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Putting the power of analytics in the hands of finance

14 November 2019 08:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Nobody comes to work jazzed about chasing after data. They simply want answers to their questions.


That’s why Oracle is taking a new approach to analytics for finance pros, giving them tools that make it easier to stay informed about key financial measures. They can now set alerts on the most-relevant KPIs, review data through visualisations and narratives, and share their findings with colleagues via an app like Slack or WhatsApp - all from an app on their phone or laptop.


“Analytics should be tied into the everyday work experiences of employees and their workgroups,” said Oracle Analytics Senior Vice President T.K. Anand, during a keynote address at Oracle OpenWorld in September. “The goal is to have the data come to the user rather than the user having to go to the data.” Called Oracle Analytics for Fusion ERP, the offering helps finance leaders and their teams monitor a range of key measures, run what-if scenarios, and track progress toward goals.


For example, a CFO at a company focused on top-line growth can set KPIs around OPEX, CAPEX, and payroll-to-revenue ratio, to track how the growth push is impacting the bottom line. She can set alerts to be notified when these measures hit specified thresholds, and she can drill down into details to find ways to improve the picture- perhaps by postponing non-critical spending. She can then use Slack to ask the CIO what the implications would be to postpone a specific IT project, attaching the 
data visualisations.


And the CFO doesn’t need to call IT to set up her analysis, since the company’s data is loaded directly into an Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse. Oracle Analytics for Fusion ERP frees IT from having to design or tune a database, perform ETL (extract, transform, load), and design data models, Anand said.

 


Getting to Data-Driven
As CFOs and their finance teams play an increasingly strategic role, they often are the ones driving investments in digital technology and advocating for more new business models, such as moving to a subscription model, said Oracle ERP Product Management Senior Director Ash Bajpai, during a presentation at the conference.


“Finance is one of the biggest champions of becoming a data-driven organisation,” he said. “But a lot of companies are struggling with what data-driven really means.”


What it often means is transitioning from a spreadsheet-dependent, collect-and-report business to one that can use data to make strategic decisions across functional areas - for example, shifting the marketing and sales strategies in a region based on projections of supply and demand. It’s a complex process involving big changes to business processes across teams, as well as to data management and access, and the very culture of decision-making in an organisation.


And first, you need access to the right data and the ability to perform analysis - and that’s where Oracle Analytics for Fusion ERP comes in.


“If you want insights at a process level like procure-to-pay or quote-to-cash, that requires insights across several data sources,” Bajpai said. “If you want to use data insights to affect business outcomes, that requires data from many sources, including third-party and external. Oracle Analytics for Fusion ERP can help with these more advanced levels of analytics.”
Designed to deploy quickly, the solution includes best-practice KPIs powered by machine learning that provides predictive insights and enables users to monitor business performance against the metrics they set, drill down into details, look at trends and other measures, and make decisions quickly.


Business users can also personalise the KPI visualisations according to their needs and determine thresholds for each measure, enabling them to receive an alert if performance is predicted to fall beneath the level they’ve specified. They can then perform ad-hoc analysis using a simple drag and drop, and easily communicate their findings to colleagues via commonly used messaging applications - which are integrated into the analytics application.


In the background, the application’s machine learning algorithm is constantly learning how each user interacts with the system so it can further personalise data and streamline processes.
Oracle Analytics for Fusion ERP is the first in a series of analytics cloud applications the company is releasing to make it easier for business users to apply data in their strategies and daily decisions. In the future, Oracle will release analytics applications that integrate with Oracle’s cloud applications for human capital management (HCM), customer experience (CX), and supply chain management (SCM).


“We believe that every aspect of the production and consumption of data insights will be augmented by AI,” Anand said. “There will be a dramatic reduction in the human effort involved in insights generation - and that makes data and analytics more accessible to the business end user. This will take us much closer to the goal of 100 percent data literacy - when every user in an organisation is using data to drive the business forward.”
(The writer is the Senior Product Marketing Director for Emerging Tech at Oracle.)

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