As much as I would have liked to have posted this entry earlier, I’ve been trying to catch up after three quick days in Vegas for the Oracle HCM Users Group conference at the Mirage Hotel. This was the second year in a row that I’ve had an opportunity to attend OHUG and continue to be impressed with what I learn and who I meet at the event. I’m happy to report that I returned back to Chicago without any scandal, situation, or anything else that if it happened in Vegas I wouldn’t be able to talk about – oh, and I escaped with my wallet fully intact (actually up a few bucks but nothing worth bragging about).
First and foremost I wanted to share a quick update on Fusion Talent Management On-Demand which was demonstrated again this year. Oracle VP of Fusion HCM Strategy, Gretchen Alarcon, and Clive Swan Group VP of Application Development demonstrated several features of Fusion Talent Management which have not been demonstrated at the last three major Oracle events where Fusion was shown. This year Gretchen and Clive demonstrated some very impressive features of the yet-to-be-released product which rival many of the leading best-of-breed vendors including a highly dynamic 9-box tool for talent review and calibration which permitted you to not only graph your talent pool on a grid of performance and potential (or two other dimensions), but layer on top data points such as risk of loss impact of loss for each individual. Moreover, there is a feature to perform aggregation of talent on the grid by business unit, manager, location, etc in order to review trends and other talent data at a macro-level. I can honestly say that I can think of a million and one different ways of analyzing talent data using this tool.
In addition to the dynamic 9-box, Oracle demonstrated their network-at-work tool, a corporate version of a facebook-like social network tool but with a very business focus. Rather than trying to out-facebook Facebook, Oracle has chosen to take full advantage of the rich data that is housed within its own applications and layer on analytics to deliver a rich user experience to help employees create collaborate groups, find individuals who are similar to them for networking opportunities, search for people in roles that they aspire to reach at some point in the future, etc. While much of this has been done by other vendors, the breadth and depth of the data housed in Oracle’s applications provide the opportunity to hone in on greater connections than one might find with some best-of-breed applications.
While the functional demonstration of Fusion Talent Management was very well received, what I think is the most brilliant move by Oracle is that Fusion Talent Management can be deployed in a stand-alone environment, layered on top of a client’s existing PeopleSoft HCM or Oracle EBusiness Suite solution, not requiring a full-suite upgrade to deploy Fusion. While in the past Fusion had been positioned as a future path for PeopleSoft and EBS customers (and still can be), Oracle has changed their positioning such that Fusion and the current PS/EBS applications can co-exist, much to the relief of many IT departments who feared an upgrade would be necessary to deliver the richer user experience that their internal customers. Rather than Oracle defending its own territory against attack from best-of-breed vendors, My making the Fusion suite more modularized they’ve gone on the offensive and are preparing to deliver something that can not only match the best-of-breed on a features and functions perspective, but can do so without requiring HR to do battle with their IT organizations to venture outside of the Oracle product footprint. Well done Oracle!
As was so aptly highlighted by industry analyst Naomi Bloom of Bloom & Wallace in response to my live tweeting of the event, there remains a number of outstanding questions regarding how Fusion would actually work for existing customers. Naomi and I agree on a many things related to HRM data and the use of Position Management for talent management purposes is one of them. Without getting into too much detail, Position Management is both a set of functionality in PeopleSoft that is largely misunderstood and a business concept that historically has been rooted in budgetary processes more than anything else. Many PeopleSoft customers shied away from deploying position management because the concept was viewed as being too structured for their dynamic business or their implementation partner didn’t understand the functionality either and steered their customers away from using position management. Regardless of the reason, Position Management offers most PeopleSoft customers something that they are lacking – data quality and flexibility on role definition without approaching a 1:1 ratio of job codes to active employees.
At OHUG I had the opportunity to co-present with PeopleSoft customer CDW on how we’ve managed to harness the capabilities of position management in a way which has dramatically improved their ability to effectively leverage their automated talent management tools, and cut inaccurate data in PeopleSoft by half. We had a great audience and some great discussions on the various creative ways that position management can help not only provide budgetary controls but the seemingly vast ways in which it can enhance your talent management initiatives far beyond the norm.
Overall OHUG was a great event. It was proof positive that not only is the Oracle/PeopleSoft customer community is still very much alive and thriving but that Oracle still has a few tricks up their sleeve when it comes to HR Technology.