Oracle CIO Jae Evans sums up the near future of AI in an exclusive interview with ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.
There is little question that artificial intelligence (AI) is the single biggest thing in high-tech in 2023. It is so big, people have stopped asking the perennial question: What is the next big thing?
Generative AI like ChatGPT has had such a huge impact that the question has changed to: What is the next big AI thing?
That was a golden thread that emerged from this week’s Oracle CloudWorld conference in Las Vegas (see page x). And there were many answers to the question. While new AI capabilities announced during the week provided a clear sense of how the customer experience will change for clients of large businesses, it also became clear that the customer often won’t see AI at work.
For the consumer, AI will be so deeply embedded in the back-end of business, it will be invisible on the front end. At the same time, the companies deploying AI in their business processes will rely less and less on data scientists and AI specialists, and more and more on their strategic understanding of what AI can do for the business.
In an exclusive interview, Oracle chief information officer Jae Evans told us that the change was profound.
“With AI before, you’d have to have a set of data scientists, a set of AI experts, to be able to create the models and be able to use and develop AI,” she said. “While we still have that available on the infrastructure layer, what generative AI has done, along with some of the other abilities that we provide from an application standpoint, is make it easier for customers to adopt these AI services. It doesn’t necessarily require them to have all the depth of AI technology (knowledge) and all the development and all the models.”
Nowhere are the possibilities better demonstrated than in Oracle’s own dealings with customers. Christine Sarros, senior vice president of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, which includes responsibility for customer experience, told us that generative AI had dramatically simplified and speeded up handling of both internal and external service calls.
“We have created a lot of knowledge, and we’re pulling data from all of those different knowledge sources. So, when a customer or an Oracle employee wants to request some general IT service, they can type in their request, and the generative AI provides them with a direct answer or can take them into a chat messaging service where they can continue to ask questions or refine the query or ask multiple queries.
“If you don’t feel that you’ve been quickly responded to, you can select to speak with a person directly. Rather than having to click through a multitude of search queries and reading different articles or filing a service request, now you can directly look at the knowledge that’s been provided from hundreds of thousands of different sources. And it’s providing an action directly. We anticipate that this is going to reduce volumes of inbound service requests by at least 50%.”
Ultimately, most customers will experience this as a more streamlined user experience, and a faster, more relevant response.
Said Evans: “We’re talking about 170,000 users distributed across hundreds of countries around the world, working inside the office, working remotely. So, you can imagine the scale and breadth of what Christina and her team need to do. These are the things that we see generative AI can do at scale.”
* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee.