LAS VEGAS — Oracle HCM World, a user conference focused on HR leaders, has wrapped for 2014.  Whether you are a current Oracle customer or not, there were so many great learning opportunities during the event.

The discussions were different than many other events or conferences I have attended, which can be either more sales focused or not geared toward top-level HR. These sessions were geared specifically to HR leaders and what they can do to grow, develop, produce, change, mentor, manage, lead and advise. The air was filled with electric excitement when attendees bought into the idea that NOW is HR’s time.

Now is the time for HR leaders to not only handle the compliance and risk minimization aspects of the job. Now is the time for HR leaders to embrace technology more than ever. It’s time to understand that mobile and social are a way of life in the general population and partner with employees to find ways to incorporate those (safely) into our work day.

Beyond that, Oracle HCM World was an event that showed how important HR is to some of the most powerful thought leaders in our industry.  This event included in-depth sessions and discussions with Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and President Mark Hurd.  They spoke about their commitment to creating software that will help HR be more strategic than ever before. Additionally, they shared that Oracle’s focus on the cloud is growing.

Oracle delivered Release 7 of its HCM Cloud product last September and is already delivering Release 8, which will include hundreds of new features including advances on time and labor as well as further integration of Taleo with Fusion HCM.  “The days of using a power analyst to send you a report a couple days later is not how the future will be,” Hurd said.  “Leaders will want to be able to query real-time.”

I had the opportunity to spend some time talking to Mark Hurd and asked him a few questions specifically about Oracle’s growth areas and the impact on companies that may have hesitation about using cloud technology.  Here are some excerpts from our talk:

Question: Are you still seeing any growth in the on-premise side of Oracle’s business, the PeopleSoft and E-Business Suite, even though with the Oracle HCM Cloud you are pushing for customers to adopt these new cloud solutions?

Hurd: We will see an evolution that has some differences in businesses by geography or by industry. For example, there are some industries that get nervous when data goes beyond their firewalls. There are some countries that have data sovereignty laws that may have some impact. In the end, these are impediments, but not show stoppers.  The ability of leaders to move to Cloud solutions will improve as people get more familiar with social sharing in the cloud.  As they get comfortable, you’ll see more migration to the cloud.

Comment: I loved that his perspective is that once HR and other company leaders decide to move to a cloud-based solution, it transfers a lot of the work from the HR leader to the provider (Oracle). The provider does the work, designs the feature string, manages the application and the infrastructure. This means that HR leaders will see a positive economic impact in the coming years.

Question: What are the key areas that HR leaders need to focus on to help educate themselves about upcoming changes?

Hurd: Oracle holds events like HCM World to help communicate out to the marketplace.  Being able to communicate the fact that the (cloud) solutions are very tested and will get more and more enhanced and tightly integrated is something that HR leaders need to know.

Comment: HR leaders also need to know that they are about to go deal with a set of Millennials who are increasingly mobile and increasingly social. HR leaders are going to have to recruit them, retain them, develop them, educate them and in order to do that, they’re going to have to have the tools. What worked 10-15 years ago with people in the Boomer generation will not work. The power of social recruiting will be the most powerful tool in the world so HR leaders need to embrace that now.

Overall, the opportunity to hear not only where HR leaders need to focus but also specific ways that Oracle is addressing the needs of the future of HR was quite exciting.  Thanks to the Oracle team for the hospitality and the information.

If you have questions about the future of HR or about specific HR technologies for your organization, please reach out to me directly at Trish.McFarlane@brandonhall.com or @TrishMcFarlane.

Trish McFarlane

VP Human Resources Practices, Principal Analyst Seasoned HR executive focused on alignment of strategic business objectives and HR competencies. Incorporates social media, marketing, internal communications, and innovation into the strategic objectives of the company. Goal is to expand the business scope of the HR professional as human resources evolves. Specialties: Trish McFarlane,Social media, communications, employee relations, leadership development, talent management, Trish McFarlane, jobs, Perficient, HRringleader, HRevolution, healthcare, Women of HR, Perficient, Fleishman Hillard, PricewaterhouseCoopers, St. Louis Children's Hospital, March of Dimes, The Conference Board, HR, human resources, technology, HR Technology, conferences, speaking, Benefits, recruiting, digital

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