This week, Supply Chain Matters, with the presence of Executive Editor Bob Ferrari, is in San Jose California attending and participating in the annual Oracle Modern Supply Chain Experience Conference. Oracle MSCE

In this first commentary, we provide highlights from the first day’s opening sessions.

This year represents the 6th annual occurrence of this particular conference, and each and every year the attendance grows larger. Over 3000 attendees were registered for this year’s event, breaking last year’s attendee number of 2800. While Oracle can boast that the conference represents the largest supply chain technology focused conference held, Supply Chain Matters would advise that it is far better to focus on the trend of far more interest and attention in understanding and influencing advanced technology use in supply chain business process and decision-making needs,

Rick Jewell, Senior Vice President of Oracle Supply Chain Development was the focal point of the opening session. In his introductory remarks, he cited research data indicating that upwards of 50 percent of CEO’s say their industries will be digitally transformed by 2020. On the other hand, three-quarters of those supporting digital transformation in various forms are not quite sure about the journey. Digital transformation may not be working for many companies and that is what a conference such as this is all about, providing added information, access to technology development teams and opportunities to network and exchange views with other industry and peer professionals.

Jewell announced that there are now upwards of 1800 Oracle SCM Cloud focused customers on various transformational journeys toward digital transformation. That number is indeed meaningful given our tracking of such numbers since the SCM Cloud suite of applications was originally released. Oracle continues to broaden the suite’s capability and Jewell highlighted its new approach to supply chain demand and supply planning, true lifecycle and socially-enabled Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Omni-channel order-to-cash process support and best-in-class transportation, logistics and trade management capabilities.  He further emphasized that Oracle’s ongoing development efforts in adding more web services, Internet of Things (IoT) and Blockchain technology support will continue to be architecturally based on Oracle current advanced analytics platform. He stressed that unlike Oracle’s competitor’s, Oracle does not want to burden customers with need to add more data scientists to gain benefits, but rather providing technology users to interact with user-friendly advanced analytical and data analysis tools to gain needed insights and decision-making needs.

Release 13 of SCM Cloud has now reached a quarterly release cycle where existing customers can take advantage of new technology enhancements every three months. Jewell also disclosed that in addition to current support for Discrete Manufacturing, the suite will be moving toward Project Manufacturing support very soon, followed by Process Manufacturing support.

On-Stage Customer Interview

Jewell then transitioned to interview Richard Scheitler, CIO of The Wonderful Company, and a producer of consumer brands such as Fiji bottled water, JUSTIN Wines, POM Wonderful fruit juices, Wonderful Halos tangerines and Wonderful Almonds and Pistachios.

The consumer goods producer has been an existing Oracle E-Business suite customer since 2006, and since that time has under gone significant business growth as well as a quite a number of business changes. Scheitler observed that while EBS has been a “workhorse”, upgrading was a challenge. The company therefore made its decisions to embark on the transition to Cloud a year ago, after evaluating options for a full re-implementation of EBS, or a hybrid combination of financial control in the Cloud and supply chain on premise. After attending last year’s conference, the decision was made to move totally to the Cloud.

The CIO described the overriding decision toward full Cloud came down to a consideration of technology implementation and upgrade every five or more years, to instead the option of 20 “mini-upgrades” on a Cloud platform. That would provide more benefit to various businesses and became the basis of their decision.

Jewell prompted the CIO to describe the experience thus far, and the response was candid, namely that the Cloud does bring certain challenges, but overall, the process is moving along. Jewell raised the “elephant in the room” question related to SCM Cloud not currently supporting process manufacturing. Scheitler’s reply was acknowledging that there were gaps, but his team is working very closely with SCM development to insure that future web services and applications are compatible with process manufacturing needs.

All the above is the likely acknowledgement that one of the customer co-development partners for SCM Cloud support in process manufacturing is indeed The Wonderful Company.

Finally, responding to an audience question on final thoughts related to moving an large and growing organization toward Cloud adoption, the CIO response was: Get into the facts and details of functionality being offered, do what is right for the business, and there will always be day-to-day technology challenges. It is important therefore to have a strong relationship with the technology partner.

Wise words.

Stand tuned for continued coverage.

Bob Ferrari

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