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Oracle AI apps now present throughout enterprise cloud suite

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Oracle makes a major push for machine learning on its cloud platform, including the Oracle Database, but how does the trendy technology compare to rivals?

SAN FRANCISCO -- Oracle has vastly expanded its roster of Adaptive Intelligent Applications, adding the narrowly focused, special-purpose machine learning tools to major modules in its cloud ERP suite -- from financials and HR to manufacturing, the supply chain, e-commerce and sales.

The new Oracle AI apps are the latest entry in a race among ERP vendors to show leadership in artificial intelligence, a once-ridiculed technology that has become the hottest trend in IT. Over the past year, Oracle's closest rivals in enterprise software -- including IBM with its Watson cognitive computing platform, Infor with Coleman and SAP with Leonardo -- have all announced software similar to the Oracle AI. Cloud CRM heavyweight Salesforce has Einstein.

The new Oracle AI apps were unveiled at the vendor's OpenWorld conference, which is held here annually. In a podcast from the conference, TechTarget editors discuss the potential impact of the Oracle AI apps.

"I think it is curious that Oracle has refrained from naming its artificial intelligence," said Brian McKenna, business applications editor of London-based ComputerWeekly. "It's an interesting way into how they are thinking about artificial intelligence and machine learning. The litany of [Oracle AI business functions] -- it's all very pragmatic, it's all about automation, and you can see the virtue in that."

Self-repairing databases

Larry Ellison, CTO, OracleLarry Ellison

McKenna added that the Oracle AI apps' emphasis on practicality and automation aligns with the vendor's other recent technology reveal: an "autonomous" database that, according to CTO Larry Ellison, uses machine learning to repair itself. "That's been presented as 'autonomization' ... If you think about it, there is a big difference between automating processes and computers thinking like human beings."

Jack Vaughan, senior news writer of SearchOracle, recalled similar terminology being used by IBM in 1999. "'Autonomic' computing was the watchword," Vaughan said. "It just didn't catch on with the general public. There's been automation: [It's] what computing has been about since Day One.  In terms of the database administrator, great portions of their job have been automated over time. They don't have to set up memory as they once did, and they wouldn't expect to."

Furthermore, the advent of cloud computing has removed the need for human intervention in the scaling of large server farms, for example.

The Adaptive Intelligent Apps help to automate or optimize specific business processes that are often challenging and time-consuming for humans, such as spotting the root cause of production errors in a factory, or identifying the best payment discounts to offer suppliers. Some apps are available now, while others are expected in 2018, according to Oracle.

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