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Infosys’ blog on industry solutions, trends, business process transformation and global implementation in Oracle.

older | 1 | .... | 22 | 23 | (Page 24)

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    1.  Introduction

    This multi-series blog compares the cost, agility, and talents for implementing Oracle ERP's (Cloud and On-Premise) for small, medium, and large-size businesses. 

    Issue Statement

    Infosys is an Indian multinational corporation that provides business consulting, information technology and outsourcing services to clients across various industries all over the globe.  The Oracle practice at Infosys produces value for their clients through consulting, implementations, roll-outs, and upgrades to application support and maintenance (Infosys).  A strategic decision many Infosys' client IT and financial executives are starting to face more frequently is whether to implement Oracle ERP application on-premise or on the cloud.  This decision is no longer technical or functional, it is rather more financial (Aberdeen).  The greatest challenge faced by client executives making these decisions is that there is not sufficient data available to support one type of Oracle Financial ERP implementation over another.  The purpose of this research is to evaluate the total cost of ownership (TCO) and return on investment (ROI) of using a cloud-based Oracle enterprise resource planning (ERP) system as opposed to an on-premise Oracle ERP platform for Infosys' clients seeking to implement Oracle financial ERP for the first time and those which are on older versions of the application.  It is intended for Infosys sales and client IT and Finance managers to help decide offering which provides the most value to the client. 

    Analysis overview

    When analyzing financial business processes, there are three drivers finance and IT executives must study: economics, agility, and talent.  Oracle vaunts the economic benefit of their cloud services to their customers through better cash flows by means of lower up-front infrastructure costs and by charging the client a licensing cost for only the desired features.  Due to the nature of the cloud offerings, clients will always have access to the latest software and hardware technology and functionality, high speed to market, and more standardization and simplification.  (Oracle) Working on the latest technology with the latest features and functionality also helps firms retain and attract better talent which can result in greater effectiveness and efficiency and better overall adoption. 

    Recommendation Overview

    For most clients, the challenges of cloud ERP's outweigh the benefits resulting in only 20% penetration in Oracle Cloud ERP adoption.  Cloud implementations are not recommended for all clients; it is more suitable for those with limited investment in IT infrastructure and who have a user base which varies throughout the year.  (Joshi) Clients which already have invested in infrastructure and resources to protect and maintain these investments may not be interested in jumping on the cloud, however, as the infrastructure begins to depreciate and become outdated, some clients would find cost savings in retiring the infrastructure assets and implementing a cloud iteration of their Oracle ERP financial application (McPherson). 

    Planning and Implementation Overview

    Regardless of which platform clients decide to implement, it is important to note that both platforms present unique challenges.  Through a thorough evaluation of the clients' business processes, value configurations of on-premise and cloud implementations will be used to determine the how the discrete activities, drivers, and linkages impact clients' margins.  This data will be used to plan a course of action and help clients plan and implement an iteration of Oracle ERP financial applications, on-premise, cloud, or hybrid, based on the output of internal analysis. 

    Continue to Part 2: Oracle ERP Cloud vs On-Prem: Part 2 - Analysis


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    Part 2:  Analysis

    Part 2 on the series of Oracle ERP Cloud vs. On-Premise analyzes the various Cloud offerings and On-Premise to develop a better understanding of available options.  Purpose of this analysis is to gain a deep understanding of different business models and allow corporations to determine which implementation is best for them. 


    Internal Analysis

    Figure 2.1.png














    Figure 2.1:  Value Chain for a typical manufacturing/operations firm

     

    The value configurations of all corporations include finance as one of the activities.  (Figure 2.1) When analyzing the impact of Oracle's Financial ERP applications, specifically, the discrete activities can be broken down into business analysis, development, implementation, maintenance, and support.  (Figure 2.2) Drivers are structural factors derived from the corporations' previous activities and investments; these include economics, agility, and talent.  Economics determine the cost impacts of various Oracle ERP offerings to a corporation's bottom line.  Agility measures the security, control, and customization aspect of an implementation.  Lastly, a highly-skilled talent pool is required to carry out implementation of any type (McPherson).  The total value system of the Oracle ERP Financial application includes the Procure to Pay (P2P), Acquire to Retire (A2R), and Order to Cash (O2C) financial sub-processes.  These processes are closely integrated within the system and provide accounting data to the Record to Report (R2R) processes which is then used to develop reports and provide financial information to reporting agencies, sponsors, and key stakeholders (Figure 2.2).  

    Figure 2.2.png














    Figure 2.2:  Value chain for Oracle ERP Financial applications

    Offerings

    Cloud Analysis

    Cloud Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms provide peace of mind to the clients by means of predictable costs of the ERP system through a subscription without requiring any investments in infrastructure and hardware.  The ERP cloud application is hosted on Oracle's infrastructure and can be privately hosted for a single client or the resources of this infrastructure may be shared between multiple clients in a public cloud environment (Stoecklein).  Clients are not required to keep up with security standards for the infrastructure as the vendor is responsible for data security.  The implementation costs relatively low compared to an on-premise ERP system.  These factors may present an incentive for some corporations looking for a quick implementation at low up-front costs, but these costs can add up overtime and exceed an on-premise implementation. 

