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October 4, 2012 in Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence (BI), Business Performance Management (BPM), Cloud Computing, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Information Management (IM), Operational Performance Management (OPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Social Media, Workforce Performance Management (WPM) | Tags: Cloud Computing, CRM, Mobile Technology, Oracle, Sales, Salesforce, SAP, SFA, Social Collaboration, Workday, Workforce Analytics | by Mark Smith | 2 comments
I attended Oracle’s annual OpenWorld conference this week. The company claims it holds the world’s largest technology conference, with 50,000 attendees and a million people viewing sessions online. It was a great opportunity to get close to the Oracle Fusion Applications, which the company presented as proven and ready, with customers using them on-premises and in private and public cloud computing usage methods. In keynotes from executives Larry Ellison, Mark Hurd and Thomas Kurian and application-focused sessions with executives Steve Miranda and Chris Leone, Oracle repeated the message that Fusion Applications are not just for cloud computing and web services but are also accessible through mobile technology called Oracle Fusion Tap that operates natively on the Apple iPad. The company left no confusion about its applications’ readiness for cloud and mobile computing, and provided insight into future advancements.
After last year’s Oracle OpenWorld I made a cloudy forecast for Oracle Fusion for CRM and HCM due to Oracle’s lack of clarity in its message, the applications’ lack of readiness for cloud computing and slow progress on its on-premises customer deployments. These items have been addressed over the last year. The company presented significant customer and partner validation on deployments of Oracle Fusion Applications in HCM and some in CRM for Sales. Oracle discussed marquee Fusion HCM customers such as ConAgra, Nikon and Red Robin, and boasted about overall progress on adoption. Oracle Fusion for HCM has expanded with the company’s acquisition of Taleo, which has been progressing nicely. Oracle recently announced its intention to purchase SelectMinds, whose software adds depth in recruiting and hiring processes through the use of social media to promote a company’s brand and attract talent. Oracle is rapidly filling any possible gaps in its ability to meet the expanding need to manage human capital effectively.
On the Fusion CRM side, especially for sales, I didn’t find as much validation from customers at OpenWorld, though the application is ready for faster adoption, as it proved by earning our highest-level Hot rating in our Sales Performance Management Value Index research; you can download the executive report at no cost and see for yourself. Oracle discussed its own transition to using Oracle Fusion CRM for Sales, which for any sales organization the size of Oracle would not be easy. Oracle also has embedded in the application a spectrum of analytics including predictive ones to provide indicators of retention issues with employees, just as it can help predict the potential behavior of customers in sales.
Oracle also showed off advancements for offerings in the contact center and marketing, but we will talk about those offerings and provide deeper analysis in the future.
On the mobile side, Oracle officially unveiled Oracle Fusion Tap, which provides an intuitive approach to using Oracle applications on the iPad. Oracle made a demonstration version of the software available on the Apple AppStore in August. I tried it out after seeing the demos at the conference. The application took seconds to start and was easy to use. The demonstration is focused more on sales organizations than on broader human capital management. Oracle takes advantage of Apple’s swipe and gesture support, and its organizational selector makes it easy and fun to assess a team and their activities. Oracle Fusion Tap is well ahead of offerings from many other companies that compete in sales and human capital management. It should be on HR and sales organizations’ evaluation lists, especially since they can try it in seconds themselves without having to do any complex configuration or waiting for approval by Oracle.
Oracle’s largest challenge with Fusion Tap is in the performance indicators part of the application. It provides easy access to key areas of focus, but its metrics charts are not well presented and not designed for autosizing and interaction. When you try to examine a chart more closely, it does not size to the maximize size of the display, nor does it let you explore charts interactively. On the plus side, eventual integration with Oracle Social Network will make Fusion Tap more powerful by adding collaboration features. The other challenge with Fusion Tap’s performance indicators is a problem I have written about recently and tried to educate people about for years: Performance is only one type of indicator necessary for action on analytics. I hope Oracle will address these issues and make the analytics more actionable and engaging. I wrote about this same issue of usability of mobile analytics in my analysis of Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile earlier this year.
