Announcing the 2018 ODTUG Innovation Award Nominations

If you are an ODTUG member (Associate or Full), you should have received an email with a members-only link to vote for your favorite innovation. If you are an ODTUG member but did not receive the email with the voting link, please email taylor@odtug.com. 

Thank you to all the individuals who nominated these exceptionally outstanding individuals and their innovative projects. The winner of the 2018 ODTUG Innovation Award will be announced at the ODTUG Kscope18 General Session, on Monday, June 11, 2018.

 

2018 Nominations: 

 

The Bakerfield Solutions Smart View Toolkit

Nominee Name: Shane Axsom

Project URL

Why is this solution innovative? List out how this project is innovative and helping lead and define Oracle technologies

The Smart View Toolkit developed by Shane Axsom of Bakerfield Solutions is a free Excel add-in that is helping over 100 organizations use both Oracle Cloud EPM and on-prem Hyperion products in a much more productive and effective manner. The user experience is radically improved for all of these Oracle products: PBCS, EPBCS, FCCS, Analytics Cloud, Hyperion Planning, Essbase, and HFM. 
The Smart View Toolkit was the direct result of audience feedback from a presentation Shane gave to the Ohio Valley Oracle Applications User Group (OVOAUG) regarding Oracle's Hyperion Smart View. They noticed an earlier version of the toolkit that Shane had built for his own personal use and wanted a version for themselves. 
Inspired by their interest, Shane created a full-featured Excel ribbon that easily surpassed his earlier effort and provides a polished tool to increase the productivity of Oracle EPM and Hyperion users. Shane's firm, Bakerfield Solutions, supported Shane in this initiative and provides the toolkit to the greater user community as a free service. 

It includes the following key, innovative features:

  • Speed up Smart View queries by more than two times using Turbo Charged functionality
  • Use a consolidated ribbon that combines commonly used items from Smart View, Planning, Essbase, and HFM Ribbons
  • Change Smart View options, including row suppression, directly in the Toolkit ribbon with a single click
  • Save Smart View queries as Excel templates and share with your team on a shared LAN drive
  • Retain connection when copying one or more Smart View sheets
  • Convert “HsGetValue” functions to Ad Hoc Analysis Mode
  • Quick connect to Smart View by saving connection information

Customer testimonials reveal the impact that the Toolkit has on its users:

  • "I really enjoy the Smart View Ribbon that you created. I have shown it to the Oracle Smart View Developers and I suggested to them that they buy it from you. It is an EXCELLENT addition . . . I consider it is a blessing for all Smart View users."
  • "Your toolbar is outstanding and is a significant UI improvement for Smart View power users."
  • "My first impression is very good: it looks great, has a good and functional design and the most important thing—it improves the performance of Oracle's Smart View a lot! :)"
  • "Smart View Toolkit is a great utility!"
  • "Your toolkit might save our project."

The Toolkit is in use by more than 100 different companies, many of whom have distributed it enterprise-wide.

Additional information about the project and/or team members.

Shane Axsom is an Oracle Hyperion certified developer who has many successful Oracle EPM / Hyperion implementations

 

Checkmate

Nominee Name: ACE Director Stewart Bryson

Project URL

Why is this solution innovative? List out how this project is innovative and helping lead and define Oracle technologies.

The motivation for building Checkmate was to support basic software development lifecycles and workflows with Oracle Analytics development. This meant supporting real continuous integration and continuous delivery pipelines. To do that, we needed to address the following feature gaps:

  • Offline Metadata Development- Developers are unaware if their changes even work. Working on the OBIEE metadata repository in offline mode is similar to spending hours working on an SQL script without ever executing it. Developers need to build analyses against the metadata repository to properly unit test their content, which is an important part of any lifecycle.
  • Separate Metadata and Catalog Workflows - The only way to achieve real speed and agility is to combine metadata and catalog development in a single feature, which is represented as a single feature branch in Git.
  • Manual Regression Testing- Human beings are incapable of providing comprehensive test coverage. Machines do this much better, so Checkmate needed a real testing framework.
  • Waiting Until QA to Test- Testing aggregate development from numerous developers once a release makes it difficult to perform root cause analysis. The process should fail early.
  • Manual Code Merges- Releases are merged and packaged manually only at release time.
  • Manual Migrations- Environmental changes are made manually using GUI tools for each downstream environment.
  • Manual Versioning of Deployment Artifacts- Human-centric processes are required to capture versioned deployment artifacts.

