2 SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition

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SaaS Oracle Edition

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SaaS For Dummies®, Oracle Edition Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd The Atrium Southern Gate Chichester West Sussex PO19 8SQ England For details on how to create a custom For Dummies book for your business or organisation, contact [email protected] For information about licensing the For Dummies brand for products or services, contact [email protected] Visit our Home Page on www.customdummies.com Copyright © 2015 by John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester, West Sussex, England All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise, except under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 or under the terms of a licence issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd, 90 Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 4LP, UK, without the permission in writing of the Publisher. Requests to the Publisher for permission should be addressed to the Permissions Department, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, The Atrium, Southern Gate, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 8SQ, England, or emailed to [email protected] wiley.com, or faxed to (44) 1243 770620. Trademarks: Wiley, the Wiley Publishing logo, For Dummies, the Dummies Man logo, A Reference for the Rest of Us!, The Dummies Way, Dummies Daily, The Fun and Easy Way, Dummies.com and related trade dress are trademarks or registered trademarks of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the United States and other countries, and may not be used without written permission. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Wiley Publishing, Inc., is not associated with any product or vendor mentioned in this book. LIMIT OF LIABILITY/DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTY: THE PUBLISHER, THE AUTHOR, AND ANYONE ELSE INVOLVED IN PREPARING THIS WORK MAKE NO REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES WITH RESPECT TO THE ACCURACY OR COMPLETENESS OF THE CONTENTS OF THIS WORK AND SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIM ALL WARRANTIES, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION WARRANTIES OF FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. NO WARRANTY MAY BE CREATED OR EXTENDED BY SALES OR PROMOTIONAL MATERIALS. THE ADVICE AND STRATEGIES CONTAINED HEREIN MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR EVERY SITUATION. THIS WORK IS SOLD WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT THE PUBLISHER IS NOT ENGAGED IN RENDERING LEGAL, ACCOUNTING, OR OTHER PROFESSIONAL SERVICES. IF PROFESSIONAL ASSISTANCE IS REQUIRED, THE SERVICES OF A COMPETENT PROFESSIONAL PERSON SHOULD BE SOUGHT. NEITHER THE PUBLISHER NOR THE AUTHOR SHALL BE LIABLE FOR DAMAGES ARISING HEREFROM. THE FACT THAT AN ORGANIZATION OR WEBSITE IS REFERRED TO IN THIS WORK AS A CITATION AND/OR A POTENTIAL SOURCE OF FURTHER INFORMATION DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE AUTHOR OR THE PUBLISHER ENDORSES THE INFORMATION THE ORGANIZATION OR WEBSITE MAY PROVIDE OR RECOMMENDATIONS IT MAY MAKE. FURTHER, READERS SHOULD BE AWARE THAT INTERNET WEBSITES LISTED IN THIS WORK MAY HAVE CHANGED OR DISAPPEARED BETWEEN WHEN THIS WORK WAS WRITTEN AND WHEN IT IS READ. Wiley also publishes its books in a variety of electronic formats. Some content that appears in print may not be available in electronic books. ISBN: 978-1-119-02752-2 Printed and bound in the United Kingdom by Page Bros Ltd., Norwich 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

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Table of Contents Introduction........................................................ 1 Foolish Assumptions.................................................................. 1 How This Book is Organized..................................................... 2 Icons Used in This Book............................................................. 3 Where to Go From Here............................................................. 3

Chapter 1: Definitions, Buzzwords, and Acronyms. . . . . 5 Getting Social, Going Mobile..................................................... 6 The Cloud and SaaS.................................................................... 7 More “aaS” Acronyms to Know................................................. 9 Infrastructure, served up to-go....................................... 9 A platform stocked with tools....................................... 10 Serving up data............................................................... 10 Cloud Computing — Public or Private?................................. 11 Hosted Solutions vs. the Cloud............................................... 14 What’s Digital Disruption?....................................................... 15

Chapter 2: Your Challenge: “The Digital Agenda” . . . . 17 The Rules of Tomorrow........................................................... 17 What Can The Cloud Do For Your Business?........................ 19

Chapter 3: Newfound Power of the Business Manager . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 New Responsibilities of the LOB............................................. 23 Sold on the Cloud...................................................................... 25 Powerful Marketing Advantages............................................. 26 Service Before and After the Sale........................................... 28 Find and Keep Talent................................................................ 30 Fuel Financial Excellence......................................................... 32

Chapter 4: The Path to SaaS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Think Before You Leap............................................................. 35 Get Personal.............................................................................. 36 Connect With the Suite Spot.................................................... 37 Be Secure................................................................................... 39 The Business Case for the Cloud............................................ 40

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition

Chapter 5: Ten Things To Know About the Cloud . . . . . 43 The Cloud is the Answer.......................................................... 43 The Cloud is Not One Thing.................................................... 43 The Cloud is Personal.............................................................. 44 The Cloud Isn’t Just for Software............................................ 44 The Cloud is for Line of Business Managers......................... 44 The Cloud is Flexible................................................................ 45 The Cloud Should Make Life Easier........................................ 45 The Cloud Can Help Your Cash Flow..................................... 45 The Cloud Isn’t All About Saving Money............................... 45 The Cloud Needs an Exit.......................................................... 46

Appendix 1: Evaluating a Cloud Provider. . . . . . . . . . . . 47 Is the Company a Proven, Viable Provider?.......................... 47 Does the Provider Use a Layered, Unified Security Approach?.............................................................. 48 How Does the Provider Ensure Data Integrity?..................... 49 Taking the Quiz......................................................................... 49

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dds are that you’ve heard a lot about the cloud in recent years. If you’re like most people, it was a pretty mysterious term at first, and you may still have plenty of questions about what the cloud is and what it can do for you. You might even be tempted to think that it’s just another Internet fad that will come and go before most people get a chance to figure it out. Don’t count on that. The cloud is for real, it’s here to stay, and it’s not just for trendy millennials. In fact, the cloud has increasingly powerful implications for businesses That’s why the roster of companies offering cloud products does not just include tech whiz kids working out of their garages. Those offering amazing solutions in the cloud include some of the biggest and most respected names in technology, such as Oracle. If your business wants to compete and win in the digital world that’s all around, you’ll need to make smart decisions about technology. That quite possibly will include tapping into cloud solutions for some functions, or lots of functions, ranging from sales and marketing to human resources and finance to customer service. SaaS For Dummies is in your hands to help get your head in the cloud. Read on to acquaint yourself with the many related buzzwords and acronyms, and start to get a feel for the place you’ll want to be in the digital world. Learn about the technology choices that increasingly are in the hands of those who run business lines. Get up to speed on what the cloud can do for you — but remember that you need to fully understand the business challenge you hope to solve before leaping into the cloud.

Foolish Assumptions We don’t know you, but we know you picked up this book, so we’re going to make a few assumptions about you, the reader:

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition

✓ You’re a business manager, not an IT person, perhaps at a large or midsized organization.

✓ You want to improve business efficiency and productivity, and you’d really like to know more about how cloud applications can help solve your business challenges.

✓ The way you do business has changed dramatically in recent years, and you face higher-than-ever expectations from customers, employees, and partners.

✓ You don’t care that much about the ingredients, nuts, and bolts of your cloud apps — you just want them to work their miracles for your business.

How This Book is Organized Get to know more about software as a service and all of the other remarkable things the cloud can do for your company. Then get ready to develop your cloud strategy and pick a provider.

✓ Chapter 1: Definitions, Buzzwords, and Acronyms — The cloud is an alphabet soup of terminology, and if you’re going to develop a taste for that soup, you’ll need to understand such terms as SaaS, IaaS, public and private clouds, hosted solutions, and digital disruption.

✓ Chapter 2: Your Challenge: “The Digital Agenda” — Business plays by new rules these days, and if you plan to enjoy a healthy future, you need to be a modern, digital business.

✓ Chapter 3: Newfound Power of the Business Manager — Cloud solutions are among the reasons business managers are in the driver’s seat more than ever when it comes to acquiring technology. The cloud has answers for your part of the company, whether it’s human resources, finance, sales, marketing, or service.

