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OpenWorld 2016: Oracle Introduces Cloud-Based Analytics Offerings
At its annual user conference, Oracle releases a set of tools to help business users glean insights from their customer data.
Posted Sep 21, 2016
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SAN FRANCISCO — This week at its OpenWorld conference, Oracle released cloud-based analytics tools designed to help businesses take more efficient actions on customer data and strengthen the quality of experiences they can offer.

Oracle's cloud-based analytics services aim to surface insights from people, algorithms, processes and machines. Leveraging expert models and adaptive learning, the suite is designed to help end users prepare, discover, view, and collaborate to act on data, giving the different functions within a company the ability to derive insights about their customers and share them with one another across departments.

On day three, Thomas Kurian, president of product at Oracle, demonstrated the new capabilities, and during a press conference, stated that they "vastly simplified analytics for end users."

Using Oracle's analytics tools, a customer-facing professional can access visual interfaces, narratives, and predictions regarding the most beneficial next actions. Included in the package is a suite of domain-specific machine learning models; premade best-practice key performance indicators (KPI) for sales, marketing, and service professionals, among others; and public data sets shaped for analytical purposes.

According to a statement from Kurian, Oracle is the only vendor that unifies all the components of a "modern analytics foundation" and consolidates data with artificial intelligence and subject matter expertise. This analytics foundation includes infrastructure that enables analysis at scale with different classes of data and is built to handle compute and block and object storage in the cloud to support high-performance processing. Oracle's elastic platform enables compatibility with Hadoop, Spark, and data streaming that leverages Apache Kafka to create clusters in order to process data with MapReduce and Spark. Flexible data storage includes Object Storage, HDFS, Oracle Database, and key-value/ NoSQL engines. Also included are data ingestion capabilities, which enable streaming that can handle event data, for instance, and support replication across various sources.

The tools are tailored to meet the needs of a number of industries, including retail, communications, automotive, health sciences, and hospitality, as well as business roles within these industries.

In an interview, Des Cahill, Oracle's vice president and CX evangelist, told CRM magazine that data flow that enables collaboration across the organization will be a major differentiator for businesses moving forward, as customer expectations for great experiences rise. Rather than seek "best-of-breed" solutions, global companies such as Ricoh or Coca-Cola are  increasingly seeking out one vendor who can put pre-existing solutions within the organization in communication with one another. "We've invested a lot of money in terms of engineering manpower in building a rich set of applications that go from sales, marketing, and CPQ to commerce, service and social, and within each of those areas there are multiple applications,’’ Cahill said.

To illustrate why such cohesion is vital, Cahill cited as an example the French automotive manufacturer Peugeot, which needs to unify its data to create more coherence across car dealerships. Because the company has branches  and clients in multiple continents, such connection enables a consistent experience for customers.

Oracle's strategy is fundamentally different from Salesforce.com's approach, he notes, as it doesn't depend as strongly on a partner ecosystem which requires that business  buy add-ons to meet different functions. However, he pointed out also that Salesforce has been making acquisitions (e.g. its recent acquisitions of Demandware and Steelbrick) to incorporate vendors into its core system, which suggests that perhaps Salesforce is taking note and moving in a similar direction to consolidate its offerings.

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