It was Oracle CloudWorld 2023 in Las Vegas last week, which means it’s time for another quarterly update about the Oracle Fusion cloud application suite. I recently received a briefing from Steve Miranda, executive vice president of Oracle applications development, in what has become a regular quarterly discussion about what’s new in Oracle Fusion. This time, it is no surprise that generative AI (GAI) dominated the conversation. GAI has dominated all of enterprise SaaS and, for that matter, IaaS and PaaS, since November with OpenAI’s release of ChatGPT. Boards demanded that their C-Suites come up with their “GAI play,” and Oracle Fusion has many of those answers across the entire enterprise, not just CRM.
The familiar theme of “achieving more with less” was echoed across the event, as was “addressing the next decade with GAI.” It was powerful to see so many customers cited that they did not fit on one slide.
A new generative AI service for CX
Oracle Fusion Cloud Customer Experience (CX) is a suite of applications designed to manage customer relationships, one relationship at a time. Oracle Fusion Service is the agent-assisted service component of CX with field service workflows customized for each industry and use case for frontline workers.
New GAI-powered capabilities have been embedded in Oracle Fusion Service processes, boosting the existing AI features. I believe Oracle has gone to great lengths to protect customers’ enterprise data, privacy and security. No customer data is shared with large language model (LLM) providers or accessible by other customers or third parties. Role-based security in Oracle Fusion Service workflows protects sensitive information and recommends content that service agents are entitled to view. For what it is worth, data privacy and security is the second question I am asked by enterprise executives, after “What can it do for me and my customers?”
The software uses the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) Supercluster as its underlying infrastructure, including bare-metal computing with Nvidia GPUs and a high bandwidth RDMA network that should ensure efficient LLM training. Oracle encourages partners like Cohere to train, build and deploy GAI models on OCI. OCI has picked up many AI-native customers, a testament to the performance, experience and cost of it.
GAI will enable many use cases that will increase over time, but improved service-agent productivity is low-hanging fruit. GAI can summarize the history of a service interaction, improving response time and quality. It can also develop articles for emerging service issues and augment search results in Oracle Digital Assistant. The new GAI features can also guide field technicians through troubleshooting processes by suggesting potential causes and solutions based on the symptoms reported, reducing the need for on-site visits. The early AI-enriched customer service tools released five years ago pale in comparison to what’s in store.
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And, as you would expect, Fusion is now infused with GAI across the whole suite including CX, ERP, SCM and HCM.
New tools for healthcare organizations
Unpredictable demand, rising administrative expenses, shifting cost structures, growing skills gaps and complex staffing needs are challenging healthcare organizations’ ability to deliver high-quality patient care. The solution is greater visibility and collaboration across the entire delivery system, from suppliers and payers to the final patient invoice. Oracle is responding with new workforce management features within Oracle Fusion Cloud Human Capital Management (HCM) to help healthcare organizations adapt to changing labor markets, meet volatile customer demand and better attract and retain workers.
The new functionality in Oracle Workforce Scheduling and Oracle Workforce Labor Optimization connects business and electronic health record (EHR) data to help healthcare organizations navigate advanced scheduling and labor needs. These tools provide the insights needed to meet variable patient demand, deploy the right people at the right time and drive an engaged and motivated workforce. Employees can access simplified scheduling and self-service tools on any device to manage schedules, specify shift preferences, request shift swaps and claim shift opportunities that align with operational needs. Based on real-time patient and workforce data, managers can match the best-suited workers to the appropriate assignments. Using these tools, healthcare organizations will be able to create dynamic schedules based on the clinical needs of patients, adhere to union rules and enable new healthcare delivery models such as value-based care with AI-driven recommendations.
Oracle is also adding new healthcare-specific features to Oracle Fusion Cloud Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Oracle Fusion Cloud Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) and Oracle Fusion Cloud Supply Chain Management & Manufacturing (SCM). These additions consolidate disconnected systems and automate critical processes while providing the flexibility needed to support new delivery models ranging from telehealth to home- and community-based care.
Healthcare organizations now have visibility and control over financial performance even when they offer a complex mix of medical products and services across numerous locations and business units. Oracle Cloud EPM will leverage AI and automation to improve governance, streamline corporate reorganization and acquisitions and enhance planning and decision making.
Healthcare-specific enhancements to Oracle Cloud ERP, including contract and pricing integrations with group purchasing, help healthcare firms reduce the cost of medical supplies and improve order efficiency. Industry-specific updates to Oracle Cloud SCM improve demand predictions and enhance the availability of supplies to get ahead of surges in demand. Additionally, recall management will enable customers to track inventory and efficiently conduct medical product recalls to help improve safety and reduce risk.
Expanding payments to include virtual cards
Oracle has partnered with Mastercard and HSBC to automate end-to-end business-to-business (B2B) payment transactions. Oracle can now directly connect Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP with banks to streamline and automate the B2B finance and payment process.
Customers can sign up with a bank via MasterCard to access a virtual card, which acts like a purchase order. Replacing traditional payment methods with virtual cards increases fraud protection and allows procurement teams to centrally manage employee requests for business purchases. End-to-end payment processing includes automatic direct transfer to suppliers’ bank accounts and streamlined remittance reconciliation for suppliers.
This is another in a long line of finance and logistics “connectors” to Fusion. This saves enterprises time and money in creating their own connectors.
A new platform for data management and analytics
As I have said previously, any successful move in enterprise GAI will require a retooling of how data is architected and managed. First off, the kind of data required to create the best outcomes spans ERP, CRM, HCM, CX, finance, product and legal functions. Secondly, the LLMs need to be closer to the data than ever realized with machine and deep learning. Finally, as data is being updated by GAI, there needs to be precision and planning on what’s the new source of truth. As if on cue, Oracle introduced a new data platform.
Oracle has created a new platform called the Fusion Data Intelligence Platform, an evolution of the Fusion Analytics Warehouse. Oracle is taking the Fusion Analytics Warehouse (which will continue serving other functions) and expanding it to be a general data warehouse with best-in-class features, including data model modification, AI and external feeds to bring in third-party data.
The new platform comes with out-of-box tools that run on top of OCI Data Lakehouse services, including Oracle Autonomous Database and Oracle Analytics Cloud. Features include a 360-degree view into various business aspects—customers, products, accounts, suppliers and employees—based on Oracle Fusion Cloud applications data and other sources. AI/ML models, such as workforce skills assessment and customer payment forecasting, will automate time-consuming activities and allow employees to focus on more strategic tasks.
Rich interactive analytics will enable data visualization using preconfigured dashboards, reports and KPIs. Informed decisions can be made faster by leveraging underlying prebuilt data models, AI/ML models and analytics content. These applications will go beyond insights to recommend intelligent actions.
As always, there is much to digest at Oracle’s CloudWorld event. My main takeaway from the event is that Oracle is giving us a glimpse of the future of customer experience (CX) as generative AI and machine learning start to become integral to how CX is delivered.
It’s well understood that improving CX can create greater value for customers, leading to revenue growth. Being more efficient and precise—aided by AI across all CX functions, including marketing, sales, revenue operations, customer service and field service—will maximize resources to support customers and build lasting, profitable relationships. Which is what all of us—as business people and as consumers—want, right?
My final consideration is cost. Generative AI and machine learning are expensive, but as Fusion runs on top of OCI, it seems as if the company would have a price advantage versus those enterprise SaaS companies who don’t host on top of their own competitive IaaS platforms. Those companies running on top of AWS, Azure and Google Cloud have an inherent cost problem that Fusion does not.