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Oracle’s new strategy: cloud apps that learn

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At its recent Openworld conference, Oracle unveiled a strategy for Software as a Service cloud offerings that blend third-party data with real-time analytics and behavioural inputs to create cloud applications that adapt and learn.

The result: intelligent cloud applications that automatically offer individualised recommended actions and streamline the tasks of business users, such as human resource or finance professionals.

Called Adaptive Intelligent Applications, these cloud offerings are based on the insights contained within Oracle’s Data Cloud, which is a collection of more than 5-billion consumer and business profiles, with over 45 000 attributes. When activated, these new Adaptive Intelligent Applications use Oracle’s web-scale data and apply advanced data science to learn and ingest data about an organisation’s users and their behaviours to deliver targeted information to customers and employees. The insights from these deep analytics build a knowledge base that helps improve business results across organisations.

R “Ray” Wang, principal analyst at Constellation Research said: “There is a huge opportunity to monetize digital business through machine learning applications and analytics, and Oracle’s large corpus of data, strong expertise in data science, massive compute power, industry and domain expertise, and breadth of application solutions make it well-suited to be a leader in the quickly growing space.”

“A company’s data is its most valuable weapon. To remain competitive today, companies must access their information in real time to intelligently forecast and grow,” said Steve Miranda, Oracle’s executive vice president of applications development. “Oracle Adaptive Intelligent Applications leverage anonymized information from our extensive Data Cloud to optimize existing Cloud Application functionality. When this is combined with a company’s own data, we are able to provide unparalleled customized insights to help enhance business performance.

Oracle provided the following information:

Oracle Adaptive Intelligent Applications have direct benefits for functional business units, providing them with actionable business and customer insights to make more informed decisions:

  • Finance professionals can nimbly negotiate best supplier terms, while optimizing cash flow needs and balancing costs – especially during critical financial events such as the end of a quarter or for a high volume of payables.
  • Human Resources recruiters can automatically identify best-fit candidates in the shortest time and HR managers can create job descriptions that will help candidates more efficiently find the best and most well-suited positions.
  • Marketing and Commerce managers can drive higher conversion rates, lift, repeat purchases, and ultimately, revenue, with smart, contextual offers and recommended actions for individual consumers.
  • Supply Chain managers can automatically find the best options to distribute goods around the world, while optimizing costs and price for both the buyers and the transporters to provide the best value freight and transportation options for enterprise shippers.

“Within the foreseeable future, every enterprise application will be a smart application that intuitively learns from interactions with an enterprise’s data. Oracle’s new Adaptive Intelligent solutions take this value proposition a step further. They are set apart from others by allowing the intelligent applications to learn from billions of anonymized consumer and business profiles available from Oracle.” said Dave Schubmehl, research director of cognitive systems and content analytics for IDC.

Building on its industry-leading suite of Cloud Applications, Oracle further expanded its SaaS portfolio with additional new Cloud Applications and enhancements that span sales, marketing, finance, human resources, and other areas of business. Some of the new offerings include:

·       Oracle Engagement Cloud, part of Oracle’s Customer Experience Cloud portfolio, is a new offering, which combines Oracle’s sales and service capabilities in one, providing a unique combination of sales automation, service request management, knowledge management, and customer self-service. Oracle Engagement Cloud enables organizations’ employees to deliver both sales and customer services from a single screen, powering a one-stop customer experience. Oracle Engagement Cloud helps improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, while increasing up-sell opportunities, particularly for organizations providing high-touch and high value customer engagements, such as wealth managers, enterprise sales reps, or managers who need access to service request in industries such as financial services, high tech and industrial manufacturing, consumer goods, and communications.

·       Oracle Financial Consolidation and Close (FCCS) Cloud, part of Oracle’s Enterprise Performance Management Cloud portfolio, enables Chief Financial Officers at organizations of all sizes to minimize risk, provide transparency, and ensure accurate results of the close. Able to rapidly deploy in weeks, Oracle FCCS provides CFOs the operational agility they need to effectively communicate their financial results to internal and external stakeholders, to quickly consolidate the operating results of an acquired business to help ensure compliance, and to scale globally without a need to re-implement core financial processes or systems.

