I’m speaking at Collaborate 17 in Las Vegas

This year will be my sixth year at Collaborate, according to my recollection I first presented there in 2011 and have only missed one year (2013) since then.  It’s going to be a shorter visit than usual, so apologies if I don’t get to connect with you or attend your session.  Here is where you can find me…

Monday

Two of the most knowledgeable speakers you will see are speaking at the same time, there should be a law against it.  I might shuttle between the two, because I don’t want to miss either presentations

2:45 PM– Jasmine H – Mohan Iyer

How do I know where to use – FAH, FAHRCS or SLA?

2: 45 – South Seas I – Thomas Simkiss

Tips and Tricks – Get the most out of Financial Reporting in the Oracle Cloud

4:15 Jasmine H – General Ledger SIG – Always a good knowledgeable crowd.

Tuesday

7am – Morning run

Join myself, Peter Care (@FXLoader) and hopefully quite a few others for as many laps of the Mandalay bay pool complex as you feel up to.  This is now officially an annual tradition, we ought to get OAUG to put it in the agenda.  Best way to blow away the cobwebs and energize yourself for the day ahead.

8:30am – Keynote –  Glenn Finch, IBM

I have been quietly spending a lot of time around blockchain for some time now, so this got my attention.  If you don’t know about blockchain you should, I’m happy to talk about it at any opportunity.  This excerpt from the description should give you an idea how big it really can be

emerging technologies such as Blockchain, Cognitive and Quantum Computing will do more than change our businesses. They will transform industries and create their own ecosystems

Expect to hear more from me about blockchain as the year goes on.

1:30pm – I’m speaking about @FAHRCS

Come see my session – 1:30 PM–2:30 PM South Seas G

How E-Business Suite Customers have achieved modern reporting in the cloud

2:15pm – Fintech Design Jam

I’m a mentor for this two hour Design Jam run by the Applications UX Innovation Events team.  If you have not registered not sure if there is time now, but if you already are I will see you there.  Our goal is to help the teams tell a story about how they would use Fintech in their work, helping them hone in on a manageable 3 minute story showcasing their design.

5pm – airport… (and breathe).

 

Is Your Job At Risk Of Automation?

Last week I blogged about Automated Accountants, which was discussing chatbot use cases rather than full automation of a person. However the concept of automating what knowledge workers do today to the point were we really do have a fully automated accountant is something I have been researching too.

I had a twitter discussion with Vinnie Mirchandani (@dealarchitect) about automation as he is authoring a book on the subject.  I agree with him that dirty and dangerous jobs are the first candidates for automation, but I also believe knowledge jobs are good candidates too and it will happen faster than many expect.  In the world of finance we have seen continual adoption of technology to move us from paper based Ledgers to highly automated cloud accounting software with integrated reporting, social networks, mobile etc. I think the pace of change will accelerate because new technology is now so easy to adopt in the cloud and innovations are rolled out faster than ever before.  So automation will happen quicker for those corporations that are already adopting these cloud based business applications.

I came across an interesting article on the BBC entitled Will a Robot Take My Job? which has some nice tools to let you search for your job and determine how likely it is to be automated and despite my earlier assertions I was surprised that accounting professions were so high on the list of those that would be automated.  You can see my summary graphic below

automation

The full report from Oxford University’s Martin School is worth a read as it goes into a lot of detail of skills that are hard for a machine to replicate and those that are easier so you can understand the reasoning behind the ratings.  My profession in software development has a pretty low chance of being automated, I have to come up with original ideas and negotiate and these are things it is harder (at the moment) for machines to automate but it might just be a matter of time.

This will not happen in one shot, but over time more and more tasks will be automated, which is good because it will give is some time to think about the much bigger issue; what do we do now so much of what we as a workforce do is automated?  The common wisdom is the workers will gradually move to work on higher value tasks that cannot easily be automated and drive greater and greater value.  There is a lot of evidence to support this, but that discussion probably deserves a blog post of it’s own.

Automated Accountants: Personal Assistant Technology

robot-accountantIn my house, Alexa (aka Amazon Echo) is part of the family.  My young children check the weather whilst eating their breakfast, see how their favorite sports teams are doing, get some jokes, movie times and anything that pops into their head they will just “Ask Alexa”.  They also have a lot of fun seeing how Apple’s Siri and Alexa answer the same questions and which works better for what.  Observing these interactions and interacting myself has been a very good hands on research exercise and I have been thinking for a while of enterprise applications.

We can use personal assistant technology bots to use context and intelligence to provide a natural interface and increase participation in our cloud applications.We can increase participation on two groups of users

  • Casual Users
    • They have infrequent and limited interactions with the applications and do not have the time, or the training and familiarity with the capabilities to participate effectively.  They don’t know what information they can get, never mind how to get it.
  • Power Users
    • For these users it is about reducing the time it takes to do highly repetitive or UI intensive tasks.  This is like me at home getting sports scores or weather from Amazon Echo, I could easily look it up on my phone but it is easier to just say “Alexa, weather” whilst I am pouring my coffee.

I put together a team to enter a hackothon by our UX innovation team last month and we tried to focus on the former use case.  A high level manager who is very busy, runs a team of 50-100 people and manages to budgets but does not have a secretary.  We imagined her wanting to know details of budgets and implemented three flows

  1. Inquiry on remaining budget
  2. Details of who spent a budget on what
  3. Transfer funds from one budget to another (say from travel to computer hardware)

We spent a lot of time trying to make the interactions as natural as possible, so getting the natural language trained correctly was key and we also wanted to use Amazon Echo, IM and SMS messages to interact with the live data in an ERP Cloud environment.

It was a great experience and we learned a lot technically. but probably more of a revelation was the different design strategy for these types of interaction.  The other teams also did some amazing things(read the event review here) so we were pleased to pick up third place overall and the People’s Choice Award (voted on by all the participants).

I fully expect Automated Personal Assistants to be a key interaction model for Enterprise applications going forward, just as we are seeing them start to take off in the consumer space.   Exciting times.

The Times They Are A Changing

I am focusing on some new things here at Oracle.  I’ll be dedicating a lot more of my time looking into emerging technology trends and how we should be applying them to the enterprise ERP or financial management space.

So how does this effect this blog?

I’ve been blogging for many years on Intercompany, Financial Management and ERP, mixing in some general technology posts.  Now I plan to start writing about new technology trends a lot more.  I have always been interested in this, but now I have more time to get deeper into it and I find blogging about things helps me understand them better and get feedback and insight from others, so it is a win-win.  I have enjoyed all the comments on the blog and words of encouragement that people have given me in person, that has been a huge motivation to continue writing (even tho I have been posting as frequently as I would like the last few years) and respond to comments.  I hope that feedback will continue.

So now I have got this announcement out of the way, I can get started… watch this space.