Earlier this month, several Performance Architects team members attended the Oracle Higher Education User Group (HEUG) Alliance 2014 Conference in Las Vegas.
We had a chance to sit in on a handful of the Product Advisory Groups (PAG) Community Sessions, including the Budgeting and Reporting & BI sessions. PAGs are charged with advocating to Oracle on behalf of the Higher Education community and with helping to facilitate product enhancements.
Budgeting PAG Community Session Discussion Outcomes
The “hot topics” at the Budgeting PAG meeting were no surprise, given the amount of press these have been getting lately.
The first topic was the launch of Oracle’s Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (PBCS) (Performance Architects was one of the few Oracle partners selected for the Oracle Preview Program, and if you’re interested in learning more, please send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org). This is an especially attractive option for institutions looking to get started with Hyperion Planning, but without committing to a full-scale, on-site implementation.
The second theme was related to the continued enhancements to Oracle’s Public Sector Planning and Budgeting (PSPB) solution, most commonly used for workforce planning (both position and employee planning). Many institutions involved with the Budgeting PAG have now successfully implemented PSPB, and many had “lessons learned” and best practices to share from their implementations (Performance Architects has successfully implemented PSPB; if you’re interested in networking with peers or in learning more about what works in this arena, or learning more from Performance Architects about how to avoid pitfalls, send us a note at email@example.com).
Reporting & BI PAG Community Session Discussion Outcomes
The Reporting & BI PAG community meeting was comprised of a mix of two main user communities:
- Those implementing or using Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) or Oracle Business Intelligence Applications (OBIA).
- Those working with legacy PeopleSoft products.
One hot topic on the OBIA front is the newly released Student Information Analytics (SIA) application. This is pre-built ETL, data warehouse, and OBI content specifically geared towards analyzing student data at Higher Education institutions. Several institutions of varying sizes are in the process of implementing SIA, and the PAG group held lively discussions about the implementation process as well as the potential for enhancements (Performance Architects is one of the few partners currently implementing this new product with our clients and we are happy to share our thoughts around what is working and what isn’t in the current solution set; if you’re interested, send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org). Another key theme of the Reporting & BI PAG community meeting was the concept of pushing embedded analytics within the institution, which is really about ensuring that analytical processes are part of everyday life at both the administrative and academic levels.
Oracle Roadmap Discussion Outcomes
Oracle also presented separate sessions on the Business Intelligence (BI) and Enterprise Performance Management (EPM or Hyperion) product roadmaps. Some of the key takeaways from those presentations include:
Oracle EPM (Hyperion) Roadmap Discussion Outcomes
- As we mentioned in the Budgeting PAG discussion summary, Oracle’s Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (PBCS) has launched. The next Oracle EPM (Hyperion) capability Oracle will offer in the cloud is Hyperion Financial Reporting.
- Optimizing existing BI and EPM implementations with engineered systems, such as Exalytics. Hyperion Financial Management (HFM) will soon be certified on the Exalytics platform. If you want to understand why this is important for the Higher Education market, check out our recent blog post entitled, “The Case for Financial Close and Consolidation Solutions in the Higher Education Market: Why Your Institution Should Evaluate Hyperion Financial Management (HFM).”
- Enhancing the mobile capabilities of the Hyperion solution set. Coming soon will be the ability to review Hyperion Financial Reporting, submit web form data to Hyperion Planning and Essbase, and manage the planning cycle workflow.
- The support for PeopleSoft EPM (not to be confused with the Oracle EPM or Hyperion product suite) is evolving and institutions will want to evaluate what to do in relation to their EPM environments as a result of these changes.
Oracle Business Intelligence (BI) Roadmap Discussion Outcomes
- “Oracle Financial Planning Analytics” is an upcoming OBI application that will integrate more tightly with the Hyperion toolset to provide pre-built OBI content for reporting on top of Hyperion’s Public Sector Planning and Budgeting (PSPB) module. This will include enhancements for reporting on commentary from Hyperion!
- A new version of the Oracle BI Mobile App Designer is coming soon. There will be two main apps in the iTunes and Android market: BI Mobile HD (for end users) and BI Mobile App Designer (for developers).
Other Discussions and Presentations Outcomes
In addition to the community sessions and Oracle roadmaps, we were pleased to see that the topic of unstructured and semi-structured data has also finally made its way onto the agenda at this conference. A number of institutions mentioned that they are adopting the Hadoop framework, mostly in pilot projects, to explore topics like learning management system (LMS) behavior, student chat feedback, and student portal log mining. Other institutions are using Oracle Endeca Information Discovery (OEID) to perform data exploration on student success and grants productivity; one institution was able to get an application up and running in a matter of weeks with little vendor support!
Finally, we really enjoyed the discussion and debate at the two Performance Architects presentations at the conference. Our first presentation was with client Harvard University and was entitled, “Exalytics: Adding Value to the Harvard University Budget System,” where we talked about the 2x-6x performance gains Harvard has seen in their Hyperion Planning environment by implementing Exalytics. Our second presentation with client The University of Chicago, “Integrated Strategic and Operational Planning at The University of Chicago,” was a review of the budgeting and forecasting process and solution transformation (using the Oracle EPM or Hyperion suite of tools) at the institution.
If you missed either or both of these presentations and want to learn more, we are hosting live webinars on both topics; the Harvard Exalytics webinar will be held on March 26th at 3 PM EST and The University of Chicago webinar will be held on April 14th at 3:30 PM EST. The Alliance presentations, as well as the webinar decks and recordings, are also posted on the Performance Architects Learning Center, a free community and forum that provides access to functional, technical and industry-specific “How To” sessions, webinars, and white papers developed during our many years of experience working with organizations with similar interests and needs; sign up here to access this information.
Authors: Michael Bender, Jonathan Etkin, and Kirby Lunger