The Supply Chain Matters blog highlights Oracle’s recent Cloud SCM Virtual Summit, the differentiating strategies and functionality that this provider continues to reinforce within its native Cloud based application offerings along with some important takeaways from this event.

 

The Event

Last month, Cloud enterprise software and infrastructure provider Oracle streamed a SCM Virtual Summit to global audiences.

Rick Jewell, Oracle Senior Vice President, Applications Development provided the session keynote with some insightful messages related to existing and future supply chain management business process and decision making.

He observed, and rightfully so, that the pandemic exacerbated disruptive events and problems that existed months before, especially during 2020. The knock-on effect has been continuous in disruptive impacts across various global regions, whether it is availability of component supply, production or transportation service needs. Co-existing with continuous supply chain disruption are needs among various businesses to transform into more customer centric, both in products and associated integrative services.

Jewell reiterated that Oracle made a conscious decision years ago to develop its entire applications stack from the ground up in a Cloud native architecture. The uniqueness of Oracle is that native is a much broader perspective and includes Gen 2 Cloud infrastructure, database, advanced analytics and simplified/flexible user interfaces if customers desire to adopt that direction. Not all supply chain software providers can attest to such an accomplishment. Some have attempted to rearchitect legacy software code to run in a Cloud environment.

Likewise, and unlike some other software applications providers, Oracle encourages different on-ramps, allowing customers to determine which areas of innovation they want to start in their enterprise resource planning or supply chain digital transformation journey. At the same time, all supported processes are pre-integrated with information flows, analytics and decision-making determinants.

Like other growing Cloud based software applications providers, the design development goal is to make applications configurable to support industry specific or business process variation. That does not include the ability to customize, which Oracle development executives constantly stress. That is a fundamental value proposition of Cloud based applications, namely, to provide customers with a continuous stream of configurable functionality on a quarterly basis which can be ingested based on customer innovation needs, at the pace a customer desires to adopt. The fact that business and supply chain management teams have been able to adopt this technology during business lockdowns or in the backdrop of ongoing pandemic related business conditions is testament to the flexibility of Cloud based deployment models.

Readers can view this 35-minute event by accessing the event web link.

 

Additional Perspectives and Event Takeaways

As Supply Chain Matters has noted in other published content and advisories, there is a need for many supply chain management teams to rethink business and supply chain business processes in the wake of the ongoing lessons and cascading supply chain disruptions provided by the pandemic. One very clear need is the ability to capture real-time digital and physical information needed to make the best -informed decisions. At this event, and in many other similar events involving Oracle customers, companies consistently cite enhanced access to near real-time information as one of the more compelling benefits in their planning, decision-making and customer fulfillment execution.

Other examples related to new thinking or new direction include setting up flexible production facilities within regions of specific demand as opposed to global wide supply network movements. Another is focusing on overall supply network risk and resiliency needs, avoiding as much as possible single sourcing for critical materials or production capability. There is now an increased urgency for incorporating added efforts in sustainability and social responsibility among supply chain strategies and business practices.

A further differentiating area for Oracle is the ongoing internal transformation toward positioning software development to a services-based construct. With upwards of 1,100 various applications making up both the Cloud ERP and SCM suite offerings, the company now maintains a quarterly software release cadence averaging 200 plus features in each release. We have previously made mention of this provider’s Customer Connect process which brings together applications development, customer support and services under a singular umbrella. Customers have a direct conduit into Oracle Applications Development group for pulsing specific needs for process enhancements. Such laser focus on customer feedback and success had not been the purview of Oracle when this industry analyst began covering Oracle fifteen years ago.

At this point, Oracle has garnered over 3,200 Cloud SCM customers. Typical on-ramps have been either initial adoption of the company’s Cloud ERP applications, particularly financial, human capital management or procurement business support areas. That has been followed by select areas of Cloud SCM support. Other customers have elected to augment existing business backbone systems with specific Oracle Cloud SCM applications in areas such as planning, logistics or manufacturing automation. Oracle can now reference customers who are essentially all in with portions of ERP, SCM, database and Cloud infrastructure elements. Some were highlighted in this and prior virtual events.

Oracle’s further goal is to motivate more of the company’s existing ERP and supply chain EBS, JD Edwards and other legacy behind the firewall footprints to initiate their upgrade efforts to the SCM Cloud stack. There now appears to be added momentum in this effort. The strategy has consistently been one of supporting transitional movement and upgrade efforts, on a process by process need based on customer business priorities. Unlike arch competitor SAP SE, Oracle has provided active customer listening and maintains more customer account control as to roadmap scope.

A final note relates to the closing video of this virtual summit. It is a salute to all supply chain and logistics workers, thanking them for their efforts and sacrifice. Have a view. Perhaps other tech providers can do the same in recognizing the hard work of all those assisting in keeping supply chains to their mission. While some may view such videos as cheesy, they do by our lens provide a recognition of contribution that transcends technology.

 

Bob Ferrari

 

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