✓ Chapter 4: The Path to SaaS — First you must determine the functionality you need to solve your specific business challenges. Then, dive in and develop your cloud-based approach.

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✓ Chapter 5: Ten Things to Know About the Cloud — The cloud isn’t just a thing or a place or a product; it’s a channel that connects your needs with new solutions.

✓ Appendix: Evaluating a Cloud Provider — Whether your business is already in the cloud or on its way there, here are some questions to ask to ensure you pick the right partner.

Icons Used in This Book Check the margins of SaaS for Dummies. You’ll see some cute little icons there, but they’re not there just to be cute. Those icons exist to get your attention, to be sure you know you’re about to read some important information you won’t want to miss. Here are the ones you’ll find in this book:

As you evaluate your cloud options and get ready to head in a cloudy direction, here’s a pointer to help you succeed.

We’re not in the habit of wasting words, so every word on every page is there for a reason. That said, the words by this icon are of particular importance, so please don’t miss them.

Technology can be both powerful and perilous. Read this paragraph for some important information about what could go wrong if you’re not careful.

Technology is also pretty darned technical, needless to say, and we already noted that we’re assuming you’re not a techie. Nevertheless, by this icon are some technical details you might find intriguing.

Where to Go From Here Ready to head into the clouds? Then turn the page! There’s a lot of ground to cover. Just like any book in English, these pages are numbered, they’re in numerical order, and text flows left to right. Always best to keep things simple and familiar.

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition But could it be that you’re a bit of a rebel? Are you one of those people who prefer not to follow convention? Are you into skipping around? Reading back-to-front? Taking in a little now, a little later? Fine! We don’t mind! This book is structured to meet your needs, however you wish to approach it. We’re just pleased you picked it up, so . . . enjoy!

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Chapter 1

Definitions, Buzzwords, and Acronyms In This Chapter ▶ Socializing and mobilizing ▶ Getting your head in the cloud ▶ Understanding the acronyms ▶ Choosing public or private clouds ▶ Building upon hosted solutions ▶ Disrupting the technological world


he Internet has provided an ever-moving target of gamechanging advances and technological jargon with which to keep up. People in their middle ages — who are old enough to remember going in-person to the library, researching through card catalogs and actually using phones to speak with one another — are astounded to see concepts from science fiction turn into reality. Those who are younger are amazed at the revolutions that have occurred constantly throughout their lives. This chapter examines a small segment of these advances in the way people and organizations handle their software, storage, networking, hardware, and other needs related to computers and communication devices. It’s an alphabet soup of acronyms and buzzwords.

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition

Getting Social, Going Mobile “Social” is a term that’s both expansive and limiting. With regard to the many things that can be accomplished with computers and other devices, it’s among the most astonishing trends to come along in generations. People are more constantly connected with one another than they’ve ever been. One recent study found that Americans on average spend more than two hours every day on their smartphones and surfing the Internet on their computers. Other studies have come up with even higher estimates.

What’s limiting is the temptation to think of social as pertaining primarily to one’s social life — life away from work. In reality, the same digital trends driving personal use of Facebook and Twitter have infected the working world, with applications that allow unprecedented collaboration and communication between coworkers, with customers, and among other occupational partners. Social technologies aren’t just about sharing photos of cute kittens or reviews of new restaurants — they’re revolutionizing business. They’re doing so in large part because these technologies have become so incredibly mobile. There are now nearly as many mobile devices out there as there are people on Earth. Literally. Seven billion or more smartphones and tablets are in the pockets and purses of human beings around the globe — that’s mobile technology on an unbelievable scale. And there are so many useful things one can do on those smartphones that a lot of users hardly ever actually talk on them. (Of course, there are also a lot of comparatively useless things one can do with a smartphone, too, but everyone needs a little frivolity now and then). Making all of this possible are volumes and volumes of data. The electromagnetic spectrum swirling invisibly around your head is filled with data, zipping between networks and devices, or from one device directly to another.

There’s unprecedented power in this data. The problem is, tapping into that power is no small feat. In fact, there’s a term for these data sets that are so massive and complex that they

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Chapter 1: Definitions, Buzzwords, and Acronyms


can’t really be adequately processed with the applications of yesteryear (or last year). This is big data. How can one efficiently capture, visualize, analyze, store, and share data this big? How much more powerful can one data set become when it’s analyzed alongside another massive set of different but related data? What kinds of connections could be spotted if it were possible to truly integrate and dive deeply into big data? The possibilities are nearly limitless.

The Cloud and SaaS Every useful thing you do on your computer, your tablet, your mobile phone — whatever device is in front of you — is made possible by a software application. Typically, the device you’re using is running that application itself. The question is, where do all of those lines of code live? Are they stored on the device, or someplace else? For years, the answer to that question has commonly been, “on the device.” You purchase software, install it on the device, then launch it when you need it. Whatever documents or data you create are typically stored on the device, too.

The concept of software as a service, or SaaS, is more or less the opposite of that model. Instead of purchasing a copy of the application and installing it on your computer or other device, the SaaS concept provides you with the use of the software on a subscription basis, and the application resides elsewhere, loading onto your device when you launch it.

That “elsewhere” has become popularly known as the cloud. Simply put, the cloud is a metaphor for some location other than your local device, somewhere out there on the Internet. In some cases you know precisely where that server is that is serving up the application and related data, but often the location is a bit, well . . . cloudy to the user. For the most part, that distinction doesn’t really even matter to the user — the cloud brings that application and any necessary data to wherever the user might be. Like clouds up in the sky, this cloud is everywhere, all the time.

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition What kinds of things can you do through SaaS and the cloud? Don’t groan when you hear this, but when it comes to accessing software via the cloud, the sky is the limit. Line up enterprise resource planning applications via SaaS, or apps focused on human resources management, perhaps customer experience management, supply chain management, or enterprise performance management. That’s just a handful of the possibilities. So why choose SaaS? Isn’t the concept of running your own apps and storing your own data on your own local devices a tried and proven concept? Perhaps, but SaaS has a lot going for it. For example:

✓ Reduced upfront costs: Because SaaS is a subscriptionbased model, you’re paying for the applications as you use them, not all at once upfront. You can be up and running for a lot less capital at the outset.

✓ Speed: You can also be up and running and benefiting a lot faster. With the app in the cloud, your IT department doesn’t have to install and then maintain it on dozens or hundreds or thousands of devices. It’s just there, as easy to access as a web page with pictures of cute kittens.

✓ Scalability: As your company grows — or your customer base, or your needs — it is a lot easier to ramp up your SaaS application to keep pace. No need to install more servers, for example, or to install an app on more devices.

✓ Flexibility: In most cases you and other users can access SaaS apps and the information they control through desktop or laptop computers, through tablets, through smartphones — whatever device you have with you, wherever you happen to be.

✓ Up-to-date upgrades: A SaaS subscription means you’re plugged into the latest version of the software, and you don’t have to lift a finger to benefit from upgrades. From your perspective as a user, upgrades just happen, almost magically. You don’t have to pay for them, either, because it’s all part of the subscription. And it’s important to note that depending on the provider you pick, you may be able to specify when an upgrade takes place, so that the changeover fits your organization’s schedule needs. So where did the term cloud computing come from? It’s not entirely clear, but there are references that go back as far as

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Chapter 1: Definitions, Buzzwords, and Acronyms


the 1990s. The use of the terminology really picked up steam in the first decade of the new millennium.

The concept, however, goes back a lot further than the name. Consider the early mainframe computers, which users would access through a network of terminals that did not have their own processors. All of the work, all of the data storage, all of the processing — it all happened in a central place. Today’s cloud computing isn’t totally analogous, to be sure, as today’s devices do the work of processing. But it pays homage to that earlier model in which remote users were linked in to a central hub of activity and derived their power from that connection.

More “aaS” Acronyms to Know The “as a service” model is great for applications, as outlined above. In fact, it’s such a great concept that there are other “aaS” incarnations providing alternatives for delivering related technologies through cloud computing.

