Oracle's Idea Labs - Social Networking Meets Customer Enhancement Requests

At More4apps, we’ve been busy designing and developing a new suite of spreadsheet-based integration tools for ERP Cloud customers. It’s certainly a different world from Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS). One welcome change is Oracle’s Idea Labs. If you’re already on Cloud ERP or moving to Cloud ERP, you’ll really appreciate this great new service.

The Oracle Idea Labs were created to provide more of a social media slant for getting ideas reviewed and evaluated by both customers and Oracle Development. In the Idea Labs, you can post ideas for features you’d like to see and collaborate with other customers on features they’re interested in.

All ideas posted are reviewed by the Oracle Product and Development teams. In some cases, they are able to confirm that the feature already exists within the product. In others, they will suggest workarounds if there are alternative ways to solve the problem.

From a customer’s point of view, the Idea Labs are a great place to contribute ideas and receive feedback from other customers as well as from Oracle.
Ideas, feedback and conclusions are visible to all users of the Idea Labs, providing real benefits of collaborative communication between supplier, customer and business partners like us at More4apps

The Ins and Outs of Posting Ideas

If you are on Oracle ERP Cloud or a member of the Oracle Partner Network, then you automatically have the necessary credentials to access and search for ideas or post your own ideas. 

To use the Idea Labs, you must first identify the correct functional area. Most of the time, you’ll know exactly where to post your request, but there are some crossover areas of functionality.   Don’t stress if you get it wrong; the folks at Oracle are really good at re-assigning posts to the correct area in order to give your ideas the best visibility.

Select your functional area to get started (See below).

 

By selecting the Enterprise Resource Planning tab users can view a menu of options

 

 

 

Once you have identified the functional area, perform a search to see if your idea already exists (See below). I really like this feature, as it saves a lot of unnecessary noise and helps to reduce the chances of duplicate idea postings. I highly recommend avoiding posting an idea for a duplicate issue, as this has the potential to reduce the level of engagement for a particular idea.

If you do find an existing idea that lines up with what you require, support it by commenting on and voting for the idea. Providing more details, like a brief business use case and the benefit from the idea, etc., improves the chances of an idea getting through. An enhancement is less likely to eventuate if just one or two people have voted for it.

In case you find duplicate ideas, just add a comment to one of them and reference the other – that way the team at Oracle can work through removing the duplicate. 

If you log an idea, this is where the fun begins! Usually you’ll get a comment from someone at Oracle, and usually in a timely manner. From personal experience, they will let you know if there’s a solution, if it’s already on their development path, if it’s a bug or if it’s a genuine new idea. 

I find this is a nice way to short-cut the support process and get answers to issues sooner rather than later

 Where’s the Line Between an Idea and a Bug?

This is where things get a little tricky. I’m actually not too sure on the ins and outs of how moderators decide what is a support issue vs. an idea. And if anything, this is really the only area where I have criticism on how the Idea Labs work. From my point of view, an idea is just that, an idea for new functionality or an enhancement to a piece of current functionality. However, I’ve found that I’ve created SRs where Oracle is agreeing that it is a bug, but they still push for it to go on the Idea Lab. It seems as if the support analyst’s key aim is to resolve the SR by converting it to an Idea. 

I have an example where a moderator suggested the issue was a bug and recommended an SR, only to find Support had recommended an idea for the issue. 

Even if it ends up as an enhancement SR, there is a link back to the Idea Lab. I do believe this is an area that needs some work. That is, really tightening down what an idea is vs. a bug. But don’t let this concern diminish what I believe is in general a great service from Oracle.

Idea Review and Consideration

Oracle takes notice of the top-ranking ideas, so if you see something that you would really love to have, then make sure you “like” that idea. The higher the number of votes, the higher the chances of Oracle doing something about it. Of course, they can’t run development based entirely on the popularity of an idea, but they certainly take it into account. This is something I’m really impressed with. Oracle didn’t pay me to say this, but it works; you actually feel listened to! 

Oracle provides a diagram to detail the lifecycle of the ideas process (See below):

 

If your idea is declined, there is a very good reason for this. If you disagree, you can debate your point with an Oracle analyst. I recommend connecting directly with the analyst to gain more insight on where they are coming from. Yes, you can send direct messages to people outside of the forum. Doing this stop talk-back, radio-like banter and is a cleaner way to work through the issue.

Oracle has the following statuses for the Idea Rankings:

Oracle provides a diagram to detail the lifecycle of the ideas process:

Keep an eye on where things are, and ask for feedback if your idea is ‘Planned’ or ‘Under Oracle Review

In Conclusion
Oracle has come a long way. I still remember the “old days” when dealing with Oracle Support. Back in the 90’s, there were modems, VT Terminals and Fax machines at the ready to help customers out. It was very much a hands-on process where everything went to Support and customers hoped and prayed there was a solution or a way of getting what they needed into their beloved character mode v9 or v10 of what was then Oracle Applications.

I like the fact they question ideas and really home in on the business case for the idea to better understand the required functionality. The timelines of answers and engagement is great too.
This is what Oracle says about the Idea Labs:

“Your feedback and participation guide us in finding, evolving, and prioritizing the ideas that provide you with the greatest benefits. We’re here, listening to your ideas for making our cloud-based service better!”

Now this may sound like a bit of marketing speak, however, I can attest to Oracle really working hard to meet this vision through the Idea Labs. I’ve found they are working hard to achieve this vision.

The Ideas Lab has really helped us at More4apps as we develop new products for ERP Cloud. I find the Idea Labs the best way to engage with the Oracle ERP Cloud team. Take a look yourself. You’ll see what I mean.

David Wright
David Wright

Product Champion Lead

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