Oracle OpenWorld London recap

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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:

Macdonald Hotels

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.

macdonald hotels

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.

AXA

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.

Chris Leone

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 leone

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.

Overall

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!

The Cedar/V1 Knowledge Day

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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.

01 - Graham Varley on OOW Themes
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.

02 - Mel Billingy on ORC vs Taleo.jpgMel 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.

03 - Andy McGhee on The HCM Cloud CoE and Newsfeed & Responsive UXAndy 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.

04 - Johnathan Goldsmith on OLC
Jonathan Goldsmith on OLC

After that it was back together for some final words, then off to the pub for some traditional networking 🙂

 

Cedar’s Annual Executive Dinner

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We held Cedar’s annual ‘Cloud and PeopleSoft Executive Dinner’ last night in the fantastic St. Ermin’s Hotel in Westminster.

01 - Venue

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:

03 - Tables from above.jpg

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:

05 - SW top 5s.jpg

If you would like an invite for the next one, please get in touch.

HCM Cloud and Robots

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A short explainer video on the use of RPA (Robotic Process Automation) tools with Oracle HCM Cloud.

UKOUG Award Success – A Thank You

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Cedar / Version 1 had a fantastic night at the UKOUG Partner of the Year ceremony last week. Not only was the venue, food, entertainment and company all wonderful, but we had a successful night with awards. We had wondered whether it’d be a difficult year as the Fusion, PeopleSoft, JDE and E Business Suite awards had been combined into one HR and one ERP award. As someone who mostly focuses on the SaaS applications now it was these two awards, plus the Managed Services award for Applications that were the ‘holy trinity’ for me. Happily, we won Gold in all three! Here’s the full list of Version 1 awards:
  • 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
  43121750_2242993639068386_7003163700496433152_o.jpg The only way to get votes in this competition is with happy customers, so we’re blessed that we have enough customers in each of the above categories that consider us worth voting for. So thank you, for taking the time to vote for us. We genuinely appreciate it.

Cloud HCM and Momentum

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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?

 

Cloud HCM and the Turning of the Tide

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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 …

User Experience

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)

cb40-hcm-topic-page-1-4419787 (1)

Workday ‘Canvas’ UI (as of WD31 later this year)

Canvas Desktop

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.

Lawsuit

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.’

Source

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)

Social Media

Here is a selection of complaints on Twitter:

Source

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.

chrome_2018-08-16_00-06-32

Summary

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.

Fixing the R13 Announcements Panel

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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:

announcements in r12

In R13 we’ve lost the border, the rounded corners, the opaque background and the indent on the contents. It now looks like this:

announcements in r13

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:

announcements in r13 fixed

  • 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>

Visualising Transfers on a Sankey Chart

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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.

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

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):

Sankey

Pretty sweet huh?

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: