Dennis Howlett (@dahowlett) gave me a gentle reminder in Twitter that there has been a lot of praise out there for something that has not been officially released yet. Again, this is my personal opinion, not the official Gartner position (as all blogging on the Gartner Blogging Network is), but his point reminded me of a blog post I did last year at the end of Oracle OpenWorld. Here is an excerpt:
I could not help thinking during these sessions of a software joke told to me by Brian Sommer a long time ago. It goes like this:
Think about the answer to two questions: "Can I see it?" and "Does it exist"?
If I can see it and it does exist, then it is Real.
If I can see it, but it does not exist, then it is Virtual.
If I cannot see it, but it does exist, then it is Transparent
If cannot see it and it does not exist, then it is in the Next Release
So, let's ask these questions again about Fusion Applications now. Can I see it? Last year, I answered "yes, sort of". Oracle did demo parts of the solution at OOW last year. I have had the chance to see more since last year so I know there is more to it, but as I indicated in my earlier blog post, I have not seen the full HCM suite (or full suite of any Fusion Applications). So, the answer is "yes, to some degree".
Does it Exist? Last year, I said:
That is probably the more interesting question... Certainly there are "edge" applications such as Social CRM that do exist... However, based on the information provided to date, it is difficult to know exactly how much of the Fusion Application Suite is built.
It is still difficult to know. We know the planned scope at a broad brush, but the detailed feature/functions have still not been communicated. Last year, I also said:
there was no firm commitment on delivery dates for the first release of the Suite or any indication of early customers that were implementing the Suite.
There is a firmer delivery date (sometime in 2010). We also know that some customers have been testing the solution. However, testing parts of the solution is not the same as implementing it. As I said last year, early customers that implement and go live are the real litmus test for "does it exist". So, does the first release of the full suite of Fusion Applications exist? Not yet. Will it exist in 2010? I think it will. However, they need to start implementing early customers soon to make that a reality. Hopefully, Oracle will provide more details soon about the detailed functionality that will be delivered in version 1. Customers want and need this information to make informed decisions about their application strategy.
What do you think about Oracle Fusion Applications announcement?
I am not at Oracle OpenWorld this year, but have spent some quality time with Oracle leading up to the user conference. Now that the embargo is officially over, I thought I would give you my perspective (not necessarily the official Gartner perspective) on Oracle Fusion Applications by answering some of the questions I see floating around on Twitter and Blogs (and from inquiries). Gartner will publish a note soon that looks at Fusion Applications as a whole (and to which I am contributing)
Are Fusion HCM Applications Based on PeopleSoft?
No and yes. Oracle used the E-Business Suite (EBS) as a starting point for the main Fusion Applications with the exception of CRM (which used Siebel as the starting point). The main reason is that the EBS data model from an ERP perspective is more comprehensive. However, Oracle did not stop there. They added some of the best PeopleSoft features including Trees, Effective Dating (more complete than in EBS), and Set IDs (for those of you who have wanted to share job codes across business groups in EBS, you will appreciate this). They also took time to enhance capabilities from both systems. For example, in PeopleSoft 8.9, Oracle introduced the person model so that it would be easier to track the relationship an employer has with the employee over time (for example, I might start as a contractor, become an employee, move to part-time, and eventually become a contractors again). Fusion HCM will have an even more flexible person/employment model. In addition, Oracle has indicated that it will also support PeopleSoft "pillar" style adoption (which was not as easy to do in EBS or J.D. Edwards because of the integrated nature of those solutions).
Will the move to Fusion HCM Applications be a "simple" upgrade for PeopleSoft and EBS customers?
Even though Fusion HCM uses EBS as a starting point, it is a new application. The data model has been enhanced and new application logic developed using JDeveloper and Oracle Fusion Middleware (OFM). Oracle will certainly provide some data migration tools and they are leveraging the configurator technology developed for EBS to make it easier for business users to create and maintain configurations in Fusion HCM. However, customers should expect that they will need to revisit their business processes (potentially to take advantage of new capabilities), interfaces (it is a new data model), training (new user experience), and reporting (different information delivery capabilities embedded in the application). So, do not expect that it will be a "simple" upgrade (PeopleSoft customers should read "How to Determine Your PeopleSoft Next Steps" for more information - Gartner subscription required). Also, the functionality may or may not be equivalent in certain areas at a particular point in time. This leads to the next question.
How will Fusion HCM Applications compare to PeopleSoft and EBS?
