Technology and Data News and Events

EPM

Oracle’s focus on blockchain and innovation with start-ups

by Mike Jones 13/08/2019

The development of blockchain created a string of new and innovative start-up businesses seeking ways to expand into the wider market. Recently, the world of blockchain has transformed rapidly and rather than a wave of young, innovative founders creating new blockchain solutions, it is the likes of major technology companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Oracle who have now joined in the blockchain market.

This development has triggered a mix of opinions, with some viewing it as a major move in actually standardizing and implementing the technology, whilst others perceive it as major technology taking over a modern tool for startup development. Nevertheless, both technology majors and new businesses are collaborating through blockchain development, which can only be a positive change.

Oracle, one of the leading software companies offers a detailed enterprise blockchain service and is continuing to provide support to emerging businesses in this market. Oracle is also driving this section of the business with further support from blockchain and a recent collaboration with Chainlink.

At the start of the summer, Chainlink confirmed they would be partnering with Oracle and its Oracle for Startups program. The start-up project works with new start-ups and innovative professionals worldwide. The program provides cloud credits, discounts, mentoring and access to customer and marketing services at Oracle. This new initiative with Chainlink is just one of several projects Oracle are working on, but it is one that targets start-up companies, supporting them selling their data to generate additional revenue. The decentralized oracle technology used by Chainlink will be utilized to generate revenue via smart contracts on the Oracle Blockchain Platform.


Supporting Start-ups

Some analysts are asking the question of why is Oracle diverting their attention from new technology to support start-ups. The answer really comes down to the essence of a start-up, which is creativity and innovation. Fernando Ribeiro, the senior manager for Oracle for Start-ups explains that the program is focused on enabling new businesses to develop their products via the Oracle cloud solutions and other resources, generating a string of innovative systems that benefit not only the start-up but Oracle and their customers.

Ribeiro refers to it as a win-win cycle of innovation for start-ups and Oracle. The program is allowing new businesses to partner, develop and scale their ideas on enterprise solutions such as Oracle’s cloud infrastructure and blockchain-as-a-service. For a business the size of Oracle, the ability to innovate and be flexible is more complex compared to a start-up. Consequently, the program enables Oracle to keep its finger on the pulse and ensure they are working closely and supporting innovative plans within the industry.

 

Why is Oracle so active in Blockchain technology?

Ribiero explains that Oracle believes that the simpler you make it for blockchain services to leverage off-chain data sources in a secure manner, the greater value they could provide for blockchain customers. Ribiero refers to the recent partnership with Chainlink as a vital way to test, understand and validate this process. In short, if easier access and secure connections with a range of external data sources make blockchain more applicable, then it will generate more customers to the Oracle Blockchain Platform.

The partnership and service offering from Oracle for start-ups and its latest partnership with Chainlink are positive developments for the market. For many innovators, the cost is a significant factor and barrier to progression. Creating a system with Oracle to increase revenue and at the same time enable new ideas to continue developing is an appealing offering for many start-ups. Ribiero highlights that they intend to work with pioneering companies across multiple industries, to ensure they remain competitive and continue driving innovation. As the Oracle Blockchain Platform continues to develop, the business intends to partner on new initiatives similar to Chainlink and expand these opportunities further.

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How data analytics can transform business decisions

by Mike Jones 13/08/2019

For years data analytics has been regarded as a valuable tool for businesses to enhance their marketing strategies. What has become more clear in recent years is how data can be applied to multiple sections of a business and improve overall performance and management. Today, data is applied to many systems across public and private sectors, enabling teams to use data to streamline workflows and identify errors.
Collecting data on customers and applying machine learning, businesses can gain a clearer understanding of how each customer behaves on their website. This information is critical in determining how effective your website platform is and enable businesses to optimize their technology to create a better overall experience. Businesses can become more intuitive, creating a custom user experience, delivering a website that is unique to each user.

Data can also support businesses in improving their workflow and enhancing employee performance. Through a clearer idea of employee performance, HR teams can gain a detailed insight into how employees utilize their working day and identify opportunities to improve work efficiency. This type of methodology is also very useful for financial businesses in monitoring and detecting and fraudulent activity.

