Evolution in Business Finance: Oracle’s Case Study in Business Finance Transformation

Oracle’s Business Model Evolution has taken them from on-premise to the Cloud. The benefits are plentiful.


We all know the quote, “if you’re not growing, you’re dying”. From a business perspective, growth is an evolution – one that transforms the organization. Ask any finance executive and they’ll tell you, at the heart of finance transformation is a drive toward enhancing efficiency and adding more value to the business. In the case of Oracle’s Business Finance Transformation, it was imperative for Finance to rethink its core mission and operating model. This meant continuing the things they traditionally had done from a processing and transactional perspective (their operational efficiency), and balancing that with the need for growth and the use of analytics to provide business insights (their operational agility). 

Their transformation journey was to take Finance from the “trusted scorekeeper” to a more active and engaged strategic business partner. To drive this transformation, Oracle’s Finance team looked to standardize and simplify their processes and implement technology via the Cloud. In order to accomplish this shift in mindset, they employed the following technologies and practices:

  • Value Driver Analytics
  • Big Data & Data Mining
  • Predictive & Prescriptive Analytics
  • Strategic Decision & Risk Management
  • Competitive, Market & Customer Intelligence

These changes are geared toward allowing Finance to provide more influence in the organization and to drive business outcomes. During their March Committee on Finance & IT (CFIT) meeting, in Redwood City, California hosted by Oracle Corporation, Matt Stirrup, VP Finance, Corp FP&A said, “Once finance transformation has substantially driven down the cost of the accounting and finance function, there’s limited scope for taking out more cost. Instead, there’s far more potential to get value out of finance as a discipline. The ability to do so depends on one or both of the following options: to develop the skills of finance professionals; or to implement cross-functional teams with complementary skills.” Some of the traits of these new agile finance leaders include: 

  • Business Acumen
  • FP&A Skills
  • Data Visualization
  • Big Data / Analytics Skills
  • Influencing Skills

Stirrup continued, “Addressing this skills gap is the biggest challenge organizations face. As in many forms of business change, it is the “soft” elements – especially analytical ability and communications skills – that are often the hardest to get right. Business leaders don’t just want a report filled with numbers, they want recommendations on what is best for the business. Agile finance leaders are promoting these new skillsets in their finance teams.”

In terms of their organizational approach within Business Finance, Oracle is looking to Cloud technology as their foundation for process and standard reporting. Additionally, the have a Center of Excellence in India that focuses on repeatable analysis and report development and business partners located within their various geographies located around the world who handle much of the planning and ad hoc strategic analysis. Within Oracle Finance there are Global Process Owners embedded in the various lines of business who are subject matter experts in their given area,focusing on simplifying, standardizing, centralizing, and automation. The automation approach to their finance reporting centers on:

  • A Single Global Data Warehouse
  • Automated Dashboard Reporting
  • Flexibility via Data Visualization

Oracle’s Business Model Evolution has taken them from on-premise to the Cloud.

  Then, On-Premise Now, the Cloud





IT dominated

Line of Business driven

Deal Types

Large & Complex

Smaller & Higher Volume




Data Centers

Customer Run

Oracle run

Cap Ex Investment



Revenue Recognition




They have also been looking at their Strategic Planning and Forecasting, moving from disconnected spreadsheets to a more driver-based Cloud planning approach with closed-loop planning. One benefit Oracle has seen internally from moving their EPM systems from on-premise to the Cloud was an improvement in the calculation times with both the budget and the forecast. Additional key Cloud technology benefits included:

  • Improved performance
  • Improved user interface
  • Regular technology updates
  • Automatic security updates
  • Improved administration capability

Prior to using EPM applications, they were essentially consolidating data provided by the Regions. EPM applications use drivers to generate their output so they can see the assumptions behind the Regional submissions. The models also ensure that everyone is using a consistent approach and enable more agility. As an example, Oracle has eliminated the need for their Regions to provide manual forecast submissions in excel each Friday. The Regions can now update EPM directly on a Friday morning with the application providing Finance with a consolidated forecast to review late morning.

Oracle also created the Global Business Finance Training Academy to train new hires, provide role-based training for Center of Excellence and business partner support; as well as ongoing career development for new and experienced managers. It also includes FP&A certifications, rotations in and out of Line of Businesses to better understand business strategy as well as succession planning. The academy even goes as far as providing products and systems training to ensure the team takes advantage of the latest digital technologies. 

Ivgen Guner, SVP for Global Business Finance, Oracle, defined the ‘more influence’ dimension by explaining, “Business leaders want finance professionals to interpret data within their unique business context. They want recommendations tailored to their business, so it’s critical that business partners understand the strategy of the business, what metrics are most significant, what the competitive landscape looks like, and then advise leaders accordingly.”

At Oracle, Agile Finance is achieved through the global business finance training academy. They are training future finance professionals to become agile leaders and perhaps eventually their own ‘co-pilots’. Finance is guiding the business and enabling finance to LEAD digital transformation – not just react to it.