My Ascend 2022 Review - Peter Care

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 What is Ascend?

Ascend is the second annual conference run by the OATUG (Oracle Applications and Technology User Group) and OHUG (Oracle HCM User Group), held this year at the Aria in Las Vegas.

The main Oracle user group conference for years was Collaborate, we had exhibited at these great conferences since Denver in 2013. Collaborate was the conference for the OAUG, Quest and IOUG user groups, but since the pandemic there has been a re-grouping, at least for conferences. Quest had their conference, Blueprint 4D, also in Las Vegas, the week before Ascend.

From a purely selfish point of view, we much preferred a joint OATUG/Quest conference, as our client base runs Oracle E-Business Suite (OATUG), JD Edwards (Quest), Peoplesoft (Quest) and Oracle ERP Cloud (both). Particularly for users of Oracle Fusion Cloud Apps, it seems a shame that education and opportunities to mix with other users are now split across two conferences, but I'm sure there are good reasons behind it. We met some who had attended both conferences, spending two weeks in Vegas, but that wasn't for us this year.

Exhibition Hall

Overall in-person attendance was around 1,000 people, which feels like a good return after the pandemic. The exhibition hall is where we live for most of the conference, so it was fantastic to see some many folks exploring the offerings from Oracle Partners.

Most booths were the pre-built variety this year, which removes a little individuality perhaps, but that is more than compensated by the professional look and especially the spacing and layout. The hall felt more open and hopefully easier to spot the logos and booth numbers you are looking for.

We met with a good number of clients, some who have been using FXLoader for many years, up to others who have been using the product for a few months. And of course we spoke with folks who had never heard of FXLoader, some of whom will no doubt take advantage of our trial to load FX rates into their ERP.

One of the great pleasures is to catch up with partners and consultants on an ad-hoc basis, find out what they are working on; the kind of thing we would never learn without the chance to meet in person.

Overall, there was a good mix of exhibitors. My feeling was there were more partners offering products and maybe fewer of the pure system implementers/consultancies than I remember at Collaborate. For example, only PwC from the big four were exhibiting. There were an increased number of offerings in the test automation space, especially popular for the quarterly testing regime needed with Fusion.

It was certainly good to see so many booths, including long term friends at Innovate Tax, Config Snapshot, Celantra Systems, Enginatics, APRO, IT Convergence and Inspirage.

Cliff Godwin, Oracle - EBS Strategy

Education Sessions

Most sessions were being streamed as well as in-person. That's a good innovation continuing from last year. I haven't spoken to anyone who attended virtually, so I wonder what the experience was like, versus just watching the recording later,

Oracle veteran Hans Kolbe of Celantra Systems, chair of the OATUG Multi-National SIG, has published his insights in to the conference. A few of these that resonated are:

"It was great to be in person, but …. we need to take advantage of it. > Stop doing front-stage lectures unless there are more than 50 people in the room, organize questions, dialogue, and direct engagement."

"It seems that the OATUG conference is the only conference focused on EBS. Oracle's Cloud World will have no EBS information and not EBS team members. > let's promote the OATUG especially as 65% of all Oracle Users seem to be on EBS."

"Cloud user questions still seem to be quite "generic" (e.g. whether and how to migrate) versus EBS questions very specific (how to configure internal sales orders …)"

The last point was contradicted by one of our clients attending, who was looking for answers to some very specific questions on Oracle ERP Cloud in a multi-ledger setup. It's a shame there was no session for the Multi-National SIG, as that would've been the perfect forum for those questions, and, being run by Hans, always conforms to his first comment of 'direct engagement'.

We weren't able to attend a huge number of sessions, here are those the team managed to attend:

Cloud ERP SIG – Successful Cloud Migrations and Journeys

Run by Ravi Prabhu from Broadridge with an impressive panel of experts:

Brian Pellegrin, Bill Dunham (OATC), Gusavo Gonzalez (IT Convergence), Jeff Hare (ERP Risk Advisors) 

A couple of take-aways:

  • Oracle Support – need to rely on them much more than with EBS, so understand how they work.
  • Oracle ERP Cloud regular patching and upgrades need a test package to prove everything has passed, especially under SOC compliance. Process – look at changes, plan in advance, test in 7/8 working days as only get 2 weeks.
  • Create 100% custom roles rather than using any seeded roles, especially under SOC compliance
  • Customisation guidelines – how to push back against users who are used to getting things working their way – just say No?

