Webinar reveals why Oracle's transition to WFH has been so seamless

Oracle experts share how their employees were able to fully start working from home within 24 hours.

CHRO South Africa hosted a webinar on Wednesday 26 August about how technology can help the HR function perform in a way that enables employees to be resilient and innovative in these uncertain times. 

A team of experts from Oracle provided insight into cloud-enabled technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, chatbots, automation, and analytics, giving attendees a better understanding of where their efforts need to go when it comes to implementing HR technologies. 

“HR has to enable productivity but it also has to protect employees. To be honest, we are no longer in an age of working from home, we are living in a world where we are living at work and, because of that, the risk of burnout is a real one,” said Oracle strategic business solutions engineer Rob Bothma, who presented alongside HCM sales development & strategy leader for Africa Ronnie Toerien and HR director for South Africa Queen Mokonoto. 

Rob said that since the advent of the coronavirus, “it doesn't matter whether you are 20 or 50 years old, everyone has to get used to the new world of working. Employees are working much harder than ever before and HR is being expected to enable people in a way that they never have before.”

To do so effectively, Rob digital transformations are having to be accelerated and that meant getting the right tools. 

“When we talk about HR transformation, it's not merely about the process of upgrading legacy systems,” he said. 

Queen said that Oracle’s transition to working from home was seamless for that exact reason because things like succession plans and development initiatives were “at the tip of my fingers. Using the HCM technology we have, I am able to know exactly what talent we have in the business, what career path each individual has and needs.” 

This, she said, enabled her to have her finger on the human capital needs of the organisation at all times whether she was at home or in the office.

Said Queen: "From 16 March, all Oracle employees had to move from their offices working from home and, within 24 hours, we were all operational. What really enabled us was the technology we have, which acts as an engine...If you don't have the right technology you don't have an engine in a vehicle, you cannot move.” 

More than 15 years ago

The work to prepare for this digital began aeons ago. Ronnie was working at PeopleSoft when Oracle acquired the company in 2004. That’s around the same time the leadership team had realised the need to move into a cloud world and that meant re-examining the way the company was delivering technology.  

“The acquisitions we made allowed us to get the IP that we needed to build the technology that we have today. Oracle looked for the leading human capital management solution which, in those days, was PeopleSoft. Oracle also acquired the top CRM application Siebel. The idea was to get the IP at all the top organisations and use that build what we now refer to as our superset of applications for driving business,” said Ronnie, adding that their transition to working from home as not been as bumpy a ride as it has been for many other organisations because they had long before gone “from being an on-premise perpetual license vendor to a software-as-a-service vendor operating on a subscription basis.” 

Machines can never replace humans

On how to get their organisations’ digital transformations going, Ronnie said it was all about eliminating mundane tasks and processes to leverage the value that human beings uniquely bring to the table. 

“Creativity, imagination, and intuition are just a few examples of natural traits that human beings have that can't be replicated in machines,” he said. 

“For all the computing power that machines have in today's world, there will never come a time when an entirely original idea is generated by a computer. Computers are great at calculations, memorising and storing data, which makes them great for maintaining institutional memory and forecasting. They are also really great at multitasking, unlike humans whose efficiency dampened by multitasking.”