Data in the public sector

Public sector and government agencies can utilize data analytics to support a number of common challenges, improve the efficiency of their operations and save money. Data analysis can support agencies in creating public policies and offer clear service to measure the success of each policy.

Data and Decision Making

Utilizing new data streams can support decision making in businesses and overall improve business performance. The effectiveness of data in enhancing management has resulted in a transition in how businesses operate. With continued improvement in data analytics and innovative technology, we will continue to see a greater demand for skilled, talented data analytical professionals. As more companies begin to understand the real value of data and analytics demand for new services will rise and technology companies will likely create a number of new and improved services that enable businesses to collect, analyze and apply their own data sources.

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Salesforce confirms the acquisition of analytics platform Tableau Software

by Mike Jones 06/08/2019

 

Salesforce has announced the completion of its $15.7 acquisition of analytical vendor Tableau Software, forming its largest-ever acquisition to date. The deal between both companies was announced earlier in June, coming not long after Google moved to acquire data analytics business Looker for a value of $2.6 billion.

In relation to the Tableau deal, Salesforce believes the acquisition will provide an improved role in expanding digital transformation, allowing companies worldwide to harness new data streams within the entire business and generate more insights leading to smarter decisions. Salesforce believes the new platform will create intelligence, integrated customer experiences and support further innovation.

Leading global market intelligence firm IDC forecasts the global spending on technology and services supporting digital transformation will reach $1.8 trillion by 2022. Tableau offers a self-service analytical system with a platform that enables people from a range of skills to work with data. Over 85,000 businesses including Verizon, Netflix, and Schneider Electrical are using Tableau to support their existing data streams.

Salesforce Customer 360 offers businesses an intuitive and intelligent view of customers across an entire company, including sales, service, marketing, and other key areas. Salesforce Einstein provides detailed AI-driven analytics focusing on sales and marketing. Combining the forces of Tableau and Einstein means Salesforce is capable of delivering one of the most intelligent analytical and visual platforms available for all departments and users.

Tableau will also enhance the potential of Customer 360, allowing the platform to expand to a wider range of customers. Tableau will perform as an independent provider under the Tableau brand and will continue to be headquartered in Seattle and be managed by the existing leadership team. Keith Block, the co-CEO of Salesforce explains that data is essential for digital transformation and Block highlights this is why the business is very committed to producing the highest level of analytics available to every user. Block states that Tableau will allow Salesforce Customer 360, including the analytic potential of Salesforce to improve further, allowing customers to focus on innovation and generate smarter strategic business decisions.

Recently, Salesforce has revealed plans to launch a second data center within the UK and strengthen its data center capacity within France.

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Recent acquisitions boosts Insightsoftware’s place in the EPM market

Transforming finance processes through platform integration

by Mike Jones 06/08/2019

Implementing digital technology can create a number of challenges to financial operations. Investment business The Carlyle Group recently launched a CPM platform to support its business objectives.

With the continued rise of digital technology, financial businesses and utilizing innovative systems to transform people and processes to enhance business performance through an improved and more flexible service. Through the implementation of new technology, businesses are creating more time to focus on analysis and improving their overall strategic decision-making process.

A few years ago, investment company Carlyle Group started exploring new methods to support digital technology within its financial and enterprise systems that provided a simplistic and easier option to their existing services. At this time, the group utilized three separate systems for planning, budgeting, and forecasting but intended to launch one system that could integrate all of these services into one platform. Carlyle Groups financial planning and analysis group used SAP Business Objects Planning, a traditional tool that no longer provided options to support annual budgeting, quarterly forecasting, and long term plans. Carlyle Group was focusing a lot of time and effort on consolidating and handling information due to technical limitations faced with their systems in place. The Group highlighted that its existing Hyperion Financial Management system required significant customization to meet business needs. The business also relied on a custom HR budgeting and forecasting service that met the needs of a complex investment business but was a single-user system and required added support with excel-based data integrations.

