Tuesday's are often busy news days for tech vendors. Apparently, today was no exception. Things are particularly hectic given the number of user conferences this week. See below for some highlights regarding Oracle, SumTotal, and Lumesse. Incidentally, I'll be giving a keynote tomorrow at SYSPRO's user conference in Nashville tomorrow.
Before I get to today's announcements, let me begin by starting with my conversation with Paco Aubrejuan of Oracle's PeopleSoft team about 2 weeks ago. He filled me in on a whole pile of enhancements that were announced under the version 9.2 release of that product line just days ago. The bulk of his news revolved around a new User Experience (UX) for the entire product line. The most noticeable aspect of the new UX is that most anything you'd like to see or do can be accomplished via search bars now. Oracle has indexed all of the software's business objects to make instant access to relevant data and functionality possible.
The UX changes also include the tying of objects to "related actions". Here, the software suggests the next (or other) activities based on the context of what the user is looking at or doing. It is, of course, tied to the search function mentioned above. Why didn’t Oracle do this before? This functionality change required a lot of work with the product's security, as users who shouldn't have access to sensitive data (eg, payroll information of co-workers) can't be allowed access to it (or transactions that affect this data) via a search capability.
Paco also mentioned the company's continued efforts to move to native HTML 5 for its mobile apps.
He also spoke of their "Update Manager" technology. In the interest of space, I'll summarize the improvements here to this: Multi-tenant cloud solutions are pressuring Oracle to make on-premise and private cloud software updates more efficient and less labor intensive/costly. They're introducing more pre-bundled, pre-tested groups of updates to achieve this goal.
As to today, Oracle had a number of technology announcements, mostly involving in-memory technology and performance improvements.
The company announced the following new in-memory applications that cross the PeopleSoft, EBS, Siebel, JD Edwards, and other product lines:
Oracle E-Business Suite In-Memory Cost Management
PeopleSoft In-Memory Project Discovery
PeopleSoft In-Memory Labor Rules and Monitoring
PeopleSoft In-Memory Financial Allocations Analyzer
PeopleSoft In-Memory Financial Position Analyzer
JD Edwards EnterpriseOne In-Memory Sales Advisor
JD Edwards EnterpriseOne In-Memory Project Portfolio Management
Oracle SCM In-Memory Consumption Driven Planning
Oracle SCM In-Memory Performance Driven Planning
Oracle SCM In-Memory Logistics Command Center
Siebel CRM In-Memory Policy Analytics
Siebel CRM In-Memory Next Best Action
Hyperion EPM In-Memory Virtual Close
The best uses of in-memory technology, where you want to crunch vast quantities of data fast or do complex multi-variable equation solutions/optimizations, are in these kinds of application extensions. Traditional RDMS-based datasets on conventional storage devices are often too slow to run these applications or make the running of them something that can only occur on nights/weekends when other business applications are seeing light usage.
The company also announced a number of performance improvements, too. These included:
Oracle Fusion Applications
User experience response time improvements of up to 1.5 times across all Oracle Fusion Applications
Oracle Fusion Accounting Hub journal entry throughput is 5 times higher
Oracle Fusion Global Payroll Gross to Net process throughput is 2.25 times higher
Oracle Fusion Global Payroll Prepayments process throughput is 1.95 times higher.
Oracle E-Business Suite
Order-to-cash application flows run 3 times faster
Self service HRMS and Procurement flows run 8 times faster.
HCM Self Service and Edit and Post batch processing run 2 to 5 times faster
Period Close batch processing runtime improved by 2 times.
JD Edwards EnterpriseOne
Order-to-cash processes' interactive response time is 5 to 8 times faster
Financial Close runs 5 to 8 times faster
Job (Project) Status Inquiry runs 4 times faster
Materials Requirements Planning runs 5 to 8 times faster
Oracle Supply Chain
Oracle Value Chain Planning
Existing benchmarks show up to 70 percent reduction in collections, release, and plan run times
User interface response times with 10-16 times improvement.
Oracle Transportation Management
Messaging and Workflow processes run 9 times faster
Transportation Bulk Plan process runtime is 5 times faster
Shipment Persistence process runtime is 8 times faster.
Universal Customer Master throughput time 7 to 11 times higher
Universal Customer Master user experience response time 7 to 10 times faster.
Caveats: These are numbers that Oracle provided, and I am not aware of any independent third party validation of these figures. I do believe that Oracle's hardware and systems software is being optimized to run Oracle applications. I've seen customer applications perform materially better once applications, data loads, hardware etc, are balanced and optimized.
That said, I suspect that a number of application software buyers will care less and less about these kind of stats over time, as performance will be the purview of a cloud provider more and more often. Performance is becoming a lower priority buyer value compared to functionality, global capabilities, and other differentiators. These buyers expect performance from their cloud provider. Performance is becoming a cost of doing business.
Another vendor, SumTotal, officially announced their elixHR platform today. If memory serves me right, elixHR came about because of SumTotal's rewrite of their product line's diverse product architectures. The company's highly acquisitive growth brought with it a lot of different code with a lot of different plumbing.
To SumTotal's credit, they didn't just develop a bunch of connectors between the acquired products. They did a gut-job on the old products and got them to a single technical architecture.
Going forward, the new elixHR platform supports integration with other external systems, including other HRIS software, ERP products, LinkedIn, and more. Fast integration is important, not only for cost reasons, but also because it helps collect all employee information into a standard set of databases and reporting tools.
So why is that important? You wouldn't believe how many companies today still cannot calculate how many employees (employee equivalents) they possess globally. Larger, multi-divisional/multi-country firms may find this capability particularly fetching. Would your top executives like to see all of your employees' performance data in a single report? Can you identify all of your firm's high performers at the click of a mouse? Kludged-up HR solutions are often a staple of bigger firms, but they shouldn't be.
Lumesse had an Executive Summit today. It was sort of a mix of an analyst event and top executive customer event all rolled into one. John Sumser organized a big part of it and I had a whopping 15 minute presentation today. My mini-talk was on the issues with global HR deployments (eg, shared services, HR ERP, business cases) and delivery strategies.
This event was also the public debut of Lumesse's new CEO, Thomas Volk. I'd love to have had a peek at the notes he took today.
In my opinion, the last hour of the event was the best part (aside from the killer Tex-Mex buffet for lunch). In that time, attendees were asked to opine on the future of HR, HR tech, and the CHRO. I'll probably spin out a separate post on that topic alone in the next few days.
I did hear some spirited conversation, though, on issues like:
Social HR and how HR professionals and technology providers must create the network effect around their company's solutions if they hope to compete with the decidedly more consumer-friendly smart apps coming from non-traditional HR solution providers
HR needs to resemble Marketing more than IT — the way Marketing people segment buyers, use social and traditional media to reach/educate/convert buyers, etc, are the new skills HR and recruiting people must have
Why segmentation of the workforce by generation (eg, Millenials) is not a good thing to do
Why some hiring/recruiting is very local and other work is far from it
How recruiting or sourcing needs a new language around targeting instead.
Well, I need to get this out and start to review my deck for tomorrow's SYSPRO keynote. I’ll be speaking on Customer Experience. Let's hope my delayed flight experience still delights me somehow....
Disclosure: I will be receiving reimbursement for my travel costs to the Lumesse event and a small speaking fee.