Oracle has been on a bit of a roll as of late. The company that I thought was cloud-challenged is now winning cloud deals left and right. I believe its Dedicated Region Cloud@Customer (here) is the easiest hybrid cloud solution to understand, it won both Zoom, 8x8, and even TikTok. It is winning on the cloud app side as well and has arguably become an essential cloud applications company this year. I say that because no other vendor can come close to offer the breadth and depth of solutions and this is important for customers at this stage.
For example, if you need to rethink how you engage employees due to remote work or need to implement new workplace health and safety practices, Oracle has applications for that. If you need to change the way you work with your partners as your supply chain changes, Oracle has everything you could need. If your finance team needs to change the way it closes the books or runs scenarios planning and budgeting, Oracle ERP has you covered. If you are increasingly reliant on digital channels to engage customers, Oracle has a comprehensive suite of customer experience applications. I could go on, but you get my point.
In July 2020, I took a look at all these capabilities in an article detailing updates to Oracle Fusion Cloud, which is Oracle’s suite of cloud-based business applications that includes Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Enterprise Performance Management (EPM), Supply Chain and Manufacturing (SCM), Human Capital Management (HCM), and Customer Experience (CX).
Judging by the large number of views, this topic is of interest to many of you, prompting me to take a closer look at why Oracle is taking market share from SAP and putting increased pressure on point solutions such as Salesforce and Workday. As part of that I recently spoke with Oracle EVP of Applications Steve Miranda and it was interesting to learn more about how Oracle has been executing on one strategy for more than a decade and how that strategy is rooted in customer success.
Yes, every vendor talks about customer success, but this was different. For example, the options Oracle offers its applications customers are very different to its direct rival SAP. Oracle has a policy that it calls “Applications Unlimited” and this basically means that customers will receive unlimited support and updates to their on-premises applications until they are ready to move to the cloud. A stark contrast to SAP that I believe has presented its customers with deadlines and ultimatums.
Another point that was clear to me was Oracle’s commitment to the suite. Oracle has been focused on building a complete suite of applications in the cloud for over ten years and now I see other application vendors like Workday and Salesforce copying that strategy. It’s a hard act to follow though as the challenge with building a suite by acquisition is that you don’t get the integrations - common data model, workflow engine, etc. – that make a suite so valuable in the first place.
Going back to the latest news, I will include a brief overview of the new software updates and then provide a "state of the union" opinion on Oracle Fusion.
Today, Oracle announced many new features and capabilities, but I wanted to highlight just a few that demonstrate how Oracle continues to help customers adjust to the "new normal."
Supply Chain and Manufacturing (SCM)
The last 12 months have stretched supply chains to the limit as organizations wrestle with the disruptions of Covid-19, shifting global trade agreements, rapidly changing customer expectations.
New features in Oracle Fusion Cloud SCM include artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to display recommendations that optimize new product introduction (NPI) and enable customers to respond to current and anticipated production disruptions.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP now includes protection against the increased risks of insider threats, compliance and audit costs, and privacy issues associated with a remote workforce. The new security controls leverage machine learning to automate security monitoring. It includes security dashboards to easily track incidents and an intuitive workflow to help customers quickly and easily approve and certify employee access.
A new function called Business Continuity Management will help customers prepare and respond to operational, safety, and security risks caused by Covid-19 and other future events. With this functionality, finance teams can quickly assess risks, document and approve recovery plans and keep executives in the loop to minimize reputational, operational, and financial impacts.
Oracle Unity, Oracle’s customer data platform
Known in the industry as a Customer Data Platform (CDP), Oracle's Unity uniquely integrates within the transaction and execution system. In other words, integration with Marketing, Service, Sales, and ERP for orders and payments.
Updates include real-time behavioral data collection and personalization capabilities. Organizations apply machine learning to customer behavioral data to power personalized digital experiences across websites, apps, and point of sale. Additionally, Oracle Unity now supports both B2B and B2C brands with a complete platform for managing all customer data.
“State of the Union”
Oracle has long had an extensive portfolio of business applications – on top of its own applications, it acquired Siebel, Peoplesoft, JD Edwards, etc. – and just like any other suite of applications, each came with good and bad features. Oracle Fusion was born as a combination of the best features from all these different applications and was initially sold as an on-premises application before made the decision over a decade ago to transition to the cloud and re-write all of its applications to support Software as a Service (SaaS) model.
Oracle hosts the instance in one of its servers; in return, the customer pays a monthly subscription depending on the number of modules implemented. It is the company's most significant growth area today.
Fast forward to today, Oracle is accelerating its Cloud offerings. The current Cloud Applications suite includes everything an organization could possibly need to run its business from CRM and Financials to HCM, SCM and even industry specific applications. Within each of these groups, sub-categories provide multiple layers of services and modules.
Oracle says it has more than 7,000 customers on the SaaS model, all on the same software version receiving hundreds of new features across the board via a quarterly update. Oracle's Cloud applications are rapidly evolving in both breadth and depth of offerings, and it has considerable momentum. These are exciting times to be working at Oracle.
What customers are saying about Oracle Fusion
The first thing that struck me about Oracle Fusion customers was the diversity. From cloud-native folks born in the cloud such as Dropbox to more traditional brick-and-mortar companies like Office Depot.
As you listen to these customer stories, there are recurring themes that emerge that provide us insight into the product's success, which I highlight below.
- Mature, flexible, and configurable software functionality integrated to support every business function in the enterprise. Adoption of new features and functionality on a more regular basis. Frees support teams from worrying about servers and infrastructure to focus solely on business functionality and support.
A significant competitive advantage for Oracle as organizations reject point solutions and look for a full suite of applications supporting the front and back office.
- Straightforward pricing, a very welcomed change from other products/providers. Oracle ERP Cloud offers a simple enterprise pricing with three price/functionality levels.
Oracle scores highly in independent evaluations of customer happiness. Gone are the days of Oracle forcing things down your throat.
- Switching from the on-premises implementation of business applications to cloud hosted Oracle Cloud ERP Cloud avoids capital expenditures for the hardware refresh and costs associated with patching and upgrading software, as Oracle maintains its cloud software on a 90-day rolling upgrade.
There is a perception that once you have committed to a platform like SAP, you can never move off quickly. But Oracle has many customers who have moved to the cloud, enjoying the SaaS model's benefits.
I have enjoyed watching the rise of Oracle applications. Having a clear strategy for SaaS for more than a decade and focus on customer success has clearly been significant, and the products are now more comprehensive and feature rich than ever as they are increasingly enhanced by the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities.
The pace of business is accelerating, and the pandemic has just accelerated that even more. Customers who have moved to Oracle Fusion show they are nimbler now with less risk to the business. A testament to the benefit of continuous investment through a real SaaS model.