I recently had the opportunity to attend the Oracle HCM Analyst Summit in Redwood Shores. This was the largest analyst attendance ever for an Oracle HCM Cloud event and it is a proof point for Oracle momentum as well as the vendor’s investment in the HCM space. 

There was a lot of information, as usual at analyst summits, not easy to find the Top 3 takeaways, but here you go:

Oracle has the Essentials down now – For quite some time the Oracle HCM products had to focus to get the basics right – not just on the product side, but also on the go to market and services side. Apparently this is now addressed with Oracle HCM, which has doubled the number of Core HR customers and live Core HR customers. Global customers have passed 700+.

For the longest time the consensus in the analyst community was that Oracle HCM would mainly attract existing Oracle customers from the Install Base, but with over 50% of Cloud HCM customers being new to Oracle, that’s not the case either anymore. At the same time we have no account of Oracle HCM implementations going bad, which is quite a feat, given the growth numbers and the related training and scaling issues in the services of both Oracle and partners.

On the product side Oracle practices good housekeeping. For instance its Performance Management module was one of the older members of the Talent Management family and Oracle has recently undertaken user experience improvements and built a new mobile application. Oracle as well keeps adding depth to its products, e.g. the vendor has improved its Workforce Modelling capabilities, its Compensation functionality (e.g. Matrix Planning) and is improving Time and Labor usability. 
Oracle HCM Cloud Momentum
Differentiation Grows – And when you have the basics right, you have time to work on differentiation. A year ago Oracle had created the Competition functionality, and had all HCM World 2014 attendees count steps with Fitbits. What then was a ‘cute’ addition to the core HCM functionality has now grown into a sizeable group of differentiating applications that flank the traditional HCM applications. Oracle calls them the ‘Tools for the Digital Workforce’ and they are
  • My Reputation – A product that understands the social reputation and influence of employees.
  • My Wellness – A product that motivates employees to do the right thing for their health.
  • My Competitions – A product that can align and reward desired behavior with competitions.
  • Career Development – A product that balances employee ambitions and manager contributions to employee careers. 
  • Learning – A new Learning system (see launch here) that is built for the digital / social age. 
The combination of the above 5 products give Oracle the opportunity to have a different conversation with prospects than the competition and create value for existing Oracle HCM customers. If it is enough differentiation already will be seen by the live customers and references in a few quarters. More advanced products like My Reputation may face a healthy dose of skepticism in some organizations, but you have to build the product first to address them and then ideally overcome them.

On another differentiation track, Oracle has been adding more vertical capabilities to the HCM products, more prominently collective bargaining agreements and seniority management. Deeper industry functionality has been a differentiator for enterprise software since decades, but vendors can only build vertical functionality once the basics are right, that Oracle can deliver more vertical capabilities is an indication for the vendor having the basics right at this point.
Oracle HCM Release 10 Themes 
Some concerns remain – Despite the remarkable progress by Oracle in the HCM field there are a few concerns that remain – namely the following ones:
  • Oracle has done a lot of work on the UI side, and the scan, glance, commit paradigm is powerful, but needs some new clothes on some screens. UI innovation is in full out gallop, and new UI concepts show their age after 2-3 quarters, not after 2-3 years (as it was in the past).
  • Oracle HCM still operated in the bi-modal world of new Oracle HCM products and remaining Taleo functionality. And while the UI harmonization that Oracle has done goes to great length for combined users, our main concern is that Oracle may miss the recruiting revolution that is currently under way. 
  • The most fundamental and game changing functionality for enterprise software is (true) analytics (more here). And while Oracle talks a good reporting, visualization and recommendation engine story, it does have little true analytics offerings today. 
But then the Oracle HCM product team recently surprised us with a brand new Learning module, in a team of 2000+ developers you can also build functionality (e.g. addressing some of the above concerns or others) and surprise the analyst community once available. Surprise us once, shame on you, surprise us twice, shame on us. 


Overall great progress by Oracle in the HCM area. Despite the UI comments above, Oracle HCM users are probably enjoying the best Oracle HCM UI ever, with a remarkable consistency across user types, devices and form factors. Functionality is getting deeper and richer, and Oracle even has the resources to work on differentiating products. Go to market activities and services seem to be on track to keep up with the growth, so Oracle is in a good position to grow and gain market share in the very competitive HCM market. The balance between new functionality and good housekeeping will be key in the next release. We will be watching.