But now there is a better way. Checkmate is a product, and also a process, for addressing all of these challenges. In fact, the name is a hybrid of “check-in” and “automate,” two key principles for how Checkmate operates. It includes two pieces: Checkmate Studio and the Checkmate Build Framework. Checkmate Studio is a JavaScript-based client written using the Electron, while the Checkmate Build Framework is a build and test framework written using Gradle. Checkmate provides the following features:

  • Real Multi-User Development- Developers work in isolated, fully functioning workstations and commit to isolated feature branches. The role of merging code is managed by a downstream, Git-based process. Developers develop—period. Checkmate Studio manages source control integration for OBI developer workstations by seamlessly exporting and importing content to and from Git branches. Full workstations allow for unit testing, as well as combined metadata/catalog workflows.
  • Regression Testing Framework- Checkmate provides a full testing framework, which provides regression test capabilities during the development lifecycle and smoke or integration testing as part of the deployment process. The Checkmate testing framework generates JUnit results files, which all CI/CD servers support. Developers create regression tests as part of new development, which are OBIEE analytics identified as tests. Isolated branches are tested before code is merged back into integration branches. Failing early means fixing early. Immediate errors are fixed immediately.
  • On-Demand Releases- Checkmate makes it simple to deliver daily or even hourly releases, automated by a simple merge into a master branch in Git. Individual feature branches can be cherry-picked for releases, which makes it easy to release code even when users haven’t accepted individual features. The automated build process publishes and versions Apache Maven-compatible artifacts for push-button deployments downstream. Automated regression testing eliminates 80% of the Q&A process, while smoke-testing can be combined with automated deployments and automated rollbacks.

Checkmate provides the following results to Oracle Analytics environments:

Impact on Developers-

  • Productivity increases using full workstations
  • Source control insulates against human error
  • Checkmate Studio manages integration with source control
  • Developers develop—period

Impact on Consumers-

  • Rapid release of curated content
  • Decreased outages for content migration
  • End-to-end transparency of feature development
  • Increased accuracy and consumer confidence

Additional information about the project and/or team members.

Additional contributor- Emily Carlsen.

 

Profitability at Amazon

Nominee Name: Peter Doyle

Why is this solution innovative? List out how this project is innovative and helping lead and define Oracle technologies.

Vertical Edge replaced an aging OFA allocation process with an approach to profitability using Oracle HPCM. Allocation scripts were reduced from 20,000 to 2,000 and processing time at close from 24 hours to under two hours.  Additionally, highly creative ODI routines were used to feed Amazon Oracle E business general ledger. 
The allocation scripts were defined to maximize to financial intelligence of the HPCM tool as Amazon experienced how amazing the tool is! The project was completed on time and under budget.

Additional information about the project and/or team members.

Peter Doyle is a recognized leader in the Oracle HPCM world and this project required every bit of skillset and experience in his tool kit.

 

United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Nominee Name: Patrick Ferraro

Why is this solution innovative? List out how this project is innovative and helping lead and define Oracle technologies.

Huron is proud to deliver another two “firsts” to market by being the first company to deliver a cloud-based Oracle EPM Planning solution to the U.S. federal government using Groovy. While some developers are only leveraging Groovy to dramatically increase performance, we are taking Groovy a further step to deliver richer functionality to expand what’s never been possible in EPBCS / PBCS+ before.
Using Groovy in PBCS+ Huron has been able to develop the complex validations and functionalities required of the U.S. federal government’s planning system. Groovy has enabled us to think outside the box, and go above and beyond the traditional logic when it comes to building validations, adding functionality, and other behind-the- scenes features that uphold data governance. 