I decided to see if the underlying Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile has advanced since much of this technology is used in Oracle Fusion Applications. Oracle had updated its mobile business intelligence for the iPad in August, but it appears the offering has gotten more complex in many areas of presentation and interactivity, and the demo performance compared to Oracle Fusion Tap was very slow. This could be compensated for with Oracle server computing power unless Oracle has placed the burden of processing locally on the iPad. Also, unlike Fusion Tap, Oracle still makes quick access to try its mobile business intelligence cumbersome with required configuration and registration, which leaves more room for improvement.
I found it refreshing to see the embedding of Oracle Social Network within Oracle Fusion for CRM and HCM. I was pretty harsh on Oracle last year for not being ready in its presentation of the software. I thought that we would not hear a lot more about the product until this year’s conference, and I was pretty much right. Now Oracle seems to have learned that simply providing social collaboration software by itself is not as valuable as embedded in the applications. Social collaboration should be part of business processes, as we have found in our business-specific research across sales, customer service and human capital management. According to Oracle it plans to make it available inside of Fusion CRM in 2013; it’s not clear yet when it will be available for Fusion HCM, but I expect also in 2013. I believe that Oracle Social Network is enough of an advancement that offering a trial of the software on the Internet via public cloud computing, as Salesforce.com has done with Chatter, would help give customers and us in the industry more confidence in its human and technological advancements. It would have been great to have everyone at Oracle OpenWorld using it to socialize and engage about Oracle advancements. Maybe next year.
Oracle also sees the importance of engaging employees and managers on a routine basis to increase the efficiency of their interactions. Oracle previewed what appears to be a Fusion employee and manager self-service set of applications. I liked what I saw but I am not sure when the company plans to release this, but competitors such as SAP, Workday and even Salesforce, with its Work.com and Do.com, already have similar existing approaches in the cloud today. Oracle also showed the future expansion of its footprint in traditional workforce management, where worker time and absence are tracked no matter whether they are salaried or hourly employees. This expansion beyond what Oracle already offers in Fusion HCM today, informed by its experience with previous Oracle and Peoplesoft approaches, is critical to helping the company stay competitive, and could be especially useful as organizations blend their focus on talent and workforce management together.
After two days of Oracle and customer sessions, along with a visit to the demonstration stands in the exposition area, it was clear that Oracle has made an important change in its approach to the market and its executive-level commitment to Fusion Applications. I saw more dialogue with partners to complement its applications, and many announcements, including Oracle’s on partners in Fusion CRM, who were also visible during presentations and demonstrations.
Oracle largest challenge is marketing to a business audience and being seen as a friendly and effective supplier of business applications. Businesses that have established relationships with other cloud computing application providers will not be easy to gain as customers just because Oracle is Oracle or their IT departments say it is a good idea.
Oracle Fusion is worth your consideration whether you are considering a move to cloud computing or still run applications on-premises or use a hybrid approach which provides more choices to customers than just a cloud computing only approach. We are now in a renaissance of business driving what it needs from business applications, and vendors that convince business they can be trusted will be at the center of a new world of cloud, mobile and social computing.
CEO & Chief Research Officer
September 15, 2012 in Big Data, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Social Media, Workforce Performance Management (WPM) | Tags: HireVue, Hiring, HR, Human Capital Management, JobVite, Oracle, Recruiting, Talemetry, Taleo | by Mark Smith | 2 comments
I attended Taleo World to see how well Oracle is integrating Taleo after acquiring the company in 2012. I assessed the announcement by Oracle earlier this year; it was clear then that Oracle needed to make this acquisition to boost its cloud computing and talent management efforts. In the three-hour keynote session, a business overview and software demonstrations indicated what Oracle has in store for the applications and how it plans to fuse its applications and technology to add value to organizations.
The conference was keynoted by Oracle President Mark Hurd, who provided his executive view on the importance of human capital management and maximizing the full value of any organization’s labor. According to my sources, Hurd has exerted significant executive pressure on the success of this acquisition. Success is not guaranteed, however, given the competition in this market against application providers such as SAP with SuccessFactors, Workday, and now even IBM and Kenexa, which it recently agreed to purchase – not to mention ADP, Cornerstone OnDemand, Kronos, Peoplefluent and SumTotal Systems. Even recruiting competitors like Jobvite who at Taleo World were performing after hours marketing to influence Taleo customers to switch. It will take more than marketing to get organizations to switch as the value of integrated talent management processes that take candidates into being applicants and then hiring them into specific roles where they are compensated and reviewed is becoming a high priority.
