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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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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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By 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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How load-shedding is killing our cellphone signals

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Extensive load-shedding, combined with the theft of cell tower backup batteries and copper wire, is placing a massive strain on mobile network providers.

MTN says the majority of MTN’S sites have been equipped with battery backup systems to ensure there is enough power on site to run the system for several hours when local power goes out and the mains go down. 

“With power outages on the rise, these back-up systems become imperative to keeping South Africa connected and MTN has invested heavily in generators and backup batteries to maintain communication for customers, despite the lack of electrical power,” the operator said in a statement today.

However, according to Jacqui O’Sullivan, Executive: Corporate Affairs, at MTN SA, “The high frequency of the cycles of load shedding have meant batteries were unable to fully recharge. They generally have a capacity of six to 12 hours, depending on the site category, and require 12 to 18 hours to recharge.”

An additional challenge is that criminals and criminal syndicates are placing networks across the country at risk. Batteries, which can cost R28 000 per battery and upwards, are sought after on black markets – especially in neighbouring countries. 

“Although MTN has improved security and is making strides in limiting instances of theft and vandalism with the assistance of the police, the increase in power outages has made this issue even more pressing,” says O’Sullivan.

Ernest Paul, General Manager: Network Operations at SA’s leading network provider MTN, says the brazen theft of batteries is an industry-wide problem and will require a broader initiative driven by communities, the private sector, police and prosecutors to bring it to a halt.

“Apart from the cost of replacing the stolen batteries and upgrading the broken infrastructure, communities suffer as the network degrades without the back-up power. This is due to the fact that any coverage gaps need to be filled. The situation is even more dire with the rolling power cuts expected due to Eskom load shedding.”

Loss of services and network quality can range from a 2-5km radius to 15km on some sites and affect 5,000 to 20,000 people. On hub sites, network coverage to entire suburbs and regions can be lost.

Click here to read more about efforts to combat copper theft.

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