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