Infosys’ blog on industry solutions, trends, business process transformation and global implementation in Oracle.

« May 2017 | Main | July 2017 »

June 30, 2017

Oracle BI Cloud Service (BICS) - Future of Oracle Analytical Reporting?

        "How can you get the benefits of an enterprise-class Business Intelligence without the enterprise class costs and infrastructure?" - Oracle's BI Cloud Service is the answer to that question.

          With BICS, Oracle has been continuously striving to bring OBIEE on the cloud along with great cost savings. If that's not enough, BICS ensures faster time to market, immediate availability of latest updates/patches at no extra cost and also mobile ready without additional work. Hence it's a comprehensive solution that makes BICS the future of Oracle Analytical Reporting. 

Cloud.jpg

Let's look at some of the aspects of BICS to understand it better. 


1.      Data:

Data, if present on premise, needs to be ported to Oracle DB cloud service for BICS Reporting. Oracle provides numerous options to achieve this, such as,

                    i. Data Sync Tool can be used to load data from files, JDBC data sources, OTBI, Oracle Service cloud, etc. It can be installed locally in Windows or UNIX machines. Data Sync is especially useful in case of combing data from multiple data sources and scheduling of incremental data loads. Supported databases are Oracle, DB2, Microsoft SQL server, MySQL, Teradata, TimesTen, Greenplum, Hive, Impala, Informix, MongoDB, PostgreSQL, Redshift, Salesforce and Sybase.

                  ii.  SQL developer can also be used to load data from relational databases.

                iii.   PL/SQL scripts, BICS REST API and Oracle Database Cloud Service API can be used for automating the data load process.


2.      Data Modelling:

a.      Modeler on Cloud:

Inside BICS, you have the Modeler tab, where the traditional Star and Snowflake Facts and Dimension model can be created and later published as a subject area for analyses and dashboards. This ensures that BICS is completely on cloud and no installation on client machine is required for repository data modelling and everything required for Analytical Reporting can be achieved using a browser alone.

 

b.      'Lift and Shift' On Premise Repository(RPD):

On the other hand, Lift & Shift is a feature that enables user to upload RPD built on premise to the BICS, provided there is a DBaaS (DB as a Service) instance available for the RPD to connect on premise. (Currently, Database included with BICS cannot be used for this.) Also, the BI Admin tool used should be 11.1.1.6 or later and RPD must pass consistency check before being uploaded.

The RPD can then be uploaded to BICS using the 'Replace Data Model' option. During the upload process, an option can be selected for the RPD to use the database included with BICS or use the DBaaS used initially for configuring RPD.

Lift & Shift is especially useful in case of migrating from on premise Oracle BI Apps to BICS.

 


3.      Dashboards and Reports:

BICS Dashboards and Analyses are very similar if not same as that of OBIEE. This ensures familiarity and easy adaptability to self-service cloud for most BI users. In line with Oracle's Cloud first policy, newer visualizations, features. bug-fixes, etc., are made available in BICS on a continuous basis without additional costs or effort.

 

·         Lift & Shift of WebCatalog

Recently, Oracle has enabled Lift and Shift of OBIEE webcatalog too. This is a simple process provided OBIEE 11.1.1.9 or later is available. Using on premise catalog manager, any '/shared' folder is renamed as '/company_shared' and then Archived. Inside BICS, the Archived file is imported in to a catalog folder and then Unarchived.

Application Roles can also be Lifted and Shifted from on premise OBIEE 12c. Additionally Oracle BI Apps requires connectivity to OLTP (e.g. Siebel, EBS) for variables and initialization blocks and this is achieved using Remote Data Connector (RDC).


BICS_.jpg

Fig 1. Oracle BI on the Cloud



4      Security and Administration

BICS security is completely managed within Oracle without any 3rd party interfaces and ensures highest standard of fine grained data security. Dashboards and analyses can be easily shared by users, yet at the same time recipients will be able to see only what is accessible based on their application roles and access levels.

Since the physical infrastructure related Admin activities are taken care by oracle itself in the Cloud, the BICS Administration is lot more simplified compared to on premise, making it maintenance friendly.

 


5.      Snapshot Archival:

BICS can be backed up by simply creating a single Snapshot file of latest repository, catalog content and application roles combined. Snapshots can be migrated across different BICS environments (Oracle provides one Pre-Production environment for development/testing along with the Production environment). Since all existing content will be overwritten while restoring using Snapshot, caution is required. Once restored, previously used content cannot be recovered, unless it was backed-up using snapshot. Also, while restoring, all active user sessions will be terminated, hence should preferably be performed during scheduled maintenance window.

Snapshot is useful in case of temporary termination of BICS too, wherein the snapshot file provided by Oracle can be used to restore BICS while renewing subscription later on.

 

 

6.      Why BICS?

Some of the Key reasons to consider moving to Cloud BI are,

a.      Lowest Total Cost of Ownership due to,

-          Predictable, Cost Effective Licensing.

-          No additional upgrade/patching costs.

-          Lesser Support and Maintenance required.

b.      If planned well, implementation cost incurred in migrating from on premise to Cloud BI can be recovered in the first year itself.

c.       Faster time to market.

d.      Mobile ready without additional configuration effort.

e.      No additional training required for users familiar with OBIEE Reporting.

f.        Quick Roll out of new charts and features, made available at no additional cost. 

g.      Flexibility to archive and renew subscription later as per requirement.

h.      Lift and Shift can be used to migrate Oracle BI Apps to BICS. Also, in specific scenarios, Lift and Shift can be used to ensure both On-Premise and Cloud BI are in Sync.

i.        Users require only a browser (web client) to access Self Service BI Reporting on the Cloud.

 -  Subramanian S.

UI less BI

UIlessBI_New.jpg

Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa & Apple Siri have all become house hold names with built-in Artificial Intelligence and huge potential on the home automation segment. These seemingly elegant devices today were wild ideas appearing only in sci-fi movies few years back. Remember the charming C-3PO and his wise companion R2-D2 from Star Wars trotting around the universe, interpreting and even mimicking human conversation to provide assistance - Are we there yet? I'd like to think we almost are with new features and capabilities being added every day to automate through simulated conversation.

Imagine the same concept being extended to Enterprises through GENIE, an intelligent BI Assistant (just like the genie of Aladdin who works wonders on the command of his master). Wouldn't it be wonderful if you, the Director of Sales (lets dream big :)), had no need to login to the BI system and run your reports (on laptop, Smartphone or tablet). Instead while you are pouring that hot cup of coffee, BI GENIE coupled with AI & Voice systems took care of all of this on your behalf.

Hello GENIE! What was yesterday's total sales?

            GENIE responds by providing yesterday's total sales figure

OK GENIE! Give me the variance between the Forecast and actuals Sales realized?

            GENIE responds with the details and provides the details of regions/categories where the variance is beyond the threshold

OK GENIE! Send alert with detailed report to the Zonal Managers where the variance is >25%.

            GENIE sends the alert and provides confirmation

An intelligent Assistant like GENIE will provide simplicity in accessing BI reports, especially in a fast-paced world today where we are always looking for answers as quickly as possible. Gone are the days of having to wait for the 8 AM scheduled reports. With data being available at real-time/near real-time wouldn't it be fascinating to have the means to interpret this data as soon as it is available and conveniently as well through GENIE?

These are some tit-bits on how BI GENIE can be embedded in our daily life to keep us at ease and work as a huge effort and time saver for seemingly mundane tasks. This saved time and effort could be further channeled into far more productive activities. 

