By Linda Currey Post
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Companies worldwide are discovering that their enterprise resource planning applications aren't just indispensible for managing financial, purchasing, and supply chain processes. Those ERP applications also contain a trove of data they can analyze for competitive advantage.
Take Japan's Yonehachi Group. Every day in Japan, crowds of hungry residents and tourists stop by one of its 140 restaurants, located in high-traffic areas such as train stations, highway service centers, and large department stores, to pick up a tasty meal packed into a Bento or "convenience" box.
In a culture that values tradition, the senior managers of these popular lunch spots were reluctant to give up the paper forms they had long used to track the number and type of lunches sold. At the end of each business day, they faxed the completed forms to corporate headquarters in Tokyo.
Seeking an on-demand understanding of company performance, however, Yonehachi executives replaced those paper processes with Oracle ERP Cloud applications. Now Yonehachi leaders have easy and immediate access to the company's financial data, "we gained real-time insight into shop profitability, are responding faster to the evolving food industry, and are preparing for future expansion into ecommerce," says Atsushi Funabashi, director of the company's personnel and administration division.
What's more, company executives express delight that their shop employees—even those with little computer experience—find the new system intuitive. Shop workers are able to use it with "nearly zero" training, Funabashi says.
As David S. Linthicum, senior vice president at Cloud Technology Partners, wrote recently in InfoWorld that cloud ERP applications give companies "the ability to deal with near-perfect information."
In an interview with OracleVoice, Linthicum explained that when companies put all of their information in one place—a data mart, a data warehouse, or an ERP application—that repository becomes the source everyone at the company trusts. The data consolidation that companies must do as they move to the cloud, he says, helps planners understand "much more about past patterns in the business and use that to better extrapolate the future of the business."
With a cloud-based system, Linthicum notes, companies don't have to buy and maintain their own hardware and software. So virtually any company can now afford to access the insights powerful business analytics offer.
A deeper understanding of financial information is what ConnectOne Bank was after when it moved its operations to Oracle Financials Cloud.
As ConnectOne plans to expand beyond its 21 branches in the New York/New Jersey metro area, bank officers now can take a deep dive into the profitability of each of the bank's products and services. They can analyze the performance of each branch and predict the profitability of planned locations. They can even analyze the banking history of individual clients to assess future risk.
Neil Martucci, senior vice president and controller, says the team now focuses on understanding the data instead of just maintaining it, to "make business decisions that reduce risk, cut costs, and drive increased profitability as the company continues to grow."
Trains, Planes, and Billboards
In its move to Oracle ERP Cloud, Sydney-based ad agency APN Outdoor consolidated all of its core financial data, then added statistics about the performance of its 40,000 advertising panels—traditional and digital billboards, as well as ads on buses and trams and in airports and train stations.
Based on viewership statistics for its ads, APN Outdoor experts now choose the most attention-grabbing spots in Australia and New Zealand. They can access and analyze that information from anywhere they happen to be working.
"Our business is changing and growing, and it needs to have a financial system to support that," says David Watkins, APN Outdoor's general manager of finance. "That's what we have with Oracle ERP Cloud."
By embracing cloud ERP's capabilities to consolidate, analyze, and interpret company data, these companies—and many more like them—are creating their own competitive advantages.
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