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Adapting Amidst the COVID Crisis

Adapting Amidst the COVID Crisis

By Ragan Cohn, Executive Director, OATUG

The movie opens with a scene from a New Year’s Eve party. It’s Gatsby themed, and long strands of fake pearls and swaying fringe make a striking visual as the camera sweeps the dance floor. Now the scene cuts to a large family -- multiple generations -- gathered in an expansive lodge-like setting, a fire roaring at the hearth while the patriarch raises a toast to “Health, wealth and the best decade this family has ever seen!” The director treats us to glimpses of similar celebrations, large and small, happening all around the world.

Then she cuts to a hospital. A patient codes. The health care workers in the room don’t look sad. They look scared. One of them breaks the silence: “This is just the beginning.”

As the words “THREE MONTHS LATER” appear on the screen, we see a deserted college campus, a park playground inhabited by a lone squirrel, and then Times Square with electronic billboards advertising wares to empty streets below.

If only it were just a movie, right?

In the last few months, we’ve been challenged as societies, governments, corporations, educational institutions, small businesses, families and individuals. We’ve been challenged in ways we never anticipated as we rang in this new decade.

Heroes have emerged. We’ve learned to celebrate “essential workers” and discovered new wells of appreciation for health care professionals, grocery store clerks, truck drivers and teachers.

And we’re adapting. We hope it’s temporary. We look forward to “normal” times. But in the meantime, we are shifting and reframing and proving ourselves more resourceful than we knew.

The OATUG Forum Online (conducted April 20 – May 1) was a demonstration of that adaptation and resourcefulness, as a conference program long-planned for a gathering in Vegas was instead “lifted and shifted” and conducted from and broadcast to home offices, kitchens and guest rooms throughout the US and around the world. Most importantly, that online event offered a place for Oracle users and experts to share how and where their companies are adapting – and how and where they’re moving forward, business as usual. Here are just a few of the takeaways and stories shared there.

Supply chain management has taken center stage as some companies had to rapidly rescale to serve an influx of new retail customers while others had to scale down as their B2B customer base virtually disappeared overnight. As soon as the immediate shifts were addressed, attention had to be given to preparing for longer term changes in consumer behavior and potentially seismic shifts in international supply lines. Even now, some Oracle users are diversifying supply chains, while others are working out plans to transition to regional supply chains as a hedge against future disruptions. Also – in many cases – they’re managing those increasingly complex moving parts with a leaner workforce.

For that workforce, work life may have just changed for good. With billions of us now working remotely, Oracle users are now managing the development and oversight of new workflows, redistribution of responsibilities, re-imagined quality control procedures, elevated demand for remote access to applications and networks, new security challenges and other disruptions to “normal” systems. At the same time, those people are also managing people under extraordinary stress and strain, testing our collective ability not just to manage change to but to lead ourselves and others effectively through it amidst immense uncertainty.

Financial forecasting has perhaps never been more challenging as old reports and old models are nowhere near as useful as they were just months before, challenging the C-suite and all who inform them. When demand for real-time analytics has grown ever more critical, new reports delivered faster and providing greater clarity is requiring collaboration across the enterprise and full-utilization of analytics tools and platforms across the Oracle suite.

Accounting professionals are managing billing and collections now in environments in which some types of debt are no longer permitted to be collected (by temporary government order), heightened attention has to be given to potential bankruptcies, and decisions have to be made about whether to pursue collections more or less aggressively under the circumstances unique to the industry and entity for which they work. Some have also been challenged to spec requirements for system changes to properly account for, track and report on use of government funding.

And finally, automation and more effective data management – already clearly important – just became an even higher priority for many. Processes long targeted for redesign – and others that were still serving us well before the outbreak – are now being re-examined and made more efficient through automation.

And amidst it all, there are wins to celebrate, for example:

  • In one conference session, Creoal Consulting shared how they were able to map out a new implementation roadmap for a customer whose project was to begin in March, demonstrating how their project could be just as effectively delivered fully remotely, leveraging online communication and collaboration tools (albeit it over a more elongated timeline). The customer accepted the new plan, and the implementation began this month.
  • In his EBS product roadmap session, Oracle’s Cliff Godwin congratulated Gilead Sciences (a company that uses EBS to manage its global supply chain for pharmaceutical manufacturing) for moving forward with and successfully completing a long-planned upgrade to 12.2.8 during some of the craziest and haziest days of the pandemic (back before we even knew about virtual backgrounds in Zoom).
  • More4Apps rewrote their product launch strategy virtually overnight and successfully launched their new ERP Cloud Toolbox without the benefit of the in-person opportunities they’d counted on at COLLABORATE.

Also, Oracle and many within the OATUG community have found ways to contribute to pandemic mitigation efforts in direct ways. Here are just a few examples shared with us in recent weeks:

  • Oracle donated an online platform to the Department of Health and Human Services to facilitate collection of real-time medical data related to COVID-19 providing invaluable insights in the search for effective therapeutics and a cure. Oracle also secured a new partnership with Zoom, helping that suddenly-infinitely-more-important platform scale to handle a sudden surge of online meetings of a staggering scale – a 2900% increase in daily meeting participants based on numbers reported by Reuters.
  • PPG donated 80,000 masks to hospitals, converted some of its paint-making production to hand sanitizer production, and launched a new quick-ship program to get its antibacterial-protected powder coating into customers’ hands within 48 hours of order placement.
  • Insum developed a free online platform to connect those with access to personal protective equipment (PPE) to those who need it, helping meet the sudden and significant demand for N95 masks, gloves and other gear for those on the frontlines of the crisis.

Throughout the OATUG community you are showing yourselves to be resilient, proactive change agents for good, leaving no doubt that together we will come through this crisis better in many ways than we were before.