Dee Houchen (Oracle): cloud enables speed and innovation


How long do cloud ERP implementations take? Do they stay within budget? What are the risks? If you’re interested an answer to any of those questions, you simply cannot miss the CFO track of the Oracle Cloud Day on 24 November (8h30-14h00) at The Forum in Bryanston. In preparation for the event, CFO South Africa spoke exclusively to Dee Houchen, senior product marketing director Oracle for ERP Applications.

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"Through our cloud solutions we are enabling companies to design their back office efficiently and deliver innovation across the business," says Dee, who is UK-based and joined Oracle two years ago from a smaller competitor. She says her proudest achievement so far is contributing to Oracle's clarity and consistency of message. "Many competitors in the cloud space are focusing on cloud being a cost cutting solution. I think cloud also increases more importantly the speed companies can adapt to changes and the speed of innovation."

It is Dee's passion to engage with finance leaders, especially now they have developed into CFO 2.0. "The role of the CFO has changed a lot, especially in the last 5 years. CFOs need to show a leadership and strategic insight, when still being able to manage the ways costs are being controlled. When the business wants to look forward, all eyes are now on the CFO. Cloud gives him or her tools to drive better decision making throughout the business."

Although many CFOs still think about data storage or transferring smaller business functions online, the real big step for cloud is going to be ERP, something Oracle has been offering for the last 2 years - 1300 companies have migrated to date. "That is why we organise our Cloud Days," Dee explains.

"So far they have been very successful. The day in London had over 350 attendees in the finance tracks, for example. CFOs and other executives are still in the education mode. They want to learn what's new, but also hear from their peers."

One of the well-known benefits of cloud-solutions is of course that it prevents a company from having to go through an upgrade cycle with big expenses every 3 to 5 years. "In the last 6 months there has become more awareness around ERP in the cloud, 18 months ago that wasn't the case," says Dee. CFOs see the advantages, but there are still concerns around data protection, data residency and other risks.

"Oracle already has the world's best security feature set. But the challenge is that today customers have a choice to not turning them on. Oracle believes that security should be 'always on'. At OpenWorld we presented our cloud design goals, among them that security should be an always-on continuous defense against cyber attacks. We presented the new M7 chip that allows security features to be pushed right into the silicon, and with that we demonstrated the capability to deliver end-to-end encryption in data transfers between cloud and on-premise installations with virtually no impact on performance."

Dee says she is looking forward to get back to South Africa, which she previously visited for another employer. "There is a thirst for knowledge in South Africa," Dee has noticed. "People are interested and open. But they are also quite risk averse and want to see success before they jump."

So how long does it take to install a cloud ERP solution? "It depends what you implement, but the financials ERP can be installed in 12 to 16 weeks," Dee says. With onsite ERP systems, you can be looking at 18 months, now you can be using all the functionality within 5 months. There is, however an even better argument. An on premise solutions is the best on day one and then it starts to deteriorate, a cloud solution only keeps improving and updating."

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