I do not know. I know the planned breadth is to be a relatively comprehensive HCM solution including:
Workforce Deployment - HR, Global Payroll (based on EBS), and Workforce Lifecycle Manager (used for Onboarding and other process management needs)
Workforce Development - Profile Management (another carryover from PeopleSoft), Network at Work (Social Software features are included leveraging the WebCenter platform), Performance & Goal Management, and Talent Review
Workforce Rewards - Compensation Management, Incentive Management, and Benefits Management
There are also significant enhancements in terms of visualization and embedded analytics (somewhat similar to what is in PeopleSoft 9.1). What I do not know is the depth of functionality in most of the areas. I have seen a demo of some of the capabilities like compensation management, profile management, network at work, but I have not seen a comprehensive demo yet. Oracle has not deployed the solution to any early customers yet (though they have brought customers to Oracle to test various aspects of the solution). Oracle also has not provided any sort of roadmap that gives a view of feature comparability and timeframe (which is typical for Oracle).
Will I have to pay for Fusion HCM Applications if I am an existing Oracle Applications Unlimited customer?
In the discussions I have had with Oracle, they have indicated that they customers will be able to get "like for like". It gets a little more complicated in practice as there are many more PeopleSoft modules on the price list than EBS modules. Since we have not seen the price list yet for Fusion HCM applications, it is hard to know what will actually be "like for like". Also, since the PeopleSoft acquisition, Oracle has tried to reduce the number of modules offered (get all the product lines better aligned) so it also depends on when you bought as to what modules you own and what would be considered "like for like". That is a long way to say it is hard to know yet and may be different for different customers.
Should all of this matter to an existing Applications Unlimited customer?
Possibly, but probably not. One of the intriguing things that is possible with Fusion HCM is that the talent management applications (including some of the social software capabilities) could be used in conjunction with PeopleSoft and EBS applications (possibly in a SaaS model as Oracle has indicated that they are "SaaS ready"). This may be useful to some customers that plan to move to Fusion ultimately. However, most customers I speak with are concerned with their next upgrade for their existing product (or more concerned with more mundane issues - it was interesting to see this post this morning as I was writing this). Product planning is already happening for the next releases of PeopleSoft and EBS so Oracle does plan to have more releases of those solutions.
These are some questions I have heard. What else would like to know from Oracle about Fusion HCM Applications?
it is always a pleasure to attend the annual HR Technology Conference in Chicago (my home town). This is the first time in three years I have been able to attend the whole conference (it has conflicted with Gartner Symposium the last two years). Here are some quick impressions from the conference:
Interest in Talent Management is Still Very High -- Sessions focused on Talent Management (including my Ask the Expert session) were packed. Customers want to learn from the experiences from other customers. I had the opportunity to attend sessions from Connie Linardakis at Zions Bancorp, Mike Cairns at Aon, and Nick Schaffzin at MetLife. Connie and Mike discussed their respective talent management journeys (still a work in progress for both organizations). It is clear that for most organizations. It is a journey that may take many years to complete to encompass the full scope of talent management. Nick did a great presentation on workforce analytics. It was great to see a good sized crowd attend this presentation on the last day of the conference. In my view, workforce planning and analysis is the most important emerging area in HCM and Nick did a wonderful job describing the highs and lows of its journey as well as making the important connection between workforce analytics and talent management (workforce analytics should drive decisions around talent management interventions).
Differentiation in Talent Management Solutions is Difficult to Ascertain -- There are still functional differences in solutions out there (especially across the broad suite), but the messaging from vendors has become very similar. Feedback I received from attendees was that finding true innovation on the Expo floor was difficult. I think it exists, but much of it is coming from specialist vendors that offer innovative candidate sourcing, assessment, workforce planning and analysis (and other) solutions.
Twitter Has Changed the Conference Experience -- I have not been blogging as much because I have been spending more time using Twitter. Twitter has made the conference going experience much more collaborative. It makes it possible to follow sessions that you cannot attend. It also allows you to share your thoughts in real time with other attendees. This was forcefully demonstrated to me during the Recruiting technology Panel led by Gerry Crispin. Many of the HR bloggers such as Steve Boese, Kris Dunn, Lance Haun, and Laurie Ruettimann were also attending and tweeting during this panel. It was almost like having a conversation. The panel which included Michael McNeal from Intuit, Rodney Moses from Research in Motion (best known for the Blackberry), Libby Sartain formerly head of HR at Yahoo! and Southwest Airlines, and Frank Wittenhauer from Deloitte. One of the things that stood out to me in their discussion was the importance of workforce planning in being proactive candidate sourcing (vendors take note).
Thanks to Bill Kutik who is the driving force for setting the agenda for the conference and ensuring the high quality of presentations. Also, it was a pleasure to participate in the Industry Analyst Panel again. It was probably one of the best in terms of showing different points of view about where the HCM market is and where it is going.