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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Finally, all the attendees came back together for a social.
It was a great day, and I’m sure it’ll be even bigger next year.
The latest versions of Oracle HCM Cloud look gorgeous and you can create some great first impressions with a well put together theme:
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.
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
- Time & Labour
The full announcement can be found here.
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 …
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:
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:
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:
The users can select which process they want to be guided through, thus:
There are some other nice bells-and-whistles, such as the ability to add information beacons and helpful messages beside certain fields:
All considered, a very slick offering.
How is it implemented?
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.
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.
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
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:
|Iridize||Acquired by Oracle, now known as Oracle Guided Learning|
|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.
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!
Every year at Cedar we hold a ‘Knowledge Day’, where all our employees come off-site and gather in a hotel somewhere to share knowledge. Although there’s significant lost revenue, it’s an invaluable way of getting everyone together and keeping our skills current. It was particularly pleasing that after being acquired our new owners were supportive of the event – with some Version 1 execs having speaking slots.
We spent the morning as a complete group for a number of sessions on Cedar integration into V1, the plans for the future etc. Graham Varley was one of our OpenWorld delegation, so was able to share many of the themes that he’d picked up upon whilst over in San Francisco.
Graham demonstrates a ‘trap’ for a self-driving car (it cannot cross the road markings)
In the afternoon we split into streams – two for PeopleSoft (1x Func and 1x Tech) and a stream for Oracle Cloud apps.
In the Cloud track we started with Cedar’s Mel talking about the differences between Taleo recruiting and the new Oracle Recruiting Cloud module.
Mel and ORC vs Taleo
We were then joined by Andy McGhee from Oracle who was kind enough to run a couple of sessions – one on the work of the HCM Cloud Development Centre of Excellence and how to work better with them, and one on the NewsFeed/Responsive UX.
Andy McGhee on NewsFeed/Responsive UX
Finally we were joined by Andy Camelford and Jonathan Goldsmith who gave us a showcase of the Oracle Learning Cloud – which has come on hugely since many of us had last seen it.
Jonathan Goldsmith on OLC
After that it was back together for some final words, then off to the pub for some traditional networking 🙂
We held Cedar’s annual ‘Cloud and PeopleSoft Executive Dinner’ last night in the fantastic St. Ermin’s Hotel in Westminster.
We had around 50 clients present, plus attendees from Oracle, some from Cedar, and – for the first time – also our new Version 1 colleagues present too.
A venue itself was fantastic:
We started with ‘early bird’ streams where we split the Cloud and PeopleSoft people into different areas and provided updates on their respective products from what we’d gleaned at Oracle OpenWorld.
Then we adjourned for dinner with a Cedar/Version1 update and after dinner speaker:
If you would like an invite for the next one, please get in touch.