·       Oracle Revenue Management Cloud, part of Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Cloud, increases visibility into the status and value of contracts, delivers compliant revenue recognition, and creates configurable and auditable revenue entries. The solution allows companies to adhere to the ASC 606/IFRS 15 core principles, accelerating the transition to the new accounting standards. Oracle ERP Cloud’s new enhancements deliver new support to Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and their organizations with revenue recognition standards and multi-period accounting capabilities. Driving efficiencies and controls, Oracle ERP Cloud also enables organizations to scale globally with multi-language, multi-GAAP, multi-currency, and localization extensions that can transform finance organizations. As the most complete, modern, and proven ERP Cloud solution, Oracle ERP Cloud’s rapidly expanding customer base includes strong momentum in the public sector and with state and local governments.

·       Oracle Student Cloud’s new Oracle CX for Higher Education uses Oracle’s intuitive mobile technology to help recruiters boost their pipeline by targeting and qualifying best-fit prospects via social, email, and SMS CRM capabilities. Oracle Student Recruiting Cloud’s embedded analytics also help improve forecasting and monitor and optimize recruiters’ performance in their territories. Student Management Cloud is Oracle’s first application of student information systems (SIS) in the Cloud. It provides a student management roadmap and the foundation for nontraditional university functionality in a comprehensive, next-generation SIS that supports changing academic models by managing flexible academic structures, personalized learning, just-in-time intelligence, and BYOD access.

·       Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud’s latest release provides healthcare solutions to manage complex labor rules and contractual terms that enable customers to define eligibility rules for core Human Resources and criteria for benefits, absence, time, and labor and payroll. Oracle also helps provide an added layer of auditing, which can be easily managed in the Cloud. Additional global and industry extensions for higher education, retail, manufacturing, public sector, and professional services, also make it easier for multinational organizations to deploy and configure the solutions with expanded localizations for 99 countries.

·       Oracle Internet of Things Cloud collects data and conducts analysis in real time. Line of business users, such as Manufacturing Plant Managers, can monitor real-time quality control, get early insights into predictive maintenance needs, improve worker and equipment safety, and optimize yield through Oracle’s IoT Cloud Applications.

·       Oracle Supply Chain Management Cloud updates enable increased flexibility, reduced costs, and improved performance and visibility across the business. This comprehensive foundation allows forward-thinking organizations to optimize their global supply chains from ideation to design, to order capture, to manufacturing and planning, to shipping and logistics. Leverages the additional insights available through capabilities such as the Internet of Things and Oracle Data Cloud, Oracle offers the Intelligent Supply Chain.

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Pizoelectrics: Healthcare’s new gymnasts of gadgetry

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Healthcare electronics is rapidly deploying for wellness, electroceuticals, and intrusive medical procedures, among other, powered by new technologies. Much of it is trending to diagnostics and treatment on the move, and removing the need for the patient to perform procedures on time. 

Instruments become wearables, including electronic skin patches and implants. The IDTechEx Research report, “Piezoelectric Harvesting and Sensing for Healthcare 2019-2029”, notes that sensors should preferably be self-powered, non-poisonous even on disposal, and many need to be biocompatible and even biodegradable. 

We need to detect biology, vibration, force, acceleration, stress and linear movement and do imaging. Devices must reject bacteria and be useful in wearables and Internet of Things nodes. Preferably we must move to one device performing multiple tasks. 

So is there a gymnast material category that has that awesome versatility? 

Piezoelectrics has a good claim. It measures all those parameters. That even includes biosensors where the piezo senses the swelling of a biomolecule recognizing a target analyte. The most important form of self-powered (one material, two functions) piezo sensing is ultrasound imaging, a market growing at 5.1% yearly. 

The IDTechEx Research report looks at what comes next, based on global travel and interviewing by its PhD level analysts in 2018 with continuous updates.  