To progress further into the digital era, Carlyle Group knew they would need to implement a more modern, flexible platform, capable of scaling to meet its existing and future business needs. Carlyle explored a range of tools to determine which one suited the company from an FP&A perspective. In the end, the business picked OneStream Software LLC integrated CPM platform.

OneStream operated in the cloud or on-premise and allows businesses to focus on reporting, budgeting and forecasting, all within one integrated system. The CPM platform can tackle the requirements of most businesses as well as the more complex reporting needs of other companies and specific groups.

Financial benefits of the move Carlyle Group selected OneStream for its budgeting, planning and forecasting services but the platform also supported their consolidation and reporting processes, combining this area into one platform. Aside from the productivity benefits, the business also experienced an improvement in their IT infrastructure, making life much easier for both users and system managers. The new platform means a reduction in data movement between systems, making it easier to manage and implement periodic upgrades. So instead of launching a series of upgrades to multiple systems that can take some time, the group can upgrade one application in a matter of hours. OneStream has met all the requirements of Carlyle Group. Through the delivery of a single platform, all data is gathered in one place, making processes simpler and quicker.

The business now has much more access to information and has greatly reduced manual, time-consuming data tasks. Carlyle Group has also highlighted a number of other notable benefits, such a reduction in consolidation times by over 50%, despite a massive surge in data generated. Standard processes that previously took up to a week to deliver, such as expense budget updates, can now be implemented in the same day, in literally a few minutes. Since implementing the new system, the group has expanded their use of the OneStream platform by developing point planning solutions for specific expense areas, generating scenario models to support business strategy and review discussions.

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How data is changing the role of the finance professionals

by Mike Jones 30/07/2019

MHR Analytics recently highlighted some of the key ways data is transforming the role of finance professionals and how to adapt to the future market. Data has created multiple opportunities for finance professionals but in order for finance teams to continue being seen as a value-added service, finance professionals need to continue evolving and take advantage of the new technology available to them. MHR Analytics recently highlighted some of the main changes the finance industry is likely to experience in the next few years.

 

The Rise of Predictive Analytics

Traditionally, finance teams utilized historical data to generate information and insights. This process was relatively limited due to the overall scope of the data and also lacked a complete representation of how particular decisions would influence the business. Predictive analytics has enabled finance professionals to expand beyond asking why things happened to understand what will happen next. Access to insightful information will allow finance teams to monitor customer data in real-time and develop a detailed analysis of their data. The future role of finance professionals increasingly is focused on using value-added analytical data to develop highly effective information to deliver business strategies.

Remote working options

The rise of cloud computing has allowed for more flexibility in finance work. Improvements in the security of cloud systems enable finance professionals to share and manage information wherever they may be, without worrying about the traditional concerns of handling sensitive information outside of the office space. An additional benefit is an increase in businesses moving towards a single operating system, putting all data in one place, creating a more streamlined and simplistic system.

 

Utilizing financial and non-financial data

Finance data can be supported with other data streams to enrich overall financial insights for business. This can include examining customer behavior patterns to determine fraud or suspicious activity. Finance teams can use internal data such as employee performance metrics to determine the ROI according to each employee. Adding this type of data into the entire process creates further value to overall financial insights. Recent research shows that CFOs utilize a large bulk of non-financial data in business forecasting.

 

Improving Standard of Service

An increase in analytics is creating a more augmented working environment, meaning previous tasks completed by people are now being performed by machines. Augmented analytics is enabling people to focus on creating more insights and value for their business. As a result, the combined forces of augmented analytics and the ability for more insight generation means the overall standard of service is higher than ever.

 

Introduction of new data-focused roles

Whilst there are concerns augmented analytics will mean fewer jobs, it does mean we are likely to experience a rise of more data specific alternatives to traditional finance positions. As data continues to become more important to finance teams and for generating insights for business strategy, it will result in a higher demand for specialist data professionals. New data science roles are expected to emerge as a result of the rising demand for skilled data specialists.

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Benefits of Anaplan and Adaptive Insights

How automation is transforming finance activities

by Mike Jones 30/07/2019

Technology is rapidly changing how organizations do business. Finance teams, in particular, are being transformed from focusing on traditional paperwork activities to effectively automating processes such as invoicing, workflow and data analytics. Technology has created an efficient automated strategy, enabling finance teams to harness the true potential of their workforce and strengthen their contribution towards their business.