    On premise analysis

    While a traditional on-premise ERP installation has obvious drawbacks with investments in infrastructure, it does add value to financial processes by the ability for clients to perform highly complex processes through customizations since the client would own the Oracle ERP software.  Moreover, some organizations which are not adept at practicing the latest data security protocols would need to integrate data-security and disaster recovery for their financial ERP systems into their existing collection of applications (Stoecklein).  Larger corporations which already have in-house data-security and infrastructure for other applications may not find a cost benefit in implementing a cloud application.  Since vendors incorporate costs for data security, disaster recovery, and other practices into the cloud licensing costs, clients with on-site security teams can take advantage of the lower licensing costs by implementing on-premise ERP applications.

    Hybrid analysis

    Lastly, for clients which require an ERP installation to conduct financial business processes but neither implementation fits directly with their current strategy, Oracle provides an option for a hybrid solution which combines flexibility of on-premise ERP with the outsourced model of Oracle cloud ERP SaaS.  It provides the ability for clients to move instance in-house at a later date, or vice versa.  This offering has become more common as SaaS is gaining popularity and clients become wary of the hype in cloud implementations.  This model is also suitable for companies which haven't been able to make up their mind about which implementation to pursue with or if their desired choice does not fit into the value model. 

    Cost

    The choice between the different Oracle Financial ERP offerings boils down to one factor between the IT and Finance Executives:  margin.  An Oracle Financial ERP application plays an integral role in a company to help manage and integrate important aspects of financial business functions such as paying vendors, placing orders with customers and receiving payments, tracking assets, and generating accounting and financial statements.  A financial ERP system presents opportunities for corporations to improve efficiency, increase revenues, and control costs.  (Hedges) In the past, Oracle ERP implementations were accessible only to large enterprises due to implementation, support, and licensing costs.  While an Oracle Cloud Financial ERP implementation alleviates the cost factor, it can prove to be costlier than an on-premise implementation over the course of time for clients with large footprint if not thoroughly analyzed.  In order to make a fair assimilation of application costs, they must be evaluated over long-term.  The general rule of thumb is for companies to expect total cost to be between 4 to 6% of the annual revenues of the company.  (Erik) Some factors which influence implementation costs include size of user base and divisions, level of customization, required resources.  These include costs for ERP software, database management system, infrastructure, employees and consultants.  Below is a cost analysis breakdown for small firms with revenues under $250 Million, medium firms with revenues ranging from $250 Million to $1 Billion, and large enterprises with revenues greater than $1 Billion. 

    Size

    %

    Company Size

    Users

    Modules

    Small

    55%

    < $250 Million

    100

    10

    Medium

    30%

    > $250 Million
    < $1 Billion

    500

    11

    Large

    15%

    > $1 Billion

    2500

    13

    Table 3.3:  Company Size

    Small Businesses Costs

    Smaller firms with revenues less than $250 million represent approximately 60% of the clients.  These corporations have an average of 100 users in the Financial ERP application and do not have hefty investments in infrastructure and full-time employees to manage the infrastructure and manage data-security in-house.  Instead they rely on offshore contractors and 3rd party vendors to manage and maintain their applications, making them ideal candidates for Oracle Cloud ERP implementations.  (Kimberling) Prior to the cloud, smaller companies would opt for Tier II vendors such as Microsoft Dynamics, Lawson, NetSuite, among others.  With the advent of cloud computing, Oracle is able to offer an advanced ERP system at similar costs by allowing multiple clients to share the same resources and infrastructure.  There are still, however, some scenarios in which small businesses would require an on-premise implementation.  If a corporation is involved a specialized financial environment which requires a highly customized code or highly technical expertise, a cloud implementation would not fully support their business processes, however, the customizations may not provide sufficient value compared to the high costs of on-premise ERP implementation for small businesses.  A scenario in which on-premise would be required is when there are strong legislative requirements on how the data is stored and secured.  This generally applies to corporations which focus mainly on government contracts, requiring heavy industry data security and data stored in a secured firewall to comply with regulatory guidelines.  Due to the lower number of users and hence processing power, all aspects of the ERP system (application, database, and user interface) can be integrated into one physical box, also known as 1-tier architecture. 

    Medium Businesses Costs

    Medium businesses represent roughly 30% of the clients which range from over $250 million to less than $1 billion in revenues.  Performing cost analysis is most critical and complex for medium size businesses; the cost benefit of an Oracle Cloud Financial ERP is guaranteed in a small-business environment whereas it is not as straightforward in a medium business environment.  If not thoroughly analyzed, small businesses risk driving losses either through ineffective use of users' time on a non-customizable cloud platform or through spending more on an on-premise ERP which does not provide any distinct advantage over the cloud.  To evaluate the costs, medium size businesses must consider costs for software licensing, implementation and customization, infrastructure, IT personnel, maintenance, and training for both cloud and on-premise Oracle Financial ERP implementations.  Moreover, due to the similar outcome of costs, mid-size businesses also have the option for hybrid implementations (Lippincott and Wettemann).  It is possible that the mid-size corporation does not require a highly customized implementation, but as the company continues to expand into several different countries, hybrid would be a plausible solution.  Otherwise if cost of implementing cloud and installing an on-premise ERP are the same, cloud will allow for more continuity and can be recommended over on-premise. 

    Large Business Cost Analysis

    Lastly, large businesses represent the remining 15% of the clients which earn greater than $1 Billion in revenues each year and have a user base greater than 2500.  All large corporations are multi-national enterprises which conduct business over dozen countries.  This adds complexity to financial processing, requiring businesses to have highly customized processes varying by country, department, legal regulations, and user roles.  Implementations in such environments can be continuous and would not allow corporations to keep up with testing and training due to upgrades based on vendor selected schedules.   When strictly considering between SaaS Oracle ERP and on-premise for large enterprises, the decision for on-premise is clear.  