Infrastructure, served up to-go

Just as SaaS allows you to subscribe to the software rather than owning it outright, IaaS is a computing model that delivers cloud infrastructure on a subscription basis. IaaS is short for infrastructure as a service. Some people refer to the concept as HaaS, short for hardware as a service (not to be confused with the Hass type of avocado, which is sometimes marketed as a Haas). Through the concept of IaaS, a cloud service provider provides computing capacity in the form of virtual machines, storage, and network connectivity. The service provider owns and maintains infrastructure, and typically houses it, and pricing is based on some type of pay-per-use arrangement. IaaS providers may also offer everything from IP addresses to virtual local area networks (VLANs) to firewalls to software bundles. In a typical IaaS situation, the user can access a web-based portal that serves as an operations management console. The

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition infrastructure scales on demand, which makes the concept appealing to growing and fledgling businesses alike, because they don’t have to invest in infrastructure of their own.

A platform stocked with tools

Another component of cloud computing is known as PaaS, or platform as a service. Through PaaS, the consumer accesses a cloud-based application platform to develop and deploy applications or services with the help of the provider’s libraries and tools. Any applications that users create are hosted by the service provider. The services that PaaS providers offer can vary. Some offer more than just a platform to build and deploy upon, adding tools for application testing, application integration, security, and team collaboration. There may be mechanisms for monitoring, workflow management, and other aspects of service management. Like other “as a service” models, PaaS cuts down on both costs and complexities. The start-up costs are lower, and services can be scaled up as the need grows. All of the hassles and expenses of buying and maintaining hardware and platform technology are the responsibility of the service provider. The various resources for application and service development are shared by other users. The advantages go beyond reduced cost. It’s also possible to reduce development and deployment time through the use of PaaS. No wonder it’s one of the fastest growing segments in the cloud computing today.

Serving up data

The concept known as data as a service, or DaaS, often goes hand-in-hand with SaaS. The idea is to provide data on-demand, wherever the user needs it, through whatever device that user is holding, on whatever platform is required. Ease of getting to the data is just one of the benefits of this concept. Consider how users have dealt with the explosion of electronic data through the years.

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Chapter 1: Definitions, Buzzwords, and Acronyms


Because raw data doesn’t mean much to the average human being, it’s necessary to access that data with some sort of software application, which presents and helps to interpret the data. It’s pretty common for the data and the software to be bundled together — one particular set of data can be handled by one particular application, while another set of data may be handled by some other application. That’s a pretty limiting way of doing things, because it gets complicated if a user has a need that requires data from those two different places. Data is divided into siloes, and how many times has anyone ever described siloes as good things? This scenario is also complicated and expensive, because it can mean more different applications to maintain, troubleshoot, and upgrade. As upgrades happen, data formatting may evolve, which just makes things that much more complicated. And one more thing — with data in too many places, there’s a much greater chance that some data will be much more up-to-date than other data, resulting in the potential for confusion and conflict. DaaS unwinds this problem by maintaining data separately from the applications that access it. Data becomes a standalone asset, accessible across all channels and applications. It’s more cost-effective, less troublesome, and much less complicated.

Beyond that, it’s a whole lot more powerful. With more centralized and accessible data, you’re better able to leverage that data into better business decisions, and spotting trends becomes a whole lot easier.

Cloud Computing — Public or Private? Cirrus, stratus, cumulus, cumulonimbus. There’ clearly more than one kind of cloud. And there’s also more than one kind of cloud computing. In the broadest of terms, cloud computing can be divided into two primary varieties: public and private.

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition Simply put, public clouds are those used by more than one business or organization. Private clouds have single tenants, and the hardware and network associated with each of these private clouds are dedicated to just one client. There are pluses and minuses associated with both models.

With a public cloud, each user gets a piece of the cloud environment. It’s typically a pay-as-you-go model, great for users whose needs are going to fluctuate a lot. Users generally aren’t on any kind of contract, so there’s lots of flexibility. The hardware in a public cloud is shared. As a public cloud tenant, your needs are being served by the same servers and storage devices and networking that someone else is using. You may wonder whether this poses a security issue, whether your data will be safe on shared infrastructure, which is a very good question to ask, because some cloud providers have much more robust security than others. The answer is that if you choose a provider carefully, you can sleep at night knowing that your data is secure.

You’ll feel safest if your provider is a viable, stable company, one that’s been in the business a good while, is strong, and can be expected to be around for the long-term. You’ll also feel much better if your provider can promise isolated tenancy, which means that each customer’s data is stored in its own separate database. Providers also differ in how they handle access control — your most secure provider option will have centralized control and integrated identity management, which means that even if you have multiple cloud applications, each user has a single login. That login can be customized to ensure that the user can access only the applications or levels of data that are appropriate. And if that employee leaves, the single login can be shut down immediately and easily, preventing the possibility that former employees inadvertently retain access to sensitive data. With a public cloud, the hardware is shared, and that can potentially mean you don’t have control over its performance. The virtual server you’re assigned will reside wherever the provider wants to put it. For many users, this works

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Chapter 1: Definitions, Buzzwords, and Acronyms


out just fine. For some users with certain demanding needs, it’s less than ideal, or even a deal-breaker, but it doesn’t have to be.

Again, be sure to look into how one provider handles this compared with another. The isolated tenancy model that makes data more secure also helps to improve performance. If you’re not familiar with the term noisy neighbor syndrome, it’s pretty much what you’d imagine — some other customer of the same public cloud is such a heavy user that it impacts the cloud’s performance for you. Because isolated tenancy keeps databases separate, it can prevent noisy neighbor syndrome. One other aspect of a public cloud is that it’s often selfmanaged. That’s one of the things making it cost-effective. It means that users must manage the setup of their servers, and many users want it that way, anyway. Anyone who prefers to leave the details to someone else may not appreciate that. With early generations of cloud technology, a private cloud was the obvious choice for users who had demanding security and regulatory compliance requirements. In this regard, public cloud providers weren’t always able to handle the challenges, compared with the option of having dedicated hardware, storage, and network equipment.

Today, that’s not an issue, as long as you choose the right public cloud provider. The most advanced providers have even the most stringent regulatory compliance needs covered, even if you’re required (or desire) to keep local data stored locally, within the same country. Pick a provider with data centers around the world, and that potential problem is instantly solved. With a private cloud deployment, it’s possible for each user to fully customize and control network and hardware performance. And it’s also possible to establish a hybrid deployment, such as one that links virtual servers with dedicated servers. Because a private cloud involves dedicated equipment, the pricing model tends to be different from that of a public cloud. It’s not likely to be pay-as-you-go.

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition

Hosted Solutions vs. the Cloud The concept of hosted solutions is nothing new, really. The term essentially refers to relying on an outside provider for some service that’s hosted on the provider’s server somewhere else. Users connect to the hosted service by way of the Internet or a direct connection. Companies have long used hosted services for such things as email, backing up critical data offsite, and hosting websites. In fact, the idea goes way back to the days when users would sign up for timeshares on mainframe computers hosted by others.

So how is that different from a cloud solution? Isn’t the cloud just a way to connect to some service that’s hosted elsewhere? Well, sort of. You could accurately say that cloud solutions are examples of hosted services. But they’re a whole lot more than traditional hosted solutions. For one thing, cloud solutions pretty much always are accessed via the Internet, while hosted solutions may or may not be. It could, instead, be a direct network connection. Because cloud services are typically delivered via the Internet, users often get to their cloud solution by launching a web browser, rather than some other software application. Second, cloud solutions are big on interconnectivity. Though users may get at the service through a web browser, they also may access the cloud solution via a smartphone or tablet app. Often they can choose whatever method suits their immediate situation. That kind of interconnectivity is more difficult to achieve through other kinds of hosted solutions. Also, cloud solutions are typically designed to be quickly and easily scaled up or down as needed, which may or may not be the case with hosted solutions. That scalability is often built right into the pricing model of a cloud solution.

And, cloud solutions tend to be collaborative in nature. The information stored in the cloud isn’t just there to be accessed easily by one user — in many cases it’s there so that many users can easily share access to the same things, work together on them, and communicate freely and effectively about their work.