Click here to read how Piezo has been reinvented.

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Why Your Business Needs a Cloud Architect

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By Colin Thornton, MD of Turrito Networks

As IT and business strategy align, Cloud Architects will become integral to growth.

As South African businesses look to streamline operational costs and become more globally competitive, Cloud computing has become essential.  And with the imminent launch of Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Service data centres in South Africa, local Cloud adoption will become even more attractive. According to the World Wide Worx Cloud Africa 2018 report, Cloud computing is rising sharply in the economic hubs of South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria – with 74% of the SA companies surveyed increasing their Cloud expenditure during 2017. The report noted that in the coming year, over 80% of SA companies would be looking to up their Cloud spend. While making the shift to the Cloud is a positive step, businesses have to ensure that the process is managed correctly – from the initial transition, right through to proactive, daily management.

Negotiating Complexity

For larger businesses, especially those relying on legacy software and/or hardware, moving fully to the Cloud, and ensuring sustainability, can be complex.  Even businesses with modern software and hardware may find this new paradigm, so completely different from traditional approaches, difficult.  This complexity requires a careful, skilled and managed approach – which is best handled by what the IT industry terms a ‘Cloud Architect.’ As the name implies, the Cloud Architect is responsible for designing the Cloud computing environment in an organisation, which encompasses the platforms, servers, storage, delivery and networks. In addition to the planning and designing, Cloud Architects also need to provide guidance throughout a development or deployment project and then manage the maintenance and support thereafter. Savvy Cloud Architects will take ownership of these systems and environments throughout their entire lifecycle – from the initial requirements analysis through to retirement.

Importantly, the Cloud Architect role is very different to more traditional IT roles, because it is not only technical in nature. There is a critical business and financial element required. Indeed, a skilled Cloud Architect will seek to understand what kinds of competitive advantages are required, the relevant functionalities that are needed, and the unique business requirements that the system architecture needs to deliver on. Moreover, the Cloud Architect will be responsible for sourcing and managing the right vendors such as Microsoft or Amazon; contracting suitable suppliers and deciding upon the right APIs and standards.

Aligning Business Needs

As Cloud computing becomes more ubiquitous and IT Departments more streamlined, the role may quickly evolve into a financial and strategic position. Given that the Cloud Architect will be handling budgets, forecasts, reports, etc, he or she could soon be sitting within the Finance Department – as opposed to a rapidly shrinking IT Department!

When exploring the appointment of a Cloud Architect, it’s important to consider that letting a more traditional (and technically oriented) IT professional handle Cloud strategy can backfire. This is simply because technical professionals prefer to have control of their systems. There’s often a subconscious bias away from ‘putting everything in the Cloud and letting someone else manage it’. However, while there is more flexibility when a business controls everything (e.g. with a private Cloud or an on-premise server) there are often inflated costs and added risk. Increasingly, businesses are recognising that there are major advantages to relinquishing elements of flexibility and outsourcing most of the traditional IT services. And with a skilled Cloud Architect managing the relationships, businesses can arguably enjoy the best of both worlds – enhancing efficiency while reducing both costs and risk.

Recruiting for Growth

Given that this kind of role is still so new, businesses will be hard pressed to find experienced candidates off the bat. Today, leaders should rather be looking for candidates who come from roles that are closely related – and then looking for experience in other key aspects. For example, a Network Architect who has reported into a Finance Department; or an MBA who has a strong technical background. First and foremost, a great Cloud Architect will be able to grasp the business requirements – and then develop systems from there. For instance, these requirements may relate to growing profits/revenue or decreasing costs, and a good Architect needs to figure out how the Cloud can help achieve these goals. Moreover, a savvy Cloud Architect will have strong administration skills as well as highly developed interpersonal skills – as he or she will be managing key vendor relationships.

As businesses expand into an environment in which the lines between IT, finance, and strategy are increasingly blurred, professionals such as the skilled Cloud Architect will become integral to growth, innovation and sustainability.

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