    Agility

    Many small and medium-sized corporations are involved in a cycle of ERP replacement driven by global economic conditions and increasingly complex financial business processes.  This paves an ideal path for Oracle to market their Cloud Financial ERP application due to low implementation timelines and up-front costs.  However, the adoption has been less than stellar.  Clients are not convinced with the technical and functional limitations of Oracle's Cloud ERP application, while others worry about security and control. 

    Security

    A cloud environment can either be private or public.  In a private cloud environment, the application is hosted on vendor's site in a segregated environment for an individual client.  Whereas, in a public cloud environment, multiple clients share same resources and infrastructure.  Although users from one client cannot access data for another client, it poses higher security risks since the hackers have a greater advantage of obtaining vital financial data financial process information from multiple companies with one security breach (Erik).   This has led to security as the highest-ranking concern with clients.  The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) rates Oracle data at a Tier 4 rating - the highest rating.  Oracle suggests IT leaders to consider matching internal security and service levels standards of top quality data centers and consulting partners to avoid security leaks through users (Oracle). 

    Control

    The Oracle Financial ERP Cloud software is shared in a public cloud environment; hence, clients will be on the same software version and will have less control over when upgrade patches are installed.   Upgrades requires clients to validate system operability, perform end-to-end testing of business process being affected, and train the users on the differences in functionality.  Oracle releases three patches a year, one for each quarter leaving out the fourth quarter due to annual financial close processes.  All testing and maintenance needs to be performed by a deadline specified by Oracle (Oracle).  Private offerings enable companies to install upgrades on their own schedules, however midsize companies tend to fall behind on upgrades because of the time, money, and resources required.   Moreover, by revoking access to the database, cloud-based services, in general, are not as effective in solution development and problem solving.  To obtain data from the database, instead of writing a script to pull data themselves, developers and consultants are required to create service requests (SR's) with Oracle (Oracle).

    Customizations

    In most finance process scenarios, clients require customizations to extend the application's ability to adapt to their business needs.  On-premise Oracle implementations offer customizations through additional configurations and in-house extensions built on top of the core functionality, commonly known as RICEFW objects (Reports, Interfaces, Conversions, Enhancements, Forms, and Workflows).  In the on-premise environment, these customizations can be made efficiently through the combination of external resources (applications such as PL/SQL scripts, Oracle Application Framework, and workflows) and internal resources (developers and IT professionals).  Oracle Cloud ERP applications are still fairly new and the wide industry penetration is yet to be experienced.  As it stands, Oracle Cloud ERP's have significant restrictions on type of customizations which can be made on the vendor's SaaS platform (Lippincott and Wettemann).

    Talent

    The resource pool of ERP implementation, support, and developer consultants continues to grow as availability remains to be in short supply.  The technology and tools for on-premise applications have existed for decades with subtle changes, resulting in resources with broad skills in vast numbers to match required skills and knowledge.  Cloud is a fairly new concept and cloud provides advantages and presents new challenges in terms of talent.  Due to the recent introduction of cloud and popularity of the platform, cloud professionals are in high demand, however, not many job seekers have accumulated sufficient experience to perform at the same level.  Employees working on newer cloud platforms result in lower turnover but these employees have a tendency of getting poached by other employers with better salaries.  Alternatively, companies can also outsource demands to implementation partners such as Infosys (Lippincott and Wettemann).   


    Continue to part 3:  Oracle ERP Cloud vs On-Prem: Part 3 - Recommendations


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    3.  Recommendation

    Part 3 in this series provides recommendations for which implementation small, medium, and large corporations should implement based on user base, costs, and existing IT infrastructure investments.


    Table 3.4:  Cloud vs On-Premise ERP Cost Comparison


    Cloud

    On-Premise

    Company Size

    Small

    Medium

    Large

    Small

    Medium

    Large

     

    User Base

    100

    500

    2500

    100

    500

    2500

     

    Software Licensing

    $3,000

    $3,000

    $3,000

    $5,500

    $2,500

    $1,500

     

    Customization

    $500

    $300

    $100

    $2,000

    $1,000

    $500

     

    Implementation

    $2,000

    $1,500

    $500

    $3,000

    $2,000

    $500

     

    Infrastructure

    $1,500

    $1,250

    $1,000

    $2,000

    $1,000

    $500

     

    IT Personnel

    $1,500

    $750

    $250

    $2,000

    $1,000

    $750

     

    Maintenance

    $1,000

    $750

    $500

    $2,000

    $1,000

    $750

     

    Training

    $3,000

    $1,500

    $750

    $2,000

    $1,000

    $500

     

    Cost Savings*

    ($250)

    ($150)

    ($50)

    ($750)

    ($500)

    ($250)

     


    $1,225,000

    $4,450,000

    $15,125,000

    $1,775,000

    $4,500,000

    $11,875,000

     










    *Savings through automation and customization

     

    As the implementation partner for various clients, the goal for Infosys consultants is to recommend and design a path of implementation for a product which produces most value for the client.  When considering the value chain model any organization, finance plays a critical strategic role in helping CEO's with setting objectives, making decisions, and planning for the future (figure 2.1).  Oracle ERP Financial installations allow corporations to improve efficiency, increase revenues, and control costs.  Cloud offers lower implementation costs for small businesses but the licensing costs can add up.  The break-even analysis demonstrates costs to be equal for user base between 500 and 2500 users depending on current infrastructure investments, customizations, and existing resources. 


