Fusion Human Capital Management (HCM) has taken the market by storm, promising plenty of future updates and exciting changes for Oracle's public cloud offering. What is next in the pipeline for this brand and its ever-growing service offer? Crucially, what opportunities lie in wait for professionals in the field who are seeking their next Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Oracle-based opportunity?
In a nutshell, the big story at the moment is that Oracle is currently introducing Fusion HCM to sales, recruitment, marketing and customer service industries. ERP and supply chain models are expected to be released shortly. Oracle plans to assist and support system integration buyers who currently use the company's previous business application packages, such as PeopleSoft and the E-Business suite. The makers have explained that these organisations will find that the foundational skills they achieved with earlier Oracle products will be relevant, whether their services are deployed on premises or within Oracle's new cloud.
Oracle points to its commitment to customer choice and practice evolution, stating that it plans to invest heavily in those applications which facilitate both. Oracle has also stated that its movement to the cloud will be easier for customers than with any other existing market platform.
Interestingly, the software company has recently announced that it will be continuing to diverge from the majority of the cloud computing industry by offering a public cloud with a locked-in approach. The current Oracle Cloud appeals to existing Oracle users because of its strong proprietary approach. However, critics have pointed out that retailers who aren't dependent on Oracle services are yet to see value in the brand's cloud offer and have questioned the wisdom behind the product strategy.
Critics question the subscription model
Some market commentators believe that the current era isn't ideal for vendors who seek to gain market control, with customers wanting to choose the services they use from a variety of software providers. The pricing model for the Oracle Cloud is likely to be based on subscriptions, rather than the pay-as-you-go model more widely found in the market. However, this higher end pricing approach may negate one of the primary drivers of cloud computing: lower IT operational costs.
As yet, however, the Oracle Cloud release date seems to be unclear and the market waits to hear more. It does look likely that organisations which already have significant investments in Oracle's product offering may go for the new cloud service to maximise the efficiencies and improvements that can be expected from using a comprehensive product suite from a single, trusted vendor. Many of these customers are expected to greet the new cloud product with huge enthusiasm. Certainly, Oracle has a proven track record of making good market decisions. The firm is also renowned for understanding the markets in which it operates, so the pricing model will be viewed with interest.
Partners ready for the new offer
Partners of Oracle have been announcing record financial results in the past 12 months and are awaiting the emerging cloud strategy with enthusiasm, which will include the new 'Fusion Applications', which will be delivered from data centres such as SaaS, powered by Exalogic and Exadata. Oracle has taken 7 years to create and release the Fusion Application offer and it will be available to customers on their premises, utilising the same code bases. Many of the large existing systems integrators have already developed their management practices around Fusion Apps.
Currently, there are around two hundred customers using Fusion Applications. A number of these customers have already gone live with their products, which are in full production. A large proportion expect to go live later this summer. Some of these customers have bought the software and gone live in just eighteen days, whereas other purchasers have taken between two and three months.
Partners look forward to Oracle's Cloud
The partner community is likely to welcome the cloud, having achieved an excellent fiscal year in 2012, particularly those who achieved their specialist Oracle accreditations. Oracle certified nearly 30,000 new implementation consultants in 2012 alone, nearly doubling its existing consultant base to 60,000. The company aims to build on this success and seek out systems integration experts who can wrap the Oracle technology into saleable offerings that can penetrate deep within the market.
Oracle is also working hard to build up its key accounts, whilst supporting extension of the partner network. It has recently acquired Sun Microsystems to enter the hardware business and has since been rolling out a number of specialist 'engineered systems' that combine Oracle software and hardware, including the Exalogic application service and the Exadata database. The Exastack accreditation programme has seen Oracle work to get independent software vendor partners into the fold through certification and a single-stop approach. More than 100 of these independent partners have already gained their 'ready' status and a further thirty-five have achieved the 'optimised' level.
Certainly, the specialist partner approach seems to be working well for Oracle, with its specialist partners closing three times as many deals than unspecialised partners. Additionally, the transaction value is 50% bigger. Oracle continues to believe that specialised approaches work best for sales, backed up with the revenue gained from their specialisation programmes. With this and their new cloud and HCM fusion applications in the mix, the future for this company continues to look very promising.
The future looks especially bright for those individuals employed in the ERP software market who specialise in Oracle products and services. The market for contract and temporary staff in particular is growing; indeed, it is ideal for those who seek rapid progress within their field. Contract rates are attractive and the scope for intellectual challenge and professional development is excellent, with additional opportunities for overseas contracts and permanent roles for those who seek in-house, consultancy or agency roles within their ERP speciality. Networking continues to be key for those who wish to find the best and most attractive roles and proactive job seekers will keep in close contact with specialist recruiters who facilitate the majority of attractive roles within the profession.