I had a packed week at Oracle CloudWorld 2023 in Las Vegas recently, and in this piece I want to explore the highlights of my visit from an enterprise data perspective. I’ll start with a pair of executive keynotes, then move on to my findings from a one-on-one conversation with a seasoned Oracle product management executive.
Oracle Gets Serious About Customer Experience
The first keynote was delivered by Safra Catz, Oracle CEO, who discussed the emphasis Oracle is placing on the customer experience and the significant value that deeper customer relationships are bringing to Oracle. She also praised the readiness of Oracle’s customers to tackle big problems. “Instead of shying away from change and opportunities, [our customers] embrace them,” Catz said. “They see challenges, and they adjust to them. And they use those things as motivation to move forward and to advance.”
Catz stated that Oracle has repositioned itself to focus on customer success and gave evidence to support this new commitment by spotlighting notable collaborations with Uber and Emerson. According to Catz, Oracle has played a pivotal role in transforming these companies by empowering them to nurture customer-centric business relationships with their own clients.
For more details on Oracle’s work with Uber, Catz invited Uber’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, to the stage. The two CEOs discussed their companies’ collaboration, underscoring the role of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure in hosting Uber’s critical workloads. This collaboration supports Uber in modernizing its infrastructure, cutting costs, growing its business, improving customer service, creating new products and increasing profitability. Uber’s evolution has been impressive, marked by expansion into new ventures such as Uber Eats and Uber Direct, which many considered a gamble when they were launched. Since Khosrowshahi joined the company six years ago, Uber Eats has surged from 5% to 50% of the company’s business. Meanwhile, Uber Direct is set to feature 3,500 brands that are capitalizing on the company’s logistics network to offer on-demand, same-day delivery.
Catz then transitioned to a discussion with Ram Krishnan, COO of Emerson, an industrial technology company now with 130 factories providing equipment responsible for half of all power generation in the United States. Krishnan shared that Emerson is using Oracle technology as it progresses toward becoming a full-scale automation provider, creating sensors, controls and software essential for powering future factories. Emerson uses Oracle E-Business Suite to standardize critical processes worldwide and employs complementary Oracle apps to manage its regional supply chains and factories. Krishnan says this is critical to the company’s support of “factories of the future” because it can “harness that data into actionable insights, which can unlock a lot of value.”
Larry Ellison Preaches The Importance of AI
The other keynote I’d like to highlight was delivered by Oracle’s co-founder and CTO, Larry Ellison. I found his insights on data, AI, healthcare and agriculture intriguing. “Generative AI is a revolution,” he said. “It is a breakthrough. It’s transformational. It’s fundamentally changing things at Oracle. . . . This makes AI central to almost everything we’re doing.”
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I liked how Ellison transitioned from discussing the importance of data and AI in general to underscoring their roles in the future of healthcare: “When you take all this health data and put it in one place, you get enormous benefits,” he said. “The first benefit is that when you go to train the AI models, you have a thousand times more data than you used to have. . . . The answers that we get from those models enable detailed, personalized medicine.”
Ellison discussed how Oracle is now helping its healthcare customers use data and AI to help diagnose patients, identify the most suitable medications for individuals, reduce the time for drug development and improve transcription of medical documents to enhance patient records. Since health is so time-sensitive, these quicker and more adaptive applications of data and AI promise to improve healthcare in areas where even the best human efficiency falls short. For more about how Oracle is helping improve electronic health records, check out this analysis from Moor Insights & Strategy CEO and chief analyst Patrick Moorhead.
Ellison also touched on agriculture, where he is touting a movement for growing crops indoors to control weather elements. Ellison said, “Food grown indoors with AI-powered greenhouses has the potential to use 98% less water and 90% less land.” As with its multiple benefits for healthcare, AI can help modernize agriculture by conserving water, controlling growing conditions and using data to optimize best practices, logistics and overall crop yields.
Ellison’s keynote was full of worthy aspirations in the fields of health and agriculture. Given our growing population and the state of the weather these days, these areas are increasingly concerning—and ripe for technological intervention through data- and AI-driven innovations. I’m eager to see the advancements that Oracle and others can make as they tackle these challenges.
