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With Oracle's focus on cloud-based applications, Oracle Fusion Applications have a somewhat uncertain future. Some believe that cloud applications have taken the wind out of Fusion's sails. Others see the ability of Oracle Fusion Applications to coexist and integrate with the cloud as making it more relevant than ever. In this Q&A session, Alyssa Johnson, president of OAUG, one of the largest Oracle users' groups in the country, provides insight into the future of Oracle Fusion Applications
This is the second part of a two-part interview. To read the first part, click here.
What makes a business suited to Oracle Fusion Application ERP vs. a coexistence strategy?
Alyssa Johnson: If you have a company that already has an established ERP system that they've invested a lot in -- for instance, E-Business Suite or even PeopleSoft -- they're going to want more Fusion Applications in a coexistence strategy. Most typically, these companies are going to look at particular areas within Fusion Applications. One good example is the Fusion Accounting Hub, which provides a lot of capabilities in addition to your basic General Ledger. Companies can more easily implement this than the entire ERP. So, I think companies with established ERPs are going to look to using Fusion Applications in a coexistence strategy.
If I were consulting for a company that has never implemented an ERP, I would ask them whether Fusion Applications ERP makes sense for their business. In that scenario, you would consider the different ERP systems and see which one makes sense. Is it EBS? Is it PeopleSoft? Is it Fusion? But if you're starting from scratch and putting in a new ERP, the full implementation of Fusion Applications is something you definitely want to consider. If you already have an established ERP, you're going to want to look at a coexistence-type strategy.
What are the business drivers for using Oracle Fusion Applications with Oracle ERP systems?
Johnson: There are several areas where Fusion Applications are going to give your business benefit. The first one that comes to everyone's mind is the simplified user interface, because that's what the user is going to look and see every day. They've done a lot of studies at Oracle on usability. They put a lot of time and effort into designing the layout to be the most usable in terms of how you conduct business.
Another thing that they've really worked a lot on is the integrated social network. This is a differentiator from other ERP systems, because you have the opportunity to collaborate right within the application. If you need to send a note with some information down to the AP clerk, you can do that right in the application. There's more opportunity for team collaboration.
You also have embedded analytics, which gives you a lot of capabilities for getting the data that you need. You have the data in the database, but what you really need is to get it presented to you in a way that helps you make valid business decisions. A lot of times you do that through reporting and the business analytics that you have in the system. By having the embedded analytics, you don't have to go out to a different system to get the information.
Also, they take advantage of their mobile capabilities. Other Oracle applications are also beginning to see that mobile capability, but mobile was really envisioned to be part of the Fusion Applications solutions from the beginning.
With Fusion Applications, you can fully utilize Fusion Middleware. EBS also utilizes Fusion Middleware, but when you start out designing the software to take advantage of middleware capabilities that are there in Fusion, that gives you even more capabilities.
What are the major challenges for moving to Oracle Fusion Applications? What challenges does coexistence pose?
Johnson: Fusion Applications are a new technology, so it requires some skill sets that you might not have within your company. That's one of the reasons that SaaS is so attractive to some organizations.
With a coexistence strategy, you still have to have the ERP and Fusion Applications talk to each other. There are standard, out-of-the-box integration points between the ERP product and Fusion Applications for a coexistence strategy, but that's just one more piece that needs to be implemented. That's always a challenge and something that you have to take into account when you're planning out your project.
Is it common for companies not to have the talent to set up Fusion Applications?
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Johnson: Present employees should be able to handle Fusion Applications. But Fusion is a new capability. Say this is the first time that you've implemented a Fusion Application in coexistence. That piece would be new because the integration would be new.
Are companies not looking into Oracle Fusion Applications now?
Johnson: I think that companies could do a better job of considering Fusion Applications. There could be improvement in that area.
What is the push to improve visibility for Fusion Applications as part of the overall strategy for Oracle ERP systems?
Johnson: In Oracle's messaging, you are going to hear how customers should consider the Fusion Applications as an option. I think that's why they're saying with their cloud strategy that if you haven't considered fusion applications before, possibly this would make sense for you in the cloud. So, consider it at this point as a cloud option. It's all about providing options to the customer. They want to make sure customers do consider Fusion Applications as an option for their roadmap.