- Gold: UKOUG ERP Partner of the Year
- Gold: UKOUG HCM Partner of the Year
- Gold: UKOUG Managed Services (Outsourcing and Operations) Partner of the Year – Applications
- Gold: UKOUG Managed Services (Outsourcing and Operations) Partner of the Year – Technology
- Gold: UKOUG Middleware Partner of the Year
- Silver: UKOUG Database Partner of the Year
Last week I wrote a blog entry suggesting that the any perceived advantage Workday had over Oracle HCM Cloud in the past has now been eroded as Oracle has caught up (and possibly overtaken) in the areas where Workday previously held an advantage.
I then wrote a blog post talking about the momentum a vendor may have and demonstrated it on a merged version of the Magic Quadrant. It’s fallen foul of Gartner’s policies and they’ve asked me to remove certain pieces, as they’re well within their rights to do.
As a result:
- I cannot amend the Magic Quadrant to show historical comparisons
- I cannot link to the Gartner article
- I cannot use Gartner’s conclusions to make a point
The current and last couple of years HCM Magic Quadrants can be found online in many places, such as here.
If you had to place your company’s investment on which Cloud HCM vendor would have the lead in a few years’ time, where would your money be?
The ‘big 3’ of the Cloud HCM world are SAP/SuccessFactors, Workday and Oracle HCM Cloud. Each of the suites has its respective strengths and weaknesses, and situations in which it’s most likely to win in customer head-to-head battles. Being a keen watcher of the ecosystem I’m starting to wonder whether the status-quo might be changing however. Here’s why …
Ignoring SuccessFactors for a moment, let’s focus on Workday and Oracle HCM Cloud.
Historically, if it’s a Workday win it’ll often be down to:
- User Experience,
- Workday’s image in the marketplace (strong marketing, focus on customer happiness), or
- the way that they’ve demoed to the customer (a focus on convincing HR, and/or a superior pre-sales experience).
If it’s an Oracle win, it’ll often be down to:
- Breadth of suite (a wider choice of modules covering more of what the business needs)
- Depth of functionality (sheer number of localisations, and many Oracle modules are more ‘complete’, e.g. benefits, recruiting, learning)
- the way that they’ve demoed to the customer (they’ve sold to the business as a whole, not just HR so other factors come in to play – such as integration, extensibility or the strength of ERP Cloud)
As someone who pays the bills consulting on Oracle HCM Cloud I’m clearly not impartial however I am starting to see signs that the scenarios listed above where Workday has the edge are starting to be reduced. Let’s take them one at a time …
Oracle HCM Cloud’s User Experience has taken a huge leap forward in the last 12 months. The new responsive/newsfeed UI is a big step forwards on both desktop and mobile.
Let’s compare the two’s most recent versions:
Oracle HCM Cloud (as of Aug 2018)
Workday ‘Canvas’ UI (as of WD31 later this year)
I’m not saying any one of the above is better than the other – in fact, both are great looking systems compared to what we had not so long ago – but I don’t think Workday has the UX advantage that it once had.
Workday’s Image in the Marketplace
Everyone loves Dave Duffield (although I doubt he’s on Larry’s Christmas card list) and Workday as a company has certainly managed to garner a very positive image in the marketplace. There are starting to be signs that this is changing however.
We’ve heard of the recent lawsuit where Workday is being sued (together with the SI) by Sacramento City Unified which says it didn’t deliver on a $5.2 million implementation, claiming “for approximately two years the project flailed, then ultimately failed. While Workday and Sierra-Cedar got paid, in the end, they put the district right back where it started with nothing to show after over two years. “
Industry thought leaders
Some high-profile HR luminaries are starting to question whether the accolades are justified:
Matt Charney (Editor-in-chief for Recruiting Daily, named a “Top Recruiting Influencer” by Huffington Post, Glassdoor, LinkedIn and Forbes, plus frequent HR public speaker)
‘When is Workday going to admit (in public) that their “ATS” product is vaporware? Someone really should file a class action against $WDAY.’
William Tincup (HR Technology writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He’s a contributor to Fistful of Talent, Human Capital Institute, Human Capitalist, HRTechEurope, LinkedIn Talent Blog, and HRExaminer and also co-hosts a daily HR podcast called DriveThruHR.)
“Workday’s tagline “Built For the Future” is a wonderful twist on dramatic foreshadowing. Future, as in, you might actually receive usable software at some point in the future. For all the Workday apologists, I’m not attacking the brand nor the people that happen to work for Workday but if you are the darling of our industry you might want to consider releasing best of breed products rather than what you’ve released in recruiting, onboarding, compensation, and learning. ‘
Source (the comments thread on this article is also pretty enlightening)
Here is a selection of complaints on Twitter:
It’s clear that while the decision-makers higher up in the companies themselves might be pro-Workday, those who use the product on a daily basis sometimes have a different opinion.
So, is the tide turning yet? Are the advantages that Workday had (the UI and the positive reputation) starting to be eroded? Time will tell, but this could be the start of a change.
In the R13 upgrade the announcements panel seems to have taken a retrograde step. It used to have a solid white background, have rounded corners and a semi-transparent border, and the contents of the announcement were indented nicely. Something like this:
In R13 we’ve lost the border, the rounded corners, the opaque background and the indent on the contents. It now looks like this:
We do have the option of switching to a banner layout, or replacing the content with an image (where we can more closely control the layout), however what if we just want it back as it was?
You can get it to look very similar to how it used to, you just need a little HTML/CSS.
If you go into the HTML code view of your announcement content and wrap it in a DIV element with some CSS styling it can look like this:
- opaque background? – check!
- semi-transparent border? – check!
- rounded corners? – check!
- indented content? – check!
The wrapper DIV code I used was:
<div style="margin: 20px 0 50px 20px;padding: 20px 20px 50px 20px;background: white;border-radius: 20px;"> ... announcements content ... </div>
Earlier this month I posted a method of getting a Doughnut Chart in HCM Cloud despite only the traditional pie chart being supported – with the cunning use of Google Charts, as first shown by Damien Roux and Julian Challenger.
One that particularly caught my eye was the Sankey Chart, which I thought would be an excellent way of visualising Global Transfers in your organisation. It took a little fiddling and some Logical SQL to get the data just right, but displaying the data by calling out to Google Charts is essentially using the same method as Damien/Julian first did.
Here’s my Sankey Chart showing the transfer of workers around an organisation (LE names on the chart are blurred):
Pretty sweet huh?
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
Mary also spoke about personalisation of the user experience of a service by using data – both from the individual and collective data.
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.
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.
Mary also trumpeted the massive growth in the use of video for consumption of educational content.
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:
Oracle held a webinar tonight, unveiling their newest offering – Oracle Soar – with the strapline “the last upgrade you’ll ever do”.
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.
Larry 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.