© Oracle
© Oracle
Blog Digital Transformation

Quick Wins In A World Of Constant Change

It feels like nothing is the same anymore, doesn’t it? COVID-19, economic upheavals, and an unprecedented labor shortage have turned the world upside down, and many companies are struggling to stay right-side up.

Employees are resigning en masse, opt­ing for early retirement, or driven out of the workforce by burnout. Consu­mers are abandoning their favorite brands because of supply chain issues; a recent Oracle survey found that 80 percent of re­spondents would stop buying a brand completely because of delayed orders. Meanwhile, treasury and the cash position is top-of-mind for every CxO. They need to reduce costs, but they also need to under­stand their cash position so they can make the right investments in their next busi­ness model.

These are big challenges, and they can feel overwhelming. But the good news is, you don’t need to tackle every problem at once. You can start by focusing on a single business challenge – reducing procurement costs, improving planning cycles, or finding and keeping the best employees.

Many companies are moving from on-premises systems to the cloud, but you can’t expect to do this overnight. Whether you’re an Oracle or SAP customer, regard­less of your starting point, you can reap in­stant business value with Oracle Cloud. This is not a rip-and-replace scenario. While your on-premises backbone ERP solutions are still up and running, you can start to de­ploy Oracle SaaS too – for example, Oracle Cloud EPM for planning, budgeting, tax and profitability management, or Oracle Trans­portation Management. Let’s look at a few ways that Oracle is partnering with customers to help them achieve quick wins.

Profitability through planning

Over the past couple of years, how many times did you need to revise your plans and forecasts? How long did it take you? As we cope with the fallout of a global pandemic, planning cycles have shortened from months to weeks, or even days and hours, to real-time planning. The business en­vironment continues to change at a mo­ment’s notice, so you need to be agile enough to re-plan and re-forecast quickly.

The big picture

Finance has typically taken the lead on budgeting and forecasting, but finance can’t plan accurately without looking across the entire business. When your workforce, supply chain, and operations are among your biggest challenges, you need to bring in data from all these depart­ments for a holistic plan. That’s where connected enterprise planning co­mes in. Connected enterprise planning bre­aks down the silos between departments, combining all plans – HR, supply chain, sa­les, marketing, projects, and more – on a single platform.

When the business environment was stable in times past, your company could get by with siloed plans. Departments could send their budgets to finance to consolidate periodically, but each team executed its individual plan without ex­pecting much change. That’s no longer the case. In today’s era of constant dis­ruption, plans need to be changed and ad­justed continuously. It’s less about crea­ting the perfect plan, and more about re­finement and reforecasting.

We see organizations constantly run­ning scenarios and planning for contingen­cies, as well as creating new models and rethinking strategies. The role of finance has evolved from consolidating plans to helping guide the company’s strategy and roadmap. They’re collaborating with line of business teams on tactical steps to achieve their long-term vision. You can see this in the way that Kraft Heinz, an SAP customer, gained more granular insights into each of its brands with Oracle Cloud EPM. Kraft Heinz now has fast, de­tailed insights across its many lines of business, with unprecedented access to pro­duct-level profitability and cost ma­nagement.

“We now have visibility of our entire P&L down to the SKU level,” said Eric Men­dez, Kraft Heinz’s associate director of fi­nance and IT, in a recent interview. “We can allocate our costs globally down to the SKU level for the first time. That’s exciting.”

Connected thinking and integration

Connected enterprise planning gives lea­ders the decision support to act quickly on real-time information and stay ahead of disruptions. Traditionally, however, pulling together data across lines of business has been painfully slow. True integration re­quires an end-to-end, planning-to-execu­tion, closed-loop system. With integrated business planning and execution (IBPX) from Oracle, you can help speed up plan­ning cycles, react to the unexpected, and readjust your plans to fit your new reality.

While long-range planning features are important to integrated business plan­ning, advances in technology and compu­te power help planners adjust to near-term shifts in demand or supply with more suc­cess. Oracle’s ability to integrate the exe­cution details from supply, manufactu­ring, logistics, and order management sys­tems give planners the ability to adjust to change and continuously improve long-range planning. True integration requires this end-to-end, planning-to-execution, closed-loop system. The ultimate goal is to know sooner, act faster, and adapt to chan­ge. With a single hub, leaders have visibili­ty into what they need to make effective, rapid decisions and avoid the information gaps of the past.

