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Latest Digital Trends and Business Transformation Stories from the Middle East

What is the innovation, automation dynamic?

Richard Smith
Senior Vice President, UKII, ECEMEA & South Clusters for Technology

Innovation and automation. These two words are reshaping every industry in the world, and dictating the winners and losers in today’s digital market. Leading organizations understand that both concepts are inextricably linked. Automation frees up resources, allowing employees to focus their attention on innovation. Meanwhile, as research shows, innovation is about improving processes and adopting new ways of working, which can then be automated to help the company become more agile.

From incremental improvements to transformational change, the dual forces of innovation and automation are the new building blocks of business success. And today’s autonomous systems deliver both in their most advanced form. Combining the power for self-updating and self-optimizing systems with AI and Machine Learning, they allow companies to continuously automate and improve their way of working.

A self-driving system

Leading car rental company Hertz was among the first to adopt the Oracle Autonomous Database to tackle rising data volumes and enhance its customer experience. Hertz previously needed weeks to get a new database approved, installed, and tuned for operation. This slowed down its data collection, impacting wait times for its customers.

We can all relate to the scenario – you land at your destination, cruise through passport control, and rush to the car rental counter, only to be stuck in a queue for hours. For Benjamin Arnulf, director of business intelligence and analytics at Hertz, the Oracle Autonomous database has been “a big revolution”. The company can now get large data collections up and running in just minutes. Crucially for Arnulf, the database is able to take different types and sizes of analytics workload to drive better performance, all without any human intervention from his team.

A closer link between innovation and automation is certainly helping businesses improve their customer experience, but it is also helping scientists take their research to new heights. Or in the case of CERN, to new galaxies.

Universal implications

Unlike a corporate department, which counts a few dozen employees, the European Organization for Nuclear Research employees a team of thousands of scientists to conduct the world’s most ambitious research into particle physics. Their aim? Use the world’s largest particle accelerator, the Hadron collider, to trace the origin of our universe and better understand the cosmos.

To quote Eric Grancher, head of CERN’s database services group, “We have some of the most sophisticated hardware and instruments anywhere in the world. All year long, several systems are pulling in 150,000 individual data points per second. The reliability of this data—and the speed at which we can gain insights from it—is crucial to the science that takes place.”

In short, CERN is working with an unprecedented volume of data that is literally being generated at light speed. Using Oracle Autonomous Database eliminates many of the manual tasks involved in configuring, tuning, patching, and securing data. All of this is done automatically and real time, reducing human error while freeing up CERN’s engineers and scientists to focus on results.

Enriching the role of analysts

Looking at these examples might lead people to think autonomous systems present yet another technology that will replace people in the workplace. But that’s not the case.

The Autonomous database is designed to transform the way businesses manage their data. That means analysts can stop dealing with monotonous work – queries, reconciliations, version control – and apply their considerable expertise to driving the business forward in new ways.  It’s like having an incredibly smart and diligent colleague to support your team’s efforts, if that colleague was able to conduct billions of complex calculations at a time. That’s why Oracle Autonomous Database is as relevant for a car rental company as it is for a cutting-edge scientific research organization – in both cases, it has taken on the grunt work so the wider organization can innovate and shine.

It is also making changes to the health sector. Quality Metrics Partners (QMP) is an American healthcare holding company specializing in ancillary service management. The speed at which QMP is able to process and share patient data with healthcare organizations directly impacts the level of care people get. As QMP CEO Michale Morales says, “Patients don’t want to be put off for a week or two as they wait for results from blood tests or details about their bill”.

With Oracle Autonomous Database Wahrehouse QMP has gained an intelligent, self-governing platform that allows it to get patients’ results to their healthcare providers more quickly. For their part, administrators at QMP have taken on new roles because they no longer need to dedicate their time to mundane data management. Today, they are looking at how QMP can use analytics, AI, blockchain, and other emerging technologies to further improve patient care.

You don’t need to recreate the Big Bang or try to break the speed of light to innovate. There is improvement to be found in virtually every business process right here on planet earth. The challenge until now has been to continue uncovering better ways of working while serving a fast-moving market, which makes it difficult to drive both innovation and automation at once.

Autonomous systems are restoring balance between these forces, allowing businesses to dramatically speed up their processes while also being more ambitious as they look to differentiate themselves. They are making us less retrospective and more forward-looking, and changing the role of analysts from all parts of the business in the process. Far from signalling the end of human thought in the business world, autonomous systems are finally giving people the headspace they need to innovate at speed in the digital era.

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