    Figure 3.1.png







    Table 3.1:  Cloud ERP Internal Evaluation



    Figure 3.2.png







    Table 3.2:  On-premise ERP Internal Evaluation


    Small Businesses

    Prior to cloud platforms, ERP applications were out of reach for smaller businesses due to up-front infrastructure investments and high implementation costs.  Cloud is an emerging field which enables multiple smaller businesses to share the ERP application infrastructure hosted by the vendor resulting in lower costs and low turnover.  As Table 3.1 demonstrates, a cloud implementation provides a greater margin compared to on-premise when applied to a small user base.  As the user count grows, the cost of a cloud implementation grows in a linear fashion.  Smaller companies can take advantage of cloud implementations by avoiding heavy investments in infrastructure, IT personnel, and maintenance.  On the downside, cloud offerings are shared between multiple clients and clients lose control of customizations, maintenance schedules, and security.  This results in quarterly user training and testing since the application gets upgraded more frequently but the margin is still greater than an on-premise implementation.  

    Medium Businesses

    The strategy on which implementation to pursue for medium businesses depends on the firm's strategy.  Graph 3.5 shows the costs of 500 users in a medium sized corporation are almost identical for cloud and on-premise ERP implementations.  Corporations which do not rely heavily on customized businesses processes will also find value in using cloud applications.  Depending on the growth of the business, a hybrid ERP implementation might fit better into the client's ERP strategy since moving from cloud to on-premise or vice versa will not require the client to reimplement the financial suite of Oracle ERP applications.  A cloud ERP would be beneficial if the client does not foresee growth and firm's financial processes are not heavily customized.  An on-premise would be required for firms which deal primarily with government contracts or confidential financial information which requires heavy industry data security and data stored in a secured firewall to comply with regulatory guidelines. 

    Large Businesses

    When it comes to large enterprises with an enormous user base of multiple thousands of users, the decision is clear: due to the economies of scale and costs of licensing and implementing Oracle ERP's, the on-premise option will always result in a more economical and effective implementation (Graph 3.5).  Global enterprises generally have financial operations in dozen or more countries.  Since these implementations can take number of years to complete, the enterprise needs to have strict control over security, maintenance, and is customization ability due to the highly complex financial processes.  By doing so, the ERP application can be automated and shaped to fit the business needs, providing greater efficiency and margin, security, and control over the application.  A cloud implementation for large enterprises will result in a diminishing return due to the lack of customization and value-add to the financial processes.  Developments in these complex environments require top talent; the challenge for large businesses will be with retaining talent as employees seek greater challenges working with newer technologies while the corporation is stuck on a decades-old technology.  

     Figure 3.5.PNG














    Graph 3.5:  Cost of Implementing Oracle ERP


    Continue to Part 4:  Oracle ERP Cloud vs On-Prem: Part 4 - Implementation and Conclusion


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    4.  Implementation and Planning

    The final in series briefly describes the implementation route once the organization decides on an ERP route. 


    An ERP implementation project consists of discrete activities which break down the implementation process:  business analysis, development, implementation, and post-production support (Figure 2.2).  These primary activities are consistent with cloud, on-premise, and hybrid implementations but the timelines and budgets will vary.  A study conducted by Panorma Consulting concluded that over 50% of ERP implementation projects run over schedule and over budget (Panorma).  Due to the recent introduction of Cloud ERP applications and low client penetration, there is not sufficient data pertaining specifically to cloud implementations to determine how many are under budget and on time.  Hence, it is important for implementation partners like Infosys to develop a strategy which allows clients to segregate the various financial activities and build a strategy which incubates the implementation through a total value system (Figure 2.3).  Each of the financial processes (P2P, A2R, O2C, and R2R) consist of a primary activities, drivers, and linkages; the output of each process is generated by evaluating the impact of drivers (cost, agility, and talent) and linkages (people, processes, and technology) to determine the total cost of ownership, thus the return on investment of cloud and on-premise implementations (Figure 2.3). 

    Figure 2.3:  Oracle Financials ERP Total Value System

    Figure 2.3.1.png




















    Figure 2.3.2.png





    Conclusion

    The decision to implement an ERP on the cloud or on-premise boils down to one thing:  margin.  It is vital for a corporation to find an ERP package which matches the company's needs; one which supports their businesses processes and offers value propositions to the business model.  The decision for companies with lower than 500 employees and greater than 2500 employees can be determined without undergoing a thorough evaluation process (Graph 3.1).  For medium businesses, however, the outcome of the chosen method of implementation is not as straight-forward.  Infosys' specialization in Oracle EBS along with a strategic partnership with Oracle allows clients to gain strategic advantage in evaluating the costs, agility, and resources to decide which model of Oracle ERP to implement. 


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    Robotic Process Automation - Capabilities Overview

    Understanding the Basics

     


     

     

    Introduction

    Every few years, IT / ITeS industry is seeing a new product or technology which bring exciting new UI features, capabilities for users to configure the application easily and a lot of new buzz words and concepts for technology enthusiasts to get accustomed of.

    Robotic Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence are 2 such buzz words which have excited fast growing organizations and IT industry equally and are really catching up fast.

    While for the organizations, it opens up new avenues to achieve higher operational efficiencies and cost reduction, eventually impacting the bottom line; for IT industry it opens up new horizons to increase the client base with new offerings and increase the technological footprint.

