Oracle makes a big play for the enterprise AI market

Everybody wants to talk about artificial intelligence right now because if they get on TV and say AI, their stock goes up.

Those were the words of Oracle CEO Mark Hurd at the company’s OpenWorld conference in San Francisco yesterday, just hours after speaking on TV about AI.

Indeed, AI is the hottest buzzword in technology right now. But Hurd’s talk about machine learning can’t be dismissed as a shallow and opportunistic attempt to boost Oracle’s stock. The company’s new autonomous database is one of the software giant’s most significant product plays in years and throws it firmly into a global fight among the world’s largest tech firms to lead this emerging field.

>See also: Oracle’s Larry Ellison unveils the world’s first autonomous database cloud

While Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Apple compete in the burgeoning market for intelligent personal assistants, Facebook develops a messenger chatbot and IBM continues to innovate in cognitive computing, Oracle hopes its position as market leader in the database and ERP markets gives it the edge in leading AI’s enterprise rollout.

Larry Ellison, CTO and chairman of Oracle, unveiled the autonomous database earlier this week, speaking of how machine learning eliminates costly human labour, error and manual tuning, and improves security by automatically taking care of the patching process. “This is the most important thing we’ve done in a long, long time,” he said.

It’s not only the database where Oracle is innovating with AI, but also in its leading applications business. The new Oracle AI Platform Cloud Service helps developers to quickly create and deploy breakthrough enterprise AI services. Organisations can use the service to take advantage of deep learning to better understand enterprise data and transform corporate business processes and user experiences.

In addition to Oracle AI Platform Cloud Service, Oracle embeds ready-to-use AI and machine learning capabilities across its SaaS, PaaS, and IoT services, including cognitive AI, analytics, data services, IT management and security operations.

The company also yesterday revealed new AI-based apps for finance, HR, supply chain, manufacturing, commerce, customer service, marketing and sales professionals. The new Oracle Adaptive Intelligent Apps are built into Oracle’s existing cloud applications.

“We have eliminated the need for more integrations and embedded AI capabilities across Oracle Cloud Applications,” said Steve Miranda, Oracle’s executive VP of applications development. “The new AI capabilities combine first- and third-party data with advanced machine learning and sophisticated decision science to deliver the industry’s most powerful AI-based modern business applications.”

>See also: Artificial intelligence is transforming the enterprise

The AI announcements didn’t end there. A major update of Oracle Mobile Cloud features AI-powered intelligent chatbot capabilities with deep analytics that can link key stakeholder experiences across bots, mobile applications and web, as well as simplified bot development features.

Leveraging an AI foundation comprised of machine learning, cognitive and knowledge services, deep learning, and dialog and context, the updated Oracle Mobile Cloud enables enterprises to build applications that can automate more engaging conversations at scale.

For example, Oracle’s intelligent bots use deep learning-based natural language understanding (NLU) to comprehend and determine intent of end-user conversations. It can then help companies process these conversations, integrate each with existing business application data, and automatically respond.

Using this portfolio, enterprises can engage with customers and employees across today’s most popular messaging platforms, including Facebook Messenger, Kik, Skype, Slack, and digital voice assistants such as Amazon Echo, Amazon Dot and Google Home.

Expanding its new Oracle Intelligent Bots capabilities, Oracle also announced it has agreed to embed Chatbox Instant Apps in Oracle Mobile Cloud, allowing chatbots to switch seamlessly between unstructured conversation and personalised, structured data exchange.

With the Chatbox technology, chatbots can deliver an interface that is appropriate to the interaction, such as an online form with pertinent information from the conversation. If a consumer wants to return a retail item, the Chatbox Instant App can gather all the information within the messaging platform – without the need for emails, downloads or phone calls. The bot is able to collect accurate, meaningful data in a way most convenient for the customer.

“There are so many things we can do today in terms of automating things to make them better,” said Hurd. “The autonomous database will get better and better at tuning and security as the machine continues to learn, and we’re very optimistic about the applications of AI. Can you imagine the implications of AI around inventory, supply chain and customer and service applications? So many exciting things that will improve people’s lives.”

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...