In this Supply Chain Matters blog posting, supply chain business process and technology industry analyst Bob Ferrari provides highlights and takeaways from Oracle’s Future of Business online event held this week.
Oracle conducted another in a series of semi-annual Oracle Cloud Applications online virtual events. This week’s event was titled, Oracle Live- Build the Future of Business and like the prior instances, was again a rapid-fire one-hour event to update listeners on the latest adoption trends.
These events are designed to feature Oracle technology adoption journeys, but this week’s event featured a laser focus on inviting customers discuss their Cloud applications journeys, the business benefits received, the lessons learned, along with individual perceptions of Oracle as a services provider.
From this industry analyst’s lens, the new format was quite effective.
In opening remarks, Steve Miranda, Oracle’s Executive Vice President for Applications Development indicated that this past year, the technology provider has had to adapt with speed to current events, technology changes and customer demands.
He shared with viewers four consistent themes that are being experienced in ongoing Cloud applications adoption. They included discernable uptick in customer adoption levels with a focus of either singular process or business unit adoption, or a big bang enterprise applications replacement. Special emphasis was placed on customers who have adopted Cloud because of a desire to move away from a complex array of overly customized applications instances that cannot easily be transformed into today’s needs for more digitally focused business and customer fulfillment processes.
It just so happens that some of the customers who presented have migrated away from market competitor SAP SE. Further themes were a desire to be able to adopt innovation at a much faster cadence which today’s Cloud applications can support.
Once again, there were examples of how supply chain management transformation processes become an important catalyst in these adoption movements.
A further theme was Oracle’s ongoing emphasis on speed that factors speed of deployments, a speed to benefit and an ongoing transformation from being perceived as an enterprise technology to a more technology services provider.
TTX Company is a privately owned railcar pooling company that owns and leases the majority of trailer intermodal, automotive flatcars and boxcars among North American railroads. Presenter’s representing this company included Victoria Dudley, CFO and Treasurer, along with Bruce Schinelli, the company’s Chief Information Officer (CIO).
In her remarks, Dudley indicated that TTX’s business model has a primary focus on providing the most reliable equipment when it is needed. She described the year 2020 as providing two major inflection points: the first half with a dramatic drop-off in rail transport volumes due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on industry supply chains, with the second half of the year where intermodal railcar usage needs rapidly increased.
Prior to 2020, the company’s applications footprint included an older and highly customized on-premise SAP applications backbone. As the business models of the rail industry began to change it became increasingly apparent that the company could not continue to rely on supplemental manual based or spreadsheet driven processes. That was a further realization that an overly customized technology environment was fueling added and unsustainable IT support costs. Noted was that keeping-up with business changes was nearly impossible and there was a desire to evaluate a bold Cloud adoption technology strategy. That included a singular platform with modern enterprise and mobile based access supported on a contiguous Cloud environment.
After evaluating various market providers, TTX elected to go with Oracle in a big-bang adoption approach. As the company’s CFO noted, it was a “lift the band aid approach’. Elements included Oracle Fusion ERP, EPM, HCM and SCM application suites. The implementation timing, in retrospect, turned out to be timely, in that the go-live was planned and implemented on January 1, 2020.
Cloud applications now being live for over a year, the two TTX executives were asked to describe the business changes that have occurred. Communicated was that teams can now focus on the business vs shortfalls of technology. People are now better able to realize end-to-end business process and cross-functional decision-making relationships. The company was better able to manage 2020’s business changes, and now the added rail industry inter-modal changes brought on this year with ocean container volume explosion.
The new cadence of quarterly added functionality releases from Oracle has allowed TTX to be able to focus on added innovation with an internal team that evaluates each quarterly release for business process use. Both executives stressed the importance of change management and on user and skills-based training.
Asked about their perceptions of Oracle, the executives indicated that they would not be part of this event without having a solid collaborative relationship. The company has become active in Oracle’s Financial and SCM Customer Councils and described Oracle teams as being very responsive and forthcoming to customer needs in current and future planned functionality.
Overall, this was an incredibly positive customer testimonial.