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Chapter 1: Definitions, Buzzwords, and Acronyms


What’s Digital Disruption? It’s practically cliché to talk about the pace of change. Who hasn’t been dazzled, or made dizzy, by technological developments of one kind or another? The question is, will you ride the latest technological wave, or will it wash over you? That’s the query at the heart of the term digital disruption. Technology is opening many doors of opportunity for better ways to meet customer needs. But those doors aren’t just opening for you . . . technology can work just as dramatically for your competitors, too. And for potential competitors you’ve never even heard of before. On top of that, these advances are more cost-effective than ever, in many cases. They’re also happening at a much more rapid pace. Some improvements are relatively small, some dramatic, but they’re happening seemingly all the time.

That’s digital disruption for you. Companies that hope to stay ahead in this kind of environment need all of the help they can get in order to accelerate ever-faster, in a cost-effective manner. Cloud solutions can slow the cost curve while speeding up the development curve, both of which are critical if you hope to be the perpetrator of digital disruption rather than its victim.

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition

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Chapter 2

Your Challenge: “The Digital Agenda” In This Chapter ▶ Caring about the digital challenge ▶ Making decisions about the cloud


ow long has your business been around? A year? A hundred years? It doesn’t really matter, because no matter what kind of history you have, if you want a future you’ll need to play by tomorrow’s rules. This chapter explores the challenges inherent in being a modern, digital business — why it’s important, what’s in it for you, and how businesses are approaching the opportunities that cloud solutions offer.

The Rules of Tomorrow

It’s the digital age, and whether you like it or not, new technologies will have a profound impact on your operations, your relationship with customers, your interactions with employees, your dealings with regulators — you name it, there’s likely an impact. To thrive in the digital age, you need to set your own digital agenda. To be a successful modern business, you must be a digital business. This isn’t just a matter of technology; this is transformation of the business as you know it. Start with customers. They’re all about the experience these days. Sure, they still are demanding a top-notch product, but they’re more particular than ever about what happens

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition between the time they decide they want something and the time they obtain it, plus the subsequent time when they’re using it, enjoying it, or having issues with it. They expect marketing that speaks to them, easily accessed information, responsive salespeople, a slick transaction, swift fulfillment, and excellent service after the sale. They want it all for a competitive price, too.

Your digital agenda must address customers’ needs and expectations on their terms. That may mean adding Twitter to your channels for answering service needs. It could mean enabling customers to pick up online orders in person, or have in-store orders easily shipped somewhere else. It likely means helping on-the-go customers hunt down your products or find your locations at the touch of a GPS-powered smartphone button. Employees, too, have more demanding expectations than ever. For starters, they want technology that makes their work more effective, with fewer hassles. They expect easier collaboration with colleagues, wherever in the world they or their colleagues might be. They need real-time information served up with analytical tools that will help them make intelligent decisions. They also are demanding more control and easier access when it comes to the actual experience of their employment — including such tasks as managing their employee benefits and checking on the number of days off they have in the bank.

Finding, recruiting, and retaining those employees in the digital age is a challenge in itself. Social connections are increasingly essential, as many of the best employee finds these days are happening through types of connections no one even dreamed of a decade or two ago. As is the case with customers, achieving true loyalty from the most valuable employees is increasingly challenging. Employees, like customers, can be fickle. Everything happens ultra-quickly in the digital age. Progress seems to happen at the speed of light — and of course, you hope that type of speed holds true with regard to your company’s growth. But if that’s the case, you need to be able to scale up to keep up with your innovation.

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Chapter 2: Your Challenge: “The Digital Agenda”


Your innovation also has to be able to keep up and stay ahead, which means time-to-market must shrink, whether you’re marketing a product or a service. You need business intelligence, powerful analytics, collaborative tools, and other digital wizardry to keep ahead of your competitors. In fact, you also need to shrink the time it takes to implement those digital tools that are your secret to success.

That’s where the cloud becomes so enticing. Cloud solutions address the customer experience and the employee experience. They offer new and sometimes remarkable abilities for managing your talent and your finances. They equip members of your sales team with seemingly magical powers, and connect them at the hip with their counterparts on the marketing team, who enjoy pretty remarkable capabilities of their own. They make service team members seem like wizards in the eyes of customers. And cloud solutions are doing these things at lightning speed. As customer and employee requirements evolve and business conditions change dramatically, cloud customers are finding that they can acquire, install, and be up-to-speed with new cloud apps in a matter of weeks, rather than months or even longer. Icing on this tasty cake is the bottom-line advantage. Cloud solutions can free up big chunks of the IT budget from being mired in complex in-house environments that seem to deliver nothing but headaches, so that those funds can be invested in more customer-facing growth opportunities. It’s likely that your company is spending plenty on IT — the question is, are you spending it in the best places? Many firms spend up to 80 per cent of their IT budgets on low-value work, when they’d benefit tremendously by directing more of those funds toward innovation.

What Can The Cloud Do For Your Business?

Perhaps the most fundamental truth about the best cloud solutions is that they’re technology at its most powerful and amazing, yet they hardly feel like technology. They can be so,

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition well, un-frustrating. The most powerful solutions also tend to be the most intuitive to use, and compared to the legacy systems they often replace, their care and feeding is a relative breeze.

Suffice it to say that technology almost takes the back seat in the world of the cloud. Oh yes, the technology is there, but it’s not intrusive, not distracting you from what really matters: understanding how and where the cloud can make your business more successful. That means businesses can make the most practical decisions about what activities should and should not be put into the cloud, instead of being bogged down by questions about technology limitations The answer, of course, is highly individual, very different from one organization to the next. Some small businesses could not even exist in their present configuration without cloud technology, because they’ve set up shop virtually, leaving the bricks and mortar and vital equipment to someone else. A small cloud-based business may employ a team spread across different cities, working from their own offices (or even their cars), perhaps maintaining their own flexible schedules. The cloud can bring collaboration and a feeling of proximity rivaling what these coworkers would have if they were all in the same physical place, sharing ideas and responsibilities and even water-cooler chatter. These team members share access to the same project management systems, the same sales management applications, and perhaps most important, powerful customer experience solutions that allow them to deliver the kind of customer service one might expect more from a larger operation with a lot more invested in bricks and mortar.

In that regard, the cloud is an exceptional tool for leveling the playing field, allowing smaller businesses to compete successfully with larger global enterprises and enabling large enterprises to be more agile. One recent study found that 69 per cent of companies with fewer than 20 employees are capitalizing on cloud technologies, compared with 55 per cent reported by companies with between 250 and 999 employees.

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Chapter 2: Your Challenge: “The Digital Agenda”


But what about those larger companies? Their embrace of the cloud is also on the upswing. What they’re choosing to migrate to the cloud may be a bit different, and the way they’re using it varies.

Larger enterprises also recognize the benefits of moving their enterprise business applications to cloud solutions. They’re finding incredible benefit in cloud-based project portfolio management, for example, establishing a single source of project truth for improved insight, more effective oversight, and more informed decision-making. They’re also realizing the benefit of accessing financial applications and data through the cloud, with real-time access to financials, streamlined data entry and transactions, and the ability to comply with global accounting standards as well as local requirements. Cloud-based sourcing, meanwhile, is useful for uncovering previously unrecognized savings opportunities, with standardized and centralized processes. Indeed, the cloud has really made the leap from a tech phenomenon to a mainstream business strategy. Beyond financials and ERP, forward-thinking businesses are rapidly adopting cloudbased HR, sales, marketing, and a wide range of customer experience opportunities. They’re finding that their demands for new features, security, and reliability are being met more effectively than they might have imagined a short time ago. Are businesses finding the cloud to be right for absolutely everything? Not necessarily, or at least, not without the right accessibility and arrangements to meet their business objectives. Security and compliance are two factors that businesses consider with great care.

Clearly, data security is a high priority, and breaches of security are in the headlines every day. Moving data to the cloud doesn’t necessarily make it more vulnerable than storing it on onsite servers,

Compliance considerations may require highly specific security arrangements, and in some cases, they may dictate where cloud servers are located.

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition

It’s important to remember that cloud services are all about increasing flexibility — not losing it. Some skeptics are afraid they’ll lose control of data by moving to the cloud, but the fact is you can have many options and more resources available to you.