Of course building these systems are not without challenges especially when it comes to Security and integrating this with Voice recognition systems and making GENIE more context aware by using Natural Language Processing. But nevertheless this is an effort worth taking as the world is gradually leaning towards "UI less" systems or "Touch less" systems or "Conversational" systems.

Welcome to the future of BI! Stay tuned for more updates and progress on GENIE!

Let me know what your thoughts are and provide your valuable feedback/suggestions/comments


How to trigger multiple data load rules in a single click without diving into Batches

Replacing the concept of FDMEE Batches / Scheduling / OpenBatch

In some cases, users are required to trigger multiple data file loads, one after the other, from the same FDMEE location in a single click. The successful POC done to achieve this functionality without leveraging the concept of Batches / Open Batch / Scheduler, utilises the FDMEE event based scripts.

Data Load File1:

Data Load File2:

The above example sets the flag for mentioned account to "999 "and then replaces it by "111" in one go.

There are various events on which we could define the script, however, for the POC, we chose "AftConsolidate" event.

The excerpt from script might look like below:

We all see new opportunities in FDMEE too often be overlooked. The example above show that these customized features can simplify and speed up your work, without much effort or new investments.

Curious about more hidden features, and how they can help you? Please contact me, I'll be happy to share them with you.

 

Gain Insight into your Spend through packaged Machine Learning

Backdrop

Organisations today face tremendous pressure to manage their direct and indirect spends efficiently to improve their Competitive Advantage.  Spending without adhering to corporate wide negotiated contracts, over spending for some categories, lack of quality and delay in lead time affects the overall profitability along with quality of Products/Services.

Main challenge to design a spend strategy is to have adequate visibility across organisation's various spends.  Many global organisations use multiple packaged ERPs and legacy systems to record their purchasing data in different subsidiaries and geographies. This often leads to spend categorization in multiple standards and some with no standard, ultimately posing difficulty for global reporting and analysis.

Conventionally organisations either ship their Spend data to a service provider or maintain an in-house analyst team to classify and report as per the agreed global taxonomy. In most of the cases these team carry out manual classification using some cleansing tools. It would be an expensive and time consuming process affecting ability for timely decision making.

Oracle Spend Classification is a bolt on module which works seamlessly with OBIA (Oracle Business Intelligence Application) Procurement & Spend Analytics and also with Oracle EBS iProcurement enabling efficient and dynamic spend classification leveraging pre-configured machine learning algorithm.

In the sections below, I would be explaining about the product, its implementation approach with the business context and how it adds value to Organisation. I would not be dwelling much on either technical architecture, UI of the product or construct of the algorithms.

How machine learning based decision making works?

I am trying here to explain the concept in brief using layman language as it is required for further understanding of this article.  Machine Learning from Data Analytics perspective can be defined as an advanced branch of Statistics and Computer Science to build algorithms, which can predict the outcome or make decisions based on the knowledge built from hidden patterns of a historic/sample data.  Key strength of machine learning is, it does not require explicit programming to interpret every aspect of input data for decision making.

There are many proven Machine Learning Algorithms relevant for Data Science, the key ones are Support Vector Machine, Naive Bayes and Generalized Linear Model.

machine learning_new.jpgSpend Category classification using machine learning

Spend categories recorded at various source systems would not be in standard format or they might be designed just to meet local ledger requirement or many a times most of the products/expenses are clubbed under miscellaneous bucket.So it becomes difficult to interpret and derive a correct spend category for thousands of transactions by global reporting team based on the Product Name ,Description or transaction description without consulting the geography / subsidiary procurement team. No amount of structured programming works as many a times the product name / descriptions might be in multiple - languages or in code formats and the nature of input data steadily changes. It poses difficulty in creating detailed global spend reporting as per the standard taxonomy.

Spend Classification module helps in populating the standard global spend category in Purchase Order, Purchase requisition and Invoice transaction lines extracted from the various source systems. Product creates a single text pattern by concatenating various dimensional attributes of transactions such as "Transaction Description"," Item Code", "Item Description", "Supplier Name", "Supplier Site", " Operating Unit", "UOM", "Currency" and " Cost Center" .  Based on the correctly classified Sample/Training set patterns representing all kinds of transactions, algorithm builds a Knowledge Base.

Knowledge acquired through training set will then be used by algorithm for populating standard spend category field in regular inflow of new Purchase Order / Invoice transactions.If the classification accuracy reduces over time due to change in nature of input data, same can be handled by improving training set and by enhancing the knowledge base. 

Implementation approach for Spend Classification

Spend Classification_new.jpg

Define

  • Define the standard Spend Category Taxonomy to be used for global reporting for the products/services /expenses that's being purchased/expensed across the regions/Operating Units/Locations.
  • Create a Standard Template for extracting the Business Critical Spend and Procurement data for Non Oracle and Legacy Source systems. This template is used for extracting data into data warehouse using OBIA universal adapter.

Build

  • Build the Spend data warehouse by customizing Out of the Box Procurement and Spend analytics data model.
  • Develop required ETL mappings by customizing OOB OBIA Procurement & Spend Analytics (ODI/Informatica) adapters for Oracle EBS, JD Edwards, SAP etc. and leverage Universal Adaptors for legacy/other source systems.
  • Configure the required standard taxonomy in the Spend Classification Module.

Consolidate

  • Manually cleanse and classify the consolidated Purchase Orders and Payment Invoices data to create a sample Training set covering all possible data patterns from various source systems/geographies/subsidiaries/categories etc.
  • Schedule the regular ETL and Build the Knowledge Base using the Training set with standard hierarchical support vector machine algorithm or with a customized advanced knowledge base using other algorithms.

Act

  • Monitor the quality of classification output with new/changing data and accordingly add new training set to enhance the Knowledge Base.
  • Build Reports/Dashboards using Standard Taxonomy for global reporting to provide Spend Insights.

Product at a glance 

To explain the product in simple terms, it has got below components,

1. User Interface: Spend Classification's UI appear as a new module in OBIA Procurement & Spend Analytics with below Configuration Tabs/screens..,

  • Data set: Users can group AP Invoice, Purchase Order and Purchase requisition datasets imported from source systems based on various filtering criteria for carrying out classification actions.One can create or enhance knowledge Base or classify the data set using an already created knowledge base. User can also reset a classified, unapproved data set to clear the auto populated categories.Another major functionality in this screen is, users can download a data set or template of a data set and create training data set (sample set) with correct manual classification and upload it back for processing.
  •  Knowledge Base: Here user can see the list of Knowledge Bases, search a knowledge base, Delete a Knowledge Base and monitor the status of Knowledge Base creation activity. One can see whether a Knowledge Base creation activity is successful /Running state or it is has failed.
  • Classification Batches: In this tab user can view the list of classification batches, search a classification batch and Monitor the status of classification activity. Once the batches are reclassified, same can be approved to populate into OBIE Procurement & Spend Analytics. Batches can be reset and reclassified.
  • Classification Summary: It shows the status and details of classification process with KPIs in pivot and graphical format helping in making the approval decision. 
  • Classification Detail:  User can view/search/export the list of classified records and also can compare the Generated vs source system categories. Product also enables for manual correction of the auto-classified codes.

2. OOB API and Oracle Data Mining Engine: Spend Classification leverages Oracle Data Mining for creating the Knowledge base models. It comes with an out of the box API/Program based on Hierarchical Support Vector Machine Algorithm which builds the standard knowledge base.If there is a need for implementing other algorithms such as linear Support Vector Machine, Naïve Bayes then it needs to be done through Oracle Data Miner.