Why is Oracle's Native Tax Engine is so under utilized? – Kyron Smith, Innovate Tax

Tax engines are common – examples are Onesource, Avalara, Sovos, Vertex – ~80% Fortune500 clients use these, which all have their own 3rd party reports & tools for tax

Advice is to use what is available in Oracle for Tax before customising anything

Under utilized because it's so complex due to the flexibility offered – third party vendors with tax solutions help overcome th

Cloud ERP SIG – Successful Cloud Migrations and Journeys

Run by Ravi Prabhu from Broadridge with an impressive panel of experts:

Brian Pellegrin, Bill Dunham (OATC), Gusavo Gonzalez (IT Convergence), Jeff Hare (ERP Risk Advisors)

A couple of take-aways:

  • Oracle Support – need to rely on them much more than with EBS, so understand how they work.
  • Oracle ERP Cloud regular patching and upgrades need a test package to prove everything has passed, especially under SOC compliance. Process – look at changes, plan in advance, test in 7/8 working days as only get 2 weeks.
  • Create 100% custom roles rather than using any seeded roles, especially under SOC compliance
  • Customisation guidelines – how to push back against users who are used to getting things working their way – just say No?

10 tips on choosing the best Oracle analytics strategy- Gustavo Gonzalez, IT Convergence

EPM

  • Can transact, create own reports etc.
  • EPM is the evolution of Hyperion

EPM On-Premise vs Cloud

  • Hardware: Cloud EPM eliminates the need for large, upfront hardware costs, and this can lower TCO over the course of several years
  • IT Charges: It's not uncommon for IT service costs related to the maintenance and upgrade of hardware and applications to be charged back to finance.
  • Upgrades: The costs associated with upgrades can be substantial and include implementation consultants and hardware refreshes

OTBI (Oracle Transactional Business Intelligence)

  • Provides real-time insight into SaaS Module business processes
  • OTBI organizes 9000+ reportable data objects into functional subject areas that business users can easily relate to
  • Users can simply drag and drop data from functional subject areas and use different graphical views to interactively explore or visualize the data
  • Reports are executed real time against the transactional database scheme with user data security applied.

Enterprise structures in ERP – Hans Kolbe, Seamus Moran, Doug Volz

View the structures from the point of view of Financials, SCM and Projects vs EBS from a set of real experts

Consider operational structure vs enterprise structure

Legal Entity is more developed than it was in EBS

BU (Business Unit) is the replacement for OU (Operating Unit), but it came from Peoplesoft so is softer. It still defines the Ledger but things are not locked into it

Procurement BU is free floating so can provide procurement services to other BUs and reference data can be shared

Chart of Accounts – familiar thick vs thin decisions

Costing – structure has changed a lot, can have different cost methods within a ledger 

Five MUSTs for Every APEX Applications – Monty Latiolais from Insum

1 Theme Switching – Allow dark mode etc, can define when set up page

2 Feedback – Can add a feedback page on create app or can create the page after – get icon to click and comment

3 In app help – Item, page, app level, can edit in bulk under Utilities

4 Error handling – Insum error handling package, can set up friendly messages without lots of validations

5 Data auditing – Oracle DB flashback data archive FDA – query past data and metadata of history.

I was hoping to co-present with the SVP of Finance one of our clients on their use of Financials and Projects Cloud for their global outsourcing business. However, he couldn't make it due to a last-minute trip to the Philippines. So I covered it on his behalf and dived into some detail on multi-currency best practices. Please get in touch if you'd like a copy.

There were also a few sessions/meetups on career development, including a Young Leaders session that Larry from the FXLoader team attended and found useful – an interesting addition to the Oracle educational content.

Overall

It was good to see so many people; we are big fans and supporters of the Oracle user groups. These groups and the in-person conferences provide something you can't get elsewhere. This is especially true for E-Business Suite users as Oracle Cloud World will focus on Fusion Cloud Apps and cloud technology.

See you at the next major conferences

Oracle Cloud World – October 17–20, 2022 in Las Vegas

Ascend 2023 – June 11-14, 2023 in Orlando 

Blog Posted with permission by Peter Care (FX Loader) - Original Post at https://fxloader.com/ascend-2022-review/ 

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Tuesday, 16 August 2022