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Sep 20 2016

Oracle Introduces “Intelligent” Applications

As summer fades and the leaves begin to turn brown, it's that time of the year again – the season where leading hard- and software vendors present their latest innovations at exhibitions and in-house trade shows around the globe. What started at last month's IDF and early September's IFA now continues at this week's Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco, with Big Red positioning itself as the ultimate solution provider in cloud computing.

The future of cloud computing lies in intelligent applications – this is, in essence, the philosophy behind Oracle's latest Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings that visitors can explore since Monday. But how do you add 'brains' to a business application? According to the related press release, this should actually be pretty simple: all you have to do is "blend third-party data with real-time analytics and behavioral inputs to create Cloud Applications that adapt and learn." These applications will then "automatically offer individualized recommended actions and streamline the tasks of business users such as human resource or finance professionals." More precisely, the idea is to combine user-generated content – e.g. information stored in a company's customer database or product catalog – with "more than 5+ billion customer and business profiles" already stored in Oracle's own Data Cloud in hopes of generating new business or closing more lucrative deals.

As may be easily imagined, this new line of services – called Oracle Adaptive Intelligent Applications – was designed with specific target groups in mind, namely people in the finance, HR, marketing, sales and supply chain departments; and it's only logical that the choice of target groups also had an impact on the selection of seven new services that either already exist or will go on offer very soon:

  • The Oracle Financial Consolidation and Close Cloud (FCCS) is part of the company's wider Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) Cloud portfolio and was cut out to help CFOs during mergers and acquisitions by enabling them to quickly calculate the operating results of the company that's about to be bought. Likewise, Oracle FCCS may be used to generate an organization's own quarterly and annual financial reports. In order to simplify these processes, Oracle offers a customizable framework, i.e. a set of best practice-based features customers can choose from during product setup and modify later if necessary. For more information, please see the data sheet (PDF).
  • The Oracle Revenue Management Cloud belongs with the company's ERP Cloud offerings and is intended to make accountants' lives a bit easier. To this end, it "increases visibility into the status and value of contracts, delivers compliant revenue recognition, and creates configurable and auditable revenue entries." From an end user perspective, it helps CFOs and their staff to adhere to the ASC 606 and IFRS 15 reporting standards. For more details, check out Oracle's e-book on the matter.
  • The Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud (HCM Cloud) isn't exactly a new service; however, its latest iteration comes with a couple of decisive improvements supposed to increase the usefulness of HCM Cloud. For example, HR managers can now set up healthcare provisions that comply with labor laws and individual contractual obligations or define when and under which circumstances employees are eligible for benefits. In addition, a set of "global extensions" for higher education, manufacturing, professional services, retail and the public sector makes it easier to deploy such provisions and rules across multinational companies or in different jurisdictions, as they support localization for 99 countries.
  • The Oracle Engagement Cloud (so far linked to the Marketing Cloud) will provide a platform that lets companies streamline their sales and service operations. To achieve this, it combines sales automation, service request management, knowledge management, and customer self-service under a single umbrella, thus creating a one-stop shop experience. In this capacity, Oracle Engagement Cloud serves as some kind of "super-portal" for a company's customer-facing functions that'll help to further reduce the number of burdensome tasks, while elsewhere it's supposed to increase (or maybe create) upselling opportunities, especially for employees like enterprise sales representatives, wealth managers and the like. As with the Revenue Management Cloud, there's an e-book containing more detailed explanations.
  • Like HCM Cloud, the Oracle Supply Chain Management Cloud (SCM Cloud) has been around for a while, but underwent a substantial update prior to the OpenWorld event. As the name implies, the basic idea behind this service was to help organizations build what Oracle calls the "Intelligent Supply Chain", i.e. a consistent, end-to-end process that spans all relevant functions from ordering raw materials or pre-products to shipping finished goods and easily adapts to individual, changing business needs. According to the press release, the SCM Cloud update is supposed to "increase flexibility, reduce costs, and improve performance and visibility" for each business subscribed to the service. Moreover, in future SCM Cloud will also benefit from new Adaptive Intelligent Applications such as the IoT Cloud described below.

Along with such comparatively unspectacular hardcore services, Oracle has also developed two new ones most users wouldn't expect to find:

  • Oracle CX for Higher Education is a new component in the larger Oracle Student Cloud that targets both educational institutions and their (potential) attendees. More specifically, this particular service is expected to help recruiters find candidates on Facebook or LinkedIn or address them via email or SMS. Another element is the Student Management Cloud, basically a cloud-based student information system that should help universities set up a "modern campus" following Oracle's suggestions.
  • Probably the most innovative (if debatable) addition to the company's cloud portfolio is the Oracle Internet of Things Cloud (IoT Cloud). The idea here is to assist specific line-of-business users, such as plant or factory managers, in making informed decisions regarding machinery maintenance and workers' safety or establishing real-time quality controls to improve first-pass yield. Previously, such decisions and controls usually required direct access to the affected machines and assembly lines or detailed reports, but with Oracle's IoT Cloud in place, managers can now obtain relevant data directly from the source, that is, the devices used in the production process. Provided the service works as planned, it ultimately serves to increase product quality and cut the amount of rejects. Oracle's detailed documentation explains how the IoT Cloud is supposed to function.

Needless to say, deploying Adaptive Intelligent Applications may require some changes in the background that we cannot discuss today due to space limitations. So stay tuned – we'll be back with more info over the next days.


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