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Oracle SaaS offerings get major upgrades as flight to cloud continues

Flickr / D. Miller

Oracle is on a complete DevOps tear, and on the heels of a bunch of new container tools, comes a flock of new cloud-based applications. These releases are part of Oracle Cloud Applications Release 13 and come with lots of new capabilities and enhancements. New features in this release include improved capability of doing business online as well as additional functionality across an organization. Apart from focusing on end-user experience, the new Oracle SaaS offerings help customers personalize their experience and are supposed to bring enhancements across Oracle Supply Chain Management (SCM) Cloud, Oracle Customer Experience (CX) Cloud Suite, Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Cloud, and Oracle Human Capital Management (HCM) Cloud.

Oracle SaaS: Supply-chain management

Although Oracle’s Cloud Applications suite is still in its early days with regards to supply-chain management capabilities, release 13 comes with literally hundreds of new SCM features and six new products. In addition to the ability to sense, forecast, manage, and predict supply chain product demand, release 13 comes with pre-built integration between demand management and other departments like sales and operations planning, supply planning, quality management, and maintenance.

Oracle SCM Cloud features end-to-end visibility and insight into creating intelligent supply chains. This new addition helps organizations evolve from traditional to relevant, agile, and customer-oriented supply-chain systems. Oracle SCM Cloud applications support all data types, and there is even additional support for integration of external data sources as well.

Customer experience

Oracle CX (customer experience) Cloud Suite competes against Adobe’s marketing cloud offerings by providing a business platform where users can connect customer data with experiences and outcomes. In other words, Oracle’s CX solution uses specialized tools to make sense of all the data stored in CRM to deliver content that improves customer experiences.

Oracle CX Cloud Suite Release 13 introduces updates including capabilities that increase sales rep productivity as well as enhanced mobile and data visualization capabilities. To go the extra mile and increase customer satisfaction even further, Oracle SaaS has extended Oracle CX Cloud Suite with the introduction of Oracle Engagement Cloud, which combines the sales and service capabilities of both products.

Human capital management

Oracle HCM (human capital management) Cloud includes updates to support the needs of different kinds of customers. A good example would be customers with unionized workforces such as transport or pharma companies. It comes with flexible work models, an improved HR helpdesk service, and an improved user interface. Apart from making it easier for everyone to connect, the new Oracle SaaS HCM updates provide a broader vision and take into account a lot more details with regards to workforce and talent management.

Enterprise resource planning

Oracle ERP Cloud is an end-to-end finance and supply-chain orchestration platform with customers from over 2,000 companies in over 60 countries. This means country-specific services like tax, legal reporting and payment processing for startups to billion-dollar enterprises.

Oracle is adding new financial and procurement tools to ERP Cloud, which will be especially useful to universities and research organizations. An example of this is a multi-funding tool to track the flow of different grants. Additionally, Oracle is offering expanded country localizations in India and Brazil.

Digital Twin

On the heels of some recent updates in digital field service, smart connected factories and digital fleet management, Oracle is also expanding its Internet of Things cloud. This comes in the form of two new release capabilities called “Digital Twin” and “Digital Thread.” A digital twin is a virtual copy of a physical process, product, or service, which is mostly used to find problems and predict failure.

Digital thread is a framework that connects siloed elements in an integrated view. Now, though these are rather old concepts, these new capabilities are built around artificial intelligence and machine learning. Apart from reducing costs and improving overall business outcomes, the new features also help customers gain better operational visibility.

Digital twin meets VR

VR is another department where Oracle is making sure it isn’t left behind, and the Gear VR can be used to tour a “Digital Twin” of a factory floor, allowing the user to walk around a matching virtual version of a real factory floor. With the Digital Twin capabilities, a business can train its workers in disaster situations in a virtual version of the actual building, including the machines they will be working on. (Sounds like one of Morpheus’s training rooms for Neo from “The Matrix”!) Additionally, Gear VR can also be used to train employees on equipment that hasn’t yet been installed, a lot like how pilots learn the ropes on flight simulators.

Bhagat Nainani, group vice president of IoT applications at Oracle, was quoted saying “IoT holds the potential to transform today’s siloed operations into a modern, interconnected, digital set of workflows with real-time visibility and responsiveness.” Oracle is all about getting those siloed operations to the cloud now, especially since everyone wants open source and no one’s buying licenses.

Escaping to the cloud

Total cloud revenue for Oracle was up more than 50 percent for the quarter ended August 31 to $1.45 billion. The other side of that sword is that while customers are transitioning to the cloud, new software license revenue fell 6 percent. That’s a lot of money, and pretty much explains why Oracle is running to the clouds like they’re trying to escape a burning building.

That’s also probably why Release 13 is stressing that its cloud offerings serve customers of all sizes. Liam Nolan, Oracle’s vice president of Cloud applications development, told ZDNet, “Three or four years ago, the market perception of Oracle would be we serve the enterprise level customer, by introducing these services via cloud. Our entry point is getting smaller and smaller by the month.” Over the past year, Oracle has woken up to this fact and is doing all it can to stop the mass migration to AWS by bolstering its Oracle SaaS offerings.

Oracle’s bottom line

In its fiscal fourth quarter of 2017, the cloud contributed over 13 percent to the company’s total income, so though Oracle may not be in the same picture as AWS or Azure, internally the cloud is Oracle’s knight in shining armor. Oracle co-founder and chief technology officer Larry Ellison was quoted saying, “In the coming year, I expect more of our big customers to migrate their Oracle databases and database applications to the Oracle Cloud.” Considering the size of each of these deals, every migration will be counted as a big win for Oracle SaaS internally.

We know for sure that all Oracle’s customers are going to make it to the cloud at some point in time. What’s left to be seen, however, is whether they choose to go with Oracle. What Oracle needs to do now is double-down on its cloud strategy, and make the Oracle cloud the most natural, convenient, and competitive offering for their existing customers. By keeping its existing Oracle SaaS platforms evolving with the latest technology using AI, VR, and machine learning, Oracle is fighting to stay in the race, and stay relevant to its main customer segment — large enterprises. The flurry of new updates we’re seeing now is the kind of momentum Oracle needs to maintain if it’s to make a dent in the cloudverse.

Photo credit: Flickr / D. Miller