By Alison Weiss
If you’re a leader charged with digitally transforming your business, it can be exciting—and overwhelming—to hear about all the new technologies that can make enterprise operations and customer interactions faster, better, and more successful. Machine learning, AI, IoT, chatbots, blockchain: how is it possible to separate hype from reality?
At Oracle OpenWorld 2018, Oracle has done the heavy lifting with a full schedule of more than 2,100 sessions geared to help executives and IT professionals determine the optimal technologies to invest in today to generate the biggest impact on the bottom line.
This year, one way to explore sessions and new technologies is by browsing a compelling list of topics and associated sessions. In addition, to get a preview of what’s in store for attendees, we talked with four Oracle experts presenting at Oracle OpenWorld who are focusing on three of the major topic areas: autonomous technology, business analytics, and customer experience.
Your Autonomous Future
How can AI fit into your enterprise? Clive Swan, senior vice president of Adaptive Intelligent Apps at Oracle, is deep-diving into this subject in his session “Reimagine Your Business with Artificial Intelligence and AI Apps.”
Many decision-makers may be put off by the notion of incorporating AI in the business because they believe they will need to kick off huge, expensive change management programs, says Swan. Oracle has another approach.
“What Oracle is doing is delivering out-of-the-box AI solutions natively embedded in your enterprise applications,” Swan says. “We’re delivering useful insights and making recommendations to your users.”
Now, a company doesn’t have to buy an AI toolkit, bring in its own data and third-party data, or hire a data analyst to determine the right AI to work into that data. Instead, Oracle takes care of licensing third-party data from sources such as Oracle Data Cloud, combining a customer’s application’s data with third-party data, and then feeding the blended data into AI solutions, which are built into Oracle enterprise applications. As a result, much of the barrier to entry for using AI is removed.
“There are many examples in the marketplace of costly failed AI projects and of people going for moonshots,” Swan says. “At Oracle, we’ve tried to make AI pragmatic in all regards, easy to consume, and plug-and-play.”
According to Swan, Oracle Adaptive Intelligent Apps for Customer Experience (Marketing and Commerce) and Oracle Adaptive Intelligent Apps for Customer Experience (Sales and Service) are the first offerings on the market, but AI applications in the areas of human capital management and enterprise resource planning are expected to be announced at Oracle OpenWorld.
At Oracle, we’ve tried to make AI really simple in all regards, easy to consume, and plug-and-play.”– Clive Swan, senior vice president, Adaptive Intelligent Apps, Oracle
Tara Roberts, vice president of product management and UX, Adaptive Intelligence Apps, at Oracle, is also zeroing in on AI and intelligent applications with an emphasis on customer experience (CX) in her session “Artificial Intelligence Changes the Game in B2B and B2C CX.”
She believes customer expectations are already being influenced by AI innovations because customers want a high level of personalization when they are talking to customer service on a chatbot, shopping on the web, or checking emails on their mobile phones.
“People expect targeted offers or solutions that are personalized or directly relevant for them at the moment in which they need the response,” Roberts says. “This level of personalization was impossible before AI.”
Today, whether targeting B2B or B2C, with AI, a business can react quickly to market changes, predict how the changes will affect customers, and deliver that insight in the context of what customers need right when they need it. As a result, businesses can be more effective and better serve customers.
According to Roberts, on the B2C side, Oracle Adaptive Intelligent Apps for Customer Experience (Marketing and Commerce) provides highly contextual product recommendations and promotions based on third-party data, click streams, and first-party data. These personalized recommendations can be surfaced on the commerce site, blended into search results, or delivered through marketing messages. The solution also incorporates data science to predict the best path for each customer given a series of channel path options and time constraints. Marketers can optimize communication frequency and timing as well as determine the best channel to achieve better customer engagement. Previously, marketing managers had to manually figure out the best way to reach customers to get them to respond.
On the B2B side, Oracle Adaptive Intelligent Apps for Customer Experience (Sales and Service) provides sales reps with guidance on which opportunities are most likely to close and recommendations on how to reach sales quotas. The power of Oracle Adaptive Intelligent Apps is not only the AI-driven capabilities but also the ability to leverage connected intelligence that is shared across applications. The sales organization may apply AI to sales data while also incorporating AI insights from service application data to get a more complete view of a customer. For example, knowing that a person is considering a purchase but also just had a service issue is a critical insight for sales reps if they want to improve customer interactions and sales results.
“We have several exciting enhancements that we’ll discuss at OpenWorld,” says Roberts. “Ultimately, the view at Oracle is that all applications should be intelligent by nature, and we’re working to enable that.”
Actionable Business Insights
How can companies take the complexity out of incorporating analytics into their business to generate actionable business insights? Jacques Vigeant, senior director, product management, Oracle Analytics Cloud, will tackle this topic in his session “Chat with Your Data: Oracle Analytics, Natural Language Processing, and Chatbots.”
The goal of business intelligence and analytics is not to produce another chart or graph. It’s to better inform your workforce to make better decisions day by day.”–Jacques Vigeant, senior director, product management, Oracle Analytics Cloud
Consumers are already used to receiving analytics in a very simple way—think Fitbits and smart watches—to make their lives better. Now, it’s time for the enterprise to follow suite. Vigeant and the Oracle Analytics Cloud team have created the Oracle Day by Day analytics app, a mobile client for Oracle Analytics Cloud, which users can access on their smartphone to help make better decisions on a daily basis.
“You can use it just like a Google search against your enterprise data,” says Vigeant. “We enhanced search with support for voice, and we’ve gotten smarter over time. Now, the person consuming information can query the system directly with natural-language processing, and the system can intelligently learn what they are interested in.”
Today, the Oracle Day by Day app is able to learn and proactively deliver information to users, thanks to machine learning and natural-language processing. The app has been recently improved, incorporating chatbot functionality and natural-language generation specific to analytics. For users, this means that instead of just providing a chart of information or using voice to describe a chart, chatbots can apply context and automatically speak to users about meaningful things related to data in a chart.
Vigeant is eager to spread the word about Oracle Day by Day and the accessibility of data analytics for executive decision-makers. “Most executives don’t know anything about data analytics. They just want the latest sales numbers and to discover new insights,” he says. “The goal of business intelligence and analytics is not to produce another chart or graph. It’s to better inform your workforce to make better decisions day by day.”
Your Evolving Customers
How can businesses succeed in creating and maintaining positive customer relationships? Thamina Christensen, manager, product management at Oracle, in her Oracle OpenWorld session “Oracle Eloqua and Oracle Content and Experience Cloud,” plans to emphasize that relationships with customers are very different than they were even five years ago.
Today, marketers must understand that the customer is the center of everything and how you can seamlessly provide content that drives the best experience is of utmost importance. Marketers need to engage with customers using the most relevant content on different channels that customers choose in a manner that they expect, which is not necessarily how marketers would have engaged in the past.
“We are in this new world of digital marketing,” says Christensen. “As marketers, we need to be constantly thinking about how we engage with the business user and the entire account.”
Oracle Content and Experience Cloud, a cloud-based content hub that enables marketers to manage content and digital assets, is now integrated with Oracle Eloqua, Oracle’s marketing orchestration platform that help marketers engage audiences. This functionality will be demonstrated at Oracle OpenWorld and will enable marketers to strategically manage and deliver content for the customer journey across different channels.
“The new integration will help marketers rethink customer experience and use new approaches to gain competitive advantage,” says Christensen.
These four sessions are just a sample of what’s available to Oracle OpenWorld attendees. To learn more about additional sessions and the real-world business benefits of new technologies, check out the Oracle OpenWorld session catalog by topic.
Photography by Hartmann Studios