For example, Juniper Networks makes high-performance networking products and services. Their supply chain team felt they were underperforming on customer service and cost. The team wanted to ex­tend the principles of sales and opera­tions planning (S&OP) throughout the supply chain, delivering one seamless ma­nagement system with supporting busi­ness processes. With Oracle Cloud, Juniper in­corpora­ted important supplier data into its business plans, reducing inventory costs by 15 percent.

Added value of SaaS

“The key benefits of being on SaaS is not only the reduction in the total cost of ow­nership,” said Kiran Garlapati, Juniper’s senior director of IT solutions, “but there is also 99-percent availability of the sys­tem, new features coming every quarter, availability of Industry 4.0 technology like AI, blockchain, IoT etc., and easy ac­cess for all our Juniper employees.” It turns out that innovation, perhaps more than anything else, is the real engine of business success. And it pays big divi­dends. Research from Boston Consulting Group found that, over the last 14 years, the most innovative companies outper­formed the broader market on sharehol­der return by 5.6 percent.

Yet maintaining leadership in innova­tion is tough: only eight of the original “Top 50 Most Innovative Companies” have managed to stay on the list over 14 years of research. Oracle is number 15 on the 2021 list, up 10 places from 2020. SAP is number 40 – down 13 places.

The reason for the churn? Part of the problem is that companies are stuck with aging business systems that make it hard to access critical data. Hampered by frag­mented data and a lack of process integ­ration, companies suffer from slower time to market, product quality issues, and slim margins. The result is an “inno­vation gap” that can leave your company lagging.

To jump start innovation – and keep driving it over time – the most successful companies unify their data and processes on a single “platform for innovation”. This integrates the entire value chain, from idea capture and product development, to supply chain planning, manufacturing and maintenance, to post-delivery custo­mer service. In short, you translate the right ideas into value and sales sooner.

Let’s look how continuous innovation drives success across five areas of your product and service lifecycle: develop, plan, source, make, and serve.

1. Develop

Ideas for great products or services can come from anywhere. But for innovation to be continuous and profitable, you need a framework to identify and select great ideas that align with business strategy. And you need to develop them quickly and cost-effectively, while ensuring they meet customer requirements, regulatory com­pliance, and market demand.

This can be a challenge when your product lifecycle ma­nagement (PLM), supply chain and manu­facturing systems are outdated and ma­naged in separate silos or third-party ap­plications that are badly integrated. These disconnected legacy systems weren’t de­signed to meet the digital requirements of today’s development processes. Often, they’re engineering-centric, do a poor job of managing the complexities of global product launches, and aren’t built to sup­port complete service offerings.

To adopt a continuous innovation approach, you should consider a collaborative, end-to-end system that shares real-time data and standardizes development processes for faster decision-making. When that data is tied together with built-in analytics, IoT, AI, and digital twin capa­bilities, you can make better product de­velopment decisions and go to market fas­ter while ensuring the highest quality of offerings.

A great example of this is Voda­fone, which has moved beyond telecom­munications into other lines of business, including IoT services. From connected factories to cars making automatic emer­gency calls after an accident to electricity meters reporting on usage, Vodafone Bu­siness links IoT devices in more than 180 countries and over 570 networks.

“I think what really wows people is that IoT ap­plies to everything these days,” said Erik Brenneis, director of IoT at Vodafone Busi­ness. “When cars make emergency calls after an accident, lives are saved. When commercial trucks automatically take the most efficient routes, that saves a lot of CO2. IoT connects many things people aren’t even aware of.”

Vodafone Business worked with Oracle to develop technologies supporting its IoT global platform, including billing and re­venue management. The company cur­rently supports 2 million customer transac­tions per month, 1 billion usage events per day, and more than 123 million total de­vices. Along with scalability, security is a must when it comes to IoT.

“The systems must be designed securely throughout the chain – from the application in the cloud, through the communica­tions lines, all the way to a device with built-in security authentication,” Brenneis said. “That’s why security has always been top of mind for us and why it’s important to have partners like Oracle that share our security-first approach.”

