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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

Oracle MBX 2018 recap

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Last week I attended Oracle’s MBX (Modern Business Experience) conference held near the O2 in London. Here’s what I learnt:

General

It was busy. Really busy. I’ve also been to the MBX in each of the last 3 or 4 years and this was – by far – the biggest event. I think it even took the organisers by surprise how many people were there as the registration was super-lengthy and there weren’t many lunches left. Busy conferences can only be a good sign.

Thomas Kurian Keynote

Thomas Kurian shared some big customer success stories in his keynote:

ERP:

  • PWC are running globally on a single ERP Cloud instance
  • Dropbox put 5 million AR transactions a day into ERP Cloud
  • Orange are running globally on a single ERP Cloud instance

HCM:

  • Sainsbury’s have 160,000 employees live, and now rolling out payroll
  • Macy’s are live with Payroll for 180,000 payees
  • Engie are live with core plus Learning, Performance, Rewards for 150,000 employees

He also shared this very crammed logo slide:

2018-04-18 09.50.23

Ray Wang Keynote

I’ve followed Ray on Twitter for a long time and I was looking forward to seeing him speak for the first time. It was a real exercise in concentration. Not only does he never stop moving, energetically pacing from one extreme of the stage to the other:

2018-04-18 10.38.37-2

but he speaks so quickly, and shares his ideas so fast that it’s hard to keep up. You don’t get time for the first nugget of info to sink in before he’s half way through the next one.

Great fun though!

Gretchen Alarcon HCM Keynote

I always enjoy listening to Gretchen speak as she always manages to anchor whatever functionality she’s discussing with real-life use cases.

2018-04-18 12.11.11

Gretchen shared that chatbots are coming to HCM later this year. Recruitment first – which we’d previously heard – but also to Core HR. She also explained that although HCM Cloud has had predictive algorithms for many years these will be on the increase with the next uses being succession planning and spotting anomalies in employee expenses, pay, timesheets etc.

She also said that the $6Bn+ a year that Oracle spends on R&D means that they have 40,000 developers. That’s a staggering amount of people.

HCM Panel Session

Finally, I attended an HCM Cloud panel session. Andy Campbell hosted a chat with Sainsbury’s, Morgan Stanley and Co-op about their successful HCM Cloud rollouts.

2018-04-18 15.07.51

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.