Last month the Oracle Applications Users Group, Northwest Oracle Users Group and other Oracle user groups hosted Connection Point, a two-day conference in Seattle focusing on Oracle Hyperion and business intelligence tools. Here is a rundown of the show.
Oracle business intelligence (BI) and enterprise performance management (EPM) took center stage at this year’s Connection Point, with topics like Oracle’s further integration of Hyperion into its BI suite.
Hari Sankar, Oracle vice president of Hyperion EPM applications, said there are continued efforts to improve and increase interactions between Oracle EPM applications and tools. This is good news. As Oracle brings the Oracle Hyperion products together with its BI suite, we will begin to see benefits from reuse. One improvement might be streamlined security processes – if users maintain one set of models and code instead of two, IT staff can focus efforts elsewhere.
Another example is the migration of Hyperion Financial Management (HFM) and Planning onto the Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF). Sankar also noted how the use of EPM is expanding from finance into other areas of the enterprise.
Speaking on Oracle EPM 126.96.36.199, Sankar summarized expected improvements in Oracle EPM 188.8.131.52, which is expected to come out in the next year:
- Fusion Applications will integrate with Oracle EPM.
- Planning and HFM will have a “revamped user experience” as it now will leverage Oracle’s ADF.
- HFM-Configurable (Additional) Dimensionality (a very welcome addition).
- HFM and Hyperion Financial Close Management (HFC) analytics will use Oracle BI Enterprise Edition.
- Extending Hyperion Profitability Cost Management to allow allocation to micro-objects.
- A prebuilt project planning module will be available.
- Integration of some predictive capabilities from Crystal Ball will be included in Planning.
- Additional offerings and changes to existing components include Long-term Strategic Finance, Workforce Planning and Capital Assets Planning.
- Better Microsoft Office integration in Planning.
Improving Oracle data visualization
A keynote speech and breakout session focused on efforts to improve data visualization in reports. The discussions were based on the writings of authors such as Edward R. Tufte, Stephen Few and Colin Ware, whose books discuss ways in which users consume information and improve on it.
The discussion highlighted problems businesses see in their reports. Many are cluttered with unnecessary and meaningless graphics in an effort to be flashy and often fail to convey the intended message. For example, varying the size of dots is usually ineffective because it’s hard for most people to see the difference..
Most important, this effort looks like it’s having an effect on Oracle’s reporting software. Oracle’s changes to Oracle BI Suite Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) seem to follow this school of thought,, with reduced space for borders and taskbars. In addition, OBIEE reporting objects seem to use a lower ink-to-space ratio, making them appear cleaner and more targeted toward getting the right information to the user.
Oracle BI data on mobile devices
Tobin Gilman, Oracle vice president of BI and EPM product marketing discussed the trend toward accessing and manipulating data on mobile devices, the use of social media and an increase in BI in operations. Gilman referenced a Gartner report that expects 33% of all BI functionality to be consumed on mobile devices by 2013. In turn, Oracle has enabled both the iPhone and iPad on its latest BI platform. Many platforms now support various social media tools such as RSS and social networks.
Operational systems are also seeing increased use of BI. As it has become more widely used within finance, the need for expanding BI capabilities across operational systems is growing. Oracle continues to expand its offerings, which reach back into operational systems such as SAP, J.D. Edwards, and others to retrieve detailed data.
OAUG has done an excellent job of providing a forum for a regionally based and customer focused subset of Collaborate, OpenWorld, and Kaleidoscope for a lower price and smaller time commitment. The group has continued its tradition of bringing in key Oracle speakers on a range of relevant topics. It is important, though, for the local customer base to provide feedback and suggestions for future conferences.
During a discussion near the close of the session, several suggestions were made, including whether OAUG might provide more opportunities for product demonstrations during sessions. This is valuable insight the organizers should leverage to organize sessions that meet the needs of attendees.