The Groovy-enabled features in this PBCS+ solution include:

  1. Line-by-line data validation and submission: Using Groovy, every line of the plan is validated against an aggregation of other values also found on the form, both of which are evaluated in real time by Groovy. Those lines of the plan that pass validation are automatically sent to the ASO cube via a dynamic data push, built on the fly. Those lines that fail validation are highlighted red and an error message is displayed. Depending on the time of year, different validations are required, and Groovy can automatically detect which type of validation to apply.
    Multi-line enabling / disabling selection: Users can mark multiple lines for inclusion/exclusion and have them removed in one click, rather than using a right-click Action Menu as before. 
  2. Cell History retention with accompanying commentary: upon every form save, Groovy identifies those cells that have changed, and calculates the new increase or decrease against the previously saved value. Users can see the story of how the plan have changed over time, with accompanying comments from each submission.
    Execution of Data Maps in Business Rules: using Groovy, Huron built rules that execute Data Maps multiple times per business rule.

Additional information about the project and/or team members.

Additional Contributor – Alex Rodriguez

PriceHand

Nominee Name: Oracle ACE Mónica Godoy

Project URL 

Why is this solution innovative? List out how this project is innovative and helping lead and define Oracle technologies.

PriceHand Project lets customers query products in a particular supermarket using their smartphone and the product code bar. 
The information that customers can query includes code, description, and price for a product.

This project is innovative because it:

  • Eliminates the need for businesses to buy devices and takes advantage of the fact that each customer brings their own smartphone.
  • Helps customers make purchases while allowing them to control the expense.
  • Allows bringing the full potential of APEX to mobile devices in a transparent way for the user.
  • Breaks the classic limitations of the browser, being able to access all the capacities of modern smartphones like the camera, GPS, notifications, and others.
  • Joins the native capabilities with the benefits of the web. We take APEX to the new world of progressive web apps (PWA) creating an almost unlimited range of options.

Additional information about the project and/or team members.

This project was developed by Hanne Nule Zamudio and Mónica Godoy.

 

Groovy, Game-Changing Technology at Breakthru Beverage Group

Nominee Name: Kyle Goodfriend

Why is this solution innovative? List out how this project is innovative and helping lead and define Oracle technologies.

Planners are always looking for real-time reporting and faster feedback. They are looking to make the forecasting and planning process faster by using historical trends and the ability to enter data at any level, enter growth factors, and drive the results down to the lowest level of the business. They want instant feedback on consolidated results. 
Breakthru Beverage Group has improved speed and performance across planning processes by integrating Oracle Enterprise Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (EPBCS) with game-changing technology, Groovy.  Averaging a 99% performance increase, the integration of Groovy and access to Java API allows for more customizations to achieve real-time consolidated reporting. Groovy also made it possible to bypass the typical Essbase calculation engine to eliminate Essbase BSO consolidations where historically this was not possible and synchronize data from ASO to BSO plan types, eliminating the need to do lengthy consolidations.

  1. Business Logic:  From 26.1 to .3 seconds – Groovy selects only edited cells and executes the logic on only products and periods that have changed.
  2. Smart Push: 14.5 to 1.0 seconds – Groovy selects only the cells that were edited and copies only what changed to the reporting model.
  3. Consolidated P&L:  82.9 to .2 seconds – Groovy eliminates the need to consolidate the BSO cube and copies data directly from the ASO cube at a consolidated level.
  4. Consolidated Reporting: Real-time changes – Reporting includes all updates from detailed modules, product, Capex, workforce, and similar modules.
  5. Global Consolidations: 663.6 to 12.0 seconds – The entire data set is consolidated and moved to the P&L model.
  6. Automated Process: Administrative processes are executed to run all business logic and model synchronizations.

Additional information about the project and/or team members.

For the full case study presented by Chris Hull, vice president of financial planning analysis at Breakthru Beverage Group, and Kyle Goodfriend, Groovy extraordinaire and architect at Huron, click here

 

Chatbot for EPM Support

Nominee Name: Amarnath Kothapalli

Why is this solution innovative? List out how this project is innovative and helping lead and define Oracle technologies.

