Supply Chain Matters has been attending the Oracle Modern Supply Chain Experience conference being held this week in San Jose California, drawing over 2800 attendees.
In our Part One posting, we provided some highlights from the first’s day’s keynotes.
On our Part Two posting, we shared impressions of the Oracle S&OP Cloud application currently in-development.
Our Part Three posting provided highlights of the second day’s keynotes that were focused on future dimensions of transformation.
In Part Four, I shared impressions related to supply chain related transformation, and how this conference again reinforced the increased external forces of change impacting many industry supply chains.
In this final conference wrap-up commentary, we share, in no particular order, our takeaway impressions from the various sessions and conversations we were able to participate in this week.
Let’s begin with attendance, namely upwards of 2800 attendees at a supply chain management information technology focused conference. That ladies and gentlemen, is quite extraordinary and significant. And yes, for those cynics out there, not all wore Oracle on their conference badge. Our sense from various conference Q&A and attendee indicators during sessions, many came to learn and better educate their organizations on Oracle’s evolving platform and applications strategies related to the broad umbrella of processes within supply chain management and to the implications of Cloud.
While we once were critical of Oracle regarding our perception of a slow, somewhat glacial development pace involving Oracle SCM Cloud, this week’s event demonstrated much more momentum that is underway, including the new Cloud S&OP application highlighted in our Part Two commentary. Attendees were informed that over 1300 customers are now on various transition paths involved with Oracle SCM Cloud, which is a doubling of last year’s number. Attendees further witnessed a real-time manifestation of the development release dynamic in one of the on-stage keynotes. Oracle CEO Safra Katz was featured in a fireside chat format, and among her many remarks to the audience, she indicated that one of the company’s key strategic goals was to implement Oracle SCM Cloud within the company’s hardware manufacturing operations by the end of this calendar year. To that end, she indicated her view that development has to deliver at faster pace. That should have resonated with IT and systems implementation attendees. When joined onstage by Cindy Reese, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations, both acknowledged a little sweating and concern to make the December implementation milestone, but that in the end, it will get done. We highlight this since we felt attendees should have perceived that even Oracle internal operations teams are not immune to new technology implementation and change management dynamics. Reese indicated to the audience that her teams needed the Cloud based technology because they could not execute required supply chain process changes needing to get done with the existing Oracle E-Business Suite capabilities. “The architecture is so much simpler than EBS and the built-in analytics of Cloud is a huge benefit for our supply planners. It’s a game changer.”
Supply Chain Matters will keep a keen eye on Oracle’s own implementation and hopefully have some added updates for readers.
We sat in on an Oracle Procurement solution roadmap update session and learned that Oracle will begin to partner with E2open in extending procurement process needs across a B2B network. In fact, there was another session at the conference to educate attendees on the initial phases. This is noteworthy and bears watching.
We planned our agenda to attend as many customer focused sessions as we could. Besides the theme of increased external business change that we shared in Part Four, we noted further common themes reflecting that upgrading of existing behind-the-firewall applications has indeed been determined to be too disruptive for many supply chain organizations. That has led to the motivation of customers to begin to either pilot elements of SCM Cloud, begin efforts to develop strategies for phasing into Cloud, or gather more education and feedback from Oracle customers and partners on best strategies to take advantage of what Cloud can provide over the coming months. This is different than last year’s conference in that customers appear to be more engaged in various levels of active interest. Obviously, this implies a critical phase for Oracle in assuring that pilot customers have what they need to insure successful current and future phases of SCM Cloud.
One of the albeit, indirect benefits of Oracle’s full embodiment of Cloud is the development work being performed in improving the user level productivity and interfaces of existing licensed Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle Procurement, and Oracle Advanced Supply Chain Planning (ASCP) applications. Most all the roadmap sessions we attended regarding these application suites made mention of improved user interfaces and user productivity enhancements. They occurred because a lot of the functionality had to be moved to Cloud instances as well, which implied needs to improve both. Such efforts were further high on the priority lists of Oracle customer advisory teams, and hopefully, will yield a win-win for both camps.
This author was impressed with Oracle’s ongoing efforts to provide deeper analytics and more predictive decision making support features in many of the Cloud based applications. This is bound to pay dividends for customers.
Before closing this Modern Supply Chain Conference impressions commentary, we would be remiss in not complimenting Oracle’s SCM conference planning team in once again, granting the opportunity for more than 120 university students majoring in supply chain management to attend and participate in a Future Supply Chain Leaders tract of sessions. This year, an invitation was also extended to select students from Design Tech High School, a free public charter high school, authorized by the San Mateo Union High School District, that includes co-sponsorship from Oracle and eventual physical presence on the Oracle headquarters campus. We declared last year that this was a great way to garner interest levels in careers in supply chain management and we again urge other tech providers to consider such efforts.
Oracle CEO Safra Katz also chaired a Woman in Supply Chain Management luncheon, and we heard some great feedback regarding the value of that event.
Conference organizers should further be complimented in taking to heart attendee feedback from previous year’s events. They asked for more customer focused educational sessions and more opportunities for peer networking and exchange. Again, from our observations, that seem to be accomplished. We were also a bit tired of previous endless sessions of a solution marketing context. This year’s sessions were more advisory and educational.
We leave the conference with upwards of 20 pages of notes, and we will continue to feature more Oracle focused blog commentaries on a monthly cadence.
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