The key is to examine your needs carefully as you determine what to float to the cloud and what to hang on to.

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Chapter 3

Newfound Power of the Business Manager In This Chapter ▶ Taking on more responsibilities ▶ Selling more effectively ▶ Marketing with intelligence ▶ Keeping the customer happy ▶ Managing good people ▶ Moving past traditional finance


ife may have been simpler when everyone wore just one hat, but it’s a whole lot more colorful when you have more hats to wear. There’s a lot more on the plate of those people managing lines of business, but there are a whole lot more answers, too. This chapter explores how cloud-based solutions can help department heads and business line leaders excel at their exciting new responsibilities. It spells out some of the key cloud opportunities for those involved in human resources, finance, sales, marketing, and customer service.

New Responsibilities of the LOB

Once upon a time — say, in the not-too-distant past — every department and business line had information technology needs, and every manager called up the IT department to get those needs met. Here’s one more revolution in a sea of

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition change: Those calls to IT aren’t always being made anymore. Business managers are increasingly making decisions and taking action on their own, thanks to cloud-based offerings. Take marketing as an example. That’s a hotbed of cloud activity that’s clearly the way of the future, and those in charge of marketing are increasingly responsible for the technology decisionmaking. One study predicts that by 2017, marketing leaders will be buying more technology than will IT departments.

As many as four-fifths of marketers now have their own budgets to spend, and there are a lot of great places to spend that money. Customer-relationship management is just one marketing-related area where there’s a lot of cloud activity. It has already become a $20 billion business, and more growth is on the way. The same shift of influence toward business lines and away from IT is happening elsewhere in the organization. That change is happening in large part due to the proliferation of cloud solutions, which don’t require installation and maintenance by the IT staff. Business units gain the ability to shop and buy for themselves, basing their decisions on cost and the capabilities of the solution. That doesn’t mean IT is out of the picture. In fact, the advance of cloud solutions can free up IT specialists to become more engaged in innovation and strategy.

Just as important is the ever-increasing focus on the customer experience. These days that’s at least as important as the product itself, oftentimes even more so from a marketing perspective. Customers have more influences than ever as they make decisions, from social media and digital forums to review sites on the web. The benefits of this evolution work both ways. Customers can gain new insights into the purchase and ownership experience, while marketers have entirely new and incredibly powerful sources of information about how customers make decisions. Cloud solutions are ideal for gathering, sharing, and analyzing this treasure trove of information. It’s all about best practices and innovations, and the newfound opportunities that business managers and business line leaders have to make exceptional things happen. The cloud is one of the technologies enabling this evolution, along with a

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Chapter 3: Newfound Power of the Business Manager


mobile-first strategy that brings to everyone’s fingertips the kinds of analytical tools and real-time information needed to act quickly and smartly.

What would you do with better access to business intelligence? How could the ability to aggregate, access, and analyze big data help you innovate and succeed? How would you take advantage of the collaborative work opportunities brought about by social technologies? These are just a few of the questions you can answer with the help of cloud-based solutions.

Sold on the Cloud You could argue that few professionals need the mobility and interconnectivity of the cloud more than those in sales. They tend to be on the go all the time, away from desks, in airports, on trains, at coffee shops, in prospects’ lobbies. There’s a whole lot of stuff they need to access, and they need access on their laptops, their tablets, their phones, perhaps the computer in the hotel business center.

Even so, robust sales cloud solutions are so much more than contact lists, schedules, and sources of prospects. They really get to the heart of the challenges facing those in sales leadership roles — how do you put your perfect sales plan into action and make it really fly? On that level, the challenges revolve around getting the most out of your sales force. As a vice president of sales, for example, it’s critical that you identify who your top performers are, recognize them and keep them happy, while helping the B team develop into top players, too. You need to provide the best training at the outset, and be aware of coaching opportunities when there’s still time to turn problems around.

In fact, with regard to coaching, imagine what would happen if you could magically show up to coach a salesperson while an issue is still top-of-mind, perhaps even still occurring? That would be a whole lot more effective than discerning a problem while reading an after-the-fact report, wouldn’t it?

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition

A cloud-based sales solution, such as Oracle Sales Cloud, provides answers to a lot of sales challenges. For example:

✓ Maximize your talent: Give members of your sales team access to every morsel of information they need to succeed while in the field, and make sure they can access sales force automation tools on any device. Keep tabs on how they’re doing, while they’re out in the field.

✓ Improve the selling and buying experience: Give your sales reps more time to engage face-to-face with customers, while also providing them with the right information at the right moment.

✓ Close the gap: Start with a reality-based forecast that draws upon the most solid information, then track the trends in real time, making changes quickly if needed. Gain credibility with accurate forecasting and planning for the sales vice president.

✓ Make a plan: Move past gut decisions and build a sales plan that your team can take out and pursue for a big win. Set the right goals and incentives, and use cloudbased intelligence for territory management.

✓ Predict your customers’ behavior: Perform white-space analysis and determine the most likely opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling. Spend the most time on the most high-probability deals. Use predictive analytics to provide insights that help you identify the next likely purchase a customer will make, based on what similar customers have purchased in previous encounters.

Powerful Marketing Advantages

As tailored marketing becomes more of a reality, customers seem to be increasingly expecting a more personalized marketing experience. They’re losing patience with marketing that doesn’t speak to them. Companies that meet the challenge of making personal connections are creating more impactful and satisfying customer experiences — and increasing their sales. Of course, it takes some big data to pull it off, and that data must be managed in seriously sophisticated ways. There’s no better solution than the marketing cloud.

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Chapter 3: Newfound Power of the Business Manager


The goal is to create a consistent marketing experience across multiple channels: web, social, mobile, email, and any other digital channel. You need marketing content that matches where the viewer is in the customer lifecycle, in order to achieve better engagement, improve retention, and make it more likely that a potential customer will become an actual buyer — and on top of that, a loyal one who becomes a brand advocate. Social marketing is, of course, an incredibly powerful way to have customers amplify your marketing voice, but there’s also incredible value in listening and analyzing what’s being said out there. Do all that and you’ll end up with a boatload of data, which means you need a way to aggregate and analyze that data.

How can the cloud help? Consider what a comprehensive solution such as Oracle Marketing Cloud can help you accomplish:

✓ Make it personal: Create data-driven customer experiences that are tailored to every visitor and viewer, yet are unified across the various channels. Capture and display the online behavior and social interactions of customers and prospects. Ensure that your content strategy speaks directly to the target, across the sales process.

✓ See what works: Track how each campaign and program contributes to revenue, and do so with enough speed and nimbleness that you can adjust course as needed. Measure the impact of specific content at each point in the sales funnel, and analyze the “digital body language” of each customer and prospect.

✓ Track revenue performance: Take smart action to optimize top-line growth by identifying revenue drivers and monitoring performance.

✓ Connect marketing and sales: When it comes to B2B marketing, ensure that the sales and marketing teams are on the same page and a single platform, so that everyone’s onboard with the same goals, strategies, and metrics. Do a more effective job of identifying, engaging, and qualifying potential buyers before passing them along to sales as leads.

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition

✓ Create a strategy for paid, owned, and earned: Leverage the platforms that’ll help you create and distribute content for your paid and owned assets, such as your website and social media channels. At the same time, activate your marketing data to discern how to proceed with paid advertising.

✓ Build a better database: Use targeting and segmentation, data, profiles, and preferences to generate better-quality leads. Get better leads for business buyers, while creating more relevant experiences for consumers.

Service Before and After the Sale

As noted in Chapter 1, the customer experience has become at least as important as the product itself, according to recent research. One of the many make-or-break components of the customer experience is service. Create a great product, deliver a stellar shopping and buying experience, but then drop the ball on service, and your loyal customer advocate may transform into a social media nightmare. Important as it is, this is an area where even the best companies have sometimes stumbled. And it’s not hard to see why. For one thing, different areas of support have often been siloed, and it appears to customers that one hand has no clue what the other hand is doing. Also, for some companies the contact center has had a tough time keeping up with call volumes, because too many people are calling to ask questions that didn’t really even need to be answered by a human being. On top of that, some of the tougher questions may stump the contact center employee.