We are a global EPM support provider with 330+ resources working in the Oracle EPM space in support, implementations, migrations, and infra support related to EPM products. We support around 20,000+ users across all the clients and we keep getting L1 requests for access, Smart View installation, Smart View-related issues and errors.
Every time a ticket is logged (for example, for an access issue), the support team for that particular client/business will have to verify their access and then get on to a call/screen share to take a look at the issue.
That is when an idea sparked: Why don't we build and deploy a chatbot that does all the checks and only transfer the request to a support team when a human assistance is required?

Think, for example, a user’s Excel crashed and lost the Smart View. The user raises a ticket for that, and someone from the support team has to be available and free to respond and reach out to the user. There would be a delay for the support team to reach out to the user or provide instructions for the same. The user may not be able to do any work until the issue is addressed. In this situation, imagine a user opens the chatbot link and says, "Excel crashed. Lost Smart View." Then the chatbot will provide instructions; it could be a link to SOP or a short video to bring back the Smart View. Imagine the amount of time that can be saved from this. The chatbot will also log a ticket for this, allowing one to track and improve the system over time and repeated issues. The chatbot will also be able to direct someone to a support team when the bot may not be able to address the issue. For example, the layout of the report is not correct and Smart View gives an error. In this case, a support team intervention is required to look at what is wrong in the report.

We are currently in the ideation phase of this by collecting all the tickets that we get and categorizing. We are also looking at "Oracle Intelligent Bot Service" for a reason. Since it is an Oracle product, we believe the integration or connecting to Oracle EPM application would be easier.

Additional information about the project and/or team members.

Currently we are two-member team, Amarnath and Pragathi, working on this outside of our project work due to the passion we have for technology and Oracle EPM in providing better service using the latest disruptive technologies.

 

Voice Integration to EPM Cloud Processes

Nominee Name: Amarnath Kothapalli

Why is this solution innovative? List out how this project is innovative and helping lead and define Oracle technologies.

Ever wondered and thought about initiating voice commands and run jobs in Oracle EPM Cloud applications? Let's say "Refresh Cube" and your cube is refreshed. Execute "Actuals agg rule for 2017 Apr" and your job is executed. It's possible. We have done a test on integrating Amazon Alexa to Oracle PBCS application and performed some basic operations and it works. We are still working on how we can bring this power to the user and also to the admins.

Imagine this from an admin standpoint: Service is down/a job failed, you get an alert, and that alert is not being noticed. How effective it would be that your voice assistant will voice-over if a job fails/service is down. This is more effective than mail communication. From a user standpoint, you can ask some basic commands to run queries and Alexa will construct the query and produce the output to you. For example, "profit for 2018 May for North America," and you get the output as "$150 million. You are $2 million lower compared to the previous month on the same day."

These add a lot of value where the user doesn't have to connect and retrieve if he needs just one number or a quick set of numbers. This wouldn't make sense if you want to view a dashboard, but you can ask Alexa, "Alexa, mail me my sales dashboard from sales planning cloud application for 2018 May," and you would get the report run and mailed over to you. Integrating everything with a single ID would be a challenge but I think the possibilities are endless. We are also exploring the option of testing with Google home as the technology is the same. This would not be possible without rest API, NLP (Natural Language Processing), Machine Learning (ML), and for Amazon and Google to come up with a serverless option to integrate these voice assistants to business applications, which is very cool.

Additional information about the project and/or team members.

Currently we are two-member team, Amarnath and Pragathi, working on this outside of our project work due to the passion we have for technology and Oracle EPM in providing better service using the latest disruptive technologies.

 

Perficient MD Anderson Rolling Forecast

Nominee Name: Nandini Nehru

Why is this solution innovative? List out how this project is innovative and helping lead and define Oracle technologies.

