Oracle Open World 2009

Just got back from Oracle Open World 2009 and it was a fantastic show. Points of interest for me?

1. Most of the sessions started off with the question “How many companies are on R12, please raise your hands”. What really surprised me was how few companies were actually on R12. Now I assume that the ones that go to Open World are the more zealous of Oracle companies and therefore you’d expect a higher uptake of R12. Now I have no idea what the official figures are but I’d say no more than 5% of all people (and we are talking hundreds at each session) raised there hands. Most when asked were still on 11.5.x………..Which means that 2010 may well be a boom year for upgrades to R12.

2. Oracle Business Intelligence and Pre-built Analytics. I’ve loved this product since the day I saw it. Basically it was acquired from Siebel and it’s the best Oracle product I have seen in the last decade, even if it ain’t really Oracle’s……..This is really the unstated direction for Discoverer in the future and I think this product (BIEE) will really gain very substantial market share in the coming years. What they also have is pre-built analytics (entire data warehouse, dashboards, KPI’s, reports, etc) for most of the Oracle ERP. The quality and coverage of these is again superb with new products and more coverage being released on a very frequent basis. What really gets you about these products is the time it takes to implement – Oracle came on site to us and put in the entire technology, software, database, etc and extracted our data and got the dashboards running – IN SEVEN HOURS as a demo. If you heavily use ERP this is something everyone should be looking at. It’s not cheap, but then building your data warehouse from scratch usually ends in disaster………BI Analytics is built by professionals at Oracle and it shows. Absolutely stunning product that can allow management to keep a real eye on how business is doing and provides powerful reporting and analytics across the business.

3. GRC – This is another acquired product and again looks very interesting. Basically this allows you to keep track of all setup changes (although unfortunately not across all modules). Now when the auditors come in and ask to show what has been changed, nice and easy – just run a report. Or if one module stops working after changes, then if you’ve created a snapshot you can see the difference, ending hours or days of minute researching to find the problem……Or compare a UAT to a newly upgraded R12 to check you’ve got identical setup within minutes……what a great tool.

Now this has other parts to it as well including access controls, enforcing segregation of duties,  adding rules, workflow and analytics (in BIEE separate license called GRCI) and other areas. Now apparently the Consulting company reckoned they could have this up and running in two months……

4. Another one I loved was the Imaging and Process Management. Basically we want to streamline Payables by imaging all invoices and workflowing them to the users. Oracle seems to be heading towards creating modules that provide services ERP wide and this is one of them. Basically this can do imaging, workflow, etc and has prebuilt adapters for Accounts Payable. Text Recognition is also coming out in the coming quarters, so it’s a very exciting product that could streamline not just AP operations, but many other areas as well.

5. When wandering around the demo grounds saw a Product called Oracle Application Testing Suite. Now this looks like the Mercury tools and it’s a great addition to Oracle’s suite. Basically it will allow you to build automated test scripts for Oracle ERP. They reckon they will also be adding pre-built test scripts, but no commitment on that. So basically you apply your patch, run the Test Suite, go get a coffee and come back and see what failed. Now my one doubt is always how long it takes to actually build the test suite – it’s not easy and I have seen a lot of companies fail. However if you can actually build a robust test suite, this could save a huge amount of time and money in the future. A very interesting product.

6. IFRS – with most companies heading towards IFRS it sounds like Oracle is already prepared. Indeed some companies are already using IFRS with Oracle. It was hard to stay awake as a bunch of accountants talked about the exciting features of IFRS, but as someone in the IT area, its good to know that Oracle should have it covered (although there will still be a chunk of work, possibly changes to your existing applications and certainly changes in the reporting sphere, so don’t assume that Oracle has it totally covered – it provides the foundations only).

7. Another interesting product was the Oracle Application Change Management Pack. Basically this allows you to build your own patches for customizations and deploy. Very nice product that should ease DBA workload and make applying customizations much more reliable and safe.

With 1800 sessions, it was hard to do anything except scrape the surface. But as an average company using ERP,  hope these areas will be as interesting to you as they were to me.

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