Oracle’s Versionless Future
The latest version of Oracle’s end-to-end retail suite, Oracle Retail 16, was unveiled in December 2016. At the solution provider’s widely attended Oracle Industry Connect event, March 20-22, it was announced that upcoming versions of the cloud-version of the software will no longer bear a version number, but rather will be updated on a twice annual basis.
Oracle Industry Connect 2017 marked the largest turnout of retailers at the event to date with representatives from more than 240 retailers and 106 brands making the pilgrimage to Orlando to network, hear the latest Oracle developments, and benefit from the packed educational agenda that featured 36 retail speakers.
A major theme of the event was the meteoric rise in the popularity of Oracle’s cloud offering.
As more and more customers ditch their on premise solutions for cloud-based services, Oracle is following suit devoting 90% of its future investment on cloud innovation. There is a mass migration of retailers to the cloud and Oracle’s investment in the vital capability is helping the 40-year-old software powerhouse attract tech-savvy, mid-market retailers that would otherwise be unable to adopt Oracle technology.
“The movement to SaaS has been really fast,” said CEO Mark Hurd. “60% to 65% of SaaS customers are net new to Oracle. We would never of had that kind of lift in the old world. We are attracting mid-market, hot companies that wouldn’t have the infrastructure for an on premise solution.”
During the opening keynote Jeff Warren, VP, retail strategy and solutions management, Oracle laid out the vision for not only v16 but Oracle’s approach to future innovation. The strategy is three tiered: anticipate demand, simplify operations, and inspire consumers and employees to engage with the brand.
Following his time on the main stage Warren agreed to sit down with RIS for an exclusive interview to discuss the latest bells and whistles of v16 and Oracle’s plans for future incarnations of the solution. Below are some of the highlights of our conversation.
RIS News: Tell us about some of the most exciting enhancements to Oracle Retail 16?
Warren: Version 16 is Oracle’s most significant release in the past decade. We worked with over 200 different retailers for the release and devoted over 100,000 days to R&D. We made a substantial leap forward with the merchandising suite. We started the project a few years ago. Version 16 has a new interface, and in certain processes can help reduce 60% to 70% of the labor out of certain merchandising processes.
How were you able to achieve this?
We put cameras behind buyers and watched how they worked. We found the traditional way retailers work was very inefficient. The recurring theme was the buyer was searching for work and info to make the right decision. What we did was rewrite the system so every process is a persona or role and starts with analytics on the front end. Every process should start with analytics and BI and end with analytics and BI.
We went out and worked with 50 leading retailers. What we found is they still struggle with merchandising best practices. We have a POV of what you need to do today. We can tell them if they do this or that it will have this effect on the business.
What has been the early response to the new capabilities?
It has been extremely successful. Retailers are paying buyers $150,000 a year to do low value tasks. They need more of their time freed up to do high value tasks. Since December approximately 10% to 15% of our install base has inquired about updating to 16.
With version 16 out in the market what are the plans for the next version of Oracle Retail?
From a cloud perspective it is going to speed up. We will do SaaS updates twice yearly. As you start to make the change from on premise to the cloud the version number doesn’t matter. Version 16 will be the last major version release. From an Oracle Retail perspective the versions don’t matter. There will be a version 17 and 18 for the cloud, but they will be internal numbers. Continued on premise releases will have version numbers.
The challenge we have is unique to us. We support every retail process from top to bottom ― no one has that broad of a portfolio. Twice yearly updates are a time to make sure things are constantly working. We are getting away from the days when an integration test was an event or a date. Today we call that day Tuesday or Wednesday. It is all integrated. When you deliver a new feature or function it will work because Oracle has gone out and bought every layer of the cake as part of our cloud strategy.