Rolling Forecast is continuous planning model that allows predicting the future based on inputs over a set period. This model is significantly different from a static budget model. Rolling forecasts in healthcare are especially challenging because Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are unique to each organization and market conditions are ever changing. MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) needed a standard forecasting process, while still offering choice-based budgeting and forecasting for the various divisions and institutes. Perficient implemented a driver- based rolling forecast Oracle Hyperion planning application that is standardized to calculate a base model while still allowing the planners to make adjustments to the calculated model.
Working with the client, we identified key driver inputs which form the basis of the calculated base model. We identified global versus local adjustments for a few of the driver inputs and then calculated outputs. With MDACC's long history of using Oracle Hyperion for enterprise performance management processes, integrating with various other original Hyperion applications and Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition OBIEE dashboards was significant.
The project applies the basics of planning along with new dashboard features available in OBIEE. The use of attribute dimensions to manage the calculation script logic and script execution via ODI in a specific order allows building a robust forecast model that is easy to piecemeal for ad-hoc runs versus scheduled runs. The project is innovative with respect to:

  1. Use of attribute dimensions and calculation scripts for control the flow of data and relationships between different members of the same hierarchy.
  2. Use of adjustment members to allow for top-side adjustments.
  3. Integrations with existing ASO Essbase reporting application.

 

King County Fully Migrated to PBCS

Nominee Name: Tejas Patel

Project URL 

Why is this solution innovative? List out how this project is innovative and helping lead and define Oracle technologies.

They said it couldn't be done . . . a complex and highly relied-upon Hyperion Public Sector Planning Solution migrating to Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud in short-order and resulting in happy end users. AST's team made it happen, as the migrated application was released to end users last summer, well ahead of the November 2017, deadline.
The county had deployed Hyperion Planning more than five years ago and had since extended and refactored the solution multiple times in efforts focused on continuous improvement. The highly customized solution, with additional custom cubes, and unused licenses (e.g. FDMEE, as custom scripting in place instead), performed poorly and had a long enhancement list from users. The on-premise architecture had become difficult to manage, was not fully integrated, was severely out of date (11.1.2.1) and had gaps in reporting and automation that were high priority.  
AST proposed a targeted approach for a unique “lift and shift” to the Cloud, accomplishing this task quickly to allow significant time for incorporating high-value enhancements. Inhibiting technical elements of Oracle’s pre-built PSPB module were overcome—specifically, features that were not supported in the cloud were re-architected.  
The AST team, a proven approach, and Cloud EPM expertise made success possible for this challenging project. The accolades from the customer speak for themselves:

"There are lots of examples of IT projects that miss scope, schedule, and/or budget, but we tend to forget that well-managed projects with good teams can hit all their targets. Well done!"
"We would like to thank the entire AST team for the excellent and timely work they performed . . . to make this happen."
AST’s methods for King Co can be leveraged to migrate other PSPB customers to the cloud within re-implementations—this can be used to migrate Oracle’s other Planning modules to the cloud as well.

Additional information about the project and/or team members.

AST minimized costs by leveraging their extended team in our Offshore Development Center to perform an upfront POC on the process and to support the overall effort.  AST's expert team included Tejas P., Umarani N., Sidharda C., Sanjay P., and Raja A.

 

APEX-SERT

Nominee Name: ACE Director Scott Spendolini

Project URL

Why is this solution innovative? List out how this project is innovative and helping lead and define Oracle technologies.

APEX-SERT makes securing your APEX applications faster and brings Application Security into the development process where it belongs. 

APEX SERT: 

  • Evaluates your APEX application for potential security vulnerabilities
  • Provides advice and steps on how to remedy identified issues
  • Easily identifies and flags false positives or acceptable risks
  • Ensures exceptions are correct and proper with built-in peer review
  • Automates and schedules evaluations
  • Includes built-in PDF reporting and built-in access control, allowing developers to access evaluations for single or multiple workspaces
  • Is open source and freely available for use by any organization
  • Available to run against APEX 4.2 through 5.1
  • Includes plans for APEX 18.1 coverage in future release

The project is innovative because it makes full use of the Oracle APEX metadata to evaluate the application (upstream) as opposed to only testing what is exposed when the application is run (downstream).

Additional information about the project and/or team members.

Scott Spendolini has given a lot back to the community, but APEX-SERT is in a league of its own. What others charge for, Scott has given away for free . . . Awesome stuff.

 

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