used in the context of moving from EBS to ERP Cloud). Then – thanks to the continuous delivery model giving you incremental improvements – you’ll never need another upgrade project ever again.

LarryLarry looking comfortable in jeans and trainers

So Oracle Soar is the term for moving to the Cloud and ridding yourself of upgrades? No, not really.

Act 2

In the next part of the webinar Larry covered ‘how’ the upgrades happen. Oracle will deliver automated upgrades from EBS to ERP Cloud (or Fusion, as Larry repeatedly called it). This part sounded very smart as the evaluator tool looks at integrations and customisations, plus there’s a configuration analyser which looks at config and memory etc. It then automatically configures your Fusion instance in the Cloud. The data is then automatically extracted, transformed and loaded. Larry claimed that it’s all completely automated, however I would think semi-automated is really the best that you can hope for here, given the complexity of some on-premises implementations (and Oracle have nodded to this by also offering consulting services alongside the automation).

Oracle are leading with EBS Financials (12.x and above), however other modules and Apps Unlimited systems (including PeopleSoft) will follow at some unspecified point in the future.

So, Oracle Soar is the automation that upgrades you from Apps Unlimited/on-premises to the Cloud? No, not really.

Act 3

Next Larry brought Steve Miranda on-stage for a product demo of a very impressive extension of the base HCM Cloud offering that Oracle had built for Verizon. Steve asked Amazon Echo / Alexa for any outstanding approvals just using voice interface. Alexa read out an absence request. Steve asked for the employee’s remaining vacation balance, which Alexa gave him. Then Steve then approved the the absence request.

steve

It was a very slick demo, and a wonderful glimpse of the future, but I was scratching my head to understand what this had to do with Oracle Soar. Maybe they just wanted a fun interlude?

Act 4

In the next segment it was announced that there’s a consulting offering alongside the technical tool – Oracle Consulting Service will provide up to 30 integrations and custom reports.

There was also mention that Fusion comes with a large library of over 100 pluggable integrations (potentially reducing the amount of integration rework when moving from EBS) and – given the broader functionality in Fusion – the opportunity to retire some customisations.

Larry then returned to the Fusion sales-pitch, discussing the level of automation in ERP Cloud (automated consolidations enable continuous daily closes, invoices and expense reports are scanned with near 100% accuracy, automated fraud detection, extensibility with Visual Builder etc).

All very interesting and exciting, but it seemed that we’d meandered away from Soar again.

Act 5

Beth Boettcher (SVP North America Applications Consulting) came on stage next and talked through some mock-ups of a dashboard that Oracle will use to help walk clients through the process.

dashboard

It looked very slick as a templated project delivery and there will be some clients who can work within the bounds of the template that’ll find it useful. Beth also did well to fit all of the offerings (including Oracle University, Customer Success Manager etc) into an aviation theme.

Summary

I’m sure when the marketing material arrives the service will be a lot clearer, but the initial announcement was a strangely structured 40 minute session, with Larry unveiling the technical wizardry, a couple of interludes where the product was highlighted and the services offering bolted on the end.

So what is Oracle Soar?

Oracle Soar is the umbrella term for a set of services that migrate on-premises customers to the Cloud by:

  • helping with the difficult parts of implementation by automating them (requirements gathering, integration, migration), and
  • providing a templated project structure and consulting services to accelerate the move to the Cloud

There will be an on-demand replay posted here if you wish to see the announcement for yourself.

Doughnuts and HCM Cloud

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Today is – apparently – National Doughnut Day, so here’s a very tenuous way of talking about Oracle HCM Cloud within the context of doughnuts.

A couple of months back I tried to find a way of getting doughnut charts within OTBI in HCM Cloud, as they look more modern than a traditional pie chart. I couldn’t find a way so posted in Oracle’s Cloud Customer Connect site and learnt two things:

a) doughnut charts are not yet supported in OTBI, and

b) pie/doughnut charts are a poor choice of visualisation in almost every circumstance

I temporarily abandoned my quest and it was only while looking at another post on Headcounts on a World Map featuring some excellent work by Damien Roux and Julian Challenger that I realised that they are calling out to Google Charts from within OTBI. I had a look at the available chart types in the Google Charts Gallery and lo-and-behold, there’s a doughnut chart!

Using the same techniques as Damien and Julian (using the Google Charts javascript within a Narrative view) it was relatively trivial to get a simple doughnut chart within OTBI:

doughnut

Happy Doughnut Day!

Footnote:

Google Charts can do a lot more than just doughnuts and maps. Have a look at Gallery 1 and Gallery 2 for a broader range.

Cedar’s Annual Cloud Day – recap

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Cedar’s annual Oracle Day was held earlier this week in London. It had a good mix of content across 4 streams and we had about 80 people in attendance so some sessions were standing room only.

I was particularly pleased as this was our strongest year yet in terms of content and speakers for the Oracle Cloud stream.

Gender Pay & Robots, What Does the Future of HR Look Like?

We started with Andy Campbell’s session. In addition to the topics in the title he also talked about gig workers, diversity, millennials and we all played a game called “How likely is it that a robot will take my job?”

01 - Andy Campbell

If I recall correctly, there’s a 77% chance that bartenders will be out of work when the robot revolution arrives.

Oracle Recruiting Cloud and HR HelpDesk Cloud

Mike Everitt followed up with two sessions, one focusing on the new Oracle Recruiting Cloud that Oracle have released which looks great and is very, very exciting – particularly for mid-size clients initially.

