Oracle plugs its AI enterprise bots into social apps

Tech giant targets younger workforce with chatbot capabilities

Oracle brought AI capabilities to its customers today, allowing companies to build their own chatbots and hook them into the likes of Facebook Messenger and Slack.

The major update to Oracle Mobile Cloud is reflective of people's shift away from using web interfaces and even mobile apps and moving more towards social channels like Facebook Messenger, the company said.

"As user behaviour has dramatically shifted to mobile and messaging platforms, it is critical enterprises evolve to support stakeholders' preferred channels," said Amit Zavery, senior VP of product development for Oracle Cloud Platform.

"By using Oracle Mobile Cloud, businesses will be able to continue strengthening these relationships."

Chatbots are proving increasingly popular ways of engaging with people, with TfL allowing commuters to plan journeys with TravelBot, a Facebook Messenger plug-in, and Trainline using BusyBot to find vacant seats for travellers.

Companies are trying to move to social channels popular with their customers, too, as evidenced by WhatsApp allowing businesses to communicate with people using its platform.

Now Oracle is getting in on the act, deploying machine learning and natural language understanding to determine the intent in end user conversations.

Mobile Cloud then helps firms process these conversations, integrate them with business application data and respond automatically.

Enterprises can build their own tools too with Bot Builder, a low-code application that allows users to test and deploy bots, and use analytics to personalise customer interactions.

Dermot O'Kelly, senior VP for Oracle UK and Ireland, told IT Pro: "One of the most common demos we do is chatbots for customers because they see the benefit of it straight away. It's a very easy quick return [on] innovation that the customers can do, so I do see a good take up of that."

So far, Oracle's bots integrate with Facebook Messenger, Kik, Skype, Slack, as well as Amazon Echo, Amazon Dot and Google Home. Using native and JavaScript SDK, they can use Siri, Cortana and Google voice capabilities too.

Oracle's Intelligent Bot Platform also brings AI capabilities into Oracle's SaaS suite, such as ERP applications and HCM cloud, which companies can innovate on top of with Bot Builder to customise these line-of-business bots for their own uses.

O'Kelly believes that the range of enterprise applications Oracle has brought AI to is a competitive advantage over Salesforce, for instance, which focuses on CRM with its Einstein AI.

"We have a wider suite of applications than Salesforce has, and we're building it into all of these applications," he said. "That's a good strategy to embed it into applications where people can really see the benefit of AI."

They're already available on Slack in a notification-only mode for Oracle customers, while users will eventually be able to look up their remaining holiday via these bots, according to Reuters. Slack offered another example; that of organisation-wide lookup to find a colleague.

"We need to make sure we're embracing the way the world is changing and embracing the way that people are working," Suhas Uliyar, Oracle vice president of bots, artificial intelligence and mobile, told Reuters.

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