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October 11, 2010

OBIEE 11g - Ensemble of Innovation and Integration

- Gaurav Gupta and Indivar Nayyar

OBIEE 11g was launched in July and the software became GA a couple of months back (in August 2010). This release marks one more step in Oracle EPM consolidated product roadmap. For this release, Oracle has focused on 2 basic tenets: Innovation and Integration.

New innovative features have been incorporated and are backed by strong integration with disparate applications, source systems and Fusion middleware architecture resulting in integrated user interface offering streamlined experience to end users. At Infosys, we have explored 11g's new features and installation and upgrade process and would be detailing them out in a series of blogs on OBIEE 11g. This entry will focus on providing a high level overview of the new functionalities incorporated in OBIEE 11g.

Innovation: OBIEE 11g has incorporated new applications and features that empower end user to have exhaustive view of their businesses delivered as required.

  • Scorecard and Strategy Management
    This is a performance management tool by which an organization can create objectives and initiatives that will form its strategy. Organization can then assign KPI's to its objectives and initiatives for measuring progress and performance. It empowers business user to articulate, monitor and communicate integrated strategy roadmap of organization to all the stakeholders.
  • Actionable Intelligence and Alerts
    It empowers business user to invoke business processes and trigger workflows based on events identified through reports, dashboards and scorecards. It delivers on functionality of 'Guided Analytics' and provides for actionable insights to the user.
  • Interface improvements
    Drill in place (instead of drill down to new view), presentation hierarchical columns, sliders for graphs and gauges, support for ragged, skip and unbalanced hierarchies, map view integration with NAVTEQ, Home Page (instead of My Dashboard as default page) with Recent and Most Popular Dashboards/ reports and full text search capability are some of the key improvements in the user interface of OBIEE 11g.
  • BI Publisher
    It stands in stark contrast with previous versions in terms of architecture as well as functionality. It has segregated data model from report definition as separate object, thus making it reusable across different reports. It also allows for online creation and editing of reports and templates that removes dependency from traditional editors and allows for inclusion of rich UI features and standardization in reports across organizations. With its new data model editor that allows for federated queries across multiple data sources, it needs to be seen if it can act in itself, as an alternative to OBIEE 11g.

 Integration: OBIEE 11g integrates with disparate systems, applications and devices, thus delivering efficient strategic to operational reporting.

  • Fusion Middleware (FMW) Integration
    Integration with Fusion Middleware brings with it major changes in architecture and host of new features provided by FMW. OBIEE 11g now boasts of new robust security architecture supported by identity management module, centrally controlled configuration module and inclusion of Weblogic server as default web server.
  • Hyperion and Essbase Integration
    OBIEE 11g delivers on union of BI analysis with Performance Management applications and is now integrated with Hyperion Planning and Hyperion Financial Management. Similarly, Essbase can now be used as a data source with 11g and the 10g limitations with Essbase have been sorted out (like support for ragged and unbalanced hierarchies, UDAs, Essbase MDX functions and flattening of hierarchies).
  • Mobile BI
    Oracle promises to integrate OBIEE 11g with Blackberry (apart from current support for iPhone), thus expanding its reach to wide set of business community that relies on it as standard communication device. However current release of OBIEE 11g release is unclear on how to do so and hence users might need to wait for next release to be able to leverage this exciting feature.
  • GIS Integration
    OBIEE 11g enhances its geo spatial intelligence reporting by integrating with maps provided by NAVTEQ (that powers Bing Maps). Location based intelligence can be very effective reporting technique for industries like retail, travel, hospitality, utilities etc.
  • Search functionality
    OBIEE 11g is integrated with Enterprise search through Fusion Middleware, thus providing for secure search. It indexes all the Reports/Dashboards/KPI, thus enabling enhanced search capabilities across all functionalities.

OBIEE 11g promises to be next generation solution in BI space, with advanced technology and enriching features for end user. However, number of innovations and integration added to OBIEE 11g brings with it another set of challenges and questions. It still remains to be seen how developer community will react to the new architecture and functionalities of OBIEE 11g. Also, will the value additions that it brings in the new release result in fresh investments and product sponsorship from IT and Business managers.

