Oracle Ups EPM Ante

After a 2 year wait, Oracle is rolling out some fruits of its daunting integration efforts in enterprise performance applications. New suite bundles, an Essbase connector and Hyperion uplift are highlights of its Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) 11.1.2 release. The numbering scheme, evidently constrained by the overall Oracle level 11 nomenclature, drove the understated “11.1.2” moniker, but make no mistake, this is a major thrust – delivered in 15 languages and with a new focus on role-based thinking. The task-specific and vertical themes that dominate developments in enterprise applications were on display here as Oracle delivered Financial Close Management, Disclosure Management, and Public Sector Planning and Budgeting applications atop the Fusion Middleware platform that is the basis for further product portfolio integration in the quarters ahead. The architectural value of the Business Intelligence Foundation here cannot be overstated; Oracle is delivering on a well-thought-out model that facilitates a steady growth in product opportunities that will drive incremental revenues.

In contrast to the absence of comment about Microsoft Office integration from SAP at its most recent event (discussed here), Oracle has updated its SmartView Hyperion Outlook add-in to permit the management of task steps in users’ most typical default desktop app. StarOffice was not mentioned; of course integrating it will take a little time. Anyone who doesn’t think Oracle has changed in recent years is not paying attention; time was, Microsoft integration would not have been talked about until Oracle had its own piece in place. Kudos to them for focusing on the important fact that MS Office dominates and delivering needed features now. Users can also now configure workflows and build their own web-based interfaces for data entry (although it remains to be seen whether this is a good step or an invitation to ungoverned, chaotic proliferation of error-prone data input improvisations.)

Essbase Analytics Link adds a feed for OLAP, connecting directly to Hyperion Financial Management (HFM). This is a good first step, but still limits the analysis to predefined, already stored cubes. The state of the art is the use of in-memory techniques, delivering real-time results. SAP has upped the ante with Explorer, and as noted in the linked post, its BW Accelerator is also using memory to speed up analytics. IBM’s TM1 support here was announced in the past few months, and Microsoft’s VertiPaq column store underlying its coming PowerPivot for Excel (to be announced with the new MS Office release in May) round out the big player in-memory offerings. And specialists like QlikView have been making noise here as well. Oracle’s TimesTen play has focused elsewhere so far, and the connection needs to be made.

Oracle’s growing focus on building governance in at the application level – needed in response to the growing success of specialist products like those from Informatica and IBM – manifests itself in data quality features like the new support data validation capability. In our discussion, the focus on Oracle’s GRC Manager serving as an integration vehicle to assist segregation of duties, sitting between Oracle and PeopleSoft Financials apps and HFM, took this notion a step further. It permits the ability to “assess the materiality of internal control issues and prioritize remediation.” The power of this process automation cannot be overestimated; it represents a continuing effort to reduce the backward-looking posture of most existing systems and turn to a proactive, informed management attitude.

In an era of increased regulatory scrutiny, financial professionals will appreciate the assistance in managing complex reporting requirements delivered by the Disclosure Management application.  With Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) driving a 3rd party marketplace for outsourced document conversion, Oracle has seen an opportunity to help its customers save money and increase their efficiency in handling of “the last mile” – and generate additional business in the process. Here again, Oracle has opted to integrate with Word and Excel.

Finally, Oracle has long had a sizable base in government, and its new Hyperion Public Sector Planning and Budgeting app suite continues the integration theme, tapping its ERP apps (both Oracle E-Business Suite [EBS] and PeopleSoft ERP) for bidirectional feeds. The document creation focus continues here too, with “high quality budget book preparation” called out as a key feature.

As other tech vendors often do, Oracle overloaded the analyst presentation – 52 slides for a one hour call is a bit much. In general, industry analysts don’t need several slides with quotes from customers, or section dividers. But that’s a quibble. What Oracle does VERY well is cut to the chase – an upfront summary slide of what’s new, the familiar comparison to competitive products, and the attention to visually calling out architecture and flows. There was a great deal of content in this briefing, and I’m only touching on the high points. Oracle continues to deliver steadily, and now has more well-targeted offerings to drive its growth in existing and new customers.

Disclosures: Oracle is a client of IT Market Strategy

Published by Merv Adrian

Independent information technology market analyst and consultant, 40 years of industry experience, covering software in and around the data management space.

9 thoughts on “Oracle Ups EPM Ante

  1. Hi, Peter. I checked back in with Oracle and got this reply: “JDE integration can be done today with ODI and FDM, but drill-back doesn’t exist yet. Packaged adapters for JDE Financials that will provide similar integration as EBS and PeopleSoft are planned for delivery under a point release on our roadmap.”

    I’d be surprised if we don’t see them appear this year, as the cadence of Oracle’s integration accelerates with the increasing solidity and breadth of the underlying Fusion middleware stack.

    1. Peter, how incredibly generous of you to take the time to write this. Thank you – and thanks for inspiring me to sustain my belief in responsiveness. One “thank you” powers a hundred responses to “non-clients” who take response as a matter of course. I’ve learned that the blogosphere is a karma engine virtually unmatched in human interactions.

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