This week, Oracle conducted the Oracle Cloud Applications online virtual event hosted by Steve Miranda, Executive Vice President, Applications Development.  The event was designed to feature some recent Oracle technology adoption journeys and to have various Oracle Cloud applications development executives present updates for their respective Cloud software application areas.

Overall, this was a well planned event with messages that will resonate well with businesses considering adoption of more digital based business processes and decision-making.

Oracle Cloud Applications

Conference Keynote

In opening remarks, Miranda indicated that the COVID-19 disruption brought home the notions for business having to pivot in previously unexpected ways, in previously unimagined time periods, especially in areas of conducting more digitally based business processes. That included the sudden needs in health and safety protocols, presenting a digital customer experience, as well as the need to conduct more dynamic supply and demand planning.

Mentioned were Oracle customers that elected to go-live with new technology in the throws of the pandemic, some of whom were delivering needed healthcare and social services.

Miranda described some common traits of ongoing enterprise applications technology adoption as being driven by:

  • Building a more agile organization.
  • Electing a continuous innovation path that Cloud based applications can provide.
  • Running on next generation technology especially with systems uptime, reliability and performance as a more important business concern.
  • Finally, transforming the business not for the sake of technology, but required business process enablement.

Miranda further reinforced Oracle’s existing business priorities in the area of Cloud-based business process support applications.

From an internal organizational perspective that included an ongoing focus for Oracle itself transforming to a more service- based provider rather than a pure products provider. This effort has included bringing together applications development, customer support and services under singular leadership. Indicated was that Oracle has re-doubled efforts to listen to customers utilizing Customer Connect communities and online interactions directly with various product managers in addressing individual application product areas, functionality development priorities and other customer needs. Oracle is not the only enterprise technology provider making such as effort but Oracle’s efforts seem to this Editor to be more focused and meaningful.

From an ongoing applications development and support lens, Miranda reinforced Oracle’s Cloud based applications deployment strategy where customers will be provided quicker on-ramps to subsequent automation, that users are not forced to adopt all available functionality in any one application area, but that options are available based on a customer’s determined business process priorities. Noted was that the company’s ongoing technology release cycles now average over 100 enhancements per quarter and that is expected to continue.  Every enhancement is released with turn-off as the default mechanism, allowing customers to manage and control use of available functionality when they are ready. Further announced was  the initial availability of the new Oracle Redwood user interface that has more emphasis on digital assistants, colors and aesthetics in retrieving and presenting information. This Editor has viewed Oracle Redwood in its earlier beta forms and the interface is indeed ground-breaking in ease of use and in understanding informational trending, exceptions and outliers.

Miranda indicated that customers should anticipate that many of Oracle’s Cloud based applications will increasingly be conversationally based, leveraging digital assistants in interaction along with Oracle Redwood.

 

Applications Product Strategy Updates and Announcements

After the initial keynote, each of Oracle’s senior development executives across each application area provided applications keynotes depicting ongoing product strategy timetables and available technology.  This event was further utilized as a backdrop to announce that latest quarterly releases related to Oracle Cloud SCM, Oracle Cloud ERP, and Oracle Unity applications areas.

 

Oracle Cloud SCM

Rick Jewell, Senior Vice President of Applications Development for SCM and Manufacturing noted in his keynote that the last six months have indeed presented many challenges for multi-industry supply chain management and manufacturing executives and their respective teams.

Jewell indicated that supply chains were under pressure even before the pandemic and that predictability, sustainability and stability were always the overriding heartbeat for global supply chains. Ever evolving geo-political tensions and now COVID-19 has laid bare such notions. Board room and C-Suite discussions now include supply chain strategy, with new priorities for supply chains now focusing  on resilience, agility and flexibility of supply chain business processes and decision making.

Jewell further provided a rather bold statement: “Supply chains need to evolve and not as just cosmetic surgery” He described his belief that the new shift among global supply chains will be: “Make where you sell, Sell where you make.”

Noted was that biggest obstacle for supply chain innovation still remains with on-premise systems where the majority of effort and inherent costs relate to maintaining such systems vs. fostering needed innovation.  Many companies have experienced that pain during the ongoing pandemic.

In the area of Cloud SCM and Manufacturing product strategy, Jewell indicated that the priorities have centered on added support for process based and project-driven supply chains. Other areas of innovation have been on Oracle Business Network, Process Manufacturing Constrained Planning, Backlog Management, Planning Advisor and IoT enabled Logistics among other areas.

Over the next three quarters, innovation areas were noted as added Process Manufacturing support including AI/ML enhanced detailed scheduling, Channel Revenue Management, the first iterations of the Oracle Redwood user interface, higher volume order processing support, IoT Digital Twin with AR, and Machine-learning enabled procurement spend classification.

Our Supply Chain Matters readers may be interested to note that Oracle Cloud SCM has now garnered over 2800 customers and according to Jewell, over half are now live. The SCM keynote included interviews with some of these customer and we encourage our readers to pay particular attention to the interview with the CIO of semiconductor equipment provider Cohu. He describes a big bang implementation but more important, from our lens were the reasons and justification.