At first, technology was perceived as a potential threat to employment and job availability. In reality, as technology and the digital era has emerged even further, technology has proven to provide wider opportunities and empowered businesses, accelerating overall company development. Streamlining basic and tedious activities with automated software means the lengthy tasks of data entry and spreadsheet management, which commonly result in errors, are being completed in a matter of minutes.

This is a significant change for finance professionals, allowing CFOs and other financial members to have more influence over their entire businesses. Instead of spending time on paperwork, finance employees are capable of moving into a more strategic position, exploring new opportunities and creating real value for their company. Automation has also provided more control and visibility of data and other records for finance professionals.

The development of innovative analytical models allows finance teams to carefully measure and manage overall performance, as well as identify trends or potential errors that previously would have been overlooked. All of these factors create added value, supporting their business in making complex decisions and generating more accountability within the entire business. According to the Finance 2020 report by Accenture, Finance is now creating things it could never do before due to progression in digital technology. Finance has transformed from a traditional spreadsheet-focused accounting and reporting hub, into a sophisticated predictive analytical system providing real value for a business. It comes as no real surprise that automation technology is expected to expand further within finance over the coming years. A 2016 EY survey of finance professionals suggested that 65% believed automating processes would become a significant factor for future financial organizations.

IT Pro Portal has created several steps they believe finance leaders should be considering to develop an automation strategy and reshape their role within their entire business.

Defining your overall proposition, what you want your team to deliver and how you intend to add value to the business. How do these changes impact your team’s function and existing work?

Defining your team and its capabilities – What can be changed to deliver business value and what can you transform through automation.
Considering your team and overall structure – where should automation technology be applied to reduce certain individual tasks, enabling additional time for people to develop new skills.

Developing your automation plan – work with your team and the business to confirm what processes need to be automated to meet your goal. Identify areas where automation will reduce errors, significantly free up time for employees and add value elsewhere, as well as generate higher levels of data analysis.

Create a testing framework – testing automation plays a crucial part in the success and failure of an automation project. Within the testing stage, all processes, technology, and roles should be considered, as well as determining the best time to deliver the project and who will be responsible for implementing and measuring the results.

Testing your automation environment – working alongside your IT team to test software, manage any potential errors before implementing anything live.

Enabling continuous improvement – finance leaders need to ensure there are a continuous learning and improvement process within the business.

Receiving feedback from business members and another stakeholder within the automation process and refining the strategy as necessary.

Moving towards automation means CFOs can harness the true potential of their position and ensure they provide a lead within business activities and ensure their organization remains active and competitive within this progressive market.

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Oracle Study

Case Study: How Hindalco improved financial processes with Oracle EPM Cloud

by Mike Jones 24/07/2019

Hindalco recently automated its financial systems by implementing cloud software, saving time and effort with manual tasks and at the same time, improving both results and security.

Emerging regulatory controls and a progressively competitive business landscape are placing further pressures on financial leaders. Added into the mix is the growth of innovative digital technologies, greatly influencing the rate of development within the market. Being capable of reducing time spend on financial closing with compliance and regulations being met is a significant challenge and a factor that can influence the reputation of a business.

Manufacturing business Hindalco Industries is a fine example of how a business has utilized Oracle cloud to meet these rising challenges. Handling multiple streams of data, combined with completing financial reports in real-time proved very challenging for the business. Integrating multiple reports into a singular version under relatively tight deadlines became a difficult process to manage for Hindalco and is a common issue for other businesses within multiple industries. For Hindalco, many tasks were depending on specific employees, required manual intervention to eliminate any potential errors and required further monitoring and checks from other members of the business.
Hindalco was looking for a solution that would streamline their financial management process and regulatory reports, explains Sunita Menon, Head of Solution Delivery at the business. Financial reporting continues to be one of the most complex and expensive processes. End-to-end reporting involves a number of complicated stages which all have the potential to disrupt the overall flow of the process. Menon explains that Hindalco was looking for a solution that demonstrated a proven case for the business. Oracle EPM Cloud solution was selected as it offered the services that enabled Hindalco to combine finance and IT services together.