    In this blog, we'll focus on the overview of Robotic Process Automation - the basic understanding of RPA, the types of RPA and what encourages the fast growing organizations to go for it.

     

    What is RPA?

    In this competitive consumer market, organizations face a perpetual challenge of moving swiftly while keeping the costs of operations low while increasing the consumer satisfaction level and service offering quality.

    Though organizations are aware that to reduce the costs, they have to achieve higher operational efficiencies; however, there is a direct impact on bottom line if they hire more staff to achieve that. Increasing the working hours, paying overtimes to existing staff again dents the profits. To alleviate these challenges, organizations are finding their savior in 'Robots'.

    In simple words, RPA tools (Robots) emulate the manual steps as done by users across and through applications from UI entries. RPA tools operate by mapping a rule-based workflow process which the "robot" can follow to the 'T'.

    An important point to note here is that these Robots can be implemented agnostic of system or application. These Robots can be as simple as batch file upload automation to as advanced as a cognitive automation which has self-learning, variable format processing capabilities. Processes can be triggered manually or automatically to:

    ·         Populate data across different systems and modules within them

    ·         Run queries on a scheduled basis and perform data reconciliation

    ·         Generate and distribute reports

    ·         Auditing of large volumes of data

    ·         Trigger downstream activities and processes

    Per proven studies conducted by various institutions and agencies, it has been identified that in large organizations, there is typically a scope of saving 20-40% of workload for employees with help of automation and imagine what levels organizations can achieve with employees having 20-40% more of their time to focus on value added tasks.

     

    Types of Automation

    As mentioned above, there is plethora of tasks which Robots can do starting from simple, mundane activities like data entry to super complex activities like generating a dynamic response to user query based on machine learning and cognitive abilities.

    There are different stages or levels of Intelligent Automation:-

    ·         Digital Worker - As evident by the name, this is the primary or entry level of automation an organization can move ahead with and still achieve efficiency gains.  This is the typical Robotics Process Automation tool which can perform tasks like:

    o   Data entry

    o   Running functions in excel towards data validation

    o   Triggering customized emails with preset content or standard templates

    o   Data comparison

    o   Setting up reminders

    o   Batch processing and populating mapped fields

    o   Queuing and Assignment

     

    ·         Digital Reader - This is a secondary level of automation alternatively referred as 'Cognitive Automation'. Robots at this stage can perform tasks involving:

    o   Machine Learning

    o   Pattern or Keyword based recognition which is evolving over time as Robot sees and identifies more patterns / keywords

    o   Data processing across variable formats

    o   Dynamic queue assignment based on patterns

    o   Complex analysis based on continual learning 

     

    ·         Digital Talker - This is an automation offering which focuses on providing a more interactive experience. Alexa from Amazon, Google Home are very popular examples of this. These robots are also called 'ChatBots' as they perform somewhat similar tasks as the previous classification of Digital Reader'; however have additional text and voice capabilities and are more communication focused. Robots at this stage can perform additional tasks involving:

    o   Predictive Analysis

    o   Customer Servicing

    o   Query Resolution based on pattern or keyword based recognition which is evolving over time as Robot sees and identifies more patterns / keywords

     

    ·         Digital Thinker - This is the advanced level of automation which is the classic Artificial Intelligence. Artificial Intelligence tools are somewhat comparable to humans in terms of intelligence and have their own IQ. Currently, the IQ of these AI tools is significantly lesser than that of humans. Per studies performed in 2016, IQ of Google's A.I. (47.28) is nearly two times that of Siri (23.94), however a six-year-old child beats both of them when it comes to smartness and thinking capability. An average person's IQ is in range of 85-114.

    As the IQ of these applications or tools increase, to a certain point it'll be beneficial for people and once the IQ surpasses that of average human, then we all know what will happen - we all have seen sci-fi moviesJ.

    Nonetheless, the Digital thinker can perform below activities in addition to the activities listed for previous categories:

    o   Predictive Analysis based on cognitive learning and complex algorithm 

    o   Complex Mathematical Analysis

     

     

    RPA Benefits

     

    RPA_Diagram_1.jpg

    Conclusion

    Organizations need to be smart enough to understand their IT Landscape, business process steps and identify the correct tasks which can be automated with help of Robots. Although other competitors might be at a higher level of automation, an organization needs to be realistic in its approach and move with Automation stages through a proper strategy and careful planning to reap the benefits of automation.

     

    Reference

    1.       https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/02/google-ai-has-almost-twice-the-iq-of-siri-says-study.html

    2.       https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robotic_process_automation


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    OAC-Essbase Data Load & Dimension Build Using CLI

     

    Introduction

    I am working with one of the Oracle EPM Cloud implementation projects which is focused on migrating on-premise Essbase applications to Oracle Analytics Cloud (OAC) Essbase cloud applications. The OAC Essbase provides Command Line Interface utilities which can be used for data load and dimension build in OAC Essbase applications. This document explains about how to use the utility for data load and dimension build in OAC.


    Utilities

    Command Line Utility - We can download the Command Line Tool from OAC Essbase instance to our local machine to perform the Essbase data load and dimension build tasks

     Utilities.png

    Setting up CLI environment

    • Open the command prompt and change the directory to CLI home directory.
    • To use Command line interface, Java JDK 8 should be installed and the JAVA_HOME path should be set
    • Set the CLI Home and Java Home:

                                    SET CLI_HOME=D:\CommandLineUtility

                                    SET JAVA_HOME=C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_161

     

    Logging into OAC Essbase through CLI

    Before performing Dimension build and data load activities, we need to be logged into OAC Essbase.

