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12 May, 2020 04:23:50 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 12 May, 2020 05:17:31 PM
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In conversation with Oracle’s Adrian Johnston

Staff Reporter, Dhaka
In conversation with Oracle’s Adrian Johnston
Adrian Johnston. Photo: courtesy

The Independent recently had a conversation with Adrian Johnston, Senior Vice President of Cloud Applications (SaaS), Japan and Asia Pacific, Oracle, on issues relating to managing businesses in the present context of global crisis.

The questions and answers of the e-mail conservation are as follows:  

Q: How can technology help organisations support their business continuity in today’s extraordinary business climate in the Asia Pacific region? 
 
A: With organisations facing business-continuity, cash-flow and supply-chain challenges, it is more important than ever for them to have a strong foundation in place for their business systems. It is crucial in times of crisis that businesses continue to innovate and pivot in order to achieve their business goals. Managing core processes and customer experience data on a single platform enables businesses to be nimble and outpace market changes. A modern suite of software as a service (SaaS) applications provides a complete, agile, secure, and integrated solution for an entire business, across finance and accounting, procurement, project management, supply chain, transportation management, HR, sales, customer service, marketing and more.

Q: Can you provide some examples on how SaaS solutions are helping your customers in the region to cope with business disruptions? 

A: In recent times, employees of many companies had to shift their way of working from operating at their offices to working from home. This change has brought new ways of working digitally and some finance teams have experienced an easier transition than others with the help of cloud technology. Asia Commercial Bank, one of the largest retail banks in Vietnam, has deployed Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Cloud to streamline all finance, procurement and project expense management processes. With this cloud solution in place, the bank has been able to accelerate its month-end close and reporting cycles by 50 per cent. Moving to the cloud also meant it no longer had to manage these applications in its own data centre.

Q: Automation is becoming a necessity for large-scale organisations to support their business continuity. How are your SaaS customers getting better benefits by leveraging emerging technologies as compared to on-premise solutions?

A: Emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), digital assistants and Internet of Things (IoT) are impacting business outcomes, especially in today’s unprecedented times. Highly customised, on-premise solutions are siloed and often require multiyear deployments to get things right. They simply lack the agility, speed, interoperability and simplicity required to tap into the business benefits of these technologies. Many organisations are turning to SaaS consumption models today to more easily ‘turn on’ subscription models for their finance, operations, HR, digital supply chain and customer experience departments. 

Q: How do you see technologies like AI and Machine Learning transforming the finance function from a support function to a strategic one?

A: A recent report by Oracle and Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) titled ‘Competitive Edge Report’ found that emerging technologies have passed the adoption tipping point. Firstly, the report revealed that 85 per cent of respondents believe AI and Machine Learning are ‘catalysts for change’ needed for finance organisations to transform from reporting on ‘what’ is happening in the business to ‘why’ things are happening. Secondly, 83 per cent of CFO respondents agree that AI will help them rethink outdated business processes and strategies by completely automating them. Thirdly, 74 per cent of respondents agree intelligent automation will be critical for them to keep pace with rapidly shifting regulations.

Q: Companies are adopting new practices to achieve business continuity and smooth transitions to remote working. Can you give us some examples on how companies can stay efficient with new work from home mandates?

A: At a time where many organisations and their HR teams are facing new and unprecedented challenges, SaaS human capital management (HCM) applications can help by removing functional limitations and providing high-security platforms that can support business continuity anytime, anywhere and on any device. Oracle is currently providing free access to the Workforce Health and Safety module in Oracle HCM Cloud, which helps organisations track infected employees, manage data regarding the incident etc.

Q: One of the key focus areas for Oracle last year was AI. Are there any meaningful business achievements and best practice cases coming from it? 

A: Embedding emerging technologies into core applications means customers’ day-to-day business processes run more smoothly, compliance and security risks decrease, decision-making improves, and their teams have more time and mindshare for strategic thinking. For example, NEC,a Japanese multinational information technology and electronics company, has adopted Oracle EPM Cloud to automate previously manual processes and streamline financial data across its rapidly growing global operations. With emerging technologies embedded in this cloud application, NEC can now analyse all data received from overseas subsidiaries on a single platform and improve their decision-making processes. Unilever, a multinational consumer goods company, has adopted Oracle Transportation Management (OTM) Cloud in India to leverage AI and IoT to make data-driven decisions. As a result, the company has succeeded in better management of vehicles required for transportation and optimisation of their routes, which resulted in reduced fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The company is also using AI to combine internal and external data, and build models that help it predict the weather or traffic patterns.

BK

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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