Oracle Database 23C
One featured announcement was Oracle Database 23c (code-named “App Simple”), now available on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. This latest release of Oracle’s flagship database product integrates AI, aiming to make interactions with data easier for professionals, developers and users by enabling them to focus on intended outcomes rather than complex coding. One of the main features is the inclusion of AI Vector Search. For those unfamiliar with this term, AI Vector Search employs machine learning to identify similar objects within a specific dataset. It leverages vector embeddings, which are numerical representations capturing the features of objects, to allow for accurate searches.
This release offers many other new features and is currently free for developers to try. It builds on the database’s reputation for high availability, reliable performance and strong security. Notably, it advances Oracle’s converged database approach, which allows various data types and development styles. Specifically, it supports JSON, XML, graph, spatial, text and relational data types for any workload, thus allowing developers the flexibility to choose any development style.
Introduction To Fusion Data Intelligence Platform
Next, let’s have a quick overview of the Fusion Data Intelligence Platform. I see this platform as a way to bring data, analytics, AI models and apps together in one place. It includes a 360-degree data model for an organization’s data so users can see different angles of the business (customers, products, accounts, vendors, employees, etc.). The platform also features prescriptive AI/ML models to automate time-consuming tasks such as workforce skills assessment and customer payment forecasting. This frees up employees for more challenging tasks where they can add more value. The platform’s interactive analytics help with visualizing data through prebuilt dashboards, reports and KPIs; intelligent applications also provide prebuilt data models and AI/ML models for advanced insights and decision making.
The Fusion Data Intelligence Platform comes with analytics already built in for some of Oracle’s offerings. For Oracle Cloud Enterprise Resource Planning, these analytics bring clarity to your general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, procure-to-pay, budgets, fixed assets and more. Supply Chain Management analytics help you to understand orders, fulfillment, inventory control and procurement KPIs for key insights. Human Capital Management has extensive analytics on managing your talent, including diversity and inclusion measures, performance management, payroll and much more. Lastly, Customer Experience analytics for sales, marketing and service display KPI information on campaign ROI, pipelines, conversions, wins, losses and factors that influence outcomes, plus other details to help you evaluate the sales cycle and understand your customers better.
View From Oracle’s Product Management
During my time in Las Vegas, I had the opportunity to sit down with Ed Zou, vice president of product management at Oracle, to discuss our impressions of the event. Having been with Oracle for 16 years, Zou has a very well-informed perspective on where the company has been and where it is headed. Reflecting on his key takeaways from the event, he said he liked Oracle’s renewed focus on prioritizing customers in the context of ongoing innovation.
Zou emphasized how critical innovation is to remaining competitive, for both Oracle and its customers. He discussed the Fusion Data Intelligence Platform as an example of how data can be utilized more than ever before to improve businesses’ decision making. While talking about the ways that data and AI will impact performance across many industries, Zou emphasized that data governance will also be crucial as organizations seek increased access to more kinds of data. I talked with Zou about how the new platform could offer unique data insights for predictive analytics and proactive business decisions—a theme I’ll return to in future posts.
This was my inaugural experience at Oracle CloudWorld, and it certainly had its highlights. First, the keynotes from Catz and Ellison stood out. Both are pivotal figures at Oracle, and I truly admire their enthusiasm for introducing new innovations to the world. Customers are the reason we are all in business, and it’s rewarding to see Oracle executives focusing so much on customers and their needs. Over many years of its history, Oracle earned a reputation for making great software but also driving a hard bargain and not always being the easiest vendor to work with. Based on what its leaders said on stage last month—but even more so from the reactions of Oracle customers I’ve seen—it seems clear that the company has turned a corner in terms of how it aligns itself with customers to create more value for everyone.
The unveiling of new features related to data at CloudWorld 2023 was particularly impressive. In particular, the release of Oracle Database 23c and the introduction of the Fusion Data Intelligence Platform offer customers the ability to develop a truly advanced data management strategy.
In my discussion with Zou, we agreed that this is a crucial time for companies. We are stepping into an era where data is going to be a more vital asset than ever, playing a central role in analysis, decision making, future investments, expansion, innovation and efficiency. To make the most of this—and regardless of which vendors you work with—I advise initiating a thorough assessment of your data to confirm it is as clean and trustworthy as you can make it. This will ensure that you are equipped to meet your organization’s emerging business needs around data—including predictive analytics—effectively. I will keep a close watch on Oracle’s progress, including how it addresses the intriguing challenges of healthcare and agriculture. In those areas and many others, the revolution in data and AI is just beginning.