    Logging into OAC using admin id:

    D:\CommandLineUtility> esscs login -user TestAdmin -password ****** -url https://test.OAC.com/essbase

                    user " TestAdmin " logged in with "service_administrator" role

                    Oracle Analytics Cloud - Essbase version = 12.2.1.1.112, build = 211

     

    Create Data Base local Connection

    -                        The DB local connection can be created using CLI command createlocalconnection. It takes all the required JDBC connection details as arguments.

    Command Syntax:

    D:\CommandLineUtility>esscs createLocalConnection -name oraConn -connectionString jdbc:oracle:thin:@DevDW:1XXX/DevID -user DB_USER

                    Connection already exists, it will be overwritten

                    Enter Password:

                    User credentials stored successfully



    Essbase Dimension Build

    • Run the dim build command with stream option 
    • Database query is required either in the rules file or must be provided as argument for dimbuild. If not given in command, it is taken from the rules file.
    • The streaming API is used to push the result from database to cube.

    Command Syntax:

    D:\CommandLineUtility>esscs dimbuild -application TEST -db TEST -rule Acct.rul -stream -restructureOption ALL_DATA -connection oraConn

                    Streaming to Essbase...

                    Streamed 9 rows to cube

     

    Essbase Data Load

    •  Run the Data load command with stream option 
    • Database query is required either in the rules file or must be provided as argument for data load. If not given in command, it is taken from   the rules file

    Command Syntax:

    D:\CommandLineUtility>esscs dataload [-v] -application TEST -db TEST -rule DataLoad.rul -stream -connection oraConn

                    Streaming to Essbase...

                    Streamed 10 rows to cube


    Reference(s):

    1.https://docs.oracle.com/en/cloud/paas/analytics-cloud/essug/command-line-interface-cli.html.

    2.https://support.oracle.com/epmos/faces/DocumentDisplay?_afrLoop=442454943227210&parent=EXTERNAL_SEARCH&sourceId=HOWTO&id=2259032.1&_afrWindowMode=0&_adf.ctrl-state=aphtjq7kl_132.

     


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    Oracle Data Visualization Desktop(DVD) or Cloud Server(DVCS) is a very intuitive tool, which helps every business user in the organization to create quick and effective analytics very easily. People at all level can leverage the benefit of blending and analysing data in just a few clicks and help the organization to take informed decision using actionable insights. Oracle DVD is a Tableau like interactive tool which helps to create analysis on-the-fly using any type data from any platform, be it on premise or Cloud. Main benefits of Oracle DVDs are below:

    ·         A personal single user desktop tool, or a SAAS cloud service, which can be leveraged by any business user in the Organization.

    ·         Enable the desktop user to work even offline

    ·         Completely private analysis of heterogeneous data

    ·         Business user can have entire control over the dataset/connections

    ·         Direct access to on premise or cloud data sources

    ·         Administration task has been removed completely

    ·         No concept of remote server infrastructure

    Oracle DVD/DVCS enables the business user to perform analysis using traditional methodologies as well as provides capability to perform Advance Analytics using R and creating Predictive model using Machine Learning algorithm using Python.

    This simple and intuitive tool provides a very unique way to enable you to perform Advance analytics by just installing all the required packages. DVML (Data Visualization Machine Learning library) is the tool to help you install all the required packages for implementing machine learning algorithm for predictive analysis in one go.

    Install Advance Analytics(R) utility will help you to install all the required R packages to perform Advanced Analytics functions like Regression, Clustering, Trend line etc. However, to run both the utility in your personal system/server, you need administrative access as well as access to internet and permission to automatically download all the required packages.


    In the below slides we are going to discuss, how to leverage Advance analytics and machine learning functions to provide predictive analytics for the organization.

    In order to create a Trend line graph, we need to enable Advanced Analytics and then pull required column into the Analysis.

    Trend line Function: This function takes 3 parameters to visualize the data in a trending format.

    Syntax: TRENDLINE(numeric_expr, ([series]) BY ([partitionBy]), model_type, result_type)

    Example : TRENDLINE(revenue, (calendar_year, calendar_quarter, calendar_month) BY (product), 'LINEAR', 'VALUE')

    We need to create various canvases and put them into one story line by providing corresponding description over the canvas. While creating Trend line visualization, we need to provide the Confidence level of data. By default, it will take 95% confidence level, which means the analysis will be performed over the 95% of data.



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    So the project went live perfectly. It was on-time, on-budget and all the success criteria were met. Except one. This is a nightmare scenario for many project managers and sponsors, when the sales automation project that they have worked so hard on for many months and executed perfectly (in their opinion) does not seem to enthuse the end users resulting in the very common problem of Low user Adoption. In this blog we are specifically talking about low user adoption related to Sales Automation projects although many aspects could be common with other endeavors as well.

    Below are the major causes and mitigation for Low User adoption:

    Lack of Process Adherence or "We don't work that way"

    Often in the hurry to implement 'best practices' and a 'vanilla solution', short shrift is given to some core processes in the sales organization. Sometimes, in a global implementation, processes are 'standardized' without a real buy-in from regional stakeholders who may perceive that their way of doing business has not been heard sufficiently. 
    Mitigation: Get explicit sign-offs and buy-in from stakeholders when processes get modified. Build in customizations where required to ensure core processes are protected.