 

Gaurav Gupta is an Associate Consultant in Infosys with over 3 years of IT experience. He is part of the Business Intelligence practice in Infosys and specializes in OBIEE with focus on the recent OBIEE 11g platform. His interest lies in consulting and sales support activities across BI domain.

October 6, 2010

Harmonize to Globalize

Per many researches conducted pan globe, companies worldwide, are realizing the benefits of rolling out standardized WMS processes across their national and global warehouses. Popularly referred to as WMS unification, this initiative is typically triggered from a need to streamline processes by extending best practices from the industry or within the organization to all the storage locations. This delves into the outline, benefits and implementation perspectives to design the "Right" WMS instance strategy for organizations having geographically distributed warehouses on the road to a WMS unification exercise. Hence the choice of an appropriate WMS for an organization will act as a positive catalyst and enabler.

A typical day in life of warehouse includes processes like Inbound Logistics, Inventory Control/Movement processes and Outbound logistics. We have moved beyond ages where organizations used to maintain islands of information to meet business needs. Rolling out standardized warehouse processes using unified WMS can help achieve economies of scale. We can use single WMS ecosystem to standardize the business processes that use RF devices talking to the legacy database. As they say there are many ways to perform an operation and there is a SMART way of performing the same operation.  These are "Simple Methods to Achieve Rapid Throughput".

The SMART Way Jig Saw brings together the building blocks of Strategy, Process, Organizational Change and IT Infrastructure. When all these blocks are married to each other we get a cohesion called a single WMS Ecosystem. An effective WMS Strategy leads to:
• Standardization
• Better Requirement Management
• Better Instance Management and
• Reduced TCO

More often than not an effective WMS unification exercise supports standardization, deployment of best business practices and provides end-to-end integration between business functions to enable faster go to market strategy. It gives an opportunity to standardize WMS processes and systems, reduce TCO and manage skills set- optimizes warehouse resources by advanced task management functionality. It also reduces integration points between enabling systems, guarantees consistent and continuous evolution to support business evolution and also enables shared services to allow organizations to predict, plan and respond to changes in business environment.

Therefore if organizations want to Grow Big While Staying Small- they need to adopt the SMART Way.

October 5, 2010

Accounting Center of Excellence with Oracle Financials

Globalization has become inevitable in the current economic scenario. Organizations need to think and act globally to remain competitive. They need to lower cost and improve performance by Business consolidation, Realize economies of scale, Establish shared service center etc. Centralizing and consolidating accounting functions like invoicing, collections, period close at a central placeon behalf of global entities within a organization is ACE (Accunting Center of Excellence) . It is different from Shared Service center in the sense that it would be a cost center which would drive the common accounting and finance activities for all the entities within an organization.
How does Oracle Apps support establishing your ACE?

Oracle Financials suite in R12 allows you to be both locally and corporate compliant while increasing efficiencies by supporting to run your Accounting Center of Excellence (ACE). The core components of the Oracle R12 architecture that support establishing ACE for your organization are:

Accounting: Sub Ledger Accounting engine and Financial Accounting Hub can help define and consolidate the accounting rules at a central place

Centralize Transactions: Multi Org Acces Control (MOAC) functionality can help process sub ledger transactions for multiple units from a single responsibility

Centralize Period Close and Consolidation: Ledger Sets and Data Access Set functionality in General ledger helps process period end processes like Revaluation and Consolidation from a single responsibility while maintaining security

Centralize Accounting Set Ups : Definition Access Set functionality in General Ledger allows to secure your key set ups like Allocations, Report definitions at a centralized place by assigning them to a set of responsibilities

Benefits of ACE using Oracle R12

Centralized accounting policies
Scalable accounting system
Improved Efficiency
Reduced Costs
Frees senior finance executive to focus on strategic financial goals
Provides timely and accurate financial information and
Improved internal controls

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