Earlier this year while attending the Oracle Modern Supply Chain Experience conference, Supply Chain Matters highlighted a pre-conference session held by executives of Oracle’s Internet of Things (IoT) manufacturing and supply chain management enablement group. In February, Oracle’s development teams were informing customers of what was to-come in IoT support. That subsequently led to the introduction of Oracle IoT Cloud applications directed at asset, fleet and production monitoring.

This week, Oracle announced some significant enhancements to its Cloud-based and on-premise IoT support offerings, in addition to previous announced capabilities. Further announced was a collaboration with Mitsubishi Electric for developing and IoT Platform for Smart Manufacturing.

As we noted in our prior March posting, many businesses are starting to connect the dots relative to the existing wave of new advanced technologies that can literally allow connecting physical things with digitally focused applications, processes, and new business services. Included are the notions of what is commonly described as Industry 4.0, or the fourth industrial revolution, enabled by more sophisticated sensors, additive manufacturing, new iterations of analytics, data management and virtual reality tools. The common objective is convergence- a convergence of operational technologies along with data management, business applications software and decision-support technologies working together in an integrated real-time manner that connected physical objects with digital applications and decision-making support.  

Oracle’s stated approach to supporting customer IoT transformation is an emphasis on the overall IT architecture strategies required in addressing the different needs at the physical layer (the machines), and the digital applications layer of applications and information needs.

This week’s announcement includes the added capabilities of Digital Twin for Supply Chain Management, Digital Thread for Supply Chain Management, and built-in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning support. Digital Twin is the ability of software to create a twin of the actual physical device allowing users to interact with that physical device via inquiries, pre-built dashboards, or virtual reality devices. The digital representation includes current, historical, or predictive views of operational performance data leveraging built-in analytics and machine-learning. One of the themes that impressed this author in February was Oracle’s design goal to have AI and machine-learning capabilities built for the typical business user, not just the resident data scientist. That is rather important. Digital Twin further includes built-in integration and process workflow with business applications such as ERP, Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management which is an important consideration for line-of-business and supply chain management teams. That obviously reduces the time to implementation and time to user value.

Three new applications were announced: Oracle IoT Digital Fleet Management, Oracle IoT Smart Connected Factory, and Oracle IoT Digital Field Service, each of which having a common Connected Worker digital thread. Supply Chain Matters had the opportunity to view short demos of applied use of IoT Production Monitoring and IoT Digital Field Service and we were impressed with the user-friendless of the applications along with the leveraging of and two-way integration to respective business applications. Oracle has placed an emphasis on extracting contextual information related to a business process from various supporting business applications. In the case of production or field service, that includes history of prior events along with automatic creation of needed maintenance or field service dispatch requests.

Oracle has also tripled its IoT device, software technology and systems integration ecosystem including names such as Bosch, Cisco, Fujitsu, Honeywell, Huawei, iSOFT and others. That should aide in broadening support needs for various industry-specific IoT process development and decision-making needs.

As noted in February, Oracle emphasizes the need for a robust and scalable technology foundation supported by an open standard, in-memory, data lake approach that supports three distinct data types in a secure manner. A further critical aspect includes distinct data aggregation at both the physical and digital application layers, each aggregation providing added contextualization to overall intelligence and required decision-making.  Oracle’s IoT approach includes what is described as offering a “complete declarative environment” of data and information support, which could well turn out to be an important differentiator for customer’s needs for quicker design, deployment, and application value.

In response to the all-important customer concern for data security, we were informed that Oracle will support either public or private Cloud deployments of respective IoT applications, as well as needs for behind-the-firewall SaaS deployments, if customers so desire.

There has been a lot of IoT development since February’s pre-briefing, and likely much more to-come. What this points to is that Oracle has intent to becoming a serious IoT platform, hosted infrastructure and supporting applications and decision-making player in this market segment, taking on other enterprise software providers such as IBM, Microsoft, PTC, SAP and others in this space.

Bob Ferrari

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