Oracle did a great job of previewing its integration with mobile technology using Oracle Fusion Tap, which provides an integrated experience on tablets such as the Apple iPad for managers to engage with employees, and to better market a company brand for potential job candidates. With live and scripted demonstrations, it showed how its talent management will operate in the future, and illustrated the value of workforce analytics. I have said in the past that workforce analytics needs to provide more guidance and a profile-based approach – not just showing dashboards with charts or only looking at key performance indicators – but Oracle’s planned improvements for 2013 seem to advance in the right direction. Improving employee satisfaction and engagement, retention rates and development will require a broad talent management suite to source the data for measuring these people metrics.
Taleo provides not only recruiting tools but also in-depth applications for onboarding, performance, learning and analytics, which all play a role in helping Oracle extend its value to human resources and business. At the show Oracle outlined its integration of Taleo Recruiting, Taleo Learn and Taleo Performance with Oracle Fusion Human Capital Management and showed how Taleo Recruiting will also integrate with Oracle Peoplesoft. Oracle has continued to support the Taleo partner ecosystem, which provides tools and services to help in assessment and screening, interviewing, sourcing and electronically verifying candidates. For instance, HireVue, as I assessed, has innovative software that lets recruiters and hiring managers use smartphones for live and recorded interviews and ratings. As another example, Talemetry offers a suite of applications for finding and sourcing candidates across the Internet from job boards and social media, and verifying candidates electronically as part of the hiring process. Such applications help in what our benchmark in recruiting found to be critical areas: expanding the talent pool and shortening the time to hire quality employees.
The Taleo team did a nice job in providing roadmaps across its major applications in recruiting, performance and learning to help customers see how fast it is evolving despite being acquired. Its commitment to three releases a year is realistic and should help it keep pace with customer demand and technology innovation. Oracle has made significant strides to ensure that Taleo is part of its overall human capital management efforts, including integration with the Oracle Fusion HCM application suite. Companies that use Taleo should be heartened that Oracle has made a commitment to not just its recruiting application but also to its performance, learning and analytics products, which eventually will be fully integrated and evolve into a stronger suite. However, those that use Taleo Compensation will have to migrate; Oracle Fusion HCM Compensation is the company’s application of choice, and frankly it is much better anyway. It helped Oracle earn a rating as Hot in our latest Total Compensation Value Index for 2012, about which I have written already. Oracle Fusion and Peoplesoft customers will find in Taleo a quality recruiting suite that, along with new energy and ideas, advances Oracle’s overall efforts in human capital management.
Strategically, Oracle will have to invest into more business relationships with human resources, as its competitors have done. Today’s talent management application market uses Internet-based software as a service – an effort led by HR and business not IT. I’m curious to see whether Oracle will continue to host Taleo World or some type of dedicated HR conference, as it important to serve this audience directly; the HR audience does not attend conferences like Oracle OpenWorld that are designed for IT and not business constituents. Oracle will also have to improve its workforce management software to support the new generation of needs. Our latest research finds workforce management is moving beyond just time and attendance and scheduling. Oracle will find that unifying an organization’s effort in human capital management under an Oracle flag will require pitching not only HR but also the CFO and head of operations, who must understand the importance of leveraging the labor costs of the organization as a measured investment that can only be capitalized by using dedicated applications to ensure the best possible outcomes.
I look forward to seeing how Oracle outlines the importance of Taleo at its upcoming mega conference, OpenWorld, and seeing how it communicates its value for managing talent throughout the human capital process of hiring, engaging and retaining employees. I was impressed with the progress made and Oracle commitment to the customer and products. Meanwhile, if you want to see my real-time analysis and photography from the conference, look for the Twitter hashtag #TaleoWorld and my handle @marksmithvr.
CEO & Chief Research Officer