by Peter Sayer

Oracle fine-tunes Fusion Cloud for new world of work

Sep 29, 2020
Cloud ComputingERP SystemsOracle

The Fusion Cloud ERP suite gains new supply-chain and workplace management features to meet post-pandemic needs.

Credit: Oracle

Oracle has updated its Fusion Cloud suite to help enterprises with the new demands placed on supply chains by the pandemic. The latest quarterly release also includes new tools for managing remote workers, and other features to help HR departments fit the existing workforce to the new reality of business.

The suite covers enterprise resource planning (ERP), enterprise performance management (EPM), human capital management (HCM) and supply chain and manufacturing (SCM), and is steadily gaining new functions, making it less likely that customers will need to integrate third-party applications — although they can still choose to do so.

“While we offer the full suite, there’s nothing about our system that is a closed suite,” said Steve Miranda, Oracle’s executive vice president of apps, speaking ahead of the company’s now online-only Oracle Live event. The big advantage of obtaining all the components from Oracle is having a single data model and a single source of truth, he said: “The integrated business process flow not only saves you money but more importantly it helps you focus on generating business rather than churning money trying to reconcile differences.”

New Fusion features

Oracle Fusion Cloud SCM includes a new preventive maintenance tool for optimizing field service, and an AI planning advisor to make recommendations for supply chain planning when introducing new products or dealing with production disruptions. These include a variety of machine learning models that customers can use. Oracle experts are available to help choose the best algorithms for each task, Miranda said.

Fusion Cloud ERP now includes some industry-specific functions to help companies in professional services, oil and gas, or dealing with asset-intensive projects. These include flexible labor scheduling, joint venture accounting tools, and subcontractor management and tracking systems.

The ERP component has also gained some new business continuity management features, enabling finance staff to assess risks and prepare recovery plans, while the myriad new projects businesses are considering can be modelled and weighed with a combination of its project management tools and the planning and budgeting functions of Fusion Cloud EPM.

With more workers at home, it’s harder than ever to protect against the risk of insider threats or deal with the compliance and audit costs and privacy issues associated with not knowing who’s looking at your screens. Oracle has introduced new security controls in Fusion Cloud ERP that it says use machine learning to automate monitoring, backed up with new workflows for approving or certifying employee access, and security dashboards for incident tracking.

On the marketing side, Oracle has beefed up its Oracle Unity customer data platform, offering enterprises ways to predict and personalize customer interactions, whether for B2B or B2C customers.

A question of integration

While some Oracle customers may be reluctant to put all their eggs in one basket, preferring to integrate third-party solutions for some functions, others will appreciate the company’s steady expansion of Fusion Cloud to cover more of their ERP, HR and SCM needs, said Patrick Moorhead, founder, president and principal analyst of Moor Insights & Strategy.

“The ones that like everything integrated want one throat to choke if something goes wrong,” he said, adding that those same customers appreciate that their applications and the underlying transaction engine come from the same vendor, so there is no delay in reacting to their needs.

Moorhead called out Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP’s extra auditing capabilities as one of the more significant new features — but ones that Oracle will have to keep working to improve.

“Most all of those employees with access to the most sensitive data are now working outside the firewall,” he said.  “As security and compliance are a constantly moving target, Oracle will need to be constantly updating those.”

Oracle is continuing to expand on other innovations introduced in previous releases of Fusion Cloud, according to Miranda.

The voice-control APIs presented at last year’s Oracle Live show are now available across 100 percent of HR transactions, and being rolled out to other departments, while the digital assistants unveiled two years ago can now help with things other than office tasks, handling logistics queries from truckers or factory and warehouse workers. If it’s too noisy to talk, he said, they can still interact with the assistant via text chat.

Oracle says it now has 7,300 customers for Fusion ERP Cloud, compared to 23,000 for NetSuite ERP, its cloud-based product for smaller businesses.

“We’re having more go-lives, and our view is that it’s gotten faster,” said Miranda. He namedropped customers, including Dropbox, which is using Oracle Fusion Cloud for financials and EPM, and Office Depot, which is using it for financials and HR functions including recruiting, talent management and payroll.

Rival SAP said back in July that it had 14,600 customers for its cloud-based ERP platform S/4HANA, of which more than 7,400 were live.

Oracle has also landed some big customers for its infrastructure-as-a-service cloud offering, including videoconferencing service Zoom and teen video sharing platform TikTok.