Oracle OpenWorld 2018 brings FedEx, Juniper and others to discuss their progress in the cloud

Oracle OpenWorld 2018
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Oracle this week is using its OpenWorld 2018 conference to showcase how some of its major B2B customers are moving to cloud-based applications that can use machine learning to streamline and speed up business processes.

In a general session that was livestreamed from OpenWorld 2018 in San Francisco, Oracle executive vice-president of applications product development Steve Miranda charted the vendor’s course from on premise software to software-as-service offerings. He also described some of the additional capabilities Oracle is rolling out at OpenWorld 2018. These include a chatbot it calls an Expense Reporting Assistant, Supplier Recommendations, Intelligent Payments and Intelligent Performance Management, among others.

Oracle also said it has entered an agreement to acquire DataFox, an AI-based data management provider, and unveiled a new CX Unity product designed to provide a comprehensive view into customer engagement and interactions across channels and applications.

“When you move to machine learning, you move from a rules-driven application to a model-driven application,” Miranda explained, giving the example of a company that traditionally might have had to work with its IT department to set up rules around the workflow for purchase approvals.

“If a certain type of transaction always gets approved, you can fast-track that,” he said. “If other approvals tend to get delayed, you can directly route that to the appropriate person based on the attributes of the transaction.”

At the moment, however, many of the marquee customers Oracle welcomed on stage at OpenWorld 2018 are still in the process of migrating away from applications that have always run in their own data centers. This includes Federal Express (FedEx), which is moving its enterprise resource planning, supply chain management and enterprise performance management systems to the cloud. According to Chris Wood, FedEx’s vice-president of transformation, the delivery giant’s tipping point came following the acquisition of Genco, a supply chain and logistics firm.

“We needed to replace their systems and decided that since we wanted to begin a cloud journey, we could start with that in mind,” he said, adding that the cloud-based version of Oracle went live last December. Since then, however, FedEx has also bought Netherlands-based courier firm TNT.

“We have a burning need to integrate that quickly to achieve benefits and reduce risks,” he said, which will accelerate an international deployment of Oracle Cloud.

At Sunnyvale, Calif.-based network and security firm Juniper Networks, meanwhile, the impetus towards cloud computing came from a need to compete against rivals with larger budgets, its CMO Mike Marcellin said. After joining the company three years ago, he said his two biggest investments including setting up a data science team and upgrading to the latest, as-a-service version of Oracle’s marketing application, Eloqua.

“(We) made that the cornerstone of our martech stack,” he said. “No tech vendor does everything marketing needs to do, but you need to figure out who are the anchors.”

Marcellin said he was particularly interested in Oracle’s machine learning roadmap to see if it can advance Juniper’s goals of personalizing its marketing approach.

“I don’t have enough marketers to create every possible buyer journey and every A/B test I want to do, but a machine can do it for me,” he said. Juniper has also recently moved to Oracle’s cloud based configure/price/quote (CPQ) too, he said, which has helped better align the marketing team with sales and respond more quickly to enterprise customers.

Cloud computing and machine learning can drive greater satisfaction internally too, said Faye Garrett, director of IS at filtration and power generation firm Cummins Inc. While the company had run its HR with an on-premise version of Oracle’s E-Business Suite since 2003, for instance, Garrett said the firm often had to weld together other tools or design its own. Moving to Oracle’s human capital management (HCM) Talent Suite means employees can now do everything from enrolling in benefits to applying for a promotion in one place, whether they are working at a manufacturing site or a mine.

“We owe it to them to give them a more innovative approach, which is why the cloud is important for us,” she said.

OpenWorld 2018 continues through Thursday.

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Shane Schick

Shane Schick

Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.