 

Latest 20C Quarterly Release

The latest updates for Oracle Fusion Cloud Supply Chain & Manufacturing (Oracle Cloud SCM), includes enhancements areas of enhanced supply network collaboration, proactively managing supply chain assets as well as implementing longer-term supply chain planning. This release additionally augments Oracle’s support for project-driven supply chain management focused environments found in aerospace, construction and engineering driven equipment manufacturing supply chain business process needs.

Noted highlights to this update include:

Oracle Logistics Digital Assistant: Providing on-the-go access to real-time supply chain information through a conversational interface that responds quickly, improves user satisfaction, and increases business efficiencies. In addition, users can now access order status and shipment tracking remotely without having to navigate through the Oracle Transportation Management application or understand complicated data mappings.  As Supply Chain Matters readers residing in consumer products or retail focused supply chains are likely aware, mobility-driven information capture, retrieval and status have become the new table stakes for today’s Omni-channel world of flow-thru logistics and customer fulfillment.

Oracle AI Planning Advisor: Technology that leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities embedded within Supply Chain Planning to display recommendations that optimize new product introduction (NPI) and enable customers to respond to current and anticipated production disruptions

Planning for Project-Driven Supply Chain: As noted above, added support now optimizes supply planning for project-specific material requirements and execution of purchase orders, transfer orders, and work orders – all with project and task references. By matching demand and supply based on flexible rules, customers are able to group projects and plan at the group level when supplies can be combined across many projects.

Multi-Tier Supply Chain Collaboration: The latest update improves visibility into upstream supply to increase overall supply chain responsiveness. Oracle Supply Chain Collaboration can now synchronize upstream supply information such as on-hand balances, purchase order details, and work order details from multiple tiers of external organizations. The data is then automatically shared with Oracle Supply Planning Cloud.

Cross-Product Procurement Enhancements: Oracle continues a focus toward simplifying integration with external systems to help customers integrate and extend procurement processes via new and modified REST APIs. In addition, the Oracle Procurement Cloud application features new deep links that provide easier navigation directly to application pages without using the menu structure. These links can be leveraged in a variety of ways, including in business intelligence reports, notifications, and third-party application pages.

At a press conference held for industry analysts and technology influencers, this Editor asked SVP Miranda whether continued enhancements in multi-tier supply network collaboration and now extension of procurement business process support across direct and indirect supply networks via REST API’s are indeed added foundational steps for Oracle Business Network, a B2B supply chain Cloud functionality. Miranda indeed confirmed that strategy.

 

Oracle Cloud ERP

The latest functionality releases within to Oracle Fusion Cloud Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Oracle Fusion Cloud Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) include themes for added support for more predictive based planning as well what is described as touchless operations.

Oracle now claims upwards of 7300 Oracle Cloud ERP customers.

Noted highlights of the latest update include:

Corporate and Project Planning and Budgeting Capabilities: For project-driven businesses, new functionality combines planning and budgeting with project management to improve execution of strategic corporate plans and control of approved projects. This reportedly enables ad-hoc scenario modeling to plan costs for indirect and capital projects, while also creating a single business flow to increase cost visibility, reduce approval times, and accelerate project execution.

Business Continuity Management: new functionality designed to assist businesses to prepare for potential operational, safety and security risks that might be caused by future events. This reportedly allows finance teams to quickly assess risks, document and approve recovery plans, and keep executives informed to minimize reputational, operational and financial impacts. Obviously with the constant reminders of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic disrupting so many industries and businesses, this enhancement was likely on the top of the prioritization listing.

Intelligent Performance Management: Designed to Uncover hard-to-spot data patterns to deliver actionable and contextual insights, helping improve the quality and business impact of financial and operational decisions. This particular enhancement has likely added benefit for supply chain management teams participating in integrated business planning processes where the ability to quickly uncover correlations in overall business performance can lead to faster time-to-action.

In this latest update, Oracle has added additional functionality features related to industry-specific business process needs related to asset intensive industries, utilities and oil and gas.

 

Summary and Reader Takeaways

There were other featured presentations related to Oracle applications areas including Cloud SCM, ERP, CX and HCM and we encourage readers to have a view at their convenience.

In subsequent Supply Chain Matters updates, we will explore in more detail other areas brought forward in the Cloud SCM and ERP areas.

In terms of overall impressions, there is little question for this Editor that under the leadership of Steve Miranda, Oracle is providing added cohesion in applications strategy as well compelling motivations for businesses to consider elements of digital transformation now more seriously. Make no mistake that this provider more fully understands the needs of businesses in what the new normal of business presents across industry settings.

We have been on record for several years now advising our readers that the Oracle Cloud SCM suite is compelling in its manifestations of SaaS based information integration and in its wide coverage of functional and line-of-business process support areas. This technology provider’s added emphasis on customer success seems far more genuine  and that technology adoption should not be viewed as disruptive. Oracle also fully understands the vulnerabilities of its competitors, especially arch rival SAP.

This was a well planned and timely technology focused event, worthy of a viewing of the various presentations.

 

Bob Ferrari

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