Product offers 2 standard (EBS, UNSPSC Category Code) and 3 custom taxonomies to be configured for global reporting. It means organisations can consolidate and report spends data using 5 standards to meet their reporting/analytics requirement.

3. Integration with OBIA Procurement & Spend Analytics and iProcurement: Product comes with OOB integrations with OBIA Procurement & Spend Analytics for populating the AP Invoice, Purchase Order and Purchase Requisitions. Once the fact lines classified and batches are approved, generated category code will automatically pushed to OBIA fact tables.Product also comes with the OOB integration for Oracle EBS iProcurement , which populates standardized product categories while raising Purchase Requisition and Purchase Order.

Conclusion

We know that machine learning based predictive analytics really helps in faster and efficient decision making, but it does come with an effort of developing /implementing algorithm and its integration with source /target data systems. Packaged machine learning modules such as Spend Classification tremendously benefits in terms of expedited implementation with out of the box integration to ETL, Business Intelligence and even inline validation at transactional systems (iProcurement).

Insights from Spend Classification benefits the organizations in Supplier Rationalization, Contract Leakage Reduction, Cost Savings, Improved lead time ultimately driving the Profitability, Quality and overall Competitive Advantage.

- Mahesh Kulkarni, BI Consultant 

June 28, 2017

EPM Cloud Adoption - Way forward for Data Integration

 

With the CFO's and CIO's of the global organizations showing interest in moving to the cloud applications, Oracle is strategically positioned to help the organizations take this journey from on premise to Cloud with in the EPM space.

There are huge benefits in moving application to cloud such as:

  • Reduction in CAPEX Expenditure especially with procurement of hardware and licenses
  • Less dependency on IT
  • New features automatically available
  • Ease of rollout to external customers, vendors and other stakeholders
  • Simplified application management
  • Mobile compatible
  • Affordable subscription based pricing
  • Robust Data Security 

However, there are challenges faced by organizations to implement EPM solutions on Cloud. These are the typical data integrations scenarios

  • Cloud Source systems to EPM Cloud Applications
  • On Premise Source systems to EPM Could applications
  • File based integrations to EPM Cloud applications

Let us delve more into the data integration challenges in the above scenarios and how Infosys is helping the customers address the same.

Scenario 1: Cloud source systems to EPM Cloud applications

Large global organizations are willing to spend for migrating entire application landscape to cloud owing to the huge benefits which result in high profitability and increased cash flow. Infosys automates entire the data integration process with other cloud financial systems using in-house automation tools.

In the future releases, Oracle is planning to provide direct integrations with other cloud source systems starting with Oracle Fusion Financial Cloud.

 

Scenario 2: On Premise source systems to EPM Cloud applications

Few organizations having invested heavily over the years in building financial systems used for consolidation, Planning and Statutory & Management reporting. They are tightly integrated with the other source systems for sourcing financial data. Infosys helps these organizations with their EPM cloud journey with lift and shift of EPM application to the cloud. For the data integration process, Infosys provides a seamless solution by leveraging existing FDMEE licenses to integrate the data from on premise corporate finance systems to EPM cloud application. This solution comes along with added benefit of drill through of data from the EPM cloud applications which is crucial from the traceability and audit perspective.

 

 

Scenario 3: File based integrations to EPM Cloud applications

Many mid-sized and small scale companies were not in a position to implement EPM solutions earlier owing to high capital expenditure. They typical manage the financial data in multiple spreadsheets which no control on the accuracy of reported numbers. However, these companies are now investing to implement EPM cloud solutions. Infosys automates entire the data integration process with other cloud financial systems using in-house automation tools.

It is very critical to have a robust and scalable data integration strategy to overcome all the challenges in your journey to move EPM applications to Cloud.

June 27, 2017

Customer Service, integrating with AI


We all are aware of the typical scenario of customer calling call center for any service related queries. As a part of the conversation between the call center agent and the customer, good amount of time is spent in understanding  problem statement by both the parties with one trying to articulate and the other to digest it. At the same time, customer had to go through a long painful process of listening to the IVR instructions before getting to speak to the real agent. In the recent times of automation and digitization, there have been several initiatives to find innovative ways to reduce the amount of time spent on the calls, thereby reducing the cost to organization and improving productivity of agent, leading to a change in perception and channels to reach out to call center.

 

Especially in the cable, satellite and communications industry, due to higher volume of calls to call center, any decrease in call duration even in seconds would lead to savings in thousands/millions of dollars per year. Customer possess good amount of hardware devices like set top boxes, phone, TVs, wireless/wired clients and other supporting hardware, due to which call duration may increase as part of conversation. With the concept of virtual agents (Chatbot)/Artificial Intelligence(AI)) playing major role in the whole conversation in the recent times, we see new features getting added to the conventional channels of communication day by day. Based on my experience with cable/satellite, telecom sector, here are few approaches that might help in reducing the call duration:

 

1.   Integrate the IT, Engineering with AI/Chatbot based systems especially at the time of customer interaction with agent.

2.   Develop product level framework with business validations accessible to Chatbot/AI based systems for faster turnaround time before going further to access downstream systems.

3.   Integrate the IVR/ Virtual Agent Application (Chatbot) with Engineering system to generate diagnostic report instead of agent manually swiveling chair to systems/applications/transferring the calls to other departments of the organization

4.   Feed data generated by IVR from time to time to AI/Chatbot based systems to make it more effective.

5.   Simplify CRM system by providing users more interactive data to generate reports, e-learning tools for self-installation/diagnostics with automated tools.

6.   Enhance AI/Chat based systems to allow user to share video/voice form problem statement to reduce time to understand problem statement.

7.   Make CRM accessible in Omni-channel mode

 

Adoption of either all or few of these features can help organizations achieve service related cost reduction with productivity improvement for agents.

Business Intelligence in Oil & Gas Industry

     

Why BI in Oil & Gas Industry?

Have ever wonder what Business Analyst / Technologist / Management Team would analyze the Production and Financial data in Upstream sector of Oil and Gas Industry:

  • How and where am I spending my dollars in OPEX across the wells in same location?
  • What is the impact on overall CAPEX spending if there is drastic increase in any of the well drilling phase (Planning, drilling, completions, etc.)?
  • What is the growth trends of Oil, Gas and natural gas production across well, fields, etc. with current, Month on Month and Year on Year comparisons?
  • Not able reconcile actual and budget on various tasks while drilling the well?
  • How to avoid duplicate/mismatch in the production / financial data for a well?
  • Can I get the cockpit view of production and non-production time?


KPI's


"Key Performance Indicator (KPI) in upstream Oil & Gas sectors are the measurable value that is intended to show how well the business is adhering to its business model and strategies that directly or indirectly reflect the level of success in meeting its goals".


Some of the Production KPIs which measures the Production Strategical Performances and goals.

        • Sales Volumes and Revenue
        • Intangible/Tangible Drilling Cost
        • Intangible/Tangible Facilities Cost
        • Intangible/Tangible Completions Cost
        • NPT (Non - Productive Time)

Figure 1 - Operational Scorecards - KPIs

Some of the below Financial KPIs acts as the key element in visualizing the financial attributes and goals:

        • Authorization for Expenditure
        • Field Cost
        • G/L Actual
        • Operating cost and Expenses
        • Revenue
        • Drilling Cost
        • Facilities Cost
        • Completions Cost

Reports

This Section focuses on BI Reporting for Upstream Applications in Oil & Gas Sectors:


Production Reports - Shows the calculated Monthly Production Volumes in Standard (BOE - Barrel of Oil Equivalent) and Native Measures for Shale and Conventional drilling and completed wells and production units. Some of the sample Production Reports are:

        • Monthly Actual vs Budget

        • Production Report

        • Production Outlook

        • Month on Month Production Report

        • Cumulative Year to Date Production report


Figure 2 - Monthly Budget vs Actual Report


Lease Operating Reports - Helps to track the Payouts, Expenses, Incomes and Profit/Loss for the well.

