"Automation is a big part of the world around us," Oracle senior director of cloud platforms and infrastructure solutions consulting Scott Newman told iTWire, and the spread of digital systems means the opportunities are growing.
In particular, there is an opportunity to access higher-quality, machine-driven insights and outcomes by applying AI throughout the cloud stack: infrastructure, platform and applications.
Oracle introduced its autonomous database (18C) in 2017, and, since the end of March 2018, has announced various autonomous platform services.
For example, a database can create and drop indexes as required, the security subsystem can monitor any divergence from templates, chatbots can learn from conversations and adapt themselves, and analytics can identify patterns and trends and describe them in natural language.
By "giving access to a broader variety of users" rather than just IT staff, this allows organisations to do things that could not previously be justified.
For example, he said, it often happens that it is too difficult to set up a traditional data warehouse to support a particular project. But with autonomous software there is a quick and economical way to get insights from the data.
Autonomous software allows a new, highly available and highly scalable data warehouse to be spun up in seconds, and then simplifies the process of populating it with data from external sources (either by loading the data or by pointing to external repositories).
"People are becoming more data savvy," Newman observed, but even if they can't do the job themselves, the fact that it only takes around 60 seconds to create a new data warehouse means IT staff can assist more people in a given amount of time.
"The technology has fuelled a realistic view of curiosity," he said, and there is "an appetite for insight-fuelled innovation."
It provides a quick and affordable way of exploring things such as sales opportunities or governance issues.
Such systems have been used to explore fraud in loyalty schemes (eg, where staff scan a card that wasn't presented by the customer) and to identify patterns in airliner fuel consumption.
The application of AI isn't going to turn users into analytics experts, Newman conceded, but it does help identify patterns and anomalies that justify further exploration, leading to faster innovation at lower cost.
It's not just about making it quick and easy to set up a data warehouse in the first place. Oracle's Autonomous Cloud also automates the processes of securing, monitoring, backing up, recovering, tuning and upgrading systems, as well as applying security patches and maintaining availability to the tune of 99.995%.
Oracle predicts that by 2020, 90% of every application and service will incorporate AI at some level, and that more than half of all enterprise data will be managed autonomously.