All of these are challenges that a cloud-based customer service solution can address well. Here are just a few of the answers that can come along with a cloud solution such as Oracle Service Cloud:

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Chapter 3: Newfound Power of the Business Manager


✓ Help customers help themselves: Free up your call center representatives for the tougher calls with selfservice sites that offer guided answers. Supplement that with online chat, click-to-call, co-browsing, and virtual assistance. Make it all happen regardless of the device the customer is using. And get customers’ service questions answered at the point where those answers are needed, regardless of where they are in their customer journey, which will satisfy them and free up your staff.

✓ Get it together: Unify all of your customer service touch points in order to better understand customer needs. Bring contact center, field service, web, mobile, and social onto the same cloud-based solution so that service agents have a 360-degree view of the customer, in a single, unified desktop integrated with other critical systems.

✓ Keep an ear to the ground: Monitor social media channels for service-related comments and potential issues, so that you can respond and engage customers proactively. Make sure social customer service is a key part of your social media strategy.

✓ Share the knowledge: Underpin all service channels with a single knowledgebase, so it’s easy for customers and agents to find the right information that’s consistent and accurate. Make it easy for agents to author and publish to the knowledgebase so it becomes a living, growing repository that is constantly updated.

✓ Improve the contact center: Give your contact center agents the tools and technologies they need to deliver the caliber of service customers will rave about on social media, no matter what channel or device your customers are using to reach you. Help your team answer complicated questions and resolve complex issues quickly. Build upon virtual assistant web self-help with live-agent assistance and guided interactions, and give agents the power to co-browse — viewing a customer’s screen to walk through online tasks.

✓ Foster customer advocacy: View service as the nursery for establishing and building customer advocacy. An exceptional and personalized service experience, delivered through preferred channels, can have more impact than anything else on getting customers to recommend your company and refer others in your direction.

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition

✓ Build loyalty: Generate repeat business, increase order size, and keep customers loyal with the right engagement through the contact center or during the online experience.

✓ Convert shoppers to buyers: Build up your online service options to increase conversions to sales. Make effective use of online chat, click-to-call, co-browsing and virtual assistance to reduce shopping cart abandonment and enhance opportunities to cross-sell and up-sell.

✓ Anticipate the needs of customers: Don’t just react to customer demands, but rather anticipate their needs, intentions, and behaviors so you can behave proactively. Offer more robust and personal self-service options to head off inbound contacts and improve customer satisfaction along the way. Connect with customers using the platform they prefer.

Find and Keep Talent Are you a human resources leader or a miracle worker? Odds are you’re expected to be both. Executives want you to increase operational efficiency while also cutting costs. They want you to streamline core HR functions and eliminate waste. At the same time, you also need to find, hire, reward, and retain the best talent. Social recruiting is a trend you must understand and deliver. You must support a working environment that’s collaborative and productive. You’re expected to make an evergreater contribution to the organization’s strategic vision. There’s also an expectation that you invest in whatever technology is required to ensure global agility. That’s a challenge for a lot of HR professionals, who have been using the same kind of legacy human resources management system for a long time. Thank goodness for the cloud!

Not that the cloud can, in and of itself, work miracles. It takes the right cloud solution to be able to handle both local HR needs and the challenges that go along with a global organization. Like any other kind of cloud solution, one focused on HR has to be an effective mix of social, mobile, and analytical capabilities.

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Chapter 3: Newfound Power of the Business Manager


So, what can a world-class HR cloud solution such as Oracle Human Capital Management do for your company? Here are some thoughts:

✓ Find the best and brightest: Acquire talent through effective recruiting and socially sourced referrals, and develop existing talent. Make the recruiting and onboarding process simpler, with intuitive applications and mobile connections.

✓ Track the talent: Gain a better understanding of internal and external sources of talent, and anticipate the talent you’ll need. The need for the right employee can arise without warning, so you must be able to respond quickly.

✓ Get everyone collaborating: Maximize knowledge sharing and collaboration among employees by giving them access to such capabilities as social sourcing, social performance, social goal and career management, and social learning.

✓ Answer workforce questions: Combine big data with predictive and embedded analytics, allowing HR staff to respond to complex questions, forecast performance and risk, and make better decisions.

✓ Make information easy to access: Serve up HR applications and information wherever your staff might be, no matter what kind of electronic device they might have in their hands.

✓ Streamline global processes: Handle local compliance needs regardless of the country, and stay up-to-date with changes in your organization as well as in the regulatory environment.

✓ Make payday happen efficiently: Get paychecks out accurately and on-time, in locations around the world, complying with the many different local compensation rules.

✓ Pay for performance: Be sure to retain top talent with attractive and competitive compensation packages, while keeping the overall labor spend in line.

✓ Optimize workforce management: Keep tabs on absenteeism and productivity easily, even from mobile platforms.

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition

✓ Encourage diversity: Use the cloud to build recruitment programs that encourage diversity. Manage compliance, facilitate social networking among employees, and create training programs.

✓ Teach your employees well: Build a collaborative learning environment that delivers a combination of in-person and online training tailored to the audience.

✓ Create a high-performance culture: Align personal goals with the corporate strategies and targets, and give employees social tools for networking, collaborating, and encouraging one another.

✓ Spot the leaders of the future: Use talent intelligence and review to identify high-potential employees.

Fuel Financial Excellence

The job of chief financial officer these days isn’t much like the finance roles of old. Sure, CFOs are still all about maximizing profits and keeping costs in line, but they’ve added a strong focus on creating value and investing in innovation. Today, CFOs serve as a source for new insights driven by data and analysis of operations. They’re working closely with business line leaders to solve old challenges and identify new opportunities. CFOs have always looked to technology as a way to automate, but today they are increasingly fans of technology as a means for driving value across the organization. They have, in fact, found a lot to love about the cloud. They appreciate its ability to reduce IT costs and increase predictability. But far beyond that, they recognize that digital technologies and cloud-based solutions bring greater analytical capabilities and operational knowledge, they make such advances more accessible through mobile platforms, and they encourage collaboration through social channels. Finance executives are embracing cloud technologies in large numbers. One survey found that two-thirds have adopted a cloud-based system for core financials or are working on doing so. Even more are turning to the cloud for budgeting and planning. They relish the opportunity to bring what was a paper-based world into the digital future, with much greater automation and web access.

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Chapter 3: Newfound Power of the Business Manager


Here’s a rundown of some of the reasons CFOs, controllers, and other finance leaders are opting for Tier 1 cloud technologies, including Oracle’s Enterprise Resource Planning:

✓ Uncover growth and profits: Turn traditional finance activities into more automated processes, allowing more time for data analysis that addresses operational challenges and opens the door to higher profits and new growth opportunities.

✓ Squeeze blood from a turnip: Keep operating margins alive and healthy despite sluggish economies, by uncovering new efficiencies.

✓ Put risks in their place: Spend less time reacting to unanticipated risks and direct more of your efforts toward effectively mitigating them. Use cloud-based solutions to gain a consolidated view of enterprise risks, spread best practices, and strengthen the internal controls framework.

✓ Turn technology upside-down: Don’t fear disruptive change, embrace it and turn it into an asset. Replace traditional finance tools with cloud solutions to modernize the organization and enable it to respond more nimbly to change.

✓ Close those books quickly: Use the cloud to gain visibility into sub-ledgers across the organization, and leverage collaboration tools to get through the close activities as promptly as possible.

✓ Find new efficiencies: Get rid of that separate data warehouse that handles transactional reporting, and use the cloud for integrated invoice scanning and mobile expenses. Link transactions with employee collaboration.

✓ Make reports a snap: Stop spending so much time preparing financial reports, by using self-service reporting capabilities. The benefit: more opportunity to analyze the numbers using analytics built into cloud applications.

✓ Leverage data: Use cloud technology to partner across the business and drive data-based decisions.

✓ Keep a closer eye on process complexity: Use the cloud to more intelligently monitor processes, reduce errors, streamline inefficiencies, stamp out rogue behavior, and as a result, improve the bottom line.

