Finance and HR are like two opposite ends of the world — they are different in terms of several things. However, despite the differences, these two departments are dependent on one another and need each other to achieve the ultimate goals of an organisation. To have a clearer view of this entire scenario, Analytics India Magazine caught up with Mr Guruprasad Gaonkar.
Guruprasad Gaonkar is working as an APAC SaaS Leader – Office of Finance, Operations & Digital Supply Chain, Oracle
AIM: What does the intertwining of HR & finance mean for businesses in general and also for CFOs & CHROs?
GP: If you look at India, the data shows that we have the world’s youngest workforce and in fact, we will have the world’s largest workforce as well. There are a set of people who are used to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. And when they join one of the regulated industries, they are expected to follow hierarchy and processes; they are given clunky screens to work on. So, it gets difficult for them to be productive.
In order to increase not only the per employee productivity but also translating it into more efficiencies for the organisation, CFO on the expense side and CHRO from the human capital management need to work together.
Also, in finance & HR, the focus on automation is huge — be it robotic automation to screen CVs or to churn out the redundant tasks in finance. Put simply, robotic process automation is like your digital twin brother who will do the work.
Finance and HR are two departments that have an influence on a lot of other departments; whether its recruitment in the supply chain or procurement. With the help of emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), finance and HR can embed business logic to direct, influence in all these business functions that they work with.
AIM: Today, almost every business relies on innovation. What do you think, how unifying finance & HR cloud or SaaS results in more innovation?
GP: When a CHRO focuses on workforce planning, there are multiple components that need to be taken care of — be it in terms of skillset which is HR specific, cost component which is finance specific or the implication on the balance sheet which is planning aspect. So, organisations having one data model across finance and HR are able to seamlessly operate as one enterprise or a truly one enterprise. Otherwise, while they have one integrated system, they still operate as silos. This is where cloud or SaaS comes into the play.
SaaS translates to speed: When I talk about speed, it is not only about staying up-to-date on technology but also staying up-to-date on regulation. So, for example, when GST regulation changes and if you are on one of those old school solutions then the vendor sends you a patch, you then check the patch whether it is going to impact your existing situation and then you hire a Software Integrator. The time to realise is very long. However, in SaaS, it is centrally distributed or implemented.
SaaS translates into eliminating complexity: No organisation starts with being complex, but as they grow, they inherit a lot of procedures that result in complexity. SaaS completely eliminates complexity by keeping it simple.
Innovation: Talking about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), you may spend a lot of money going around employing people, doing design thing as an approach, and coming up with a huge case and implementing it. But for you to access some of these innovations, it is not cost-effective and even if it is cost effective, you do not have the necessary skills to be able to bring this to business value.
In this case, SaaS provides the foundation and access to some of these sophisticated tools to drive business value because most of the SaaS application have embedded AI and Machine Learning in our case. So, I believe SaaS definitely is driving business value for customers.
AIM: What all are the industries that are going to be benefitted from this unison?
GP: We have been successful in pretty much all industries. But from a SaaS perspective, we have seen that the biggest adoption for SaaS application is coming from the digital natives. For example, Grab that serve 640 million population across all South-East Asia countries – Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia etc. Talking about digital natives, there are challenges —they want to get into new products, they want to get into a new market, they want to get into new geographies. And they always have to deal with a high transaction volume and that requires automation. So, for them to go to SaaS is a no-brainer.
The second biggest taker for SaaS is the financial services industry as this is one industry which is heavily disrupted by digital transformation. For example, HSBC Bank — they operate whole finance, especially their two back-office functions on Oracle ERP. They do not want to bring the technology and change the technology to suit the bank, in fact, they want to bring the technology and change the way the bank operates. It is the best practice that is possible in SaaS.
Furthermore, the third set of industries what we have seen is the traditional professional service organisations. For example, we have Wipro as a professional service organisation, or PWC or Deloitte. These are the people who are advisors to the CFOs and all of them run their finance functions of Oracle ERP SaaS. And beyond that, we have a lot of logistics companies in India, especially Safexpress and Transworld. We also have insurance companies like Religare Health Care Trust. So, the momentum for our ERP SaaS business across the board in India and in Asia-Pacific is phenomenal.
AIM: What role Oracle is playing in this unison across industries?
GP: Our core business is technology and software application. We also have another core business application, which is a database application infrastructure. So, we want to stick to our core business — that is how we bring the application, technology, and infrastructure together to add value to the customers and that is where SaaS gives us a unique value proposition. a
Also, we are offering solutions to any and every department; be it in HR, procurement, finance, logistics or the supply chain. We had applications which ran in silos and organisations who implemented the solutions in the past were running like silos. So, we then brought a one-data model across all these businesses, which means that anything you do in HR has an implication in finance.
Lastly, being in a SaaS industry, especially when the customers are relying on us, we have to continuously innovate. So, we are releasing 230 functionalities per quarter; we are no longer talking about per year, but we are continuously releasing functionalities per quarter which embeds these innovative technologies as part of the SaaS application. So, this is how we are helping to make CHRO & CFO become more focused, more strategic, and focus on business outcomes.
We have 5,500 customers for ERP SaaS, another 15,000 for NetSuite that is 21% market share. So obviously, this success has also transmitted a lot market share for us, in terms of clear leadership across SaaS ERP world.
Final Words From Guruprasad Gaonkar
We have existed for more than 40 years, we have a lot of customers who run on our on-premise solutions — whether it is finance or HR. Earlier this year, we launched the world’s first automated upgrade to SaaS which means that if you are running on any of those on-premise solutions, we are longer calling it migration, we are actually calling it upgrading to SaaS. And we are saying this is the last upgrade you will ever do because in the SaaS world there is no concept of an upgrade like in Gmail — there is no concept of an upgrade.
Also, we have announced that we are committed to a 30% reduction in time to implement and cost implement. So, we are actually putting in Oracle’s skin in the game by making our customers risk-free. That is not all, we are on-boarding customers where we are letting them go-live in less than 20 weeks. And this is what we have launched in India for HR and finance customers who are running on our on-premise in the past.