• March 18, 2024

Transformative Role of Data & Cloud Tech: Interview with Sunil Wahi, Vice President of APAC Solution Engineering, Applications, Oracle

Transformative Role of Data & Cloud Tech: Interview with Sunil Wahi, Vice President of APAC Solution Engineering, Applications, Oracle

We recently interviewed Oracle VP of APAC Solution Engineering Sunil Wahi to discuss key trends reshaping business operations.

It included the need for data-driven decision-making, the rise of AI and machine learning in risk management, the importance of cloud adoption for agility, and the growing demand for SaaS solutions, particularly in markets like India.

It also highlighted the critical role of talent management and organizational culture in successful technology adoption. The conversation underscored CXOs’ need to embrace digital transformation to drive efficiency and competitiveness in today’s evolving business landscape.

Q. How do cloud-based ERP and SCM applications transform financial decision-making for CFOs? And, how can the success of these applications be measured in delivering tangible value to finance teams and the overall business?

Sunil: One of the biggest trends is the business velocity or the speed at which decisions are being made today or being asked to be made by CXOs, CFOs, and heads of supply chain, which is essentially driving a huge need for them to have data visible and available at any point of time to make smarter decisions. If you take the case of cash management and cash forecasting, we have released capabilities around cash management, which can drive visibility into liquidity management for CXOs that can help them understand the business risk, which can help them manage better liquidity risk and leverage very powerful AI ML capabilities as part of our Fusion Cloud.

And it’s again a great example of how CXOs can leverage these capabilities within the core ERP and supply chain systems. The other trend that I see is supply chain disruptions itself, which have happened post-COVID, where a very strong focus by CXOs has been on keeping the lights on, but also making sure there is sufficient inventory which is available to drive sufficient customer service levels. We have a customer in India, in the space of Pharma, who has rolled out our supply planning cloud solutions.

As part of that, they have essentially taken a lot of costs out of their supply chain, and they have started prioritizing the customer orders which are the most profitable and which are the top revenue-generating orders. They are also driving better customer service levels, having rolled out some of these cloud solutions on Fusion Cloud itself. Last but not least, there’s also the space of ESG where we see again a huge advent of CXOs looking at having a very clear sustainable supply chain, not just in the space of generating strategic KPIs to report to Wall Street and their management and the investors, but also to offer visibility back to their consumers to demonstrate how sustainable is their entire value chain operating on.

There’s also then the entire space of diversity and equity which customers and CXOs are measuring today from a metric standpoint and from a transformation standpoint, which is again driving the advent of cloud solutions in the segment, in the industries, and with the clients we are working with. These changes, especially if you add the advent of AI ML and Gen-AI capabilities which have come out now in the solutions, need a platform that is agile enough, which is supported by very strong agile and change management capabilities that only a true cloud application can offer. Imagine trying to do this in the on-premises world versus leveraging true cloud transformation solutions today like Fusion Cloud and making some of these trends possible for the CXOs.

So those are some of the trends that I see that are driving a shift towards cloud applications. I guess companies naturally have their own metrics to drive digital transformations. We work with them very closely from a value assessment standpoint to support either their financial metrics or operational metrics or a combination of both.

In the space of service industries, they have metrics around project management, they have metrics around looking at if margins have improved as part of this transformation, or if they have been able to gain excess market share. That’s one way of looking at it. From a supply chain standpoint, from a product industry standpoint, companies are looking at improvement in their warehouse throughputs.

They’re looking at whether they have brought inefficiencies in the space of logistics by having goods transported with fewer miles, which essentially means they are enabling their supply chains, and their logistics value chains to be more sustainable. Unilever is a great example. Unilever managed to reduce about 29,000 miles traveled by leveraging and implementing our transportation management cloud solutions.

Similarly, we have Western Digital, who is a global customer of ours. They have rolled out ERP supply chain, HCM cloud, and is a data infrastructure company. They have about 100 plus manufacturing facilities across the globe. They have managed to centralize their supply planning capabilities. They have managed to improve the entire supply chain planning capabilities by 7x.

They have managed to reduce the time it takes for them to refresh their entire data analytics platform down from 24, to 48 hours to less than two hours now. There are quantifiable metrics that companies, and clients have been able to define to measure if these cloud transformations are driving value or not. In the space of professional services, we again have simple metrics like how long it takes for me to close my financial books? Am I able to automate my inter-company reconciliation processes? Am I able to collaborate on a platform that can help me engage in this hybrid model and still be able to achieve my KPIs? There are different ways by which companies today are measuring these KPIs and naturally taking a reflection of that on a very regular basis.

Q. In your view, how have data and cloud technologies reshaped global finance organisations, particularly in enhancing processes like supply chain and overall business capabilities?

Sunil: I think when you look at some of the supply chain use cases, take for example, new product introduction. You need a whole lot of data to understand a launch of a new product or a new business service in a manufacturing environment or a supply chain environment. Now this just cannot operate if customers or businesses are not able to understand what the data is giving them, right? And this is where AIML comes in, where it helps you to predict patterns.

It helps you to understand correlations and it helps you to better manage your entire new product introduction cycle. We also have prediction models now from a risk management standpoint, which we have launched as part of cloud application. There are areas around collection risk management, which helps a CXO predict what is the risk in my collection process and at what point of time could this entire model fail, which can help them implement corrective measures.

