By: Bob Evans
(Note: After an award-winning career in the media business covering the tech industry, Bob Evans was VP of Strategic Communications at SAP in 2011, and Chief Communications Officer at Oracle from 2012 to 2016. He now runs his own firm, Evans Strategic Communications LLC.)
CLOUD WARS — A few months after upgrading its huge portfolio of SaaS apps with “adaptive intelligence” capabilities for the digital economy, Oracle is doing the same for its entire NetSuite family of integrated applications aimed at small and mid-sized businesses.
The NetSuite announcement means that while Oracle is still well behind SaaS leader Salesforce.com in revenue, Oracle now offers not only the broadest set of SaaS apps on the market—a truly end-to-end integrated portfolio—but also has the largest family of AI- and machine-learning-enhanced applications suitable for customers ranging in size from the world’s largest corporations down to small businesses.
The impact will be significant because in cloud ERP alone, NetSuite has 40,000 organizations—standalone companies as well as subsidiaries of big corporations—running its products across 160 countries.
And when this NetSuite AI initiative is paired up with the significant commitment Oracle’s making to ensure that AI and machine learning are fully infused into all of its IP rather than being a separate application, it’s clear that Oracle wants to ensure there is zero daylight between today’s AI phenomenon and the company’s extensive cloud product lineup—including NetSuite.
Earlier this year, I wrote about massive commitment Oracle’s making to what it calls “adaptive intelligence” in a piece called Oracle Places Huge Bets On AI And Machine Learning To Overtake Salesforce.com In Saas, and Oracle’s using both of those white-hot technologies to unleash a complete set of autonomous PaaS services, which I wrote about recently in How Oracle Plans To Beat Amazon: Next-Gen Cloud Software Requiring Zero Human Labor.
And by ensuring NetSuite and its extensive range of existing and potential customers are fully able to tap into the AI and machine-learning phenomenon, Oracle is attempting to ensure that it and its cloud services are viewed as not just modern but indispensable for digital business.
In a press release tied to NetSuite’s big customer event last week, OracleNetSuite executive vice president Jim McGeever said, “With new artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities within NetSuite, we’re equipping our customers to understand not only what’s happened with their business, but what will happen in the future and how they can stay ahead.”
That concept was expanded upon in the press release with this comment from highly influential thought leader Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research: “A future where AI drives new business models is quickly becoming the present. Having business applications that can deliver predictive, prescriptive and automated outcomes is going to be an imperative for businesses that want to grow and succeed in the years to come.”
Building on that future vision expressed by Wang, NetSuite offered these examples of how AI-powered applications can enhance the efforts of employees in all departments by helping them “glean better insights, drive efficiencies by further automating processes and determine the next best action.”
- Finance and Procurement Professionals: improve audit risk analysis and enhance cash-flow predictions;
- HR Professionals: create best-candidate profiles, predict which high performers are flight risks, optimize self-service; Supply Chain Professionals: identify future risks and problems, solve those issues, and learn to prevent those issues in the future;
- Manufacturing Professionals: optimize labor schedules, identify maintenance problems before they occur;
- Commerce Professionals: improve merchandising and online sales and conversions by serving up products customers are more likely to buy;
- Customer Services Professionals: predict costs of support and total lifetime customer value;
- Marketing Professionals: improve campaign optimization by analyzing data across demographics, customer profile and behavior; and
- Sales Professionals: guide agents through sales process, offer personalized approaches for prospects.
- Oracle founder and chairman Larry Ellison has always maintained that Oracle’s success has been due in large part to its ongoing focus on being “the information company.” And these recent moves with not only Oracle’s SaaS products but now also NetSuite’s offer a clear indication that Ellison is fully committed to making all parts of his company inseparable from AI and machine learning.
As businesses jump to the cloud to accelerate innovation and engage more intimately with customers, my Cloud Wars series analyze the major cloud vendors from the perspective of business customers.