Examining the ongoing challenges of delivering high-quality, value-added ERP services in Higher Education.
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
The unusual blast of summer weather continues here in San Francisco. Haven't needed any of those sweaters I packed! (Not complaining one iota).
Yesterday was another busy day dashing between Moscone South and West, Yerba Buena Gardens, Mint Square, the InterContintental Hotel, and more. Even though I followed the keynotes only via the active #oow twitter-stream, I was basically brain-dead by the time my last session concluded at 6pm. It shows in the waning quality of my session notes...
My day started with a healthy dose of "misery loves company" with stories a presentation entitled "Oracle Projects Drives Efficiencies Across Global Organizations" that was more of a "how we use E-Business Suite" panel with three engineering firms: Schahin Engenharia, Black & Veatch, and WorleyParsons. Their stories held a lot of familiar elements to those I've seen in higher education: heavy customization, too many interface points, paved cow paths. Goes to show that it doesn't matter what industry you come from; we are all the same. Fortunately, we also all strive to make improvements. From the inventory of initial pain, each presenter talked about the efficiencies they've obtained by leveraging Oracle Projects as the centerpiece of their implementations. As an organization that does not yet using Projects within the E-Business Suite ecosystem, there were a lot of interesting charts and diagrams that I hope to poach once the materials are posted to the site.
I followed this presentation with some time at the Demo Grounds to see the product (there were no screenshots in the customer presentation) and dig into some questions about our potential use cases. It was a helpful discussion, even if all the Oracle demo servers seemed to crash right as I arrived...
A session on 12.1 Payables yielded a couple of observations / thoughts back for my team: 1.) should we implement invoice approval? and 2.) what license(s) is required to use the Progress Payments feature with built-in retainage and advances? Somebody in the audience tried to ask that question and, not surprisingly, the presenters (from Oracle product team) did not know!
Final session of my day was "Boost Oracle Hyperion EPM Reporting ROI with Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite" from MarketSphere Consulting. The basic premise was that they are seeing (or recommending) a shift away from the "native" EPM reporting tools (Web Analysis, Interactive Reporting, Financial Reporting) toward Oracle BI Foundation tools (mostly Answers, but also OSSM). They focused on "ten key plays" but the top two seemed to be the driving forces: establish common user interface for analysis and reporting and make it possible for analysts to consume reporting and analytic content from any device. There were some interesting observations and thoughts, including a "story board" of a completed solution. But I had a few quarrels with the presentations: 1.) glossed over the real limitations of Essbase integration within the Oracle BI meta-data layer -- although this keeps getting better, all the other experts I know or follow have a lot to say on this topic; 2.) didn't even mention the significant gaps in navigation and integration between EPM and OBIEE -- which we hope
to see fixed in the next release; 3.) dropped the ball relative to financial reporting and SmartView, suggesting that SmartView was a fine tool if you have "an Excel culture" but not acknowledging the OBIEE roadmap, which (as I understand it) includes augmentation of SmartView to query ALL subject areas in OBIEE, including those not based on Essbase sources. When that happens, watch out -- SmartView will explode.
Summary filed, now off to an extended session on Oracle's investments in Education and Research...