We had the opportunity to attend the Oracle HCM analyst session that was held before the official start of Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco. Together with almost two handful of analyst colleagues we got a great insight into where Oracle HCM is and what will be announced at OpenWorld.

A lot of information – but here are my Top 3 takeaways

  • Oracle makes UI progress - We got a preview of the next generation user interface that Oracle is using first for Benefits and Performance Management. The new user interface uses more visual approaches to e.g. work through a performance review, using a lot of drag and drop. It looks clean and easy to use and with the graphical elements, I almost had a Sonar6 deja-vu. The new UI will certainly help more visual thinking managers, if it will make performance review fun – remains to be seen. But it’s good to see that Oracle keeps innovating on the UI front, while being aware of the transition customers need to go through when changing basic UI mechanics. 


New Performance Management UI
  • Good Housekeeping on Unification - We spend a longer session on a theme Oracle calls ‘unification’ – what is really meant by it is to bring the different Oracle products – both in house developed and acquired - on a common platform, integration layer and user interface. Kudos to Oracle for both sharing accomplishments of this major undertaking and the next steps for this project.

    What became clear in the conversation was that Oracle is well underway and achieving unification of its Recruiting and Learning Cloud to the overall HCM Cloud. Customer Benefits include a common user interface, common data model, and the ability to leverage processes never before available in a common platform. For example, organizations will now be able to have a common competency framework across all processes, build succession plans with both external and internal talent, link learning opportunities to career plans, and have a holistic view of their workforce.

    Behind the scenes Oracle is retaining the over 12 years of intellectual capital acquired from Taleo, and instead of starting from “scratch” is leveraging this by unifying the product with the overall Oracle HCM Cloud.

    We are excited to see future traction in this endeavor during the next HCM World event early in 2015. This will be a highly welcomed step for customers so they can align their roll out plans and purchasing decisions. 


The HCM Unification Roadmap 
  • PaaS comes to HCM - Oracle shared how it will bring the new Oracle PaaS (Platform as a Service) capabilities (more to be announced later at OpenWorld, probably by Larry Ellison in his keynote later on Sunday) - will help to change its Oracle HCM product. Already today Oracle HCM has a number of extension options - all the way to a single user level. Now Oracle brings its stand-alone PaaS offering to the HCM community. As a marketplace for HCM exists already, this will not only give customers a chance to find deeper ways of configuring and extending the Oracle HCM apps, but also partners to build complimentary offerings on the same platform. We will need to spend some more time at OpenWorld to understand these new PaaS capabilities and assess its opportunity for HCM. 


Oracle's HCM + PaaS view with a capital 'P'


  • Customer traction - Oracle shared significant customer traction for Oracle HCM, for instance the number of HR core customers has doubled, as well as the number of live HR core customers. Kudos to Oracle to be frank that they had to scramble with customer references and session in 2013, this year Oracle was able to pick and choose the more interesting customers for 1 to 1 meetings and presentations. Looking forward to my scheduled meetings.
  • Vertical plans - Oracle shared its vertical capabilities and plans for Healthcare and Higher Education, and both are comprehensive. But we will have to dig a little deeper on how Oracle will move existing and expanding new functionality giving the new PaaS announcements. Always hard to build vertical functionality when the platform evolves.
  • Roadmap - Kudos to Oracle to share again their roadmap for current release +2 and further along roadmap - a key information for customers and partners to plan their Oracle HCM rollouts. 



A very helpful event, giving analysts insights before the main Oracle OpenWorld event – remarkably without any NDA flags. Oracle is making good progress on its vast HCM automation portfolio – it is good to see that there is more customer uptake in 2014, but much more of that has to come. Likewise Oracle has improved its partner enablement and fine-tuned some of the deliverables in this area. Enhancements in UI and good housekeeping are always welcome and a good sign for customers and prospects. It is also key to see that Oracle is looking into building new and more recruiting capabilities that are key for enterprises in the next 5-10 years, especially given the retirement scenarios in much of the first world. 

Bringing the overall Oracle PaaS to allow work with business applications like HCM is a very powerful concept, but many things could go wrong here - from being to complex to use, slippage into upgrade intrusive customizations, performance issues and more. All issues Oracle is aware of so we need to see how the PaaS for HCM direction will materialize in the next quarters. 
Our concerns remain around Oracle getting the go to market right and getting enough mind share to grow significantly enough vis-a-vis its key competitors SAP and Workday. Oracle is getting better at breaking out numbers for its different cloud platform, a sign that the vendor is having traction – but customers should always make sure they clearly understand which platform Oracle talks about.