Oracle Launches Major AI Initiative With 'Intelligent Cloud Apps'

As part of its push to be a major provider of cloud computing services, Oracle plans cloud applications that adapt and learn from the data that they process.

Oracle AI Cloud 2

SAN FRANCISCO—Oracle kicked off its Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco Sept. 19 with news of a major artificial intelligence initiative that enables enterprise cloud applications to "learn" as they gather new data.

The news comes at a time of growing interest in AI. Just this week, Oracle competitor stole a bit of Oracle's thunder by announcing Salesforce Einstein, which implements AI features across the cloud CRM provider's applications platform.

Oracle said its Adaptive Intelligent Applications are based on insights gleaned from within Oracle's Data Cloud, a collection of more than 5 billion consumer and business profiles, with more than 45,000 attributes. These new apps use Oracle's web-scale data and apply advanced data science to learn and process anonymized data about an organization's users and their behaviors. Managers and executives can use the apps to get targeted information to customers and employees.

"The insights from these deep analytics build a knowledge base that helps improve business results across organizations," Oracle said in a statement.

The enterprise applications company identified five business verticals that can directly benefit from these new applications—finance, human resources, marketing, commerce and supply chain.

In the case of finance for example, Oracle said the adaptive intelligence features will make it easier to negotiate better supplier terms during critical financial events, such as the end of a quarter or for a high volume of payables, because the analytics insights are provided with far less manual effort.

The apps will help human resources professionals automatically identify the best job candidates more quickly. In the case of marketing, the potential benefits include helping managers grow revenue with contextual offers and recommended actions for individual consumers. In the supply chain sector, the apps can automatically find the best options to distribute goods around the world while optimizing costs and price for both the buyers and shippers.

IDC analyst Dave Schubmehl said Oracle is riding a trend of "smarter," more responsive enterprise applications.

"Within the foreseeable future, every enterprise application will be a smart application that intuitively learns from interactions with an enterprise's data," said Schubmehl, who is research director of cognitive systems and content analytics at IDC.

"Oracle's new Adaptive Intelligent solutions take this value proposition a step further. They are set apart from others by allowing the intelligent applications to learn from billions of anonymized consumer and business profiles available from Oracle," he said.

The Adaptive Intelligent Applications are expected to be available in early 2017, an Oracle spokesperson told eWEEK. "They are not going to be a part of the current Cloud Applications. It's an add-on app with a separate SKU that will amplify the Oracle Cloud Applications," the spokesperson said, also noting that pricing has yet to be announced.

CEO Mark Hurd Makes Bold Prediction

Oracle CEO Mark Hurd spent most of his Oracle OpenWorld keynote address interviewing key customers on stage in a talk-show format. These ranged from established financial giant HSBC to Uber's main ride-sharing rival, Lyft.

David Baga, chief business officer at Lyft, said that as recently as five years ago the company relied on spreadsheets to manage its business, but has since moved to Oracle's cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) and enterprise performance management (EPM) applications as part of its strategy to move all of its business management systems to the cloud.

"With Oracle ERP and EPM we feel like we have the scalability to go from a venture-backed startup to a multibillion-dollar business," he said.

Hurd was particularly enthusiastic about introducing Joanna Fielding, chief financial officer of financial services giant HSBC, noting that banks are, by nature, careful about moving to new technology with a heightened concern for security.

Fielding said the cloud effort kicked off almost two years ago shortly after she joined the company. HSBC contracted with Deloitte to identify the best options for moving from the bank's legacy architecture that was proving to be inefficient.

Oracle beat out one competitor and HSBC signed a deal to deploy the Oracle Fusion, a service-oriented platform and applications suite, in May 2015. Like Lyft, HSBC has already deployed ERP and EPM modules to 50,000 users in the U.K. A broader implementation across the bank's 240,000 employees worldwide is planned for November.

"We have an aggressive implementation," said Fielding.

Hurd wrapped his session by revisiting a set of predictions related to the enterprise market in 2025 that he made a year ago at the conference. He added to the earlier predictions by forecasting that 80 percent of IT budgets will be spent on the cloud by 2025 rather than traditional on-premises IT spend.

Hurd asserts that enterprises will spend far less money on infrastructure and security as they move to the cloud because the cloud vendors themselves will make those investments. As a result, companies will have a lot more money to spend on innovations to help their businesses grow. "Spending won't be linear, it will be geometric," he said.

David Needle

David Needle

Based in Silicon Valley, veteran technology reporter David Needle covers mobile, bi g data, and social media among other topics. He was formerly News Editor at Infoworld, Editor of Computer Currents...