    Lack of Trust or "Is my data secure?"
    Another reason that your sales reps are reticent in sharing information on the sales automation application is due to Lack of Trust. For sales reps, their contact and account information is gold. They do not want just anybody in the organization having access to their contact and account details. Sales Teams may not have a problem with their managers accessing data but may not want say, the marketing team to get the access to their contact details without their knowledge. If their misgivings in this regard are not addressed, you will find that they may not be updating their most important information. 
    Mitigation: Most software today comes with configurable security parameters. You should ask your SI to implement suitable security configurations that balance both the need for sales effectiveness and address the trust issues of your sales teams. 

    Lack of Business Commitment or "Even my Manager doesn't use it"
    Many times Sales Automation projects focus only on the direct sales reps as the end user. This is a mistake because although direct sales reps may form the largest part of the sales force, when other sales roles like sales managers, partner managers, key account managers are not included, it is perceived by the direct sales team that they have been saddled with an unnecessary burden. This results in them not taking the implementation seriously thus resulting in low user adoption.
    Mitigation: It is important that companies take a strategic view when it comes to sales automation and implement functionalities in the software that benefits their entire sales organization. Hence we recommend to implement modules like Sales Forecasting management which requires sales managers to review forecasts from their reps and in turn submit to their managers. Modules like Partner Relationship Management are used by Partner managers to manage sales processes using the partner organization. Customer Data Management and Incentive Compensation functionalities involves the sales operations teams to ensure data quality and sales incentives through the sales automation product.

    Lack of Knowledge or "Not sure how it works"
    Most SIs and implementation consultants work on the "Train the Trainer" model were key users from the sales organization are trained on various aspects of the application. It is then expected that these Key Users in turn will go back and ensure a quality End User training. Many companies ignore or do not pay enough attention to this phase of the project since vendors are not involved in this process. It is not surprising then that end users forget about the inadequate training they received and go back to their old way of doing things.
    Mitigation: It is important that enough thought is put into the End User trainings as well. If the number of end users are large, it should be treated as a separate project and vendors can be involved in this phase of the project as well. Enough and appropriate training collateral should be developed and rollout should be planned so as individual attention can be given to each participant in these training sessions. Follow up or refresher training can also be organized on a need basis.

    Lack of Productivity or "The Old way was better"
    Although sales effectiveness, improved sales reporting, sales collaboration are all important reasons to implement a sales automation application, user adoption of such software will suffer if sales reps feel that all these benefits are happening at the cost of their productivity. Companies should guard against building a 'comprehensive solution' as that may mean that sales reps have to spend more time on the application when they would rather be selling and having face time with their prospects and customers.
    Mitigation: Sales Productivity should be an important success criteria metric and included as part of all requirements and design conversations. Data entry requirements should be kept to the minimum mandatory fields and rest of the fields can be optional. Application performance should be tested comprehensively to ensure that improvements can be made before go-live. Mobility and Outlook Synch functionalities should be explored to improve productivities. 

    Lack of Perceived Value or "What's in it for me?"
    This is perhaps the most important question that needs to be answered in terms of user adoption. Unless the sales automation helps the sales reps to meet his personal career goals, he is not going to spend time on the application. It is important that he perceives the application as a tool that will improve his sales effectiveness, help him get recognition, and advance his career.
    Mitigation: Sales automation software should focus on sales effectiveness improvements which could mean sales collaboration, new technology interventions like AI-ML to help the salesrep focus on the important leads and improving his win rates. Intelligent analytics that provide not just information but also insights on his key concerns and suggesting a workable plan of action. Sales Performance and Gamification solutions can work on top of the base solution to provide value in real terms to the sales users.

    Keeping Track
    It is important to measure the User Adoption through analytical reports to try and understand the status of user adoption even after applying many of the above mitigation measures. Reports should give an adoption breakdown by region, role etc to answer questions like which sales roles are using or not using the application. Which country's users are lagging behind? Answers to such questions will help the IT organization to take suitable interventions and corrective measures. All the best on your user adoption journey!


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    Why Usage Tracking?

    Usage Tracking will be helpful in measuring and monitoring user interactions with the OBIEE. This will provide the deep understanding into usage statistics and performance congestions in the reporting application.

    Usage tracking functionality creates entry into S_NQ_ACCT table as when a report is executed in the application by a user.

    This table will capture metrics like report performance time, report start/end time, user ID etc.,

    When Usage tracking is enabled, it helpful in determining which user queries are creating performance bottlenecks, based on query response time.

    It also provides information on frequently accessed reports. It involves in Enterprise Manager set up changes and RPD changes.

    Why Automate the Data Purge?

    For a reporting application which receives user requests every minute, Usage Tracking will generate huge volume of data. This data gets written in S_NQ_ACCT database table. Purging data in this table periodically is essential. Otherwise reports created on top of usage tracking data would perform slowly. Manually purging this data requires intervention from database team and add overhead in application maintenance.

    We can automate data-purging in S_NQ_ACCT table using BI Publisher technology. This automation will work for any data-purging. Also the entire automation can be done with technology stack that exists with BI application. There is no need to involve any additional tools.

    Steps to Automate:

    1. Create a BI Publisher data source with READ WRITE user for OBIEE meta-data schema.

    2. Create a database package which deletes records from S_NQ_ACCT table.

    3. Create a BI Publisher data-model to invoke the DB package via Event Trigger.

    4. Create a scheduled job which will invoke the data-model periodically.

     

    1. Create a BI Publisher Data Source

       

    Go to BI Publisher administration, Click on JDBC connection as shown below.