There are supplier risk management models which are available today, which can help a CXO analyze a supplier who is in the media, in the press at this point of time with a lot of negative press around them. And the model can predict that, hey, since there’s a lot of negativity around this supplier, there’s a possibility that this supplier might delay the shipments, which will have an impact on your entire supply chain. So this helps the CXO take corrective actions by changing the sourcing strategy for that particular supplier side of business, which they would have otherwise done with them.

So I think there are multiple use cases which companies, which clients are working with us to improvise and to optimize their business functions, their business processes. JNI is bringing a whole lot of automation to these capabilities. It’s bringing assisted authoring scenarios in the space of supply chain, in the space of finance, which is also helping them enhance these business functions from an end-to-end standpoint.

Q. How can cloud-based solutions address the challenges CFOs face when adopting new business models?

Sunil: I think for that, we need to really understand what a true cloud model symbolizes. A true cloud model looks at agility. It looks at change management.

It looks at driving costs out of a business function. And it also looks at offering a phased approach to a CFO. Phased in terms of prioritizing the most important use cases, which they want to go after.

Whether you look at Fusion Cloud or other applications, naturally we built the entire Fusion Cloud stack grounds up a decade back. And the whole purpose was we wanted to implement the principles of a true cloud philosophy as part of what we truly do. Hence, the agility at which Fusion Cloud can be rolled out, whether it’s in the space of professional services with customers like Emphasis, Zensar, PwC, or KPMG, or in the space of manufacturing, which we have just discussed around Western Digital, Unilever, and other segments.

The principles which a true cloud application offers helps the CFOs better manage their business, helps them drive more efficient value chains, more efficient supply chains, helps them close their books faster, helps them run predictions around cash management and liquidity management strategies, which eventually helps them better plan their treasury strategies. And I think, collectively, it gives a very clear and a predictive view, a very intelligent view of what’s happening in their business. And that’s what the CXOs are looking at today from any cloud transformation journey.

Not so much the business process automation, but more around how the data behind that business process automation can be analyzed by them at pretty much the speed of light. And embedded AI ML capabilities in those data sets can help them predict patterns and downsize the risk which they are naturally going to carry to make that decision.

Q. How do you foresee the adoption of cloud-based ERP and SCM applications shaping the financial landscape in India?

Sunil: I think India is also no different to any other market segment, which is on a massive growth impulse.

There’s a massive population which has to get into the world of digitization. I was just yesterday going through some statistics which spoke about the per capita income of about 60 million Indians is about $10,000 at this point of time. And over the next five or six years, there could be 100 million more Indians who are going to get into the space of a per capita income of $10,000.

And then the advent of mobile and data with all what’s happening around us with mobile payments, with UPI, and UPI getting launched in multiple different countries is definitely creating a digital platform of sorts for the next wave of, let’s say, 200 million Indians, if that’s a segment I could call out. Now, that segment is also going to demand business applications and SaaS solutions truly to drive the experience which they demand in organizations which they are either going to lead or they’re going to work for. And that’s where I would strongly believe the next wave of SaaS transformation is going to come in, which will just happen.

It’s bound to happen as digitization starts touching them in their personal lives, in the way they shop, in the way they run their life. It’s just going to come in the business environment as well. And that’s where business leaders would be challenged, would be driven to drive and access applications like Oracle to digitize their business environments, to offer a unified cloud experience to these digital natives who are getting into the digital way.

And that’s going to be a cool factor for us also to work with them and help them transform their old business processes to new digitized SaaS applications.

Q. With the pace of technological advancements, how can finance leaders adapt to and leverage emerging technologies to stay ahead in the ever-changing business landscape?

Sunil: My view is by implementing efficient talent management processes and learning management capabilities within an organization, CXOs can truly drive the adoption of these solutions.

The challenge is not so much around deciding on which application they want to go for. The challenge happens around adoption, as we all would appreciate. And we have seen many cases where projects take time to roll out.

If the executive commitment is not there in those applications, the right change management and the right learning management culture are not implemented as part of the journey. So CXOs could improve success rates. Most of the projects that we have delivered have been successful because we bring in the right change capabilities.

We bring in learning solutions. We bring in also a culture of giving the right guidance and the right partnership to the CXOs to start adopting a culture of learning and talent retention. And companies that have these things sorted out will embrace cloud technologies.

They would embrace best practices versus the old business functions which they were operating upon. Now, it’s easier said than done. Hence, there has to be a very strong executive mandate driven across all the CXOs, not just CFOs, but the CFOs, CHROs, COOs, and the CEOs coming all together and driving the transformation process as an executive mandate top down, which can then help truly bring that particular change and success to that organization with the adoption of cloud technologies we are talking about, whether it’s in the space of finance or HR or supply chain or customer experience.

I think that journey is something that CXOs have to cross and live with as that transformation takes place.

Shreya Biswas

Shreya Biswas

Shreya Biswas is an editor and multimedia journalist. Previously a financial reporter, she is currently Senior Editor at CFO Collective, where she leverages her expertise in business journalism and effective communication.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *