Featured image above: Steve Miranda, executive vice president, Oracle applications development | Oracle
Time for another quarterly update on the Oracle Fusion Cloud Applications Suite. For most of Oracle’s customers, the quarterly updates have become standard operating procedure. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) has created a world in which Oracle performs updates without requiring reimplementation by each customer. Some due diligence is needed, but nothing like the on-premises upgrade testing of old, when a quarterly update would have seemed fanciful.
I recently spoke with Steve Miranda, executive vice president of Oracle applications development, in what has become a regular quarterly discussion about what is new in Oracle Fusion Applications.
AI and automation is helping customers optimize supply chain management
It is no surprise that supply chain issues have been a challenge for companies since the pandemic started. Oracle has responded by adding to its traditional optimizations around cost and time-to-fulfill in order to help customers boost resiliency and help users perform more complicated supply chain planning.
Oracle has also implemented AI and machine learning in its supply chain planning application to improve the product with robust algorithms that handle the sophisticated customer use cases. Machine learning improves the accuracy of lead-time assumptions by highlighting variances based on actual performance. Planning efficiency and results can be enhanced by identifying lead-time trends, anomalies, and potential impacts with AI-assisted prioritized actions and suggestions for resolution.
With these advanced planning capabilities natively integrated with Oracle’s other supply chain modules, plan changes flow seamlessly to the supply chain execution system.
To further highlight the value of a single integrated suite of applications (I wrote about this last month), Oracle has also enhanced quote-to-cash process in Oracle Fusion Applications. The integrated solution connects Subscription Management (CX), Configure Price and Quote (CX), Order Management (SCM) and Financials (ERP), enabling customers to quote, capture, fulfill orders (of mixed physical goods, subscriptions and services) efficiently, and recognize revenue accordingly. With centralized subscription orchestration, customers can track usage ratings, comply with accounting requirements, improve order management, reduce costs and time to market, and provide a seamless customer experience.
In addition, Oracle Fusion Cloud Supply Chain & Manufacturing (SCM) also includes new rebate management capabilities, which should help customers streamline rebate programs, improve audit claim accuracy, and gain better visibility into program performance. Part of the Oracle Channel Revenue Management module, the new capabilities automate the rebate management process from rebate calculation through to financial settlement to help improve payment accuracy, reduce administration costs, and enable customer claims to be quickly settled.
Supporting employee development and potential
In a tightening job economy, even in this recession, external hiring can be challenging. As a result, companies tend to look internally at both who has the talent to fill critical positions and how they can build the needed skills using learning and mentorship programs.
To support these needs, Oracle Grow is a new set of capabilities within Oracle Fusion Cloud Human Capital Management (HCM) that encompass talent management, learning, succession planning, and employee growth. Oracle Grow gives employees a clear vision of the skills needed to advance in a current role, highlights opportunities made possible by acquiring new skills, and uncovers possible career paths. By using AI across Oracle Learning, Oracle Dynamic Skills, and Oracle Talent Management, the solution can deliver personalized guidance to the employee.
From the employer perspective, Oracle Grow helps HR leaders better support employee development and potential. HR can monitor skills needs and gaps across teams and the organization as a whole, assign specific skills needed to achieve business objectives, and automatically add skills to every employee’s profile.
How does Oracle prioritize features and capabilities to add to the upgrade list? Miranda answered this by walking me through the company’s three sources of feedback. The first source, which accounts for the bulk of the new features—around 80%—is customer feedback. Oracle uses an online community of customers and partners called Customer Connect. Within the forum, an ideas section broken down by product allows customers and partners to submit ideas and enhancement requests and have the community vote on them.
Second, Oracle also prioritizes enhancements for specific industries. For example, healthcare has been the focus of several recent enhancements, with wholesale distribution, telecommunications, and banking also on the radar. In those specific industries, it is more a question of knowing that there’s a feature gap, rather than relying on a specific customer request. In these instances, customer involvement happens after the fact; in other words, improvements are Oracle-initiated and customer-validated.
The third scenario is to introduce new technology to address issues that customers are not currently talking about or even aware of. AI in the supply chain is a good example. In the future, Oracle is looking at applying generative AI to help customers even more.
On top of these three feedback sources, Oracle uses Oracle products. The IT group that manages the products internally at Oracle sits with the development teams. The philosophy is that if Oracle needs a certain feature, it’s impossible that the need is unique to Oracle. In other words, if Oracle needs it, then customers do, too.
I would say that this approach seems to keep Oracle well-grounded with its customers. Every Oracle keynote features four or five customers speaking about successes and their partnership with Oracle. During earnings, we see even more. The laser focus on customers is a continuing theme I see from the company, and the I believe, primary reason for Oracle’s momentum in the market.
Oracle’s other advantage is its ability to natively, without APIs and SLAs, connect the front end of the enterprise (customers and sales) with the back-end ERP, natively. This is where the enterprise SaaS market is headed and Oracle is already there with Fusion, and for that matter, NetSuite.