Budget Report - Information Summarizing Large Capital and Operating Expenditure Approvals for Exploration, Development and Production.

Maintenance Cost Report - Shows the Monthly, Yearly - Operating Cost, Expense Cost, Sales Cost, Volumes, Revenues for the Mineral Products (Oil, Water, Natural Gas etc.,) extracted from each well.

Capital Expenditure Accruals Report - Shows the Timely Accrued Expenses of the various category (such as Drilling, Completion, facilities) incurred from drilling the well till it is ready for producing the minerals Such as Oil, Gas, NGL Etc.

Still we haven't focused on how to avoid the duplicate/mismatch in the production or financial data for a well and the possible solution can be mastering the Well Id using industry standard MDM tool. Let's focus it in the next blog.




Action framework - An exciting feature of OBIEE

           Action framework is a feature which enables an end user to invoke a variety of processes or actions from OBIEE UI. In OBIEE 11g, Action Framework has enhanced options to integrate with external applications and the ability to call processes or scripts seamlessly and this has been further improved in OBIEE 12c.

          There are many types of actions available which can be classified into two types as Navigation actions and Invoke actions.

·         Navigate actions are used to access external applications include E-Business suite, EPM system, Siebel CRM, another report from OBIEE, etc., by passing parameters based on the generated report data.

·         Invoke actions are used to take actions by calling external Java processes, web services, invoking a browser script, invoking an HTTP request, etc.,

 

Blog.jpg

Fig 1. Action Framework


We will discuss some of these actions in detail in the following sections.

1. Navigating to external applications:

This simplifies the process of navigation to external system by specifying the URL. There has been a significant improvement in 11g from older versions, where a host name change in URL might be required when migrating the reports across environments, by using aliases instead of hardcoded hostnames in the action link. Also, previously the username and password, if used as parameters in URL were visible to the users who are invoking it. But this issue has been addressed with the introduction of hide/visible parameters option.

2. Invoking a Java process:

Another very interesting use of Action framework is invoking a Java process which can be used to achieve various functionalities.

For e.g., we had a requirement where some of the OBIEE reports were to be delivered in a shared path. This was achieved by developing a java process that will export the answers and FTP to the given location. The java method can be deployed in OBIEE system itself and re-used whenever needed through actions and it can also be scheduled through agents.

3. Invoking a web service:

Action framework is also a common platform which can be used to invoke predefined web services and also to build web services for specific requirements.

For e.g., Write-back is an ability to enter/update values in backend directly from a report. By using web services, we can implement this functionality in OBIEE.

There is also a web service called OBIEE web services for Service oriented architecture (SOA) available, which is used to integrate OBIEE with Oracle Fusion Middleware products. It can be used to query the web catalog and agents without the need of having an explicit session with OBIEE.

1.      4. Navigating to Siebel CRM/Source System:

Using action framework, the Navigate to Siebel CRM option allows Siebel views for a particular record to be accessed from OBIEE reports allowing a seamless integration between both the applications. 

Many Practical Applications

Action framework serves as a common platform for accessing java processes or web services and there are numerous useful utilities that can be developed and utilized, such as,

·         We can add watermarks to the OBIEE PDF exports.

·         Click and search words easily in google from the reports.

·         Start ODI ETL process from OBIEE through ODI web services, etc.

·         Also, in scenarios like navigating from one report to another report where both are built using different subject areas, action framework is a simplest way to create navigations.

Security in Action Framework

            Since Action Framework (especially while invoking web services) can have increased ability to modify the application and database as well, security needs to be well defined. Both at OBIEE and database administration level, necessary pre-cautions and best practices with respect to roles, accesses/privileges, etc. needs to be followed.

For e.g., in OBIEE, there are different types of privileges available which can be assigned to the users as per the requirements and roles. Also Database admin needs to ensure any changes to DB can be done by authorized users only.

Action Framework thus provides comprehensive set of practical applications and thus can be used effectively for achieving numerous business objectives and enhanced interactions with other applications in a secured manner.

-Mohanraj Dhamodharan




June 23, 2017

Exploiting Hyperion for Scheduling Jobs !!

Problem Statement:

Have you ever faced a need to call batch files to update EPM system but no access to the server / environment ??

Windows task scheduler is disabled in Hyperion environment. Application backups are being manually triggered through batch scripts and there is a requirement to have it automatically scheduled for a particular time during the night, when none of the business users are accessing the application for development. The solution would be applicable for Hyperion version 11.1.2.3.000 & later.

 

Solution Provided:

Conducted successful POC for multiple application backups through batch scripts scheduled in Hyperion workspace and ODI.

 

For Workspace:

1.      Create a Generic Job Application in workspace, enter the required parameters & click OK.

2.      Make sure, the MIME Type for (.bat) is predefined in Hyperion Workspace. If found missing, we need to add it manually to the existing list of MIME types.

3.      Now, import the batch script in the "Explore" menu of workspace as a Generic Job & select the created generic application in the dropdown.

Scheduling Process in Workspace:

1.      We can now test the batch file execution by a right-click on the Job Name & "Run as Job". Provide a path for output & click "Run"

2.      If successful, we can add a schedule to it, again by a right-click on the Job Name. Define the execution parameters & click "Finish".

 

For ODI:

1.      Create an ODI Package using Package Editor. Add an OS Command tool from the list of integrator tools available.

2.      Specify the location of batch script in the OS Command defined for the package.

Scheduling Process in ODI:

1.      Add a scenario to the package created for the backup.

2.      Under the scenario, right click on "Scheduling" and add a schedule.

3.      Define all the scheduling parameters, the logical agent and log level.

4.      To apply scheduling, we need to update schedules for the logical agent defined for the package.


June 22, 2017

FCCS: A Strategic Approach to Cost Effective Financial Close

Ever wondered, if you don't have to pay extra to earn extra!!! Hmm, sounds yummy. Financial organizations are always on the lookout for such solutions. The basic needs and challenge in front of all of them is in managing their own close in the most cost-effective and efficient manner.

Since ages, they have been using HFM as an on-premise solution with really high cost involved in managing IT, Infrastructure and other factors.  With the introduction of Oracle's FCCS or Financial Consolidation Cloud Service, the money and time involved in managing all this can be saved and utilized towards a much more constructive financial close process. The Finance teams can concentrate on innovations towards their financial processes.  Thus, FCCS is definitely a strategic approach to cost effective financial close. It provides below benefits to the companies owning it:

Huge Savings on Infrastructure

  • There is no cost involved for purchase of servers/hardware, everything being on cloud
  • As a result, they don't have to bear the cost of hardware malfunction
  • There is no fees for version upgrades
  • No fees for hardware and software updates. Everything is free
  • No cost to be born, to get additional software applications
  • Automatic backups and deployment of patches as they are scheduled. It offers system independent backup of artifacts in the database (DB) as well as on the file system, which is created every night as part of automated maintenance window
  • Elimination and de-commission of existing servers-no maintenance cost for operating system (OS), security applications, databases and hardware

Quick Return on Investment

  • FCCS has become popular for its quick return on investment as the implementation is much quicker than the traditional methods.

