(via Unsplash at unsplash.com/photos/FHnnjk1Yj7Y)
Last week I had the privilege to attend the Oracle EPM Cloud partner training in Reston, VA. This is a product-focused, 2-day training event held by Oracle and specifically for partners. I attended the Planning Cloud training. They also had EDMCS and FCCS training, which my colleagues attended.
These trainings are held approximately once every 12-24 months (it’s been over a year and a half since the last one), and select partners are invited. It provides a good forum for Oracle to speak to partners about the latest product roadmaps, as well as answer candid questions. I thoroughly enjoy attending these and leveraging the special audience with the Oracle EPM Cloud product team. I’ve been working with them for a number of years, and they truly are a great bunch of folks.
The Oracle product teams have asked us not to share specific information, so this won’t be a blog post full of intricate product roadmap details. Instead, I’ll share some high level key takeaways.
Takeaway #1: Oracle Cloud Remains One of the Strongest Vendors in Planning & Forecasting
(If not THE strongest…) Oracle doesn’t share their numbers publicly. This means that there are only a few public metrics to gauge success. Some examples: vendor revenue, Gartner’s magic quadrant leaders, stock prices, and what each vendor chooses to share.
Oracle did share some of their numbers privately with us partners in this training (which I won’t share here for obvious reasons), and I must say that the numbers are very impressive. They were also honest about what those numbers represent and what they don’t represent. I don’t believe their competitors even come close. #gauntletthrown
Takeaway #2: The Oracle Planning Cloud Product Team is One of the Best
There are software product teams and there are software product teams. Planning Cloud is not the only strong product team within Oracle, don’t get me wrong, but it’s one that I work with quite frequently so I feel qualified to opine on the topic. How do I judge what is “best”? The traits that come to mind (and that I’ve learned the hard way over the years not to take for granted) are: passion, commitment, responsiveness to requests, openness to ideas, and investment in the exchange of ideas. There is a much longer list that is possible, but this is where I would start. I’d also look at the longevity of each member of the team – some of these folks are long-timers at Oracle. They seem to believe in what they do and have a love for their products.
The Planning Cloud team, composed of a large group of core folks plus supporting EPM Cloud products, shows up in full force at partner trainings. At this one, we had:
- Mark Rinaldi
- Marc Seewald
- Muthu Ranganathan (presenting remotely from India)
- Shankar Viswanathan
- Prasad Kulkarni
- Hari Sankar
- Matt Bradley
- Al Marciante (from the reporting team)
- Mike Casey (from the data integration team)
- Kathryn Gestri (from the User Assistance team)
(from left to right: Hari, Shankar, Mark, Prasad, Marc)
From what I understand, Matt and Hari hold the budget dollars for this team. They feel strongly about the training investments they make in both partners and customers. The opportunities to exchange ideas face to face are fantastic, and help keep the products fresh and innovative. Just to prove that point, many folks from this team will presenting at ODTUG Kscope19 and we are honored to host them.
Oracle doesn’t always get it right, and they know that. This is why this face-to-face feedback is important. It was clear from this meeting that they are taking our partner suggestions and recommendations seriously and are making headway in areas not directly related to product management and development.
Takeaway #3: Oracle Planning has Come a Long Way
Do you remember the days of Hyperion Planning 1.x? Then 2.x? 4.x? 9.x? 11.x? (I probably forgot a version somewhere along the way…) When I started my career in Hyperion, I started with Planning 1.1. I used to install it at customer sites, and our team at ThinkFast Consulting used to rewrite Oracle’s installation guides.
We’ve come a looooooooong way since then, as that was ~20 years ago. For reference purposes, Oracle Planning Cloud was just released a short 5 years ago. Although built upon the same, strong foundation of Hyperion Planning, Cloud did have to start over in some ways. It’s amazing how much progress Oracle has made with it in 1/3 of the time that Hyperion Planning was alive (truly alive. Since Cloud was born, the on-prem version available to customers has kinda died).
The Planning Cloud flavor that looks most like Hyperion Planning, PBCS, has always been one of the most stable and best Oracle EPM Cloud products out there. Oracle even built a number of EPM Cloud technologies on a base of PBCS. It continues to be the fastest selling Oracle EPM Cloud product overall.
One of the slides that I remembered vividly and was permitted to share from the partner training was this one, which shows how much the Oracle Planning Cloud technology has come within just the past 3 years, a pace that was impossible with Hyperion Planning on-prem:
(borrowed from Oracle’s slide deck – thank you!)
In addition, what we’re talking about now in partner meetings is vastly different from what we used to talk about years ago. Now we have very little discussion about necessary feature gaps. Instead, we talk mostly about newly created future gaps. There are many new and interesting ways that customers are using the product today.
Takeaway #4: Oracle Planning Cloud Will Never Stop Innovating
We spent a lot of time covering product roadmaps, and there were many to cover. Cloud will always be changing. This can be both a blessing and a curse. But it follows the path of the world – it will always be innovating and becoming better over time. Although I can’t go into the specific details, there is a LOT of change coming to Oracle EPM Cloud and even Oracle Analytics Cloud this summer. Many of these changes are exciting, and stepping stones to bigger and more awesome features and functionality; a few of these changes are improvements to plug existing gaps; and a few of these changes are ways to streamline the offerings to customers.
If you want the lower level information (and who doesn’t?), I’d highly recommend that you attend ODTUG Kscope19 (and I’m not just saying that because I’m *completely* biased.) The Oracle Product Management and Development teams will be attending en masse and sharing tantalizing updates at the Oracle Sunday Symposiums and Oracle product roadmap sessions. Many announcements will be made, and not just within the Oracle EPM community.
Takeaway #5: Oracle Planning Cloud (and EPM Cloud) is Forging the Path
Oracle does have one massively competitive advantage over many of their EPM competitors – economies of scale. They have a multi-billion dollar machine backing them, and it’s easy to forget that when you’re looking at the smaller battles and not the larger war. Because of this backing, they are able to take the technology in directions that were never thought possible before.
It’s no secret that Oracle is heavily investing in emerging technologies. They are going to put this innovation directly into their EPM Cloud products, and have already done so on the Analytics Cloud side. They are able to leverage the huge investment that the broader Oracle has made into data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. Some buzzwords to watch out for: IPM (intelligent performance management), IPA (intelligent process automation), and IUE (intelligent user experience). This is exciting stuff and I personally can’t wait to see what’s next!