In response to what it says is customer demand for “relentless” automation, Oracle is updating its Fusion Cloud ERP and EPM suite that add features designed to streamline the process of logging and tracking transactions, while offering enhanced, AI-based analytics meant to optimise business processes.
“Organisations at large are really looking to us to help them to improve the speed, the accuracy of the business processes, and really weeding out those mundane, really non-value add tasks as much as possible,” said Juergen Lindner, Oracle's senior vice president of SaaS marketing.
Enterprises often have thousands of unclassified procurement transactions that can skew data in the reporting process, and organising them manually takes time. Technology leaders are looking for ways to consolidate and analyse data in a manner that provides insights for better category planning, supplier relationships, contract governance and compliance. Gartner calls the trend "hyper-automation."
The worldwide market for technology that enables hyper-automation, which includes robotic process automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning, will reach US$596.6 billion in 2022, up from a projected US$532.4 billion in 2021, according to Gartner. The market research firm describes the concept of hyper-automation as an organisational approach to automate as many business processes as possible to draw out maximum value.
Machine learning speeds transaction processing
In an effort to meet this enterprise demand for faster processing and enhanced analytics, Oracle is offering a new component in its Fusion suite called Procurement Spend Classification, which uses machine learning to automatically categorise business transactions and provide deeper insights into spending patterns.
Oracle’s machine learning engine is first trained on anonymised data sets, but it learns more specific classification rules after it studies patterns of classification in a particular organisation once it is deployed, Lindner said.
The automated classification engine could be handy for enterprises as most categories presently require manual identification and tracking, said Constellation Research founder and principal analyst R Wang. “The usage of natural language processing (NLP) and automated ontologies could save massive amounts of time for enterprises,” Wang said.
Reporting tool aims at invoice accuracy
Enterprises often use suppliers that have different capabilities when it comes to generating digital invoices. According to a Gartner report, this variability inflates processing expenses, leads to inconsistent processes, and lowers straight-through processing rates. To tackle one aspect of this problem, Oracle launched a new reporting tool as part of its ERP suite called Intelligent Document Recognition (IDR), designed to increase the accuracy of invoice scanning.
IDR uses machine learning to scan and report transactions as part of the financial reporting process, and can be trained to read new invoice formats, Lindner said. IDR can identify inconsistencies, he said.
“Now, employees have the possibility to see the accuracy rate by supplier and each (invoice) attribute, helping them to uncover the opportunities where there's really room for improvement, like adjusting an image quality or the configuration of the invoice,” Lindner said.
The process increases the speed of the entire finance reporting process for enterprises, Lindner said.
Automated Journals target process efficiency
Another new feature, Oracle’s EPM Enterprise Journals, focuses on weeding out inefficiencies in the financial reporting process and can directly post journals -- which collect analyses of transactions and business events — from Oracle EPM to Oracle ERP or any other existing ERP system.
According to Lindner, this tool will help organisations that now have to manually move journals from their EPM applications to their ERP systems, which increases the risk of errors leading to faulty forecasts.
“It also provides a single place to manage and track journals, while pre-built templates and workflows streamline the journal entry process and further reduce the potential for errors,” Lindner said.
Analytics offer better insights across ERP stack
To deliver more insights across an enterprise’s resources, Oracle has also updated Fusion ERP Analytics, its cloud-native, machine learning-based software targeted at delivering advanced business insights after ingesting data from disparate enterprise divisions.
According to Oracle, the update includes new spend and procurement analytics built into the software's library. Fusion ERP Analytics will also support a new employee expenses subject area for analysing employee spend across company, cost center, expense types, expense categories, and associated dimensions.
Oracle Fusion ERP Analytics goes beyond the typical embedded offering as it includes an instance of the Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse, according to Constellation Research Vice President and Principal Analyst Doug Henschen.
“This warehouse is already set up with the data from the customer’s Fusion ERP instance, but it can also be expanded to include data from other Oracle Fusion applications -- CX and HCM, for example -- and from external applications, thereby supporting cross-domain analysis,” Henschen said.
Management tool spotlights performance trends
To deliver additional and better business insights based on financial and operational data, Oracle is also releasing a new module called Intelligent Performance Management (IPM) Insights.
“IPM analyses large amounts of financial and operational data to identify and highlight patterns, many of which may not be immediately apparent to humans, such as a tendency to over- or under-forecast key metrics every period. This enables finance professionals to spend less time chasing and analysing data, and more time acting on valuable insights and opportunities,” Lindner said.
According to Henschen, features such as IPM, which are mostly based on selected algorithms pre-built into the application behind the scenes, make it easier for data analysts, power users and business users alike to do sophisticated analyses without requiring coding or knowledge of data science.
For enhanced security, Oracle is also releasing an update to its ERP stack that lets enterprises determine how much access is given to different individuals while they are being onboarded, reducing the risk of security failures and compliance variations.
IDR, Procurement Spend Classification, the new ERP analytics, the EPM Journals and new security features were made available to existing customers in the last few weeks and will be available in Oracle's November quarterly update for the Fusion suite. IPM Insights will be generally available for all users in the quarterly update.