Oracle’s Artificial Intelligence: An APAC view

During Oracle Open World 2017 in San Francisco, Oracle’s senior VP for APAC, Francois Lancon, shared observations with APAC media, about how Oracle is ready to leverage all their work on artificial intelligence (AI), to accelerate the benefits of digital transformation for their customers.

When he compared the announcements coming out of last year’s Open World with this year’s, he called this years’ announcements as “clearly differentiated.”

At least, the two biggest product announcements from Oracle in 2017, are very AI-driven, with clear incorporations of machine learning – the Oracle 18c and also a whole new cyberdefense system comprising of the Oracle Identity Security Operations Center (SOC) and Oracle Management Cloud.

The cyberdefense and database components work together, one to detect anomalies while the latter automatically acts upon it, by say patching itself.

Understandably, interest in the autonomous database is huge, and Lancon discovered customers being especially interested in what would happen to database administrators (DBAs), as most of their functions and tasks – ugrading, patching, fine-tuning and more – become taken over by the database.

The widely held opinion is that, the 18c could potentially free up DBAs to concentrate on innovation, as opposed to being too focused upon keeping the lights on.

Another area of interest from customers is the development of apps, particularly as it pertains to apps with intelligence, or as Oracle calls it, Adaptive Intelligence apps.

Lancon shared that application development and user interfaces that cater to new and emerging job roles, brings new opportunities with it.

“There is huge opportunity especially in Asia, because it is a predominantly mobile world.”

Despite this, he also recognised the different strategies which would need to be deployed for the diverse countries and their respective demographics, in his portfolio.

Artificial intelligence – key ingredient

One clear trend that is emerging for all these countries, however, is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in different applications. This means AI for not just productivity and security, but also safety.

Oracle’s President of product development, Thomas Kurian introduced Adaptive Intelligent Apps, on the third day of Open World, saying, “In 2012, we looked at apps, and felt that over time, apps were commoditised. Fundamentally, there is only x number of ways you can do sales forecast, or an organisational chart for HR, or visualisation.

“Instead of just How to automate business process, a differentiating element can be, What is the data (you can use) and How effectively you use it for business process.”

“Apps should be more intelligent over time,” Kurian said, explaining that business rules currently are manually encoded but will be replaced or be augmented by learning algorithms based on AI. “Our machine learning and AI will look at all interactions with customers, to recommend the next best step.”

According to one of Oracle’s press release, the company wants to embed AI capabilities directly within existing Oracle Cloud Applications – including Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning Cloud, Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud, Oracle Supply Chain Management Cloud and the Oracle Customer Experience Cloud Suite, with the goal of eliminating more integrations or other costly and time-consuming processes.

These Adaptive Intelligent Apps are powered by the Oracle Data Cloud, a third-party data marketplace with more than 5 billion global consumer and business IDs and more than 7.5 trillion data points collected monthly. By applying data science and machine learning to Oracle’s web-scale data and an organization’s own data, the new Adaptive Intelligent Apps can react, learn and adapt in real-time based on historical and dynamic customer data, according to the press release again.

When introducing the Oracle AI Platform Cloud Service, a quick and easy way to set up a secure, scalable environment for new deep learning models in the cloud, Amit Zavery, Senior Vice President, for Oracle Cloud Platform’s product development, said, “Oracle is in a unique position to deliver AI across all layers of the cloud, empowering customers to uncover and unlock critical business patterns in their enterprise data to transform organisational productivity, efficiency, and insight.”

So, all these artificial intelligence technologies and data, Oracle leverages them as well, for their own solution offerings, like their self-driving database and cyberdefense product.

Data strategy

Oracle claims to be the only tech company that can deliver a pervasive approach to AI. With so much analytics and AI driving Oracle’s own solutions, how well optimised would a solution, like say, their autonomous database, be, if there wasn’t a sound data strategy accompanying it?

The end user segment need to play their part, but how is this translating to the APAC region?

Lancon had said, “A company needs to have an enterprise-wide data strategy, instead of just pockets of AI.”

Companies are slowly waking up to the fact, that leveraging analytics and artificial intelligence could be the difference between them being left behind, or moving ahead of rivals, in this disruptive era.  This is happening in Asia Pacific, and in Southeast Asia, there are also examples of this happening.

For example, Oracle is working with an intelligence agency in the region, bringing all kinds of data together for intelligence gathering and law enforcement. Oracle VP of Cloud Transformation inASEAN, Praveen Thakur shared, “Governments are big users of our ‘data lakes’, bringing everything together on the data-level and also analytics-level.”

A leading bank in Malaysia is also using Oracle solutions to reach out to customers with targeted campaigns, and even one logistics company in Malaysia, is using its transportation management solution, with a view to leverage more big data and analytics, as it progresses.

But, there are challenges to analytics becoming more pervasive than they already are in the market.

Praveen explained, “Whenever we do anything on analytics, it is predicated on the quality of data we have. Data quality continues to be the perennial challenge.”

Two other challenges he sees, are the lack of data science skills in most markets in Southeast Asia, and also the huge proliferation of technologies and tools in this very active space.

“What Oracle wants to do is simplify some of these tools, bring it all together with some of the tools and technologies that are being used by the customers, already,” Praveen concluded.



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