2. Plan

Top innovators have found that better planning can help them anticipate market demand and meet it with the right pro­ducts and services. This requires you to closely align supply chain planning with product development and design. A single platform with built-in analytics can help you do that, allowing you to deliver real-time insights and share accurate master data.

These teams get a head start on identifying the right parts and suppliers, at the right price, and they can match in­ventories to meet demand forecasts. IDC recently estimated that companies that institute a single, collaborative supply chain platform can improve innovation productivity by 10 percent and reduce pro­duct lead times by 42 percent.

3. Source

Most organizations only involve their suppliers when it comes time to buy goods and materials; they don’t include them early in new product development. This can lead to higher product costs, lost savings, reduced quality, and latency, and you can end up with suppliers that don’t align with your social or ethical stan­dards.

Unifying procurement and pro­duct development on a single, integrated platform can help you accelerate the pace of product development, improve the supplier qualification process, and select the best suppliers. A unified cloud, running on a single data model, lets you extend the product record across internal teams and external suppliers. You can share transparent information throughout the product lifecycle to increase col­laboration with your suppliers and miti­gate potential disruptions.

4. Make

To keep customers coming back, you need to keep quality high and produce volumes that can scale quickly to meet demand. Even better is when you can rapidly create personalized, customer-configured pro­ducts that further differentiate your offe­rings and propel revenue. Top manufactu­rers are using IoT and AI technologies to bring together and analyze feedback from customers, factories, and even the pro­ducts themselves (via IoT sensors), helping them to continually improve their offe­rings. They’re also using these technologies to help automate production processes and analytics to gain predictive insights that can avert unexpected downtime and costly equipment failures.

5. Serve

Increasingly, companies are not just sel­ling products, they’re selling “products as a service”. The traditional sell-and-forget sales model is being outpaced by the gro­wing adoption of subscription services, pay-as-you-go, and consumption-based revenue models. According to a recent MIT survey, four out of five companies are currently evaluating these approaches.

Leading innovators are building new “anything as a service” business models around centralized, cloud-based “insight engines” that continually collect and ana­lyze feedback from customers and combi­ne it with data from factories and pro­ducts. This helps to prioritize innovations across the value chain and ensure a better customer experience.

Drive growth with better planning, budgeting, and reporting

In services industries, human capital is the primary product – but the ability to effectively plan around resourcing, demand, staffing mixtures, skill sets, and utilization extends beyond the workforce. Financial statements, cash, depreciation and amortization, mar­keting, and project financials are just some of the other areas where effec­tive forecasting and reporting can help drive growth.

Professional ser­vices company Inoapps is intimately familiar with the challenges of run­ning a rapidly expanding professional services business. Like many of their customers, Inoapps’ challenge was to create a structured process to model their budget across all lines of busi­ness, operating units, divisions, and sub-divisions, by individual project – while keeping the flexibility for indivi­dual plan owners to perform monthly forecasting and what-if modelling.

To achieve a complete yearly picture, Oracle Cloud EPM collates the following sources: actual data, meaning work already complete and billed in a historical period, sourced from Oracle Cloud ERP; order-book data, meaning work already contracted and assigned to a billable resource for a future period, sourced from a custom resource allocation tool; and pipeline data, meaning work currently being bid on at some stage of the sales process, sourced from a sales/CRM system. Inoapps can now measure performance over time and use the system to drive informed business decisions as the year progresses.

The company can see how to maximize not just immediate margin but growth aspirations (for example, growing a line of business in a specific location, or expanding an offshore team in another). Oracle Cloud EPM gives Inoapps a tightly connected system that, at the touch of a button, can report across multiple versions of budgets and forecasts, taking into account resource costs, utilization, skillset and availability. Now that their commercial and finance teams have these capabilities, Inoapps can continue to grow with confidence and help many more customers over the years to come.

Risk and compliance

Organizations process and maintain large amounts of data from their customers. With increasingly better data intelligence tools, this information can be used to pro­vide rich new value for companies and customers alike. However, this value is matched with new security threats and pri­vacy concerns.

A big part of maintaining data security and confidentiality is controlling who has access to it. Access to confidential data is often determined by the roles and respon­sibilities of individuals within the organiza­tion. But their roles or responsibilities (and with it, the need for access to specific infor­mation) may change over time. For examp­le, when employees change departments, they may accidentally maintain access to confidential information they’re no longer authorized to have.

