NEW INSIGHTS FOR ORACLE APPLICATIONS USERS
POSSIBILITY VERSUS PROBABILITY
PREDICTING THE FUTURE WITH ORACLE’S CRYSTAL BALL
month before Oracle
brought business intelligence leader Hyperion
into the fold, Hyperion
completed its acquisition of
Profit spoke to Jim Franklin, vice
president and general manager
of Oracle’s Crystal Ball, to learn
more about the product that
delivers a fresh approach to the
world of decision-making. Jim Franklin, Vice President and General Manager,
PROFIT: What makes Crystal Oracle’s Crystal Ball
Decisioneering and its flagship
product, Crystal Ball. Crystal
Ball is a set of predictive management solutions for decision
optimization. It is spreadsheet
based, and it gives users capabilities for predictive modeling,
forecasting, simulation, optimization, and real-options analysis.
Ball unique? PROFIT: Tell us about the kind of cus-
FRANKLIN: The simulation and optimi- tomers that use Crystal Ball.
zation aspect—most products take users FRANKLIN: Crystal Ball is used by 85
only to the point of being able to see the percent of the Fortune 500. The return
possibilities of a given situation. They might on investment for our product is enor-refine things to the point of a best-case, mous, and it is very fast. One Fortune
worst-case, and most likely scenario, but 100 manufacturing firm was able to solve
that’s as far as they get. These methods a problem that had remained unsolved
give you possibilities but not probabili- for 40 years by using Crystal Ball. The
ties. Crystal Ball takes you much farther solution allowed it to dramatically reduce
forward, allowing you to refine scenarios to costs by relaxing tolerances in some of
the point of making educated decisions. its manufacturing assemblies. Another
PROFIT: How do businesses benefit? customer had a 12-month release cycle
FRANKLIN: It’s really all about increas- for new products. It used Crystal Ball
ing the credibility and persuasiveness of to analyze processes and shaved three
decision-makers. Decision-makers see fewer months off that time. In a mature busi-surprises because Crystal Ball offers more- ness like theirs, that kind of time savings
realistic modeling of business situations and provides a huge competitive advantage.
addresses uncertainty. Also, it is a univer- Another interesting story comes from
sally accessible product. It is spreadsheet a telecommunications company that
based, so it can be placed into the hands of ordered parts from China and placed
almost any business user. It allows organiza- an order only once a year. Order place-tions to be up and running within minutes ment had a big impact on profitability.
and at a very low relative cost. By optimizing its order decision with
Crystal Ball, it improved its
financial results by more than
[US]$100 million dollars.
PROFIT: What role is Crystal
Ball playing in the world of
Oracle’s business intelligence and
enterprise performance management products?
FRANKLIN: Crystal Ball creates
the ability for decision optimization, which is the next evolution
in this area. We also deliver on the
actionable reporting of business
intelligence. The output of Crystal
Ball is actually the next step, the
step that takes you from “Aha!” to
the action: go do this; don’t do this;
do some of this and none of that.
And that really closes that loop
from data to decisions.
PROFIT: What are some highlights of recent releases?
FRANKLIN: Recent releases have
focused on performance, on making
everything we do much faster so
that the workflow of the analyst and
manager can be iterative and they can
keep testing and refining and making
their models more realistic.
PROFIT: What is it like being part of
FRANKLIN: Crystal Ball fits naturally
into the financials and business intelligence stories—the enterprise management angle—that Oracle tells. And we
have begun to share relationships. We
have a strong presence in many verticals
like finance, oil and gas, and manufacturing, and Oracle has been helping us
gain a larger presence in other industries
like retail. Interestingly, organizations use
Crystal Ball in a slightly different place—
at the analyst and director level versus
the executive level—than they have traditionally used Oracle products. <>