Less Employment Cost

  • Less number of IT folks need to be employed for managing the on-premise applications. The entire cost for managing the infrastructure staff is brought down tremendously.
  • Save money on travel of the auditors since it is cloud based. The auditors can access though cloud and don't have to travel as compared to when auditing the on-premises HFM clients. This offers quite a remarkable monitory benefit to the clients.
  • Provides national access to the Finance or Business teams due to the availability of consolidation and reporting processes on mobile devices and Internet (being on cloud). It works with Internet Explorer, Chrome and Safari.

With all the amazing economic benefits, one needs to remember that FCCS is not HFM on cloud! It has its own features, abilities and capabilities. Based on the following points, you can make your own decision "whether you wanna move to cloud or not." I am sure that you would!

In-Build Products

  • Financial Close Manager is part of the solution. Tasks can be created in the Close-Manager and can be presented as a calendar or Gantt chart and assigned to the responsible people.
  • FDM is built in for data integration and mapping.
  • Journal templates for adjustments and top side entries are also built in.
  • Reports are built in. Filterable journal reports, intercompany (ICP) reports, close manager reports and financial reports are preloaded.

Calculations, Consolidations, Rules

  • Advanced consolidations and automated equity eliminations are available. Currently only 100% ownership consolidation is supported.
  • Currently, only main entity hierarchy supports ICP eliminations. Alternate hierarchy doesn't support ICP eliminations.
  • It offers out-of-the-box calculations and no scripting is needed, thus no need to make custom rules.
  • Preconfigured currency translations are available.
  • Also, it offers automated cash-flow feature, which didn't exist in HFM earlier.
  • As usual, Smart View interacts directly with data with slicing and dicing feature.
  • Smart View add-in is available for PowerPoint with direct refresh.
  • Option is available for ratio calculations.

Dimensionality

  • It offers eleven dimensions out of the box, which include account, period, entity, ICP, currency, scenario, movements, data source. The dimensions get auto-created when an application is created. Interestingly, data source is an actual dimension. Time period can be 12 or 13 months. Alias can be months, such as Jan and Feb, but dimension members can be P1 to P12 or P13. Also, the hierarchies are pre-built.
  • Offers two custom dimensions, namely Custom 1 and Custom2 .If Multi-GAAP feature is enabled, then Custom1 and multi-GAAP are available. In this case, Custom2 is not available. Multi-GAAP support (optional feature) is available for companies moving from local GAAP to IFRS.
  • Value dimension is now called consolidation dimension.
  • It can import data from multiple data sources.

Simple User-Interface and Fancy Dashboards

  • It has simple user interface, which provides an interactive user experience with simple navigation.
  • It offers the Quick App Creation wizard, with pre-built functions and dashboard.
  • It provides a fancy dashboard for monitoring and analyzing progress of close:
  1.         Close dashboards              :  For visually displaying tasks, supplemental data and journals
  2.         Financial dashboards        : For displaying key financial metrics
  3.         Compliance dashboards  : For identifying delays and responsibilities, which helps in shorter cycles by focusing on close procedures
  • It can be accessed over mobile for interactions on mobile devices.
  • Monitoring: Monitor up-time, utilization, top activity, health, security profile and comparison using Service Manager and Enterprise Manager.
  • One click access to  close overview , dashboards, tasks, data analysis, consolidate data, data forms, journals, reports, approvals, tasks, rules, console, settings etc.
  • ICP reports built with the Alert feature. The system is integrated with the email system, hence, sends email to users when a task is assigned to them.
  • Data source tracking is possible with built-in workflow.

Conclusion

FCCS is a positive innovation in Enterprise Performance Management (EPM), considering the needs of organizations with the changing times. It enables them to direct their energies and resources towards streamlining their close process. With the kind of automation and other features offered, FCCS is a revolution in the world of EPM.

Challenges of Business Across Borders

In today's time there is a major need to collaborate across cultures and geographies to enhance your business.  With thrilling new chances for growth the globalization and geographical interconnection have grown more common. However along with this rosy picture comes the challenges and risks.

The basic challenge comes with the behavioral issues like many managers are not prepared to work with people who are very different from themselves. When diverse ways of thinking, understanding, acting, and communicating come together in a work environment, many well-intentioned managers struggle. It takes time and patience to hear and understand the interaction with people with unfamiliar accents.

When business collaborate across cultures, one often faces few of the below challenges:

Legal Understanding: Still in today's world there are many people who are not in favor of outsourcing and globalization. To start your business in a new land we should be familiar with the rules and laws of the land example there might be many additional taxes and duties levied which one should be familiar with. To counter that we need to have a proper backing of a lawyer/ law firm who are well versed with the rules and regulations of the country.

Trust aspect: when cultural lines are crossed, coworkers may face struggle finding common ground to work thus mutual trust is crucial at that juncture.

Cultural and language barriers: Different countries have different cultures and values. Example the marketing style might be different in different countries or there are countries where women are not treated at par with men. Thus it is important to understand the cultural intricacies of the country we plan to do a business.

Language is one the major barriers that holds on to the business opportunities across borders. Language difference often leads to misunderstandings thus one needs to deploy the right resources with the required language skill sets.

Team alignment: To lead a team across the globe chasing a common goal can be quiet demanding. Members of different cultures may have difficulty identifying as part of the team and aligning behind agreed-upon goals and responsibilities.

Currency fluctuations: Market fluctuation in various currency values can lead to a lot of profit/loss for a business operating overseas. We should hire a professional currency trading firm to counter the effects which in turn can be control through currency hedging.


Having mentioned the challenges of cross border business we still will have a favorable economic conditions to flourish our business. Moreover, overseas expansion increases the exposure to a new market with a new set of customers which have different expectation and reactions to the business.


Traversing a path from PeopleSoft to Cloud solution


The cloud solutions are one of the most talked topic among the clients looking for upgrade. One of them are PeopleSoft clients who look forward for upgrade path to Cloud solutioning. The basic thought that strikes when we think of moving from PeopleSoft to cloud solutions are "Should we upgrade to PeopleSoft 9.2 version" or "Should we move to a coexistence" or "Should we completely move to cloud"

There is no definite choice to make and the answer to this question varies from Individual client and the nature of industry. Moving to cloud directly may have challenges as compared to moving in a phased manner or upgrading to the 9.2 version based on the business needs.

Upgrading to the latest version 9.2

One approach could be to upgrade to PeopleSoft 9.2 and utilize the key features offered (listed below) to the maximum. PeopleSoft is a robust product thus with these key highlights it is predestined to stay for at least few more years. Below are the highlights:

  1. PUM (PeopleSoft Update Manager): it is the lifecycle management process available for 9.2 applications only. It basically intent to keep the customers updated on the application patching and further lowers the cost of application maintenance.

    Typically, it takes 2-3 years to wait for new functionalities to be introduced in the next version of the product however with PeopleSoft upgrade manager the clients can adopt new functionality and enhancements/upgrades within few weeks. Moreover, along with PeopleSoft selective adoption approach the total cost of the on-premise solution ownership reduces manifolds. 

  2. PeopleSoft Fluid User Interface: This is another table turner in the new release which supports PeopleSoft pages to adapt to almost all mobile devices. With the emergence and widespread usage of mobile devices the PeopleSoft applications need to run on a varied range of such devices. Thus with this feature, whenever you open the application from a mobile device the page shrinks to fit the screen size of the respective device. It enables enhanced mobility and faster time to value.

