What to expect when you are going to OpenWorld: EPM Cloud

If you are going to OpenWorld this week, here is what you can expect to hear about the future of EPM Cloud, FCC and TRC. This post is the second episode of the series, the first was strictly about on-premise. I started drafting this post on my long flight back from Kscope18 in June. So the information is a few months old but should still be mostly true. This is my last chance to finally publish this post… It’s a bit like timing the sale of your iPhone just before the next one becomes available!

At Kscope, Oracle started the financial close Sunday symposium with a demo of an Alexa skill which you will be able to use to talk to your EPM Cloud to get or even some data… Oracle also presented a chatbot (text conversation) that can give you details of your financial statements or list the journals that need to be reviewed. These two demos definitely had a “wow factor”, but I remember getting the same feeling when I first saw the EPM mobile app, which I don’t think anyone ever used in real life. Time will tell if this is different.

The more down to earth features all of us are waiting for are:

  • Extended dimensionality: the ability to have up to 4 custom dimensions in FCC. This feature has been released last month and is very exciting for all of us. I think this will unlock some opportunities for many Oracle customers who need these additional dimensions to be able to transition from on-premise to the cloud.
  • Process control, the ability to lock the data for some users as the close process progresses. This is expected by the end of 2018.
  • More journals features will be added over the next year.
  • A migration tool from HFM to FCC is available since the August release. This tool helps with the migration of metadata. Data can be handled through FDMEE. Rules will need to be handled separately as some may not be required anymore and the rest will need to be translated from VBScript to Essbase calculation scripts.
  • There will be a version of SmartView compatible with Office 365 (the cloud version of MS Office) by the end of 2018. This announcement prompted applauds from the audience!
  • On demand calculations, or the ability to call specific calculations, including from forms, including calculations that could run when the form is saved. This is a very powerful feature of Planning and I can’t wait to see how we will be able to apply that to the financial close.
  • Better debugging functionality for configurable business rules. HFM never had such a debugging functionality, this can only improve.

We also heard about some coming “machine learning” functionality (in addition to the aforementioned Natural Language Processing demos):

  • Oracle introduced the notion of IPA (it sounds like a beer but it actually stands for Intelligent Process Automation). The concepts of RPA and IPA are fuzzy and can mean many different things for different people. For Oracle it means using Close Manager as a process orchestration platform that can connect to the different systems used in the close process and automate some of it. I can imagine this being possible for clients having everything inside the Oracle cloud, but I still need to be convinced that it works if some portion of the finance systems are on-premise or from third party providers. Nevertheless, the concept is interesting!
  • Intelligent intercompany transaction matching. This feature is based on machine learning and will be able to suggest non-obvious matching based on transaction matched manually in the past.

Regarding Tax Reporting Cloud, you can expect in the coming months:

  • The ability to prepare an interim reporting excluding loss entities (this should be released by the end of the year)
  • Templates for the journal entry, and IFRS and US GAAP footnotes
  • More out-of-box reports
  • Improvements in the Country by Country Reporting tax risk dashboard and “Related Party” reporting
  • Improvements to the tax automation wizard
  • Ownership management

This wasn’t officially announced but I also assume TRC will soon leverage some of the improvements that came to FCC recently such as extended dimensionality, configurable calculation and further performance improvements.

In the more distant future, TRC should get:

  • Configuration tax account reconciliation (many clients will want that)
  • Improvements in the foreign currency translations
  • Unitary filing groups
  • Long range tax planning, my understanding is that will be based on the capabilities of Hyperion Strategic Finance
  • Predictive tax analytics, based on Crystal Ball
  • Adaptive intelligent tax calculations

Let me know if you are going to OpenWorld and hear something different!

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