A week ago I attended Oracle OpenWorld London. I could only get one day away from client site and the event spanned two days, however the HR content was mostly on the Thursday so that’s the day I went to. Here’s what I learnt:
The first session of the day was the team from Macdonald Hotels. They’re a couple of phases into their Fusion roll-out already and Kevin, Lauren, Emma and Jason spoke talked through different aspects of their Core HR, Payroll and Taleo implementation.
It’s a good story – Kevin had a smart apartment block analogy for using Fusion (I won’t spoil it here, and I suspect this won’t be the last time Macdonald Hotels speak at Oracle events so make sure you catch them).
Lauren spoke about recruitment and said that they can go from raising a requisition, through email approvals and onto the opening being published on job boards in 10 minutes. Very impressive.
Emma gave some detail of their payroll – 3,500 payees across 13 payrolls, some of which have some tricky national minimum wage offset and live-in staff fast formulae. Jason covered reporting and said that they really only use BIP if they need to, as OTBI is much more accessible so the whole team can use it and has built-in security.
They’ve gone from paper-based processes and no self-service so it’s quite a jump. The team are properly passionate about HR and have a strong focus on the end-user experience so it’d be great to see more of their implementation.
Mark Hurd Keynote
Mark was the Oracle keynote speaker and having seen him present in person before I was looking forward to seeing him talk again. He pulled out at the last minute – I guess he was ill – which was unfortunate.
He did speak remotely, however I took the opportunity to catch up with some customers who were present instead.
As you’d expect for a company the size of AXA, their roll-out has a significantly longer time-scale. They’ve been working on it for a while though so they’ve made good progress. They’re working with a blend of partners (about 5, I think).
My biggest takeaway from this session was their Quarterly Update approach. They alternate between the mandatory changes during the Oracle enforced timelines and optional changes in the gaps. They do not want to fall too far behind the curve or build up a big backlog of changes to apply so are taking optional functionality in between each of the Quarterlies. Their view is that “There’s no happy ending, it’s a neverending story.”
They also had a nice model for displaying the roadmap items to identify quick wins and high-value changes.
I was looking forward to hearing Chris Leone as he’s a charismatic speaker who is always positive about new functionality. He’s also high enough in the Oracle hierarchy to be able to freely discuss the upcoming changes.
Chris walked us through the functionality that we’ll be looking to get our hands on and then said:
“Normally, vendors show roadmap slides showing 6 to 12 months out. This is all coming in the next 3 months.”
What a great message.
Some of the functionality that he discussed was:
- Location-based access control – roles can only be active if the user is in a particular place, so users could view self-service globally, but only see certain higher security pages when in the office.
- HCM Experience Design Studio – making personalisation quicker and easier
- He demoed Performance Management on mobile using voice input
- He also spoke about an imminent ‘Mobile Challenge’. It seems Oracle are so confident that their new responsive UI is the right way to go (instead of native mobile apps) that they’re creating a mobile challenge where you can see how the pages look on your device versus other vendors.
The venue itself seemed really busy – I’ve seen estimates of 8-10,000 attendees and I guess the high turnout took Oracle by surprise as I heard that the registration queues on Wednesday were lengthy.
The demo grounds were busy with lots of exhibitors and the balance of existing customer/potential customer/vendor/partner was healthy. The lunchtime sandwiches were a bit ropey though – I might bring my own next time!
Larry’s Sunday night keynote at OpenWorld is always good value. He’s a rare beast in that he’s a CEO (or now ex-CEO) who can talk the language of the business but also gets the tech behind it. He litters his slide commentary with digs at the competition which is always entertaining too.
So, what were the big ticket items that impact us in the world of Oracle Cloud this year?
In a move clearly aimed at Government departments and companies with stringent security requirements, Larry announced Cloud@Customer.
The service provides the same hardware and software as that which runs in the Oracle Public Cloud, but behind your firewall. It’s managed by Oracle and you don’t pay for the hardware, it’s all part of the subscription pricing. Larry said that it’s the same price as if it were in Oracle’s Cloud too, which would be amazing if that comes to pass as the Cloud is normally significantly cheaper.
My understanding of this is that it’s not ‘HCM/ERP Cloud within your Firewall’, unless you subscribe to Cloud@Customer as infrastructure and then install HCM Cloud yourself.
Cloud Adoption – ERP
Larry also talked about the customer success that the Cloud applications have been gaining, and contrasted it with the competitors.
He showed this slide comparing the breadth of the ERP Cloud functionality vs Workday Financials:
Larry went on to say that ERP Cloud has 10x the number of Workday Financials customers, but that Workday are not catching up – ERP Cloud has twice their growth rate.
These were the numbers and geographic spread as-of the end of Oracle’s Q4, there’s another 200 on top of these now.
Cloud Adoption – HCM
Larry surprised many by announcing that HCM Cloud is selling 2.5x as fast as Workday (900 new customers in FY16, compared to Workday’s 318).
Aggressive Competition with Amazon
Now that Larry believes that the SaaS and PaaS areas of the Oracle Cloud stack are moving along nicely he drew focus onto the Infrastructure as a Service area. He announced that Oracle are going to compete much more aggressively with Amazon in this space, showing some comparisons where Oracle Public Cloud delivers more power for less money than an equivalent AWS instance.
More Tools for Building Cloud Apps
Larry announced more functionality within the Oracle Developer Cloud, including wider language support, more APIs and better integration. He also announced a development platform for extending the SaaS applications without writing any code, which he then went on to demo with a fun chatbot application:
Slick and amusing, it showed a chat based interaction between Larry and the Oracle Cloud (touching on both procurement and HCM). Of course, this is only the next step – voice interaction is the logical next one – however, it’s functionality that keeps Oracle ahead of the competition.
Some of the OOW announcements are “the product is Generally Available” and some are more of an “it’s in the medium-term future” announcement. Larry’s announcement of Machine Learning AI felt a little more like the latter, however, in the near future we can expect our Cloud applications to apply machine learning algorithms to predict business decisions, such as Optimised Payment Terms in ERP and Best-Fit Candidates in HCM.
The full keynote can be seen here.