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition

✓ Leverage the cash on the balance sheet: Track cash movements more effectively so that you can make better investment decisions. Gain visibility into enterprise-wide cash requirements and currency exposures in order to ensure liquidity. Stop relying on assumed settlements and next-day statements by using improved balance information.

✓ Collaborate with suppliers: Get your suppliers onto the team by giving them instant access to agreements, POs, invoices, and advance shipment notifications.

✓ Get contracts in line: Ensure greater compliance by using the cloud to produce standardized agreements and shorten cycle times.

✓ Perfect your procurement: Use collaboration, process automation, and business intelligence to build a better procurement process. Access cloud solutions to manage your off-contract spend, and you’ll find that employees will be happier. Integrate all sources of demand into your sourcing solution so you can negotiate better deals.

✓ Get a handle on projects: Load project data into the cloud so that all decisions are based on a single set of facts. Get project team members onto the same collaborative page with mobile and social tools. Line up project resources and schedules in the cloud to maximize productivity.

✓ Learn to love ERP projects: Enjoy the benefits of SaaS to ease implementation, tame maintenance, streamline integration, and speed up ERP solutions.

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Chapter 4

The Path to SaaS In This Chapter ▶ Considering functionality ▶ Personalizing the experience ▶ Getting fully interconnected ▶ Keeping everything secure ▶ Making the business case for the cloud


f you’ve made it this far in the book (assuming you’ve been reading front-to-back, that is), there’s a good chance you’re persuaded that the cloud has something special to offer you and your organization. The question is, where to go from here? This chapter explores the questions you’ll need to ponder as you develop your cloud strategy. How can you be confident that what’s right for you today will still be right tomorrow? Should you start small and build up, or go all in, all at once? Can the cloud really give you the ability to find or create the solution that truly matches your own unique needs? How can you sell leaders on making a cloud investment?

Think Before You Leap One of the biggest positives about cloud solutions is also one of the biggest potential problems. And this is it: You can be up-and-running in practically no time!

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition Isn’t that a great thing? How could that possibly be a problem? Think about it this way. There are all kinds of cloud vendors out there, offering solutions to seemingly everything. If there’s an answer out there to a situation that’s been nagging you today, and you can fix it by tomorrow for a reasonable price, it’s a tempting course of action.

But it’s best to take a step back first, and give some serious thought to the kind of functionality that you’ll want — not just for this particular need, but for other needs that might be related in one way or another. Determining what functionality is required is the first step in deciding which platform is right for your organization.

Get Personal You may think of cloud solutions as being somewhat inflexible. After all, aren’t you signing on for some software application that’s being hosted elsewhere and used by multiple different clients? Isn’t that part of the reason cloud solutions are so cost-effective? Well, that’s the way it was, and not all that long ago, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

In reality, your organization can sign up for cloud solutions that are highly individualized to your needs and the way that your business operates. Pick the right application and you’ll find it can be tailored to your branding, to your local requirements, to your corporation’s specific protocols, to any department’s unique needs. That means the power to come up with configurations that make sense for you, dashboards that show just what you need them to show, reports that provide exactly the insights you require, and workflows that fit in nicely with the processes that are working for you. Cloud solutions don’t have to feel like putting on a shoe that doesn’t quite fit — as long as you shop wisely.

Your ability to individualize the experience becomes all the more powerful when you add in the power of PaaS, or platform as a service. Better yet, if you use the same tools for building custom applications that were used to create the original applications, you’ll end up with applications that work flawlessly in the cloud environment but are just what you need them to be. Your IT department will love it.

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Chapter 4: The Path to SaaS


One more thing the IT folks (and everyone else) will love is having control over upgrades and software updates. A complaint that some have had about the cloud experience is that software updates happen whenever the provider wants them, and you as a user have to take them when they happen. Upgrades might occur at inopportune times from a business perspective, and they might mess up configurations that you had gotten just right.

Today’s cloud can offer you the power to decide when or if you want to update. Changes can happen on your terms, which can be quite comforting. Again, this power is something you’ll get with some cloud solutions, but not others, so it’s important to check it out carefully before you sign on the dotted line.

Connect With the Suite Spot Think about the cloud applications you’ve heard about, through conversations with colleagues, articles you’ve read, or your own experience up to this point. There may be a particular application that comes to mind first when you’re thinking of sales, for example. There’s probably one that pertains to marketing that pops into your mind, too. Consider the needs of the HR department, and you might come up with one familiar name for recruitment and hiring needs, and another for everyday HR functions. You may think of a cloud app for service functions, one for order-taking. You can probably rattle off the name of a great app for procurement, and one that’s really useful for accounting. Come to think of it, you could put all of those names and products together and build yourself quite a great cloud, couldn’t you? You’d have access to some powerful functions and excellent tools, along with the scalability that is part of the appeal of the cloud.

You also might wind up with quite a cloud bill. Any one of these products is likely to offer a seemingly cost-efficient solution to the problem it tackles, but add them all up and the grand total might cause you some pain. When you write checks to a bunch of different places, your ledger might not be happy.

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition That’s just the beginning of the potential pain that comes from a piecemeal and random approach to cloud-building. For example, on one hand, sales and marketing are two separate functions, but they also can be seen as two sides of the same coin. If you have one vendor’s fantastic sales app and another’s great marketing app, but they don’t share data, you’re potentially missing some powerful opportunities. The same situation holds true with the potential synergy you lose by getting your HR-related cloud apps from different providers, or customer-service cloud solutions from different companies. Data can often be transferred from one app to another, but the process isn’t always pretty or easy. The alternative is to explore cloud solutions by the suite. What if your various cloud applications could be connected to one another? What if you had one data record in one place for each customer, and that record was accessible to whatever cloud app needed it — sales, ordering, service, or something else? Wouldn’t that be a whole lot more powerful, less confusing, and more cost effective than having multiple records floating in different cloud apps that don’t quite talk to one another?

Pick a suite of related cloud apps from a single provider and you can make that happen. No pain of transferring and translating data between apps. No agony of doing that over and over again as one or another app goes through an upgrade. No frustration of learning multiple different interfaces. And as a side benefit, just one provider relationship to manage, along with just one bill to pay that’s likely to be lower than the sum of several different bills. That means lower cost of ownership, greater functionality, happier employees, more satisfied customers. What’s not to like about that?

As you explore your options, keep in mind that you may need your cloud solutions to connect not only with one another, but with on-premises applications, too. For various reasons, there may be something important that you choose not to send to the cloud, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want it invited to the party. For example, perhaps you have accounting on premises, but prefer to handle procurement in the cloud for better

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Chapter 4: The Path to SaaS


information sharing and visibility across the business. You’ll still need to reconcile purchase order and receipt data from procurement with the supplier invoice in accounts payable. That’s why interconnectivity is so important. Whatever solution you choose needs to be able to maintain strong interconnectivity with on-premises apps and data, as well as any third-party apps that you wish to continue using.

Be Secure No one has to tell you just how important security is. Just pick up the paper — today’s, yesterday’s, tomorrow’s — and you’re likely to find a headline about some company that suffered a data breach. Your cloud solution absolutely, positively must be secure.

One important thing to consider is that your solution is not inherently risky just because it’s in the cloud. The cloud can be and is secure, as long as you choose a strong, stable provider with plenty of experience and a proven track record of securing customer data in the cloud (as opposed to a startup company that just moved out of the garage yesterday). What’s more, just because your current app is on-premises doesn’t mean it’s not prone to breaches. When it comes to security, where your application and data reside is not the issue — what matters is that the security protocols are what they need to be. That said, it may matter where your data resides for other reasons. From a regulatory perspective, it might not be acceptable for your cloud solution to be housed just anywhere. Depending on the local requirements, for example, all data pertaining to business in one country might need to stay in that country. Some industry requirements also dictate the location where data must be hosted. That would mean you need a cloud solution provider with multiple data centers around the world. It is, indeed, possible to build a global cloud solution that works seamlessly and securely for your organization, while still complying with the local requirements of the various parts of the world in which you do business. That’s doable, but it takes a provider with sufficient expertise, viability, and reliability.

