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News and Innovation from Oracle UK and Ireland

Why self-driving isn’t just for cars

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

The beauty of self-driving cars is that they take you where you want to go while you sit back and enjoy the ride, or use the time to work on other things. Meanwhile, the car’s systems are speaking to each other behind the scenes, ensuring you avoid obstacles, observe all the necessary traffic laws, and take the shortest path to your destination. Connected enterprises are now moving in the same direction. Powered by autonomous technologies, systems and applications speak with each other to manage everyday tasks while employees are left to focus on higher-value work.

We are quickly moving towards the era where an organization’s systems are self-driving in their own right. Instead of spending resources managing databases, reconciling sheets, building queries or waiting for data to update, teams will be able to “take their hands of the wheel” and support other lines of business with strategic endeavors.

What does this look like in practice? It’s a fair question in these early days of autonomous technology. Here is a sneak peek at the business of the future, including one example of a company that has already adopted autonomous systems to pull ahead of the competition.

Optimizing your path

Just like traffic is a headache while driving, bottlenecks are the ultimate time-waster for businesses. Whether it’s disjointed processes, a lack of alignment between teams, or simply the need to manually reconcile endless spreadsheets, even the smallest inefficiency can lead to significant costs and time wasted. Especially as more businesses rely on data collection and analysis to inform their operations.

Today, the increasingly powerful mix of AI, cloud-based systems, and powerful computing capabilities have made machines capable of taking on tasks that were previously impossible without human involvement. Machine-learning algorithms can make judgment calls, sense people’s emotions, and apply common sense to their decision-making. Meanwhile, businesses operating in the autonomous cloud have live access to data from all the other databases running on the same platform, providing them with more insight to help streamline their operation.

In the case of Agea, one of Argentina’s leading media companies, the Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse has allowed the organization to drastically reduce the burden of hardware and software maintenance. Instead of having to interrupt its operations each time, Agea has left its database maintenance to Oracle, which means its IT and business teams can shift their attention to new business opportunities, by spending more time and resource on actual analysis.

Pre-empting roadblocks

All self-driving cars use some form of automated GPS to navigate roads. Similarly, autonomous systems will help businesses to navigate unfamiliar territory. Whether they are looking to expand into new markets or launch a new product or service, the autonomous enterprise will make the best possible decisions about how to proceed based on historical data, current activity across the organization, and how the market is likely to evolve.

This goes beyond simply learning from the past to make a best-possible guess about the future. It’s about continuously collecting data, analyzing it, and refining the entire business’ path based on real-time conditions. In other words, it’s like having Waze or Google Maps integrated at all levels of decision-making so that you minimize your chance of running into roadblocks.

Safety first

One of the major selling points of self-driving cars is that they’re expected to be safer. Even if there have been some incidents with autonomous vehicles to date, human error remains the primary cause of automobile accidents. The same goes for businesses. By some estimates, more than half of data breaches in large companies are down to human error. Often, the breaches are not intentional, which makes them even harder to spot or address in time.

Machine-learning algorithms embedded in the autonomous enterprise will become increasingly powerful and knowledgeable about how to identify threats, alerting the business of potential issues more quickly even as hackers’ methods become more advanced.

These features of autonomous systems are also invaluable from a compliance standpoint, particularly in the age of GDPR and with governments doubling down on data protection regulation. Businesses will only collect more information through more channels, making the job of managing and tracking all this data increasingly complex.

No human being can handle the task, and even the need to constantly patch and update systems means companies are playing catch-up rather than pre-empting the threat. Autonomous systems running on the cloud bring all of the organization’s systems and data together onto a central platform, so that information is visible across teams at all times.

All of this brings us back to one of the biggest benefits today’s autonomous transformation, which is that with their hands off the wheel of their software, business users can take their eyes off road and look for new avenues for growth. Agility is one of the hallmarks of a successful organization in the digital age, as is the ability to change directions quickly. With autonomous databases ensuring that real time and trustworthy data is available, employees can confidently spend more time exploring alternate routes to differentiation.

This final point is crucial. Speed will always be essential in a cutthroat market, but there will only be more companies racing each other to deliver their products and services and win customers’ attention. This focus on being comes at the expense of innovation and differentiation, which is what customers crave. The beauty of the autonomous enterprise is that it will be able to move quickly and confidently, while also being ready at any given moment to take the road less travelled and set itself apart.  

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