The functionality facilitates the organizations to set up applications to different devices which are used for the application access in a way that the content of the PeopleSoft page resizes and adapts to the screen size of the browser window.

Hence with limited customization, an upgrade to PeopleSoft 9.2 can give cost effective solutions for the organization.

Coexistence

The other approach could be the coexistence of existing ERP system and Oracle Fusion applications which typically implies that adopting cloud in a phased manner.  In this scenario both the technologies can share the platform and can coexist and deliver business values for the organization. This in turn reduces IT investments and enables customer organizations to leverage best in-class system. They can further build and design an incremental adoption road-map to adopt Oracle Fusion without going through a major change.

In the HCM range example could be adopting only the Fusion talent management along with the existing ERP. This will help in keeping the base data in the existing ERP intact while leveraging on the cloud platform features Dashboard reporting, Talent review, Social networking.

A coexistence example in the Financials can be adopting Oracle Fusion Accounting hub with the existing ERP.

Another example could be adopting the Procurement Solution selectively (Supplier management, Contract Management, Strategic Sourcing and Procurement) with the existing ERP for the other business processes.

Thus to conclude, traversing a path from PeopleSoft to Cloud can be in a phased manner and we should adopt the technology in a way that it is aligned to the business needs and the Organization goals.  This will help the customers to explore all the product functionalities offered in a cost effective manner.


June 20, 2017

HR Strategies and KPI

1) Employee Engagement

 

                As we have seen in the previous post, employee engagement, often neglected as a key strategy needs to be focused upon to ensure that the overall motivation of employees stays a high and the organization can march forward towards achieving its strategic goal by improving on this aspect. The key growth strategy that the HR organization's should strive for to improve employee engagement is to involve the employees  right from the business strategy roadmap to process designs that help in achieving the overall growth goals. Treating employees not just as a critical asset but as a critical stakeholder will be the paradigm shift for some traditional companies and this will reap huge benefits. The workforce development initiatives that help to up skill and be competitive in the emerging markets will be a win-win situation for both employee and organization. The cost of hire from market vs rotation of other unit internal resources, the lead time for a hire to be productive vs lead time for cross skilling of internal resource should be measured as the key KPI. The employee engagement rate versus the turnover rate would be the leading (i.e, focused on future state and inputs) and lagging (i.e, generated from past data or output) KPI that can help improve on retention of human capital talent and this can immensely help on talent management costs and workforce deployment costs. Apart from cutting costs that improve the profit of the organization, it is a must to generate some revenue as well, through employee engagement. One such revenue generating initiative that a HR organization can float around  is to encourage innovations and freedom for employees to generate revenue out of their innovative ideas that can then be sold to customers or to markets or to use internally to enhance productivity. The return on such ideas should  be tracked to measure the profits generated. It is must that to improve value-add to the business, a good HR manager should focus more on retaining the top performers rather than blindly measuring a metric that may  result in the retention of the not so good talent and skill sets. This is the key transformation that the HR manager should focus on by assessing the business impact and derive benefits out of the KPI measured.

 

                Infosys suggests that the HR organizations should measure the employee engagement rate as the primary KPI followed by KPI generated out of employee innovation ideas. The lagging KPI of turnover rate is something that can show, how with the result of implementation of employee engagement in different strategic initiatives has started to pay off and improve the overall profit or ROI on the innovative ideas that the organization has started off.

2) Workforce Planning

 

                Any training or development and skill sourcing plan for human capital should be forecasted periodically and assessed with the overall business impact it will bring on the table. There should be frequent connects between various business functions of delivery, HR, Finance, Sales and IT(technology) to optimize on resource utilization, budget control , supply demand  gap assessment and collaboration to add more value to the business. Any KPI that is measured should be focused on the end result or business value-add. the traditional tracking of average hours of training spent by a full time employee or training cost per employee would not be strategically useful and the organizations should focus more on KPIs like the performance improvement % resulted post the employee development programs, % time reduction achieved, return problems rate, Industry certifications achieved etc.

                There is a clear need for any organization to improve the way of workforce planning and as a strategy, the primary focus should be to develop key strategic skills that are on high demand or forecasted to be readily available. The KPI that should be used to measure this strategy should be the %utilization in the key skill developed post such development programs and resultant revenue increase to measure its effectiveness and the strategic decision to continue or drop the investment on particular development program. Infosys suggests that the next key strategy should be to analyze the past data of tickets or work logs and identify the key problem area that needs focus and trigger the necessary development program. The KPI to measure the benefits of such initiatives should be to measure the reduction in return problems rate and %time reduction achieved that can be used for more productive activities that increase the overall return and profit.

 

3) Digital Transformation Initiatives

 

                Being abreast with technology and innovation is the key differentiator for the success of organizations and in line with this, it is a must to utilize the technological capability of digital transformation to its best. The proliferation of off the shelf deployable set of the Internet of Things (IoT) will drive widespread adoption of IoT devices, platforms and related technology by competitors and it is the early adopters who stand the chance to win the game. Strategies that invest in innovations in digital transformation and automation of manual processes that brings work closer to home is a must to deliver more with less cost. The HR organizations should work with the top management to strategize the value adds that help in improving profits for the business. The paradigm shift of measuring output versus effort spent inside the office or work location ,measuring the quantum of value add per effort spent and measuring the productivity improvement versus utilization are some of the key parameters that need to be monitored. The return on investment and profit generated out of each digital transformation initiative is a key while keeping an eye on bringing close the break-even point.

 

                The suggested priority for the strategy to focus on should be to focus on value adds or effectiveness of the efforts spent rather than measuring the physical presence or overall efforts spent. The aim should be to improvise the effectiveness of efforts spent and identify and remove redundant and repetitive efforts that add less value or increase wastage and resultant costs. The key KPI that can help to measure the benefits of the output productivity increase will help the HR organizations to decide on its future strategy planning.

 

 

4) Data Driven Analytics Initiatives

 

                Many organizations find the cost of investment on big data analytics or a BI analytic tool to be an entry barrier to start on data driven analytics journey. The huge benefits reaped by the early adopters and improved analytics functionality delivered in the ready to deploy BI tools are surely motivators for any HR organization to choose wise investments in the right analytic tool.  A strategy to optimize the use of BI tools that are on service oriented architecture is the key to the success of data driven architecture. Continuous innovation to identify the right KPI to track and identify quality of data collected are key to ensure and reap benefits out of data driven strategy. Many organizations already have chief analytics officer (CAO) or chief data officer (CDO) on rolls and HR organizations should collaborate with the CAO office to align and design the HR policies that will reap benefit for the business. Key performance indicators that add value and measure profit from such initiatives are %productivity improvement out of redundant process steps identified, %quality improvement out of automated data loads etc.

 

                The key strategy for the HR organization should to be analyze the historic data and to come up with the key redundant process steps that can be optimized or eliminated totally and measure the key KPI of resultant productivity improvement that adds to the profit of the organization. The next step would be to identify automation for the time consuming manual tasks with automated data uploads and measure their returns that adds to the overall profit.

