‘The best and easiest way to adopt emerging technologies is through the cloud’

In an interview with Express Computer, Prasad Rai, Vice President, Applications, Oracle talks about how Oracle is redefining the digital transformation journey for enterprises

More and more enterprises are moving to the cloud and are adopting the mobile first strategy. How is Oracle helping them transform their journey?
Broadly, a suite of products spans from enterprise performance management to the ERP, to the human capital management which really manages the higher to radar cycle and the entire customer experience suite. And these are all available on the cloud and being adopted by companies across the nation and globe. In order to transform our customer’s journey, firstly we are talking to our existing on-premise customers, software customers that have bought from us over the last many years and helping them move to the cloud.

One of the biggest challenges that enterprises face with traditional software is that a lot of patching is required, along with security checks and constant upgradation of the software. All of which requires a large IT team that is working on software applications and the amount of money and time is invested to keep these up-to-date is fairly high.

We are looking at moving our existing customer base to the cloud, and we call it the last upgrade. In effect, we are focusing on moving from the existing on-premise software applications through the cloud and Oracle will help do that; and as the customer goes along. We take care of any further enhancements, editions, security features, and patching; therefore, reducing the complexity and cost of running large software. It also gives the customer a very modern and agile user interface that helps them spend more time on their business than on technology.

Additionally, the new applications are built grounds-up, they are modern, and are on the cloud, they allow to incorporate the latest emerging technologies much more seamlessly than in the past. So we are moving our customers from their traditional software to the cloud so that they are able to reap more business benefits and build modern infrastructure.

We talk so much about high-end technologies like AI, the blockchain, analytics-driven solutions, how real is the demand for such products and services?
The demand is only increasing, the interest in some of these applications started some time ago. These emerging technologies, Artificial Intelligence, machine learning has in some way been around for a while, except that now with the great computing power that’s available on the cloud, and the fact that we have a lot of data with better results.

Oracle’s approach is to embed these emerging technologies into the application, not as a something that is separate but really embeds them for multiple business departments can seamlessly use these tools on a single platform.

How is Oracle helping enterprises to adopt technologies like AI to transform customer experience?
Let’s say, I go to a website to buy a pair of shoes, but at the last minute, I abandon the cart. Since the e-commerce website has captured some information about me, it starts sending me marketing communications or videos of a fantastic jewelry set, isn’t really going to make an impact, right. Moreover, for the e-commerce site, it’s a waste of money because they are trying to sell me something I haven’t shown any interest in; and two, for me, it is just wasteful communication that’s interrupting the flow of my daily day.

It would be better if the e-commerce site is more relevant to me. So, the e-commerce site is actually able to provide me a better experience.

How does that happen? The customer data has to be treated by the data management platform. Oracle has a data management platform called BlueKai which helps the e-commerce website to identify the customer preferences and target them with the advertisements or communications that are relevant.

The other is through capturing the entire journey that a customer goes through, the different points of interaction. And if all of these interactions don’t come together in a single place, each of my interactions can be viewed as a separate customer. With the help of the CRM, the Oracle’s customer experience software, which is completely integrated, from the minute someone starts targeting, it is a single piece of interconnected software that keeps a track of all the interactions across the entire cycle. And therefore, each customer is treated as a singular entity.

Customers have now started realising that technology can be leveraged to get great benefit and they also realise that the best and easiest way to adopt advanced technology is through the cloud, as it is providing the opportunity to actually focus on the business and drive innovation. Cloud is a cost-effective approach to deploying technology. They don’t need to have an army of IT folks to run such sophisticated applications.

The second thing is that these applications are solving real-life problems across the industries and all sizes of companies in India. And people are getting business benefits, helping enterprises target new customers, faster turnaround time and enhanced productivity. So, there is a tangible and real business benefit that enterprises can derive from deploying these cloud-based technologies.

Can you suggest a strategy that CIOs should adopt to roll-off these advanced technologies, like AI and blockchain?
I think CIOs now are much more experimental and interested in trying out all these new technologies. When CIOs look at applying these technologies, they should look at solving some business problem or achieving a business objective. They need to have a clear business objective, which has a business outcome or solves a problem.

Also, CIOs must have an experimentation mindset. In effect, they should know that if they go out and have 10 such initiatives, only six or seven of them will be successful.

With each success and failure, as an organisation and as an IT department, they learn so much that how these technologies can be leveraged to solve really complex problems and they know how to do it better the next time.

Is there any major announcement that you are coming up with?
One of the major announcements we’ve been doing it for the last few days, is really about the ERP upgrade. And what we are really offering to the customer is our install base, and for that matter, even a competitor’s install base. We have a program by which we will look at helping the customers move to the cloud in a seamless manner.

We are working with our consulting organisation and have put together a total solution where we understand how the customer has deployed the ERP solution, typically Oracle. And then we built a roadmap on how they can move to the cloud with the latest version of the Fusion ERP software. One of the biggest focus areas for Oracle, is the ERP upgrade program that we have launched.

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