Mike also gave us a thorough demo of the HR Helpdesk Cloud. For those from the PeopleSoft HR world we always had to deploy CRM to get HR Helpdesk, now we can get it without having to set up lots of integration between pillars.

02 - Mike Everitt

Lucy Group: Around the World in 30 Days

Bianca Shephard – the client-side Project Manager for the Lucy Group implementation – gave a really good session on how to implement HCM Cloud and end up with a company full of employees who love the system.

03 - Bianca Shephard

If you want to hear Bianca speak or more about the implementation there’s a 3 minute video here.

Keynote: What’s Now & Next for Oracle HCM Cloud

Excitingly we had two speakers for the HCM Cloud keynote – June Farmer and Sarah Henry.

June appeared via video link to give us a run through of the high-level themes and a bit about where AI fits into the applications (areas where we already have it, and areas that it will be added to). June did a great job, despite it being very early in her time zone and didn’t mind us beaming her face up on the 12 foot wide screen.

04 - June Farmer

June was followed by Sarah who gave us great demo of how the newsfeed UI – that we’re expecting later this year – is going to dramatically improve the experience for our customers and their users. Not only is the homepage very different, but many of the application pages are being redesigned and streamlined too.

05 - Sarah Henry

Sarah did an awesome job demoing across multiple gadgets to show how the UI adapts responsively to different device resolutions.

Summary

So, in summary, a great event with a lot to consider for customers – whether it’s future HR trends, potential new modules, how to make your users fans of the system or how the newsfeed UI will change the game.

R13 – Get Username Displayed Again

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One of the things that we lost when we moved from R12 to R13 is the username in the top right corner. For end-users in production it doesn’t really matter as they’ll only be logging in as themselves, however during the implementation in Test we frequently log-in as different personas so it’s useful to see who the user is for your current session.

username

The initials we have in R13 offer a clue, but in non-Production pods it’d be nice to be able to see the full username. Luckily, there’s a tiny tweak that you can make to allow this.

Part of the idea came from this ERP Web Tutor video that shared the idea of putting static text in the global region/header bar:

ERPWebTutor

We’re going to take it a step further though, by including dynamic content instead of static text. The steps are as follows:

  1. Create yourself a fresh Sandbox and activate it
  2. From the Settings and Actions menu, select Customize Global Page Template
  3. Click in the centre of the Global Region and add an HTML Markup component (it needs to be HTML, not plain text, so we can style it appropriately)
  4. Click Close to exit, then click Customize Pages
  5. Edit the HTML Markup and use the following in the Value field:
    <p style="font-size: 18px; -webkit-margin-before: 10px; -webkit-margin-after: 0px;">
      <span style="color: rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.5);">
        User:&nbsp;
      </span>
      #{webCenterProfile[securityContext.userName].displayName} 
      <span style="color: rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.5);">
        &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Pod:&nbsp;
      </span>
      TEST
    </p>
  6. Click Close and test your change.

It should look like this:

final version

Notes:

  1. If your global region has a pale background you’ll need to tweak the colours/transparency so the text appears clearly.
  2. You’ll notice from the above HTML snippet that the username is dynamic and the pod is hard-coded. I’ve not yet found a way of bringing the pod alias in dynamically.
  3. I had to tweak the position of the HTML Markup component once as it was pushing the icons to the right past the edge of the screen. If you’re having problems place it inside the dark blue box in this picture, not the light blue one.

positioning

 

Branding R13 (pre-Newsfeed UI)

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The branding in Release 13 is a touch different from what we had in R12 as we’ve been given a few more options in the Appearance toolkit. Oracle have upgraded Cedar’s partner environment to 18A so we’ve refreshed the look’n’feel. The 18B update later this year brings in the new ‘newsfeed’ responsive UI, but until then let’s see what we can do with the current toolset:

Layout

The first choice is for the overall springboard layout: Panel or Banner?

 

Panel is the layout we used to use in R12 (on the left, above), and we get a new option of the Banner layout in R13 (on the right). If we use the Banner layout we also get to choose what appears in the horizontal banner: Social, Announcements or nothing (hide the banner altogether). We like using the Announcements as it gives the most control over the contents.

Colours

Now you can move on to the colour scheme. There’ll likely be a mandatory corporate brand that you have to follow here so there probably isn’t much choice for Prod. We strongly recommend going for a markedly different colour in each environment however, so it’s easy to quickly distinguish them.

We also use a background watermark with the word ‘Testing’ on it to help further in that respect. More on that here.

Other Options

Finally, there a host of other options such as icon size, shape and colour. You can also alter the appearance of some of the pages and buttons. As a final touch you’ll want to replace the Oracle logo in the top left (we’ve found that 134×25 pixels works best) and you’re good to go.

You can create a number of styles really quite quickly:

Branding 1.png

Branding 2

Oracle Recruiting Cloud Workshop

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This week I was fortunate enough to attend a 3-day workshop on the new Oracle Recruiting Cloud module.

It was my first proper look at the module and I was curious to see what Oracle have done, as there has been a lot of negative publicity about Workday’s new recruitment module (here and here). My first impression is that Oracle have done a really good job. It doesn’t do everything that Taleo Enterprise does yet, but most of the core functionality is there. Oracle have shared the road-map and many of the missing pieces are coming before the end of the year.

I’ll post a full review next week, but here are a couple of screenshots to show why I’m so excited:

Recruiting 1

Recruiting 2.png