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Discovering and Managing Talent in the Cloud: A Q&A With Oracle’s Steve Cox

Posted by | September 8, 2017 | Talent Management

via Financial Executives : Discovering and Managing Talent in the Cloud: A Q&A With Oracle’s Steve Cox

Having a holistic view of financial functions as well as HR processes in the cloud gives organizations the power to keep up with the quick pace of innovation.

Across industries and for organizations of all sizes, CFOs have new roles as co-pilots and navigators, helping their businesses make better decisions. Two intersecting areas in which CFOs are innovating are talent and enterprise resource planning (ERP). Adopting a holistic view of financial functions as well as HR processes in the cloud gives organizations the power to better manage change and keep up with the quick pace of innovation.

A new study from Oracle and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, titled Finance and HR: The Cloud’s New Power Partnership, discusses the benefits of integrating ERP with Human Capital Management (HCM).

FEI Daily spoke with Steve Cox, Vice President for ERP and EPM product marketing at Oracle, about what’s driving the partnership and the progress companies are making on cloud migration.

FEI Daily: Why is it so important that finance and HR collaborate effectively? What has changed that makes the partnership so vital?

Steve Cox: In a lot of the keynotes I do, I talk about five catalysts of transformation and the first three are all people-related. I talk about the global talent shortage which is affecting finance, the rise of robots, and the end of jobs. Those are three things that are not only catalysts, they’re accelerating the pace of change in general. But they’re conflicting and contradictory.

If you think about it this way, there’s a global talent shortage. We need the right people in the right place with the right skills and the right talents, but of course we want not only to find them, we need to retain them. On the other side of this, you have the rise of robots where there’s a massive decline in the cost of industrial robots over the past three years which means many, many jobs are being eliminated.

And the third piece is the end of jobs. Certain trades and professions will completely disappear in the next five years. And if you then look at it from the CFO’s perspective, the people-side of the business becomes acutely important. You have to have the right people and you have to provide them with an engaging and exciting career. It doesn’t matter what size organization or what part of the world these CFOs are from, they have new roles as co-pilots and navigators, helping the business make better decisions about the future of the organization.

FEI Daily: When did talent became something that the CFO became concerned with?

Cox: It’s difficult to put a date on it. I would say it’s clearly a post-millennium thing. I think it coincided with the general acceleration in the pace of change and you can probably pinpoint some landmark moments, when somebody put their foot on the gas. I would argue that one was the launch of the iPhone in 2007. What the iPhone did was popularize the notion of the smartphone. It drove general adoption of the smartphone. But it then opened everyone’s eyes to the possibility of mobile devices.

There are a couple of other precursors. Our own popularization of the relational database is one. You could argue that, without the relational database, there wouldn’t have been applications. In some way it acted as a tipping point because once you could deliver enterprise applications over the internet, you could deliver anything over the internet.

Another is the birth of the first SaaS applications. The first SaaS application was NetSuite. And all of these things suddenly begin to change the way we interact with IT. Suddenly, you’ve got the power of IT in the hands of everybody. And everyone is changing the way they behave.

So, why is there a global talent shortage? Because the demographics of the world have changed. We’re all getting older, and we’ve got newer, and smaller generations of people, the millennials, coming in and their expectations of life and work are very, very different from previous generations.

FEI Daily: The study discusses the benefits of integrating ERP with HCM. But how easy is that integration in the first place?

Cox: If you look at finance and HR, they’re governed by policies, processes, workflows and so on and these are intimately connected. If you look at the finance function, every CFO I speak to is inordinately concerned about recruiting the right people and retaining the best people and giving those people the new skills and talents they’re going to need in the new era.

If you look at business volatility and the pace of change, having an integrated approach to the way you manage the finances of the organization and the people in the organization is critical.

Both finance and HR have a plethora of approval steps with them. And many of those approvals depend on people. So if you take a typical finance process where something has to be approved, you need that to be reflected immediately so that the process isn’t held up because the wrong person is expected to approve the thing.

I always talk about the single data model argument. Organizations keep far more data than ever before. Every finance transaction has a whole bunch of data, and we’re managing more and more data as every minute passes. This need to have HR and finance integrated from the get go is absolutely critical, purely because of that fact that this finance and HR world is dominated by policies, process approvals, and workflow.

If you buy two sets of applications from separate vendors, integration is as easy as it always has been. Oracle does provide an integration Cloud service set of applications that make integration a lot easier. Many of the customers surveyed in the study prefer an integrated HR and finance approach. In other words, financial management and HR applications from the same vendor.

FEI Daily: Describe the progress companies are making on cloud migration. What are some of the biggest challenges to adoption?

Cox: According to the study, 35 percent of C-level executives and finance, HR, and IT managers who responded plan to create a shared finance and HR function within a year. Forty-two percent of respondents say they are motivated by the need for improvements in productivity and performance.

Respondents view closer finance and HR collaboration in the cloud as a strategic imperative, promoting operational excellence and the freedom to accelerate innovation in response to the demands and expectations of customers and stakeholders.

One question executives often have, however, is how to begin their journey to the cloud. A majority of business leaders want to free their finance and HR functions to operate in the cloud. But to figure out which processes or business functions to start with, it’s really about aligning IT to the organizations’ aspirations and strategic ambitions. Today’s CIOs and CTOs, most of whom now have cloud-first strategy, make decisions about IT in collaboration with their peers in the c-suite – not only taking into account the needs of the business but also leading the way in showing how leveraging new technologies can exponentially improve the business.

They are able to exploit the promise of the convergence of the cloud with mobile, analytics, social, big data, IoT, artificial intelligence and machine learning to help CFOs change business models, increase agility and deliver more influence in every aspect of the business. But, ultimately, organizations must undergo the transition quickly to stay competitive and innovate at scale— only the cloud offers the flexibility to do this.

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