Oracle promises AI everywhere at Cloudworld 2024

Integrated across the Fusion Suite

Tom Allen
clock • 6 min read
Oracle promises AI everywhere at Cloudworld 2024

Oracle Cloudworld 2024 was all about AI and customer service - with an acknowledgement that Oracle hasn't always been known for the latter.

On a sunny Thursday last week, we made our way to London's ExCel Centre for Oracle Cloudworld 2024, the company's annual local conference.

AI, predictably enough, featured heavily on the banners, promotional materials and partners' stands, as well as the keynote speech by EVP of corporate operations Doug Kehring (notably not UK country lead Siobhan Wilson, though she was at the event).

"Technology by itself is no longer enough," he told the assembled partners, customers and journalists. "Rather, it's the value the technology can deliver as a part of a broader transformation."

His analogy - "the technology is like a[n F1] car" - was an unsubtle nod to the Oracle Red Bull Racing team, but not an inaccurate analogy. Business tech, like an F1 car, is nearly identical no matter who is driving it; differentiation comes in training, analytics and support.

Image: Tom Allen

"It's not just the technology itself, but rather what you do with it that ultimately creates value."

That's when Kehring – with a few eye-roll-worthy jabs at competitors' products – introduced Oracle AI (OAI), which it plans to integrate across its product portfolio (at no extra cost – we checked).

"It's not an afterthought. AI for us is embedded from the start... Oracle AI is built into all of our enterprise products."

AI across apps

Oracle AI, we learned later in the day, will be embedded across the Oracle Fusion Cloud Applications Suite, meaning it will cover ERP, HCM, SCM and CX tools.

Generative AI has been in the news this year for controversies around the use of copyrighted or private data for training. Kehring stressed that that won't be the case with OAI.

"[Your data] is the data that informs your AI and is unique to your business. Today's LLMs provide an incredible amount of knowledge...but they don't know how your business works. With Oracle AI, you get the best of both worlds."

In practice, this means OAI will use an LLM trained on public data; but it will also ingest your own company's data to answer questions about your specific business or use case.

Oracle told us no customer data is shared with LLM providers or other customers, and the only entity that can use your custom models is you.

In an example, Kehring talked about a retailer asking how to increase demand ahead of a peak season and receiving recommendations based on "all the information [Oracle AI] knows about your history, holiday selling and customer interactions."

It's an enticing prospect, and we're keen to see how it works in practice. Oracle certainly needs a win to get back into the industry's good books after the last few years, and that was key to the next announcement

All about customers

Image: Tom Allen

"Technology by itself isn't enough – it requires us to put our customers at the heart of everything we do. And I don't know about you, but I'm not sure of the last time Oracle and a heart were shown together," Kehring said, tacitly acknowledging the tension between the company and its customers.

Oracle Customer Success Services (CSS) is a new(ish – it was officially launched last year) organisation aiming to help customers derive value from the company's technologies.

Oracle's growth-by-acquisition model has not helped matters in recent years, with Kehring admitting that customers found it "difficult to navigate Oracle." In an attempt to change that, CSS will act as "a single point of accountability" without "silos of assistance."

Even customers who work through partners like Accenture or Deloitte will touch CSS in some capacity, as the new organisation works with Oracle's partners to provide tools and training.

More than 13,000 people work in CSS already, and the organisation works with customers from the planning to operation stages.

Customers voice support

Image: Tom Allen

As is traditional at vendor conferences, local big-name customers joined Kehring on stage to share their positive experiences, starting with Nick Griffin, crown representative at the Cabinet Office.

Part of Nick's role is to work with suppliers to get the best value for the government and taxpayers. He says one area suppliers can help the public sector, in particular, is identifying areas ripe for efficiency improvements, like "siloed" government departments.

"The mantra of ‘Build once, use many times' is something that our suppliers should be helping us with," he said before going on to list the ways in which Oracle is doing just that.

Read now: Exclusive: Behind the scenes of DWP's ambitious tech transformation

Griffin also touched on the keynote's major topic of AI. He said the technology is "front and centre" for the government now, as Kehring noted it is a "sensitive" topic for the public sector.

"Security of data is obviously front and centre, but I hope that doesn't get in the way of harnessing the technology. I think we can find a way through the security issues, because the advantages are so immense."

The UK government is already using AI in some limited cases, both to "speed things up" and "improve accuracy of data and outcomes."

"Tech is critical, but a significant cost"

Another speaker was Andrew Wells, deputy group CFO and chief accounting officer at NatWest Group, who had had to drive to London from Edinburgh after his flight was cancelled.

"It wasn't quite the customer focus I was looking for," he joked.

Image: Tom Allen

Customer experience was the main topic Andrew spoke about, discussing Oracle's new approach with the CSS organisation, which NatWest has been working with for some time – though he began with a short recap of the bank's digital transformation efforts.

"We started with a Big Bang approach [to transformation], and we learned a lot from that, and we moved away to a more agile, module-based adoption... It's one of the things I'm most proud of."

It wasn't always smooth sailing, though. When NatWest embarked on its transformation, AI "wasn't there – and neither was the cloud, really." That made it important for the bank to have a partner experienced with implementations.

Oracle CSS didn't exist when NatWest began its journey, but the bank has recently been working with the new organisation.

"We know the consequences of what goes wrong when you don't focus on the customer... What we've seen with CSS through the adoption period was helpful, we could learn from them...but what's more helpful now is post-implementation.

"We are still coming off a huge legacy technology stack to get onto that new [one] we've built with Oracle, and we still don't understand the full capability of the power of these applications. That's where CSS is really helping us."

Are you an Oracle customer? Have you been working with the new CSS team? We'd love to know your experiences – reach out today.

You may also like
Qualys announces trial to help organisations comply with UK NCSC cyber guidance

Security Technology

NCSC advises patching window of 5-7 days; UK currently stands at 15-17 days MTTR.

clock 17 April 2024 • 3 min read
DeepMind CEO: Google will spend $100+ billion on AI

Artificial Intelligence

DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis says Google's processing power exceeds rivals'.

clock 17 April 2024 • 2 min read
Even CERN has to queue for GPUs. Here's how they optimise what they have

Big Data and Analytics

'There's a tendency to say that all ML workloads need a GPU, but for inference you probably don't need them'

clock 17 April 2024 • 4 min read

Sign up to our newsletter

The best news, stories, features and photos from the day in one perfectly formed email.

More on Business Software

Microsoft Dynamics 365 prices set to rise

Microsoft Dynamics 365 prices set to rise

Some prices will increase by as much as 17%

Wade Tyler Millward
clock 15 April 2024 • 2 min read
Amazon bids farewell to Just Walk Out checkout system, introduces Dash Carts

Amazon bids farewell to Just Walk Out checkout system, introduces Dash Carts

Just Walk Out technology had to be bolstered by remote observers

clock 04 April 2024 • 2 min read
Harnessing the 'irrational exhuberance' around AI - CNCF's Priyanka Sharma

Harnessing the 'irrational exhuberance' around AI - CNCF's Priyanka Sharma

CNCF chief on meeting the sky high expecations of genAI

John Leonard
clock 20 March 2024 • 4 min read