Oracle offered a powerful endorsement of human capital management for businesses intent on accelerating growth amid the transformational ascendance of mobile technology and millennial workers, with a rare dual appearance of its top executives at the inaugural edition of its HCM World conference in Las Vegas last week.
Oracle president Mark Hurd took the podium to open the first full day of the event. His talk was bookended by a closing keynote from company CEO Larry Ellison. Noting that the two had never before been on the same program, with the exception of Oracle OpenWorld, Hurd said it was because "we want to make sure that everyone knows Oracle is serious about HCM, HR, and leading this space—that's why we're both here."
HCM is among the hottest arenas in software and the cloud, as HR professionals are being tapped by the C-suite to support a tough and growing global business to-do list. The highest priority revolves around finding solid candidates capable of stretching beyond the task-based job descriptions of pre-social-era workers. Most eagerly sought are so-called "enterprise contributors," who can accelerate organizational performance by working more smartly and closely with peers.
Oracle cut the opening ribbon on HCM World with a slew of partners who either make or consult on the best use of HCM software. The group included Accenture, KPMG, PwC (better known to many as PricewaterhouseCoopers), Baker Tilly, Cognizant, HireRight, Seertech Solutions, Wipro, and Deloitte.
In his keynote, Hurd related to the hurdles faced by a conference audience rich in vice president and director-level HR professionals, by analogizing to Oracle's own personnel challenges. "We're going to see half a million resumes this year and interview over 60,000 people, with the objective of hiring 20,000," he said. "We need quality people and lots of them. That's a challenge that keeps you up at night."
But such tall recruitment tasks are getting help from a new generation of mobile, socially connected HCM tools. Gretchen Alarcon, vice president of Oracle HCM strategy, joined Hurd to demo one of the company's newest such offerings. The two went through a recruitment scenario showcasing Oracle HCM Cloud on an iPad. Emphasized was the fluidity of the graphics-based interface, which showcased multiple candidates for sales jobs. Resumes, individual recruiting histories, and even LinkedIn profiles were all accessible on a real-time basis. Also available at a touch was analytical information on metrics like personnel attrition rates, salary bands, and the like.
Big Cloud News
Following Hurd's keynote, Oracle provided some HCM specifics, with two major product-enhancement announcements. The first was a significant upgrade to Oracle HCM Cloud, boosting its capabilities for the tough HR tasks ahead with new mobile functionality, deeper analytics, and user-experience improvements. All told, more than 200 new innovations are embedded in the enhanced offering. You can read the details in the press release. Oracle's HCM cloud ecosystem includes Oracle Global HR Cloud, Oracle Talent Management Cloud, and Oracle Social Sourcing Cloud, which connects social-media-based sources of job talent like LinkedIn.
In a separate roll out, Oracle’s PeopleSoft got a performance-boosting upgrade via the release of the Oracle In-Memory Application. Oracle closed its PeopleSoft acquisition in 2005. Oracle remains committed to the product line, which continues to support a substantial customer base, and which it most recently upgraded in 2013 with the release of PeopleSoft 9.2.
The HCM World announcement centered on the ability to maximize the performance and speed of Oracle’s PeopleSoft In-Memory Labor Rules and Monitoring, which is configured as an in-memory application that can take advantage of the power of Oracle's Engineered Systems. Engineered Systems are pre-integrated, high-end machines which elegantly combine multiple processors, software, and storage in an optimized, holistic design to achieve extreme performance.
The PeopleSoft In-Memory Labor Rules and Monitoring package is aimed at enabling HR pros to effectively manage labor costs and policy rules in real time.
Ellison used his Thursday afternoon closing keynote to emphasize the broad reach of HCM tools, noting that it's the one class of software everyone in every company uses. "The HCM system is the only system that will allow all your employees to work together," Ellison said. "What distinquishes our system is that we have adopted a social paradigm—it looks like a social network. It's a modern, social, consumer-based user interface.
Ellison capped his talk with a question and answer session during which he noted the philosophy behind the HCM effort. "It’s a combination of empowering your people and enabling them to do the job," he said. "People are interested in what other people are doing. People are thirsty for information about what the company is doing. The HCM system is a critical tool in enabling your people to do their jobs." (For additional coverage of Ellison's keynote, see Stuart Lauchlan's "So just how important is HCM to Larry Ellison?")
At HCM World, Oracle shared the spotlight with its partners in an exhibit hall packed with a rich collection of solutions. As well, the show program spotlighted a full slate of talks by HR thought leaders. Speaker David Rock, CEO of the Neuroleadership Group, talked about the implications of the latest research on the brain. He also signed copies of his book, "Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long."
Brian Kropp, managing partner of the Corporate Executive Board, offered some disruptive insights on performance assessment. You can read more about that in John Foley's Forbes OracleVoice post, "10 Trends Driving The Mandate For Modern HCM." Foley discusses Kropp's views on collaboration as a force multiplier. The piece also points to the publicly available 2014 US CEO Survey, which was discussed by Ed Boswell, principal, US advisory people & change practice leader at PwC.
Oracle's own Bertrand Dussert, vice president of HCM transformation, who delivered one of the conference keynotes, has weighed in with two recent "deep think" essays. In "HR Should Hire 'Scary' Data People", he explores the difference between simple reporting and real analytics. And "HR Executives Need to Think Like the CMO" adds its voice to the growing consensus that sees personnel pros becoming strategic partners in the C-suite.
And Gretchen Alarcon, the vice president of Oracle HCM strategy who joined Mark Hurd during the Oracle HCM Cloud demo, offers her thoughts on "Modern HR Or How To Earn Your Employees Every Day".