The introduction of the new solution began with identifying the underlying problem, selecting the right technology and determining an implementation partner and delivering the solution to meet business expectations. Menon explains that this process involved a combination of design thinking, stakeholder management, training, validation checks, user acceptance testing and the final delivery of the tested product. Data was collected from over 20 locations and was inputted into Hyperion Financial Management (HFM) and later combined with the cloud solution.

The benefits of the move to Oracle

The new solution enables simultaneous updates from a select number of points at any time. Users are able to share report segments with the option of implementing review and responsibility settings. The system also includes a number of validation to monitor financial data and any potential errors.

Menon explains that the business now has the ability to assess and deliver multiple versions within a single link to source data. Menon highlights the improvements through greater accuracy, explaining that any opportunity to free up the time of professionals will result in higher levels of accuracy. The business has improved its use of resources and additional time can be spent specifically on analysis, rather than the time-consuming process of collecting data

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EPM

Defining the success of Oracle in Cloud Applications

by Mike Jones 24/07/2019

Businesses today are actively looking to enhance their systems by integrating with new technology, reducing their expenses and simplify their internal activities. Whichever market your business may be in, all industries are trying to manage a range of demands from employees, customers and partners, adding more pressure to deliver strategic and informed decisions quicker than ever before.

Businesses are looking to larger cloud providers like Oracle to streamline IT processes and simplify systems for investors and at the same time provide continuous improvements in the integration of AI and machine learning systems.

Rondy Ng, the senior vice president of applications development at Oracle explains that technology can provide significant support to businesses, not just from a streamlining perspective but improving engagement and transforming internal business activities and models. Many businesses today understand the importance of technology and its role in transforming business functions. Oracle Cloud enables the management of financial processes, HR and other data sources within one simplistic platform, delivering a single source of information to improve business efficiency and generate company insights.

Oracle’s position within the Cloud is highlighted by a recent statement by the CEO, Mark Hurd in the latest earnings report. Hurd refers to the IDC annual market share results, highlighting that Oracle received the highest market share worldwide out of all enterprise applications for the last three years running. Hurd points out that several leading businesses have selected Oracle as their cloud provider, including Ferguson, a wholesale distributor valued at over $20 billion, which have moved to Oracle ERP Cloud, EPM and Supply Chain. Other recent businesses moving to Oracle include Argo Insurance, Experian, Wright Medical and Emerson Electric.

Oracle continues to show success in the enterprise cloud app market through continued results for its customers, delivering solutions to the rising challenges facing many businesses today. According to recent converts, Baylor University, moving their core financial, planning and HR systems to one cloud-based platform enabled the university to enhance business insights and improve their ability to adapt to challenges faced within the education market.

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Maximising your business potential with real time data analytics

Grant Halloran appointed new CEO for Host Analytics – what does this mean for the business?

by Mike Jones 24/07/2019

Host Analytics has confirmed Grant Halloran as their new CEO. The news comes nearly six months after Vector Capital acquired Host Analytics and placed Ron Baden as temporary CEO. Baden has now moved into his previous role as Chief Revenue Officer.

Host Analytics has announced how excited they are to have Halloran as the CEO during their exciting development period. David Fishman, the Chairman of Host Analytics and MD at Vector Capital believes there are considerable opportunities ahead and with Grant’s significant experience in enterprise software combined with years of experience, Fishman believes the business will continue to expand considerably.

Fishman believes Grant is the ideal person to manage Host Analytics as the business intends to develop into a global leader in financial planning and close solutions.

Halloran originally founded Orbis, a specialist SaaS marketing resource management company which was eventually acquired by Infor. Halloran then became the Global VP & GM at Infor before taking up the position of Chief Marketing Officer at Anaplan.

His experience gained at Vector Capital is something that Fishman is hoping will be replicated at Host Analytics. Halloran decided to leave his leading senior role at OmniSci, the analytics platform that has also experienced significant growth. Halloran recently explained that it is an honor to be working as the CEO of Host Analytics, a business that he believes is set for substantial growth, contains a strong customer base and an experienced and talented workforce.