 

5) HR operations and logistics Initiatives

               

                Traditionally, the concept of HR shared services model is being deployed in many organizations and are now in the verge of being forced to establish their value add and sell a business case to justify the value adds out of cost involved. This has made many HR organizations to transform their HR operations to split into an HR center of excellence that reports outside of HR organization and is many a times clubbed with Finance administration. Even this model is wading out of its cost advantage as there is a pressing need to automate manual tasks and come up with innovative data load automations with minimal workflow for approval mechanism. While it is imperative that there should be a centralized operations team, it is equally important to reduce the cost and identify revenue generation opportunities like outsourcing of some functions like payroll generation, benefits administration or crowd sourcing   background check activities with clearly defined delivery partner responsibilities and adoption of digitization. The key KPI to evaluate the profit generated should be the cost involved versus the % of savings post investment. The break-even generally would take more time but will surely be a value add in long run.

 

                The major concentration for traditional organizations were strategically to improve on HR operations cost and it is now the least priority as this parameter won't add significantly to the overall profit of the organization as HR operations team doesn't constitute even 5% of total human resource strength. However, it is still important to improve on the overall profitability of the HR operations team and try to find out new avenues to sell the capability internally within other departments so that overall value is achieved in line with organization's growth strategy. The first strategic step should be to identify innovative approach and solutions like outsourcing of cost oriented functions like payroll and identify the overall cost of such initiative and then start to evaluate the % savings periodically to assess and improve on the strategy.

 

 

 

References:

 

1) http://www.gallup.com/poll/180404/gallup-daily-employee-engagement.aspx

2)  http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3287617

3) https://www.gartner.com/imagesrv/cio/pdf/cio_agenda_insights_2016.pdf

4) http://images.forbes.com/forbesinsights/StudyPDFs/Insights-CIOTransformationSurvey.pdf

5) Gartner: 100 Data and Analytics Predictions Through 2020 dt: 24 March 2016 | ID: G00301430 Analyst(s): Douglas Laney, Ankush Jain

6) Gartner: IT Score for BI and Analytics dt: 08 July 2016 | ID: G00304066

Analyst(s): Cindi Howson, Alan D. Duncan

 

June 18, 2017

The perennial question - OAF or ADF?

OAF (Oracle Application Framework) or ADF (Application Development Framework)? This is one of the most common questions from customers when we discuss the extension or customization strategy. The answer is very context specific and depends on the solution that needs to be developed.

 If we are talking about a solution that does not involve Oracle EBS (E-Business Suite) then the answer is probably ADF.

If the solution involves EBS, then we need to understand how much of the data involved comes from EBS, how much of the solution is dependent on the EBS configuration such as a user's responsibility, profile settings, etc and if we want an UI other than what we get in EBS.

The table below shows a comparative study of OAF and ADF and  the key considerations that should go into selecting the appropriate technology for our needs

Consideration

Advantage OAF

Advantage ADF

Data Involved

If the solution is an extension of EBS reading from EBS tables and inserting/updating them.

If the solution is only reading or writing less data from EBS which is relatively minor when compared to its overall functionality.

Access and control

Needs to use the users and responsibility from EBS to control functionality

Not dependent on EBS user access and control and needs its own

User Interface (UI)

Need the same UI experience as that of EBS

Need a different UI experience

EBS Application Object Libraries (AOL)

Solution heavily dependency on the EBS AOL such as profiles, value sets, lookups, concurrent programs, attachments, etc

Not much use of EBS AOL

 

For example, if we want to develop a custom solution to have payable's clerk to key in invoices that has validations against the PO, customer's data within EBS and the invoices need to be created in Oracle Payables, then OAF would be appropriate

If we want to develop a standalone custom solution to have payable's clerk to key in invoices that has validations against the PO, customer's data NOT from EBS or may be only customer data comes from EBS and the invoices needs to be created in a non-EBS application, then ADF would be appropriate

There is a perception that all new solutions in EBS needs to be built using ADF as this will make it easier during Cloud migration down the line. This is so not true. If the solution is considered part of EBS, then it has to be OAF and not ADF.

The architects of the Oracle forms era will probably understand this analogy the best- use of ADF is like developing a standalone application using Oracle developer suite using core forms and use of OAF is like using TEMPLATE.fmb and developing using the EBS standards. Both have powerful capabilities, the key is to understand when to use which!

June 8, 2017

CX/Digital: How it can improve connect between government and its citizens?

Recap to Early 2000-
Not so long ago, I used to stand in the long queues to pay my annual property tax to Municipal Corporation in Pune (India). Sometimes there used to be other grievances such as faulty tax bills and incorrect imposition of tax. It was not easy to get those grievances resolved. One literally had to visit the concerned department/office multiple times. There was no clear ownership defined and how long it could take to resolve the issue was anybody's guess!
Sounds Familiar? I am sure each one of you has gone through similar kind of experiences in the past decades or so. It could about State Electricity Department, Passport, Regional Transport Office (For License Issuance), Landline/broadband. The list could be ever expanding.

Fast Forward to 2010+
Things are changed now. With the launch of dedicated portal(s) it's easier to pay the property tax with few clicks, anytime/anywhere. The situation further eased/improved with the launch of mobile applications! The Multi-channel touch points (Helpline Number/Emails etc) help to resolve the grievances without being hassled to visit the concerned office.
What made this transformation possible? The answer is 'Technology'.
Technology has immensely improved the connect and ensured greater collaboration between various government departments and its citizens.
And it's a no brainer that the CX is at the forefront of this digital transformation. People, Process and Technology are the key elements for a successful CX solution.
Through the rest of this article I want to articulate my thinking on how the technology, the digital transformation/the CX can further improve the lives of people and what the future CX initiatives could be!

People

Technology is for the people (& not the other way round). Any transformation should start with people. Who are they? What they want? What are their needs? What they want to access? How they want to communicate? How their day to day lifestyle can be bettered?
Technology should then create the experience that will serve the entire population. An early engagement with citizens will go a long way in providing the kind of tailored CX approach. For example:
In 2016 -as a part of 'Smart City' project undertaken by central government of India, Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), launched a campaign where by it invited suggestions from the citizens as how they want their city-to-be in future. Multiple channels were used to reach out to people. Web Portal, Promotions to FM Radio, Phone lines, print media etc.

Process

The Process needs to be designed in such a way that it simplifies the day-to-day transactions that an ordinary citizen goes through. Optimal process will ensure that there is minimum interference that a citizen has to deal with. One of the best example I can think of is - linking of Adhar Card with the savings bank account for receiving direct subsidies. It is truly citizen centric process with complete transparency ensuring that only deserving people get the subsidy benefits.
Another example is Passport Application. With the online portal in place, citizens can fill up the form, get an appointment, and make payment, track SLA and the status of application online. The SMS and e-Mail services to keep the people updated on the status of their application have further helped the citizen delight. Applying for passport used to be an uphill task not so long ago where without middleman it was almost impossible for an ordinary citizen to deal with it.
Technology
Technology empowerment is not merely about providing the services to the citizens at their fingertips. It should further boost the citizen engagement and social growth by having the say in various key initiatives undertaken by governments with provision for instant feedback and social support.
Technology is the backbone of any CX transformation journey. Let me outline the key application building blocks (ABB) that are integral part of CX transformation and the underlying technology that could master these building blocks
Citizen Interaction - A seamless interaction enabled via multiple channels like phone, e-mail, web self-service portal is the entry point for any CX transformation. The Oracle provided applications like Service Cloud, Siebel eService can easily be leveraged for the same. Recently for one of the government client in Canada as a part of its Road User Safety Modernization Program, Infosys successfully implemented the CX transformation journey using Siebel eService platform
CRM - This ABB interacts closely with 'Citizen Interaction' ABB and helps government departments to serve the Citizen requests which can't be auto fulfilled via Web/Mobile channel. The CRM ABB also helps in addressing the grievances/suggestions/improvements from the citizens. Siebel Public Sector CRM /Microsoft dynamics CRM /SFDC are some of the CRM technologies available in the market to meet the CRM capabilities
Knowledge Management
KM is the process of creating, sharing and storing the knowledge repository. Its sole purpose is to improve the performance of each individual department by providing the right information first time and thus ensure that needs/problems of the citizen are served more efficiently and effectively. Oracle Inquira, Open Text are the technologies that can support this ABB.
Analytics - Use technology to analyze the trends, determine the people and process efficiency.
Taking the boundaries of CX to the next Level Future Improvements
I foresee a single interconnected portal with an electronic link between the local departments, authorities, and administrations (Municipal Corporations), and between the latter, the central government and other state governments. This will be a one-stop-shop for all citizen needs with a seamless connect between government and its citizens.