With Oracle Cloud ERP, you can enforce access controls and separa­tion of duties using Oracle Cloud Risk Ma­nagement. It can continuously analyze every user’s security configuration to iden­tify policy violations and it can monitor any changes to critical access configurations. Oracle Cloud Risk Management uses built-in machine learning to strengthen controls, stop cash leaks, and detect emerging risks.

Unlike traditional audits or spot-checks, it can monitor every single transaction, giving you documentation that you can share with au­ditors and use to streamline audit work­flows. This high level of automation helps reduce the time you spend on labor-inten­sive security and compliance tasks.

In addition to our cloud applications, Oracle builds security into every layer of our technology stack – databases, middle­ware, developer tools, all the way down to our global data centers. Our entire public cloud offers high customer isolation and automated protections. Data residency, sovereignty, and cloud security are at the core of our operations. We have more than 40 years of experience securing the world’s most valuable datasets, and we roll out new capabilities every quarter – which makes it much easier to meet the latest industry, national, and global com­pliance standards.

Improve the customer experience to drive more revenue

Data is the currency of the experience economy. The ability to organi­ze it, gain insights from it, and then use it as fuel to power contextual experiences across the customer journey – whatever path that takes – is critical. It’s an extremely difficult engineering task to corral demo­graphic data, transactional data, and beha­vioral data and integrate it across devices and channels to create a complete, connec­ted, insightful, and actionable customer profile. That’s why thriving in the experien­ce economy requires a partner that has data at the core of its business. At Oracle, we think delivering an enterprise-grade customer intelligence platform isn’t about point solutions, content, or CRM – it’s about expertise in managing data at scale.

CX Unity and AI

Oracle CX Unity can help your company thrive in the experience economy by weaving disparate customer data from marketing, sales, commerce, and service into strategic intelligence. It can merge online, offline, and third-party data to create a single sour­ce of real-time customer truth, helping eli­minate the “blind spots” that prevent so many companies from better understan­ding their customers and delivering richer interactions. What’s more, Oracle CX Unity applies built-in AI and machine learning to set out the optimal experience within existing bu­siness processes. Data is everywhere for you to identify and harness. You can even use it to target audiences based on the we­ather! At Oracle, we use demographic, transactional, behavioral, first-party, and third-party data to drive our CX applications and help you give every customer, prospect, and website visitor a personalized experien­ce, driving them into the funnel and crea­ting more revenue opportunities.

Conclusion: Quick wins in a world of change

Companies need to move toward a portfolio that is more adaptable to business change, with composable applications that can be assembled, reassembled, and extended. Oracle can provide these composable appli­cations because we have the entire suite of cloud applications: ERP, EPM, advertising, customer experience, HR, and supply chain. Many vendors started with one of those – like Work­day with HR, Salesforce with CRM, or SAP with HR in the cloud (with the ac­quisition of SuccessFactors) – but with just one of those cloud solutions, they can’t offer the composition capabilities that Oracle can.

Oracle can offer a SaaS-based, business-centric application to complement any customer’s on-premises footprint. It adds immediate value, and we can seamlessly extend this partnership over time. With Oracle, you have the possibility to compose this all into one cohesive suite, engineered to work together. No other vendor can do this right now.

Oracle is partnering with thousands of customers worldwide to help them achieve quick wins and be more innovative. Every quarter, we improve our software with new capabilities, functions, and built-in technologies like AI and machine learning. With our software-as-a-service approach, you’re always up to date with the latest innovations, so you can focus on solving your most immediate business challenges.

This is the second part of a two-part series! If you would like to read the first one, click here.

E-3 Magazine December 2021/January 2022 (German)

About the author

Charles Homs, Oracle

Charles Homs is Vice President Global Competitive Strategies at Oracle.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Sign up for e3zine´s biweekly newsbites

Please do not use administrative mail adresses like "noreply@..", "admin@.." or similar as these may get blocked for security reasons.

We use rapidmail for dispatching our newsletter. By signing up, you agree that the data you have entered will be transmitted to rapidmail. Please take note of their terms and conditions and privacy policy.termsandconditions.

Our Authors