by Anirban Ghoshal

Oracle bakes more automation, analytics into Fusion Cloud ERP, EPM suite

Sep 28, 20217 mins
Artificial IntelligenceERP Systems

Oracle enhancements to its Fusion Cloud ERP and EPM suite are designed to use machine learning to automate transaction logging and monitoring, optimizing key business processes while gaining more insights from data.

Oracle headquarters
Credit: Magdalena Petrova

In response to what it says is customer demand for “relentless” automation, Oracle is updating its Fusion Cloud ERP and EPM suite to add features designed to streamline the process of logging and tracking transactions, while offering enhanced, AI-based analytics meant to optimize business processes.

“Organizations at large are really looking to us to help them to improve the speed, the accuracy of the business processes, and really weeding out those mundane, really non-value add tasks as much as possible,” said Juergen Lindner, Oracle’s senior vice president of SaaS marketing.

Enterprises often have thousands of unclassified procurement transactions that can skew data in the reporting process, and organizing them manually takes time. Technology leaders are looking for ways to consolidate and analyze data in a manner that provides insights for better category planning, supplier relationships, contract governance and compliance. Gartner calls the trend “hyperautomation.”

 The worldwide market for technology that enables hyperautomation, which includes robotic process automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning, will reach $596.6 billion in 2022, up from a projected $532.4 billion in 2021, according to Gartner. The market research firm  describes the concept of hyperautomation as an organizational approach to automate as many business processes as possible to draw out maximum value.

Machine learning speeds transaction processing

In an effort to meet this enterprise demand for faster processing and enhanced analytics, Oracle is adding a component in its Fusion suite called Procurement Spend Classification, which uses machine learning to automatically categorize business transactions and provide deeper insights into spending patterns.

Oracle’s machine learning engine is first trained on anonymized data sets, but it learns more specific classification rules after it studies patterns of classification in a particular organization once it is deployed, Lindner said.

The automated classification engine could be handy for enterprises as most expense categories presently require manual identification and tracking, said Constellation Research founder and principal analyst R Wang. “The usage of natural language processing (NLP) and automated ontologies could save massive amounts of time for enterprises,” Wang said.

Reporting tool aims at invoice accuracy

Enterprises often use suppliers that have different capabilities when it comes to generating digital invoices. This variability inflates processing expenses, leads to inconsistent processes, and lowers straight-through processing rates, according to Gartner. To tackle one aspect of this problem, Oracle is adding Intelligent Document Recognition (IDR) to its Fusion suite to increase the accuracy of invoice scanning.

The IDR component of the suite uses machine learning to scan and report transactions as part of the financial reporting process, and can be trained to read new invoice formats, Lindner said. IDR can identify inconsistencies, he said.

“Now, employees have the possibility to see the accuracy rate by supplier and each (invoice) attribute, helping them to uncover the opportunities where there’s really room for improvement, like adjusting an image quality or the configuration of the invoice,” Lindner said.

The process increases the speed of the entire finance reporting process for enterprises, Lindner said.

Automated Journals target process efficiency

Oracle has also adding Enterprise Journals with automation capabilities designed to ease management of journals, which collect analyses of transactions and business events, to Oracle Fusion EPM. Enterprise Journals focuses on weeding out inefficiencies in the financial reporting process and can directly post journals from Oracle EPM to Oracle ERP or any other existing ERP system.

According to Lindner, this tool will help organizations that now have to manually move journals from their EPM applications to their ERP systems, which increases the risk of errors leading to faulty forecasts.

“It also provides a single place to manage and track journals, while prebuilt templates and workflows streamline the journal entry process and further reduce the potential for errors,” Lindner said.

Analytics offer better insights across ERP stack

To deliver more insights across an enterprise’s resources, Oracle is also expanding the set of analytics included in Fusion ERP Analytics, its cloud-native, machine learning-based software targeted at delivering advanced business analysis after ingesting data from disparate enterprise divisions.

The update includes new spend and procurement analytics built into the software’s library. Fusion ERP Analytics will also support a new employee-expenses subject area for analyzing employee spend across company, cost center, expense types, expense categories, and associated dimensions.

Oracle Fusion ERP Analytics goes beyond the typical embedded offering as it includes an instance of the Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse, according to Constellation Research Vice President and Principal Analyst Doug Henschen.

“This warehouse is already set up with the data from the customer’s Fusion ERP instance, but it can also be expanded to include data from other Oracle Fusion applications — CX and HCM, for example — and from external applications, thereby supporting cross-domain analysis,” Henschen said.

 To deliver additional and better business insights based on financial and operational data, Oracle will be releasing a new module called Intelligent Performance Management (IPM) Insights.

“IPM analyzes large amounts of financial and operational data to identify and highlight patterns, many of which may not be immediately apparent to humans, such as a tendency to over- or under-forecast key metrics every period. This enables finance professionals to spend less time chasing and analyzing data, and more time acting on valuable insights and opportunities,” Lindner said.

According to Henschen, features such as IPM, which are mostly based on selected algorithms pre-built into the application behind the scenes, make it easier for data analysts, power users and business users alike to do sophisticated analyses without requiring coding or knowledge of data science. 

For enhanced security, Oracle is also releasing an update to its ERP stack that lets enterprises determine how much access is given to different individuals while they are being onboarded, reducing the risk of security failures and compliance variations.

IDR, Procurement Spend Classification, the new ERP analytics, the EPM Journals and new security features were made available to existing customers in the last few weeks and will be generally available in Oracle’s November quarterly update for the Fusion suite. IPM Insights will be generally available for all users in the quarterly update.