Collaborate 17: What’s in the Oracle Pipeline for EBS?

At our visit to Collaborate this year, the annual Oracle Applications Users Group and Quest Conference, we gathered great intel on what’s in the pipeline for Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) and PeopleSoft users. Collaborate17 demonstrated Oracle’s commitment to supporting past EBS and PeopleSoft versions, while also making it easier to step up to the Cloud and better analyze Big Data. With both platforms, however, gaps remain in easy reporting offerings. In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the developments we saw at Collaborate for EBS, while our next blog will explore PeopleSoft enhancements.

Releases – Past and Future, Powerful Data Apps

New releases of Oracle EBS were a hot topic at Collaborate. Oracle plans to release Version 12.2.7 at OpenWorld this October, with Version 12.3 possibly available toward the end of 2018. Version12.3 will focus on technical architecture and Java/middleware that support future incremental upgrades rather than requiring full installations.

In a session on EBS roadmap/strategy with several hundred attendees, 66 percent said they were still on Version 12.1, originally released in 2009. Another 33 percent were using Version 12.2, which Oracle plans to support until 2023 or longer. Version12.2.5 is the first release with the Oracle Fusion look and feel to help with transition to the Cloud, especially if you run hybrid solutions, as you shouldn’t notice if you are running EBS or modules in the Cloud.

On another front, Oracle is developing lots of new IoT and Big Data apps for next year. These apps receive data from numerous sensors that relay information and comments from social media. They consolidate the data and create predictions based on it that provide context rather than just simple data presentation.

Cloud Looms Large

Interestingly, this year’s Collaborate offered an entire section of sessions on moving Oracle EBS to the Cloud, whereas previous events had focused more on the Cloud SaaS model. Oracle is also working to alleviate concerns about data residency, control, and latency with its Cloud at Customer offering, which resides in the customer’s data center but is managed by Oracle.

If you want to move to the Cloud, Oracle advises you to contact them first to see how—or if—the platform could work for you. For example, you might start small, perhaps with a subsidiary, a Human Capital Management (HCM) migration, or a simple EBS environment in a multi-environment architecture. It also appears that Oracle now realizes customers with customizations or third-party integrations simply can’t move, so the push is now toward IaaS as a starting point for Cloud entry.

Oracle re-iterated lifetime support of EBS, but noted that new developments will first be for the Cloud and then backported into EBS. New modules like Revenue Recognition will be Cloud only, though, linking back into EBS as a hybrid model but accessible through EBS.

Oracle Cloud may have been a hot topic in the sessions, but many attendees we spoke with feel they’ve “heard it all” already. Our informal survey of 80-plus EBS customers showed more than 85 percent as having no plans for a Cloud move or uncertain/evaluating it.

Discoverer’s Departure and Reporting Options

There were multiple presentations on the demise of Oracle Business Intelligence Discoverer (Discoverer) and how to migrate to another reporting tool. In particular, the “Discoverer Conversion – Fact Versus Myth” session covered the costs and pitfalls of Discoverer migration options.

As to the migration options, Oracle still promotes Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) to EBS customers. However, implementation partners urge formulating a migration plan and a review of alternative reporting technologies, including BI Publisher. Our informal survey at Collaborate showed most (51 percent) who had already migrated off Discoverer were using either OBIEE or BI Publisher. Neither of these provide real-time integration with Excel, which 90 percent of our survey respondents found very or somewhat important.

In this day of modern cloud applications and software advances, it was surprising that a session dedicated to General Ledger FSG reporting was filled to capacity! Such was the case with the session, “Financial Statement Generator Tips and Tricks – An Integrated Approach with EBS and Report Manager,” with 60 enthusiastic attendees.

Of the vendors at Collaborate with alternative reporting solutions for Oracle, all indicated they could convert existing Discoverer reports to their tools, but often failed to mention that it’s done by a consultant instead of automated conversion. In addition to exploring Discoverer reporting alternatives, attendees at our booth were keen to hear about easier ways to load journal entries into Oracle as an alternative to webADI.

Overall, Collaborate17­­­­ demonstrated that Oracle has some helpful and forward-thinking enhancements in the pipeline for EBS and PeopleSoft users. The majority of these, however, don’t relate to providing real-time reporting options that let you easily come up to speed and execute reporting on your own.