Since being acquired by Vector Capital, the business has focused specifically on expanding its position in the US and International market. Halloran believes there are considerable opportunities out there with finance leaders looking for techniques to be more agile, strategic, and enhance their financial performance. Halloran believes Host Analytics is perfectly equipped with the capabilities to support finance leaders in delivering their goals.

Positive times for Host Analytics

With new leadership, host analytics is expected to continue expanding, particularly with recently published results and continued expansion plans. Whilst there is little details in how Halloran will continue to grow the business, the company is in a good position to take advantage of an industry that has been forecast to exceed $3 billion by 2022.
Host Analytics was named as a leader in the G2 Grid for Corporate Performance Management (CPM) and was recently selected as a leader in the 2019 Dresner Wisdom of Crowds EPM Market Study.

Howard Dresner, the founder, and chief research officer at Dresner Advisory Services states that Host Analytics has continued to accelerate their position as a market leader within the EPM space. Dresner congratulates Host Analytics for their performance and remaining an industry leader.

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Simplifying the data and analytics industry

by Mike Jones 17/07/2019

Big data is a popular trending phrase used at present, referring to the gathering of large volumes of data sets and then using this information with new technologies to make informed decisions. Industry analysts highlight, however, that technology businesses are not simply focused on big data but more broadly on data strategies. Whilst big data is getting a lot of media attention, many technology experts highlight that businesses require the integration of big and small data to really see the total value.

One of the core challenges facing companies is finding the correct tool to manage and measure all of these varying data sets. Many advanced analytical systems run on Apache Hadoop, an application capable of managing data processing and storage. However, it is difficult to find one software solution that can meet all the requirements for all industry issues. There are multiple technologies available today that enable users to explore and measure large volumes of data. Businesses will continue to expand and diversify using new innovative technology and software solutions that are designed to manage specific data sets. Businesses need to seek and integrate with the best technologies available to meet their requirements and not necessarily select and rely on one particular technology to fulfil their expectations.

Keeping data simple

What many clients are looking for is an opportunity to simplify data systems and processes. The sheer volume of data available to enhance business performance often means many businesses will utilise various software systems to control and assess their data and analytics operations. For many, this investment has spiralled out of control, with multiple people working across a number of different systems, which for most companies is simply unsustainable. In order to continue expanding, businesses are looking for ways of simplifying this process and seeking fewer platforms to work with.

The Teradata Vantage data intelligence platform enables users to combine a selection of tools and languages, providing flexibility with multiple data types. Teradata believes it is the only software available that is capable of managing all data, all of the time.

Taking automation even further

Many businesses like Teradata are providing useful automation solutions for managing the processing and storage of data. Data industry professionals believe the future of big data and analytics now lies with expanding automation even further. 

Automation is heavily used within data handling and analytics and still requires a high level of human development and monitoring to ensure everything is running smoothly. Industry leaders are now asking the question of how to remove data scientists from the automation process and apply the principles of AI, Maths and statistics to enhance data collection, learning model development and the deployment of information.  

To truly deliver end-to-end analytics requires a range of skilled professionals that can provide a specialist service. This means you need data engineers, scientists, software engineers, BI and design professionals and many more skilled individuals. These people will still be required to design analytic models but many experts believe that a large part of the more time-consuming management and monitoring tasks will slowly be eradicated. Instead of skilled professionals manual handling data sets, businesses will focus more on AI algorithms to automate these processes.

Applying Blockchain in the future

AI and automation is the current focus for many businesses but there are always new, emerging technologies appearing in the technology market. Blockchain is regarded as one of the next big things to disrupt business and may have some potential as a security solution for technology. Maintaining the balance between the system intelligence of AI with levels of trust and confidentiality are challenging. With larger volumes of data available and more analytics developed mean a greater level of machine intelligence. Businesses need to ensure they understand the implications of their data processes in terms of trust and security and many industry experts believe that Blockchain will play a part particularly as data volumes are increasing rapidly.

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