Supply Chain Matters continues with its series of live dispatches and now initial summary impressions regarding the 2017 Oracle OpenWorld conference held in San Francisco this week.

In our first dispatch, we highlighted the opening keynote delivered Sunday afternoon by Oracle Executive Chairman Larry Ellison.

Our second dispatch highlighted Co-CEO Mark Hurd’s  keynote and some observations of the Monday sessions.

Our third dispatch on Tuesday focused on Oracle’s latest and most profound Cloud technology announcements included in Larry Ellison’s second keynote, that being a modern cyber security focused management system.

Our fourth dispatch included observations and insights  related to the implications of this week’s stunning technology announcements from Oracle in the area of an autonomous database and soon, mission-critical  autonomous OLTP operational system platform.

In this blog commentary, we will take a summary look back at four nonstop days of sessions, executive interviews and other interactions to provide our readers a B2B and supply chain management context to this year’s event.

Let’s begin with numbers and the sheer-scope of an Oracle OpenWorld customer event.

Event Perspective

Oracle indicates that there were 62,000 registrants for this year’s conference. Picture in your mind that amount of people concentrated in a 2-3 block area of downtown San Francisco.  This event included upwards of 2000 customer-led presentations complimented by hundreds of educational session, and that is a positive improvement over prior year OpenWorld events. With Oracle’s recent acquisition of NetSuite, a separate SuiteConnect venue was conducted for upwards of 12,000 NetSuite customers at a nearby Marriott hotel. Having attended this event for over ten years, this author wonders aloud whether Oracle can continue to conduct such a large-scale, singular event. The sessions were very crowded, some turning way attendees due to capacity, while nearby restaurants and hotels were swamped with attendees and visitors.

Product Headlines

As noted in most all of our prior dispatches, the principle product headline of this year’s event was the dual announcement of the autonomous database and the related automated cyber-security system. In Dispatch Four, this author penned specific insights and observations related to the supply chain management context of these announcements.

There was also the usual flurry of new product announcements involving many other technology platform and business applications areas. Our readers should take special note of various announcements of Internet of Things and adaptive intelligence capabilities being added to a variety of supply chain management and ERP focused applications including process support areas of manufacturing, customer order management, maintenance and field service management, product lifecycle management, transportation and logistics. Oracle presenters stressed that organizations can take advantage of such capabilities without the need of data scientists because of built-in self-navigation design principles. We touched upon some of these applications in our highlight of Release 13 of Oracle SDCM Cloud.

Oracle further announced what is described as an enterprise class Blockchain Cloud Service characterized as providing higher resiliency and greater security coupled with a common API structure. There were related Blockchain focused product announcements in areas of Cloud-based procurement transactions and intercompany B2B transaction flows and other supply chain process areas

Oracle announced a 400 percent performance improvement in graphical processing (GPU) computing capability which will have particular meaning for applications related to advanced analytics and Internet of Things enablement that many of its business application Cloud platforms can leverage including Cloud SCM and Cloud Procurement.

This author had the opportunity to sit-in on a session related to Oracle Procurement Cloud Strategy and Roadmap. This Cloud-based suite has made considerable progress in its ability to support a totally Cloud-based, end-to-end procurement process support capability with added functionality in areas of Sourcing, Supplier Management, Contracts, Self-Service Procurement, Budgetary Control and Encumbrance Accounting and P2P process support. Oracle continues to deepen support for B2B Messaging and Networking capabilities through partnerships with e2open and other B2B network providers. Oracle is also addressing needs for supporting different purchasing management models that include centralized, local or regional or hybrid management models.  The suite update cadence now includes four incremental update releases annually.

NetSuite executives indicated that synergies from the acquisition have afforded its product development teams to now be able to more broadly tap capabilities of the Oracle SaaS, IaaS and PaaS platforms, especially its needs for Cloud muti-tenant computing capabilities.  Oracle further provides added resources to enable NetSuite to broaden its Cloud ERP capabilities to broader industry verticals including some select micro-vertical process needs. Announced was Oracle Blockchain Services for NetSuite to allow SMB businesses the ability to also leverage the technology in their specific supply chain management processes. Also announced was the leveraging of Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service to support more sophisticated planning requirements.


Customer Momentum

In our prior commentary of Oracle’s recent fiscal quarter financial performance, we highlighted the discernable momentum of Cloud based customer adoption both in platform and ERP business application dimensions. We committed to provide readers some additional perspectives on Cloud SCM customer adoption.

This Editor did have the opportunity to sit with Rick Jewell, Oracle’s Senior Vice President of SCM and IoT Product Development. Jewell shared that the SCM Cloud suite now includes close to 1700 customers.  Once more, he indicated that in addition to being the next extension to a customer’s Cloud ERP adoption plan, recent customer adoption decisions involve the initial selection of SCM Cloud for specific process support, followed by later adoption of Cloud ERP financial and other application support needs. Recent SCM Cloud adoption in fiscal Q1 included customer names such as Arris, Office Depot, Titan Tire and Vertive, among others. Juniper Networks has adopted the Supply Planning functionality of SCM Cloud Release 13 to interface with an SAP ERP backbone.

Summary Thoughts

Overall, this week was yet again, a significant customer event for Oracle, one that sets a somewhat different corporate mission in the months to come, that being a head-to-head competitor with a combination of existing ERP, enterprise technology, Cloud computing utility and specialty infrastructure providers. This Editor was been advising our clients and readers to anticipate this pending battle and indeed this is the state of market dynamics.  There is good news, however, companies and their broad supply chain management systems selections team have better choices. A final thought relates to how quickly technology continues to evolve concerning the needs to support business and supply chain digital transformation. The reality is now that advanced technology is no longer the overriding challenge. Instead, a business’s ability to address the required process, information and people needs remains the front and center challenge.

In the coming weeks, we will be sharing additional insights, obervations and perspectives from the vast volume of notes that we captured. We will also profile a fairly interesting IoT technology focused start-up that was brought to our awareness by the Oracle Cloud Accelerator Program.

Bob Ferrari

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