Conclusion - If the government considers the people, process, and Technology aspects as mentioned above, it will improve the efficiency, sustainability, and citizen experience.


June 6, 2017

How the right partner can accelerate your journey to the cloud

 

Moving finance to the cloud can have a huge impact on businesses -- end users can be upended by frequent updates and IT organizations can get re-orged by job shifts. Most businesses often struggle to address these challenges:

 

> How to handle updates?

> Whom do I reach out to in case of issues?

> How do I reskill my existing organization?

 

However, with help and guidance from an experienced cloud service provider, enterprises can navigate the transition flawlessly and prime their systems for digital transformation. We, at Infosys, have designed solutions to ensure that disruption through cloud migration is effortless for customers. From offering insights into handling cloud challenges to taking full ownership of delivery; we have the capability to ensure your organization's financial transition to cloud is hassle-free.

 

To know more about how we can help make your cloud migration hassle-free, read https://blogs.oracle.com/modernfinance/how-the-right-partner-can-accelerate-your-journey-to-the-cloud

June 4, 2017

Oracle GRC - Overview

In most organizations during Oracle ERP implementations there are many security, auditing and compliance related requirements where you would want to enforce Governance, minimize Risk and be complaint as per the company policies. GRC is one such module from Oracle which caters all such needs. 

GRC is a solution that manages business processes for greater efficiency, controls user access to reduce risk and track data changes to increase financial integrity.

GRC has 4 products:

Application Access Control Governor AACG - It helps to implement segregation of duties within an organization. Ex: A user who has can create a supplier cannot pay the supplier. This module can help identify such responsibilities and access to a user who has both the privileges

Transactions Control Governor TCG - It helps to prevent any fraudulent business transactions. For ex: if you have to identify a user who has created and made a payment to the supplier.  TCG can help detect such fraudulent activities

Configuration Control Governor -Maintains audit trail of configuration changes Ex: if someone has changed billing address, bank account details etc. Detects such setup changes,

Preventive Control Governor PCG - Enforce certain rules to prevent unauthorized actions or business transactions.

 View image

 In this article i will try to provide detailed features and capabilities of Preventive Controls Governor (PCG) module which is integrated within Oracle eBs.

PCG is a set of applications that run within Oracle E-Business suite as a component of the Governance, Risk, and Compliance Controls Suite (GRC).

 

PCG has several modules:

 

Form Rules:  Extend oracle eBs forms without modifying the seeded code and does not require much development expertise. Key things which can be performed using form rules

·         Prevent changes to designated fields

·         Restrict access to LOV's and Block/Fields based on OU, Responsibility, Username etc.

·         Make fields mandatory, hidden etc

·         Show pop-up messages, error messages etc.

·         Provides options to write SQL queries or DB procedures, packages.

 

Flow Rules: When there is a need to automate any business processes or perform sequence of activities within a process or need to enforce an approval process for any business transactions/setups in such cases flow rules can be used. Two steps to define a flow rule.

 

Launch Criteria: Trigger or an event based subscription types are the two options which needs to be created to initiate the rule.

Process Flow: Process flow needs to be defined according to the requirement. It has several options like

·         Provides SQL rules to perform DML operations, call oracle API's etc.

·         Provides Notification rules to perform approval or FYI notifications leveraging GRC workflows

·         Provides options to call concurrent programs or business events

 

Multiple rules can be used together. Ex: SQL rule, followed by approval rule, followed by notification rule etc. They can be defined sequentially within a process to perform the steps. Dependencies can be created between the steps like an approval rule has approve or reject options. Another process or step can be build based on approval/rejection.

 

Scenarios where there are no out of the box oracle options like Oracle AME, flow rules can be an option to explore which does not require much coding.

 

Audit Rules:  Enables Audit Trial on oracle tables. Audit changes to designated fields. Monitor changes to designated fields and email notifications based on 'Triggers' or pre-defined schedule

Change Control: Combines the functionality of Form, Flow and Audit rules

June 2, 2017

HR Analytics in Retail Industry

HR in Retail Industry
Retail industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, and is evolving rapidly due to the  continuously changing market economy, digital competition, new product launches and demanding customers. With an extremely competitive scenario of market growth, workforce has become one of the key factors in the growth of any retail organization.

So, why is HR critical in Retail?
  • Service oriented and people driven industry
  • Constantly evolving and competitive growing environment
  • Large manpower employed
  • Skill set requirement varies based on the market type, it involves both skilled and unskilled manpower

HR Challenges faced by the Retail industry:
Due to the global economic changes, Retailers face competition with the new entrants from other countries in the domestic market and hence strengthening their talent portfolio is critical for success. Consequently, along with business leaders, the HR strategist role requires to forecast the industry trends to identify future business needs and build the right talent pool. 

Key HR challenges in Retail include:
(a) High turnover:
Retail industry faces a talent crisis especially at middle and senior management level. Though entry level resources are available, retaining the talented manpower for the long run becomes a challenge. 
The management needs to know the reasons of attrition and take corrective actions accordingly.

(b) Lack of skilled workforce:
An important challenge in Retail industry is getting professionally educated workforce. As there are very few courses that offer a professional degree in Retail industry, getting skilled staff is a challenge. 
Organizations need to identify training needs and accordingly plan for training and development programs to enhance the skill set.

(c) Diversity: 
Diversity in workforce is crucial as it helps a retailer connect with its market that leads to better ideas and results. Hence, HR needs to promote team building programs and initiatives to connect people to avoid conflicts, promote teamwork and collaboration among resources. 

(d) Seasonal Demand:
Retailers experience seasonal demand fluctuations and hence hire temporary staff during this period which do not have appropriate skills to serve customers. So, forecasting the resource demands and planning for training the existing resources or hiring strategy becomes critical.

(e) Employee engagement and communication
The Retail industry is distributed across sectors and locations. It is very important for management to engage and motivate the resources in distant locations and make them connected with the organizational goals and objectives. It is important for leadership to connect and engage with employees at regular intervals.

HR: Cornerstone for business growth
Human Resource Management means managing the employees of an organization. There are two aspects to it, one is revenue generation by providing efficient service and second is the cost associated to manage human resources - the primary concern for leadership is to strike a balance between the two.
Putting down a well thought strategy, predicting and forecasting the future trends and taking the right decisions. 
Correct in-depth analysis of HR data at regular interval. 
Evaluation of various aspects of HR in varied situation
Quick view and Spot on decision making

The next part will discuss the software solution that can empower Retail Industry - HR Strategists to take effective decisions for their businesses. 

Subscribe to this blog's feed

Follow us on

Blogger Profiles

Infosys on Twitter