Oracle ERP Cloud expands its digital assistants

The Oracle ERP Cloud is increasing its use of digital assistants. These systems will interact with AI-type systems to help move the conversation along.

Oracle ERP Cloud is all in on digital assistants in its applications, including in its human capital management product. That may be one of the biggest takeaways from Oracle OpenWorld 2019, which started this week.

Digital assistants, which include the use of voice interactions, have become a part of Oracle ERP Cloud. Oracle seems poised to make clear that the tech is now pervasive at its annual user conference.

Coupled with digital assistants in Oracle ERP Cloud are AI enabled systems.

The main goal is "ensuring that we're simplifying the process, the mundane processes, and eliminating manual interaction with the system as much as we can," said Juergen Lindner, senior vice president of SaaS product marketing at Oracle.

Will digital assistants help ERP's TCO?

ERP systems are essential, but these systems do poorly in total cost of ownership (TCO) and ROI success, according to a new report by Computer Economics, an IT research firm. Its survey of 250 enterprises was about ERP adoption generally and wasn't specific to any vendor.

The survey found that new ERP systems may not meet a firm's needs because they weren't adequately defined in the planning phase. Organizations can also run into change management issues: New ways of doing things may face resistance from users.

I think we are headed to a point where voice-activated digital assistants are a major part of user's lives.
David WagnerVice president of research, Computer Economics

As the system of record, ERP needs to interact with many systems. That complexity makes ERP implementations vulnerable to cost overruns, according to David Wagner, vice president of research at Computer Economics. "Some companies simply underestimate how much a new ERP deployment will change business processes," he said.

Whether digital assistants improve user experience remains to be seen. "I think we are headed to a point where voice-activated digital assistants are a major part of user's lives," Wagner said. "But I think with ERP, we're still a few years off.

But where ERP systems are getting better is in data presentation, Wagner said. ERP systems "have made great strides lately in being able to go from search terms -- whether vocal or typed -- to useful graphs and charts," he said.

Other ERP improvements

At a press briefing, Oracles' Lindner said other improvements include advances in document recognition. Oracle claims its system is three times faster than optical character recognition-type systems.

Oracle ERP Cloud also includes new subscription management functions. Businesses are moving to "everything as a service," Lindner said. This includes improved capability for dealing with IoT-type data from usage meters and other systems, he said.

Lindner said it has also made industry-specific updates, especially for education, healthcare and the public sector.

A supply chain improvement includes a business-to-business network that Lindner said will enable businesses to seamlessly exchange documents with trading partners, as well as improve collaboration.

The human capital management upgrades include continuing simplification of processes. The expansion of digital assistants is part of that upgrade. HR digital assistants will have the intelligence to make recommendations and suggest next steps, Lindner said.

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