Oracle this week demonstrated new capabilities for its Internet of Things technology, which businesses can use to better manage their field equipment and assets as well as improve customer service performed by field technicians. Customers using the new capabilities have reported being able to deploy IoT into their workflows two to three times faster than before, according to Oracle executives who presented to a roomful of journalists at company headquarters in Redwood City, California.
Oracle is embedding IoT and data analytics technology into specific business applications running business operation workflows, such as those of Oracle CX Cloud (which includes sales, marketing, and customer service applications) and Oracle Supply Chain Management Cloud (which addresses issues in factory maintenance).
Oracle’s IoT applications portfolio includes Oracle Cloud-based IoT asset monitoring, production monitoring, connected workers, and fleet monitoring applications.
The IoT applications let plant and operations managers remotely monitor production lines for potential outages and have them serviced before they go down. They also include support for augmented reality software that both plant managers and field technicians can use to review metadata about different assets, as well as real-time instructions on how to take them apart, execute fixes, and put the equipment back together. They can also “walk” the factory floor using virtual reality.
“While IoT technology isn’t new, the inclusion in Oracle’s IoT platform of prebuilt machine learning algorithms for specific use cases represents a significant step forward for business customers,” said Bhagat Nainani, Oracle IoT group vice president. “Having the right algorithms with the right level of sophistication, with the right analytics and predictions, is where the real IP is, and where the core value is for the customer,” Nainani said.
By embedding this IoT technology into existing business applications running existing workflows, “we’ve significantly simplified the ability for customers to deploy a solution going from the device to the platform to the IT application to whatever coupled application that is on top of it,” said Lionel Chocron, vice president for Oracle industry IoT solutions. “And the data flow integrates active intelligence algorithms both at the platform level and at the application level.”
Oracle’s IoT application portfolio lets managers create a digital twin of a physical asset, so they can troubleshoot a failing piece of machinery without having to first take it offline. That capability also allows them to run what-if scenarios and other tests to ensure that they don’t create a new problem when they apply a fix to the physical device.
Because the new capabilities are based on specific use cases and implemented within existing business applications, managers can implement the technology quickly, without having to hire programmers or data scientists. “It’s all done declaratively through point-and-click—there’s no coding at all,” Nainani said.
In modern business settings, just keeping track of equipment can be challenging. For example, on a typical 10-hour shift in US hospitals, nurses can spend a lot of time looking for misplaced equipment. And even when they find it, too often it’s inoperative.
In an industrial setting, a crane used for unloading containers might have been left at the opposite end from where the next shift of workers who need it are coming in, noted Atul Mahamuni, Oracle vice president of IoT applications. “Where are my assets? Are they working? What is utilization like? These are real problems. We can solve these with IoT,” he said.
Mitsubishi Electric, SoftBank, Noble Plastics, and building management company Vinci were early customers of Oracle IoT Cloud Service.
Keeping Up with the Hype
IoT has been a buzzword for years, but “the number of deployments hasn’t kept up with the hype,” Nainani said. The complexity of having to integrate new code into existing workflows—or worse, having to develop new workflows to integrate with new IoT algorithms—has slowed adoption. So, too, has the expense of hiring data scientists and programmers.
That’s why Oracle has made business outcomes and “making things easy” a point of emphasis, he said.
“IoT is about more than connecting myriad devices to the internet,” Nainani said. “It’s about using data from the devices to improve efficiency and other business outcomes. We help you get there in simple steps.”
Michael Hickins is a director of strategic communications at Oracle.