Another customer that presented was global cookie and snacks provider Mondelez International. Robert Owen, North America lead for Mondelez’s transportation technology transformation described an SCM surround deployment that included adoption of Oracle Fusion Transportation Management technology.to support this CPG producer’s external manufacturing and distribution networks to include owned warehousing and direct store delivery (DSD) replenishment fulfillment.
Owen additionally described compelling needs for added innovation in logistics processes given today’s landscape of continuous supply chain disruptions and increased emphasis on material flow synchronization. Existing legacy on-premise software applications were out of date and lacking support and the organization elected to adopt a Cloud focused applications deployment to be able to better support a complex array of plants, external contract manufacturers, distribution centers and suppliers.
Owen described the deployment as not just an upgrade but a mindset change, that innovation is no longer optional, and that speed in multiple dimensions equates to a new competitive advantage. The new cadence of quarterly added functionality releases ensures that the business will be able to continually innovate in not be behind in logistics and transportation management.
Responding to his perceptions of Oracle’s support, he noted that this was a key to the success of this effort and that the Oracle account team was very responsive to Mondelez’s needs throughout the deployment process.
Other customer presentations included The Kroger Company, one of the largest grocery retailers in the U.S. with over 2700 retail stores, 35 private label manufacturing facilities and an online grocery presence. The retailer moved from an overly complex environment of upwards of 15 disparate HR management legacy applications to Oracle Fusion Cloud HCM in order to both standardize HR processes and provide added employee serf-services across the company. In addition to HCM, Kroger is transforming its end-to-end ERP needs.
Responding to the question of Kroger’s perceptions of Oracle, Bridgit Klare, Senior Advanced Engineering Manager focused on the HCM deployment described her team’s relationship with the enterprise applications provider as highly collaborative and transparent, with Oracle providing dedicated resources to Kroger’s transformational needs. She also mentioned that having a voice into development timetables was meaningful
Readers wishing to view the above noted business presentations or Steve Miranda’s remarks can access this Oracle Live events website. (Registration information may be required.)
Supply Chain Matters has previously communicated that Oracle is clearly providing much more cohesion in applications strategy as well as clearer understanding of business process and technology solution needs in these unprecedented times of business and supply chain challenges. That tone was again manifested in this week’s event, but having customers tell the story in their words was far more effective.
This analyst appreciates this messaging format, and other supply chain management technology and services providers should take special note of this. Having senior development or marketing executives communicate a provider’s value to businesses is fine but does not have the genuineness or creditability of actual customers.
Once again, this analyst remains impressed with Steve Miranda’s leadership in understanding such strategies and in helping to steer Oracle application development into becoming more customer value and service centric. Competitors such as SAP and others should be paying close attention to this since advocating a strategy where major partners, particularly large system integrator companies, serve as to frontline the pulse and benefits of customers has a certain drawback.
In the industry analyst and market influencer briefing event held in conjunction with the online event, Miranda was very precise in describing why customer adoption momentum is on the upswing, namely that businesses are beginning to understand that needed business agility and technology innovation can be best achieved with a Cloud applications adoption strategy. Obviously, the goal is to nudge Oracle’s installed based of prior on-premise applications deployment to begin their migration efforts. However, the added benefit has been netting new customers undertaking this journey, and as our coverage of Oracle has indicated, there is a tone of prior SAP customers in this mix.
More importantly, however, is that line-of-business and functional support teams, including supply chain management focused, are now understanding the differences between hosted and native applications deployment and information integration.
A further consistency of theme that we continually sense not only with Oracle, but other software applications providers is that completeness of applications suite and candid testimonials from other customers have becoming far more influential in new technology adoption decisions. Steve Miranda specifically mentioned that Oracle has observed that prospects have become very savvy in talking with other customers, their respective functional peer groups, or non-biased market observers over technology provider strengths and weaknesses. We would add from our observations that time-to-solution-value and technology lifecycle cost considerations remain a pervasive criteria.
A final insight to share is that supply chain management process, customer fulfillment and decision-making needs will remain an important and influential catalyst for ongoing Cloud applications adoption, particularly now, with these unprecedented challenges surrounding multi-industry demand and supply networks. Whether it involves an SCM surround, full functional suite or part of a larger enterprise transformation, supply chain will be evident and of context.
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