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition Security is one of the many places that can benefit from a more unified solutions provider that covers your needs across multiple areas. You can establish unified security access controls across multiple applications, and that will please your users and your IT security team alike.

Many businesses benefit from the ability to achieve isolated data tenancy and security at multiple levels. That means keeping one set of data separate and secure from another, which is vital for protecting your corporate data. Makes sense, but it’s not something that all cloud providers can make happen for you. Be sure to ask around. While no one likes to think about disasters, when it comes to your data, it pays to think the unthinkable. As you compare cloud providers, be sure to consider the strategy by which your data is backed up, as well as how much redundancy is built into the infrastructure. If there is a disaster or some technical issue in one location, you need redundancy to ensure high levels of system availability. Your cloud provider may offer access to other advanced data security tools, including full data encryption and virtual private networking services.

The Business Case for the Cloud There are plenty of compelling reasons to explore cloud solutions — reasons that make IT people happy, reasons that please business managers, and reasons that satisfy customers. Ultimately, if you’re going before an executive leadership committee making the case for the cloud, you’ll need to make a strong business case.

That goes beyond the notion of operational expenses versus capital expenses. It’s certainly possible that a move to the cloud will reduce capital expenditures, since hardware costs are shifted toward the provider, replaced by the operational expense of paying the provider’s periodic invoice. But for some companies, avoiding capital expenses is an overrated rationale. The better story to tell is how a move to the cloud can help the company measure up to customer expectations, innovate faster, and maximize value. The cloud can help the company

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Chapter 4: The Path to SaaS


keep up with the demands of the market, and can open the doors to new markets. In today’s fast-paced competitive environment, being nimble and scalable is absolutely essential. Being able to be what the customer expects and requires is critical. Dazzling your prospects with capabilities they didn’t even know they wanted can be a game-changer. For most businesses, that’s a far more compelling argument than simply saving some money on hardware.

That said, don’t hesitate to point out the financial perspectives, because CFOs like that, too. Does your potential cloud vendor offer financial incentives that can ease your way into the cloud, making it more affordable than you thought to build a truly integrated cloud package? It’s worth asking, and you just might end up with an answer that’ll sell the CFO.

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition

These materials are © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Any dissemination, distribution, or unauthorised use is strictly prohibited.

Chapter 5

Ten Things To Know About the Cloud In This Chapter ▶ Solving challenges ▶ Individualizing the solution ▶ Going beyond software ▶ Saving some money ▶ Planning your exit

N “

obody understands the cloud — it’s a mystery!” At least that’s what one Hollywood movie asserted. But if you’ve read some of the preceding chapters, it shouldn’t be quite as much of a mystery as it was before. Here are 10 more bits of information to help clear up the cloud.

The Cloud is the Answer So what’s the question? There are many, many business challenges for which the cloud provides solutions. The cloud is a channel connecting business needs with the solutions that address them best.

The Cloud is Not One Thing It’s a lot of things, really. The cloud is a collection of services available to you as a business or an individual customer — services that are super-powerful, incredibly

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition convenient and accessible, and quite cost-effective. A lot of people think of the cloud as a place, and in a way, it is, though the exact location of that place is not always known to the user. It’s somewhere other than here, and yet it’s always just a click away.

The Cloud is Personal Every company has a different set of circumstances that dictate what cloud solutions make sense. Just because you have moved some functions and data to the cloud doesn’t mean you have to move them all. On the other hand, it can make a tremendous amount of sense to sign up for one cloud vendor that can handle everything from HR to sales to marketing to service to finance. Just depends on your specific needs.

The Cloud Isn’t Just for Software The software as a service model is, perhaps, the best known cloud solution, but savvy businesses know that SaaS is just the beginning. Data as a service, for example, is a powerful means for connecting users with your data sets in the ways most suited for particular needs. With DaaS, data becomes the fuel igniting a wide range of productivity and power.

The Cloud is for Line of Business Managers Because cloud solutions live somewhere outside a company’s regular IT infrastructure, in many cases the decisions about what services to engage and how to use them are being made by the people who actually use those services — those managing or working in particular lines of business. The cloud can give business managers more power to share information and innovate all while making their lives easier.

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Chapter 5: Ten Things To Know About the Cloud


The Cloud is Flexible One of the greatest benefits of the cloud is the amount of scalability and flexibility your business will gain. You can scale up or down as your business needs change and also access information from any device. It is important to evaluate your goals and the functionality you desire before you move to the cloud. Not all cloud vendors offer their customers the same amount of flexibility.

The Cloud Should Make Life Easier If it’s not doing so, you might be doing something wrong. Before you make the big jump, you need to really examine how employees and customers do what they’re trying to do. Check out workflows and existing inefficiencies to be sure that the cloud will meet your business needs.

The Cloud Can Help Your Cash Flow Cloud pricing models are often like utilities, in that you typically pay for what you use, as you use it. That means no upfront capital expense on computers and equipment . . . just a periodic fee that’s suited for whatever budget you might have.

The Cloud Isn’t All About Saving Money In fact, sometimes it’s more about spending money differently. Move certain operations to the cloud and you’ll likely move some of your costs from capital to operational expenses. That, in itself, can be appealing. Still, the move is also likely to yield some operational efficiencies, so the odds of reducing overall spending are pretty good.

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition

The Cloud Needs an Exit As appealing a place as the cloud can be, there are times when you need your data back. Perhaps you’re changing providers, or wrapping up a particular operation. Before you put your data in the cloud, be sure you understand how you’ll be able to get it back out should you desire — and find out what it will cost, and how long it’ll take.

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Appendix 1

Evaluating a Cloud Provider In This Chapter ▶ Checking the viability of a provider ▶ Assessing a provider’s security ▶ Getting comfortable with data integrity ▶ Answering the questions

H idea.

ow many cloud providers are out there vying for your business? How many clouds are in the sky? You get the

Something as promising as the cloud is going to attract a lot of entrepreneurs, all hoping for a piece of the action. Because it’s such a hot new field, a lot of the players are not particularly familiar names. How do you know you’ve entrusted the right company, if you’re already operating in the cloud? Or if you’re moving in the direction of the cloud for the first time, how are you supposed to figure out which provider should get your business? Following are some things to consider as you evaluate either your existing cloud provider, or a company you’re considering for your cloud business.

Is the Company a Proven, Viable Provider? How can you tell? Consider these clues:

✓ How long has the cloud provider been managing security on an enterprise scale?

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition

• Less than a year

• Between a year and three years

• Three to five years

• Five to 10 years

• Longer than 10 years

✓ Does the cloud provider operate and manage any of its own data centers?

• Yes

• No

✓ Has the company invested in modern infrastructure recently?

• Not within the last year

• Not within the last three years

Does the Provider Use a Layered, Unified Security Approach? You may have high-level needs related to compliance, or maybe not, but no matter what, you need to ensure that your data is secure in the cloud you choose.

✓ What steps is the provider taking to mitigate risk?

• Compliance

• Industry regulations

• Third-party audits

• All of the above

✓ Can the provider show proof of capabilities, such as security certifications, independent audits, and the like?

• Yes

• No

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Appendix 1: Evaluating a Cloud Provider


How Does the Provider Ensure Data Integrity? Your company’s data is its lifeblood. The cloud provider must treat your data like a precious collection of gems, and never forget that it’s your property.

✓ How do clients transfer data quickly and safely to get up and running in the cloud?

✓ How do clients make changes to the data structures (adding fields and that kind of thing) when needed?

✓ In what format can clients get their data if they decide to leave the service?

Taking the Quiz If you are already operating in the cloud and jotted down a negative answer to more than half of these questions, you can benefit from a more modern cloud solution. If you’re on a cloud provider search and a candidate can’t offer satisfactory answers to questions like these, keep looking. As for the questions that can only be answered by open-ended comments, check for answers that suggest room for improvement. You’ll want to proceed carefully if these answers point to serious room to improve. If you’re already with a cloud provider but the answers leave you jittery, give some thought about how your organization might be impacted by modernizing your technology choices.

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SaaS For Dummies, Oracle Edition

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