    Click on "Add Data Source"

     

     

     

     

    Enter the following details for a New Connection

         Data Source Name: Give a Data source name.

        Username: Enter the user name who have Read and write access to OBIEE meta schema to access the data source.

         Password: Enter the password associated with the user name.

    Click on Test Connection, a confirmation message will be displayed.

    1. Create a Data Model to know how many records got purged.

      Go to New TabàData Model

       

     

     

     

    Enter the following details

    Default Data Source: Select the Data source which is created in above step from dropdown.

    Oracle DB Default package: Enter package name which is created in the database in the OBIEE Meta schema.

     

    Attached the package code for Reference.

     

     

     

    Click on Data Sets and select SQL Query as shown below.

     

    Enter the following Details

    Name: Enter a Data set name

    Data Source: Select the newly created Data source from the dropdown

    Write the Query and click on OK.

    Query: SELECT COUNT(1) num_deleted_records FROM APLINST02BI_BIPLATFORM.S_NQ_ACCT WHERE start_dt < SYSDATE - (:m)

     

    Create an Event Trigger to initialize the Data model after Report gets triggered by the Scheduler.

    Enter the Event trigger details as below

    Name: Enter the name of the Event Trigger

    Type: After Data

    Language: PL/SQL

    Oracle Default package will be populated automatically. Select the appropriate function which will trigger the Report from the Available function section and move to the Event Trigger section by Click on ">" icon

     

    Now click on Parameters and provide the parameter details to pass it in Event trigger. We are passing the number of days with this parameter to purge the data from the S_NQ_ACCT table with below logic.

    DELETE FROM Schema_Name.s_nq_acct WHERE start_dt < sysdate - m;

     

     

     

    1. Create a RTF template for Scheduling a Job to automate

    Go to NewàReport

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Click on Upload

    Rtf Document for reference.

     

     

     

     

    Save the report in the required folder after providing the above details.

    Now click on MoreàSchedule

    Enter the parameter value as 'm'

     

     

     

     

    Enter the details for scheduler as below

    Name: Give a name of the file name

    Layout: This will be populated automatically

    Format: Select a required format of the Report form the dropdown

    In the Destination section, select the Destination as Email or FTP and provide the details accordingly.

    In the Schedule tab, give the frequency of the Job when to run.

     

    Now click on Submit Job from top right corner. A job will be scheduled as per given details below


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    OAC Essbase Application Migrations from On-Premise:

    Introduction

    I am working on the Oracle EPM Cloud implementation project which is focused on migrating on-premise Essbase applications to Oracle Analytics Cloud (OAC) Essbase cloud applications. The OAC Essbase provides few utilities which can be used for exporting applications from On-Premise application and importing it into OAC environment. This document explains about how to migrate the Essbase applications to OAC using utilities.

     

    Utilities

    Below are utilities which is downloaded from OAC environment. I have downloaded the  Export Utility and Command Line Tool to my local machine for migrating on-premise applications to OAC Essbase.

                    1. EssbaseLCMUtility

                    2. CommandLineUtility

     

    Utilities.png

     

    Prerequisites

           To use the Essbase LCM utility and Command line interface, Java JDK 8 should be installed and the JAVA_HOME path should be set.

           On-Premises Essbase applications should be converted to Unicode mode (UTF-8 encoding) before migrating into OAC Essbase environment. I used the below maxl script to convert the application into Unicode mode.

    I have changed the Server level variables to Application level variables.

    Exporting On-Premise Application

           I have followed the blow steps to export the on-premise application using Essbase LCM Utility.

           Open the 'CMD' and change the directory to 'D:\EssbaseLCMUtility' where I have downloaded the utility.

           Run the below command to export the application from Essbase. This command exports the data and artifacts.

                    EssbaseLCM.bat export -server  test.xxx.local:1423 -user TestAdmin

                    -password ******** -application TEST -zipfile     TEST.zip -skipProvision

     

    Export Application - Progress

     

    Export.png

    Application Export Folder

    -          The Application folder is exported to EssbaseLCMUtility Folder.

    ExportLocation.png

     

    Importing the application into OAC

    I have manually copied the exported application folder to CommandLineUtility home folder.

     

    CommandLineUtility.png

     
     

     Importing the application to OAC

    ·         I have executed the below CLI commands to import the application folder into OAC Essbase.

    ·         Set the Java Home and CLI Home:

                                    SET CLI_HOME=D:\CommandLineUtility

                                    SET JAVA_HOME=C:\Program Files\Java\jdk1.8.0_161

    ·         Logging into OAC:

                                    esscs login -user TestAdmin -url https://test.xxx.com/essbase

    ·         Importing Application into OAC:

                                    Esscs lcmimport -v -zipfilename TEST.zip

     

    Import Application - Progress

     

    Import.png

     

    Application in OAC Environment

    Application migration is succeesful. Go to OAC application console and refresh the application list to see the migrated application.

     

    Console.png

     

    Reference(s):

    1. https://docs.oracle.com/en/cloud/paas/analytics-cloud/essug/preparing-migrate-premises-applications-cloud-service.html.

    2. http://www.redstk.com/migrating-an-essbase-cube-to-the-oracle-analytics-cloud/.

     


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    Looking for a way to bring some excitement, motivation and a sense of competition within your sales force but do not necessarily want to spend extra dollars on incentive payouts? Do you want to improve user adoption of your sales automation application but not spend time an