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My key takeaways from Oracle OpenWorld 2018

Another OpenWorld has gone by, with 2018 marking significant differences in content and tone from previous years.

For people who have worked closely with Oracle for the past years (myself going on 14 years now!), one thing that may be evident is a marked change in the culture: innovation is ripe and Oracle are showing how things are done in the enterprise cloud space; 2018 Oracle is not stuffy and corporate, but rather agile and almost like a 140,000-strong global start-up (if you overlook the usual "safe-harbour" slide, that constantly reminds customers not to make purchasing decisions based on slideware).  

Update on Engagement Cloud (“the product formerly known as Sales Cloud”)  

Having to juggle a behemoth of a session catalogue, I decided to divide my time between talking to customers, meeting prospective customers, talking to product managers, attending key Oracle Customer Experience Cloud (Oracle CX Cloud) product roadmap sessions and attending key platform-as-a-service (PaaS) sessions.  

On the CX sessions, my focus was Engagement Cloud. This was previously known as Sales Cloud, but Oracle has now re-branded it as Engagement Cloud, once it started including both SFA (Sales Force Automation) and Service use cases. The product roadmap for both the Sales and Service plays looks very healthy. What we're seeing is Oracle leveraging other pillars in the Fusion suite (Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Enterprise Performance Management (EPM), Supply Chain Management (SCM) etc.) and enriching Engagement Cloud with functionality that was previously siloed away. This brings significant benefits to customers. Two examples are:

Enterprise Performance Management: Advanced analytics and machine-learning

Bringing in the EPM (Enterprise Performance Management) functionality enables Sales Planning on Engagement Cloud, helping users to better plan quotas and territories and to better forecast, with advanced analytics, machine-learning prediction models and the ability to manipulate the data in real-time in everyone's favourite UI (Microsoft Excel!), with write-back functionality;

Oracle Engagement Cloud - SPM - Oracle OpenWorld 2018

Connecting customer service, field service and supply chain

Bringing in SCM and Order Management functionality into a soon-to-be-released Service Logistics offering on Engagement Cloud, to enable asset-based service and sit between the Customer Engagement and Field Service offerings, for a complete asset-based platform, including service ordering, parts logistics and customer invoicing, etc.

Oracle Asset-powered Service Solutions - Service Cloud - Oracle OpenWorld 2018

Chatbots and ‘data-driven’ AI

On the platform front, the most prominent services discussed and demoed were chatbots (under the brand new "Digital Assistant" moniker) and Artificial Intelligence. Artificial intelligence is now a presence throughout all Oracle applications, not least because it's a keystone of the new infrastructure services powering what Larry Ellison called Oracle Cloud 2.0. Obviously, we've all heard about the Oracle Autonomous Database, but the same self-driving, self-repairing, self-secure approach is being rolled out throughout the whole infrastructure and platform services.

Oracle Autonomous Database and AI - Oracle OpenWorld 2018

Moreover, the SaaS layer will have a number of Adaptive Intelligence apps, to make users' lives easier, such as providing recommendations or ensuring the users have the right information when working on deals.

Oracle Adaptive Intelligent Apps for CX - Oracle OpenWorld 2018

Chatbots are getting a makeover and turned into a more feature-rich platform, where bots are now conversational user interfaces that perform skills- and Digital Assistant will come pre-loaded with skills that connect to Oracle SaaS services, so it will "know" how to perform basic tasks out-of-the-box! If you are thinking that skills remind you of Amazon's Alexa voice assistant, then the similarities do not end there: this framework can be exposed as a voice UI, as demoed by Larry Ellison live on his last keynote.

Oracle Digital Assistant - Oracle OpenWorld 2018

Boxfusion customer Panasonic present their CX Cloud implementation success story

Outside of the product sessions, it was great catching up with people, but also to sit in with our long-standing customer Panasonic Computer Products Europe presenting to other Oracle customers and Oracle product management about their journey to the cloud and how they're using Oracle CX Cloud services to operate their ruggedised electronics business, Toughbook.

A summary

In summary, it was a pretty exciting OpenWorld this year. It was good to see many customers there, and to get the latest insights into how Oracle are continuously re-engineering and improving their products (through AI, for example) to add value to their customers’ investments. We’re very excited at Boxfusion about the new line-up, and pleased to see that the general product direction means that our prior investment in building a strong capability in chatbots and platform services (such as Integration Cloud Service for integration, and Visual Builder Cloud Service for rapid development of Cloud applications) is going to come in even more valuable in helping our clients to deliver great customer experiences.

Feel free to reach out to us if you’d like to discuss any of this and how it might apply to you.