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Digital transformation vital for business

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Kathy Gibson reports from Oracle Cloud Day in Bryanston – IT is being used to conduct true business transformation in companies of all types around the world.
Just about any industry can use technology like cloud and big data to transform their business, says Andrew Sutherland, senior vice-president: technology and systems at Oracle EMEA.
“I recently travelled to see a tyre manufacturer, and they are using technology,” he says. “This company is putting 12 chips into every tyre, enabling useful information.
“As always, information increases in value exponentially when it is shared. If users opt in, the company collects data from your tyres over the life of your tyre.
“When the user gets a warning that the tyres are ready to be replaced, they will look up your driving profile and offer the user a customised tyre that matches their driving style and environment.
“What was, a couple of months ago, a rubber commodity is now customised for the individual.
“This is a fascinating example of real transformation,” Sutherland says.
Another example he cites is a light bulb manufacturer which will sell lighting as a service. “Every bulb is individually addressable and can change the colour and luminance.
“They will manage lighting according to usage, environment and power consumption.”
These are examples of how technology is changing the way businesses operate, Sutherland says – but there are many business people who are terrified of the transformation and see their businesses collapsing if they make the wrong moves.
“There are so many things that can delay how they progress as a business – and they can’t afford that as a business.
“So maybe it’s not all obvious. We are think we will come through the transformation, and do more with less. But that isn’t the automatic outcome.”
As an example, Sutherland points out that software updates now take place constantly instead of the traditional one or two year cycles.
He says that Oracle is working to make the technology piece of digital transformation as easy as possible.
Not every company is going to move everything to cloud, he points out, and most customers will end up running a combination of on-premise cloud and elements of the public cloud as well.
“We believe most organisations for 10 years, maybe longer, will run two platforms simultaneously.
“How do we make that a simple, cost-effective solution? It’s not rocket science.”
The first step is to avoid “stovepiping” or silos, Sutherland says.
“It’s actually quite logical to create different business functions. The point of silos is when functional groupings become rigid and insular so integration becomes difficult.”
In the cloud environment, thinking tends to be in layers rather than in silos, Sutherland explains. “We think right across the organisation, to layer within the architecture.”
Oracle offers software as a service (SaaS) as a layer across the organisation. “But we discovered very quickly it wasn’t enough to offer just SaaS; we needed to offer platform as a service (PaaS) as well – and it must be in open standards, plus available either on-premise or in the public cloud.”
Following from this, companies also want to go further than access to the platfrom and so infrastructure as a service (IaaS) has to be available across the organisation as well.
“So all three layers are needed to allow all applications to run either on-premise or on the public cloud.”
Sutherland points out that the top corporate priorities are as follows:
• Always-on availability
• Demand for faster innovation cycles
• Security and regulatory compliance
• Reduced total cost of ownership
• Rapid, flexible deployment options
Oracle provides the three layers – SaaS, PaaS and IaaS – in its cloud offerings.
The Oracle Cloud Platform includes integration, content and collaboration, business analytics, mobile, enterprise management, data management and application development.
Importantly, Sutherland says, these are all based on open standards.
Companies are using the platform for many uses, he says. These use cases include the ability to move development and test environments to the cloud; moving production workloads; analysing big data; integration and hybrid cloud management, business intelligence; sharing documents; simplifying enterprise mobile connectivity; and extending SaaS to support unique environments.
This is because all the components making up the IT service are the same whether they are used on-premise or in the cloud.