The CFO guide to transforming finance with Oracle Cloud
Building your digital finance platform
Centrally hosted digital software licensed by subscription, accessible over the web. No in-house data center, operating system, or platform to maintain. The vendor manages the product, not IT. New capabilities delivered quarterly. This is the cloud model, and it gives Finance a whole new toolkit.
The digital finance toolkit
Cloud-based systems and digital software have fundamentally changed how finance technology is developed, delivered, and consumed. And Oracle has long been at the leading edge of this trend, investing $64 billion1 since 2004 in its flagship cloud product and making available nearly 400 new finance features2 in 2019 alone.
What you’re getting
With the right Oracle Cloud strategy, and combination of services, you can reap the benefits of an autonomous technology experience.
Tomorrow’s capabilities today
Regular readers of Deloitte’s Crunch time series may recall our 2018 predictions3 on Finance in the year 2025. Among other things, we envisioned core finance processes conducted with limited human intervention. Real-time information available on demand to anyone who needs it. Finance professionals focused primarily on discovering new insights, not gathering and scrubbing data. While we’re not there yet, this future is coming into view, and cloud technology can bring it closer to reality.
Here’s how Deloitte’s Finance 2025 predictions match up to Oracle Cloud’s capabilities.
Standardisation and simplification
In large part, Oracle Cloud’s secret sauce is its “vanilla mandate”—which means the underlying components of Oracle’s standard software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications can’t be modified. This is a big change from past practice. Historically, when you bought a database or application from Oracle you could do what you wanted with it. Your IT team could customise it to meet business requests. Database administrators would monitor system performance and make changes to keep things running smoothly.
Now, Oracle manages the technology for you. This takes responsibility off IT’s plate, so fewer in-house resources are needed to maintain your finance platform. But it also means the CFO, without significant consideration, can’t knock on the CIO’s door and ask her to build a unique capability. For that to happen, the CIO will need to work with Oracle to create it or leverage Oracle’s cloud-based platform-as-a-service (PaaS) capability to develop the new internal application. That’s the constraint. The upside is that it forces standardisation and simplification, making it easier to update software, enhance capabilities, and drive innovation quickly—without turning a desired change into a massive project.
Thinking about your business case
When considering a digital finance transformation, the first question many CFOs ask is, will I gain efficiencies and reduce cost? New technology can let you complement humans with machines, creating cost efficiencies. The “however” is, these gains can take some time to materialise. In fact, your costs may even increase slightly at first, as new roles and expertise are needed to run and optimise new processes. So if cost reduction is your main objective, you might be disappointed initially.
But let’s take a step back. The primary value Finance provides is generating the right information at the right time so business leaders can make good decisions. As you build your business case, consider how digital technology can help increase Finance’s value contribution. Here’s an example. A large retailer asked its finance team to project what would happen if the price of television sets were reduced in specific geographies. How would it affect sales and profit margins, after accounting for supply chain impacts, merchandise buying decisions, product placement, and other issues?
Before it modernised its finance organisation, the retailer would have simply marked down the T.V.s and then asked Finance to reactively report the results. Now, with smarter scenario planning, Finance was able to provide a range of expected outcomes that could mean a difference of tens of millions of dollars.
Ready for prime time?
Digitising and transforming your Finance organisation can be an agonising decision, with a lot at stake. But hundreds of companies have made the move already, and you can benefit from their experience. So let’s look at some issues and risks you’ll want to consider.
- Process support – Oracle’s cloud services cut across the three segments of Finance and can perform or support nearly all processes, except aspects of treasury. In addition, some data services (e.g., exchange rates and tax rates) and third-party services (e.g., EDI services and credit card services) will need to be integrated separately.
- Global requirements – Oracle Cloud can meet many regulatory, statutory, legal, and management reporting requirements in countries where global organisations operate—and new requirements are addressed as requests come in from Oracle’s large customer base. Nonetheless, you’ll need to determine if there are any gaps in your country-specific needs.
- Industry-specific use cases – While Oracle Cloud has integrated solutions for many sectors and businesses—and is designed to co-exist in application ecosystems—you’ll need to define your company’s industry-specific requirements and then work with Oracle to plan how these needs will be handled.
- Infrastructure sizing – Oracle’s underlying infrastructure is scalable, with processing power to handle volume surges during close cycles and other peak times. To take advantage of this flexibility, you’ll want to create a playbook that outlines performance needs, benchmarks, responsibilities, planning, and testing at each phase of implementation.
- Cyber risk – When you move your operations to the cloud, you’ll need to prepare for new third-party risks. Existing controls may no longer apply and will need to be refreshed. So defining which users have access to what information is paramount. You’ll also need to identify and take steps to protect your highest value data.
- Legacy technology risk – Companies in mature industries often have complex, highly customised legacy systems that have grown over the years. Keeping these legacy systems up and running while you assimilate them over time into your cloud architecture is a key component of implementation roadmap planning.
Moving to Oracle Cloud is transformational, but it’s not a transaction. The journey to optimise your processes and acquire new digital capabilities doesn’t end upon deployment.
Educate yourself on digitisation and what’s possible. Keep investing in ways to work efficiently and be a better business partner. Determine how Finance can learn more, produce more, and influence more.
Your competitors are doing the same.
1 Oracle Corporate Facts, 2019.
2 Cloud Readiness / Oracle Financials Cloud, What’s New, 2020
3 Deloitte Crunch time series, “Finance 2025: Our predictions,” 2018.