Mobile Cloud Services & Internet of Things (IoT) Technologies

Last week we posted the first portion of my conversation with John Schiff, Oracle’s Vice President of JD Edwards. In our first post, Mr. Schiff provides his insight into the early adoption of EnterpriseOne 9.2 and World A9.4, along with his overarching words of wisdom to the greater JD Edwards community. This week, we’ll take a look at the portion of our conversation that focused on newer technology available in the JD Edwards space.

Personally, I get “geeked out” over Internet of Things technology. IoT is so new and undiscovered right now that companies are truly pioneering new ways to derive ROI from the use of IoT technology. As you’ll see below, customers and partner firms alike are beginning to find extremely innovative ways to leverage data collection from numerous points of transmission to increase efficiency and thereby lower costs. I was also encouraged to hear John talk about Oracle’s Mobile Cloud Service offering.

I know, I know…you’re probably thinking “OK, here’s another guy jumping on the cloud bandwagon…” But in this particular case, I think a cloud platform will really give mobile the shot in the arm that it needs. Mobile has traditionally seen weak adoption percentages over the past few years due to a number of factors. However, Oracle’s Mobile Cloud Service offering seems like it will alleviate many of the concerns that companies typically have over implementing mobile solutions. But…these are just my opinions. Let’s hear what Oracle’s Vice President of JD Edwards Partner Development, John Schiff, has to say about it!

Aaron Chappell Aaron Chappell: We are starting to see an uptick in interest around mobile applications. Are you seeing a similar trend at Oracle?
John Schiff John Schiff: I think the mobile adoption is a little slower. There are concerns around deployment security. A lot of those concerns are being addressed in Oracle’s Mobile Cloud Services. The partner turnout at the JD Edwards Summit has been fantastic with significant interest in mobile. A lot of our partners are studying the deployment of the Mobile Cloud Services product. So it’s in process, but again it’s a leading-edge technology from a business to end user, rather than a consumer type of adoption.
Aaron Chappell Aaron Chappell: Just so the folks reading this article are clear, would you mind explaining more about Oracle’s Mobile Cloud Services offering?
John Schiff John Schiff: Mobile Cloud Service is a group of very strong technologies put together where you can have a development platform for mobile applications, which is what we’ve used for our 86 existing applications. It also allows a catalog for deployment where you can bundle applications. You can track which users are using the system. You have analytics which shows you which transactions are being used. It also provides the middleware to get multiple back-end systems supported. And, the technology is also open to having multiple development tools intermixed so you can choose the right front end tool for the right device. And it addresses security.
Aaron Chappell Aaron Chappell: So if you are talking to a customer, what’s the main selling point to why they should go with Mobile Cloud Services vs installing mobile apps on their own system?
John Schiff John Schiff: It’s not really an either/or kind of situation. The two can be very well blended. Mobile Cloud Services is about not having to worry about the security or the firewalls. Customers wouldn’t have to do integrations into some of the industry notification services provided by people like Google and Apple. Customers wouldn’t have to keep up with a rapidly-changing environment. If we think about it, every time I pick up my iPad or my iPhone there are another 10 updates for me to install. With our Mobile Cloud Services, customers wouldn’t have to worry about that. There would be an infrastructure in place to keep them current.
Aaron Chappell Aaron Chappell: So is it fair to say that MCS (Mobile Cloud Services) would be considered a “Platform as a Service” offering?
John Schiff John Schiff: It is a Platform as a Service. If you look at the Cloud stack that Oracle has, IaaS and PaaS…the Mobile Cloud Service is a PaaS offering.
Aaron Chappell Aaron Chappell: And you think having that type of packaged product will help?
John Schiff John Schiff: Absolutely. It gives you a well-administered service that you don’t have to suddenly investigate and acquire skills of a different nature.
Aaron Chappell Aaron Chappell: Moving over to the hot new topic of the Internet of Things, what are your thoughts on the early adoption rates for the new IoT Orchestrator product?
John Schiff John Schiff: There are a number of sides to Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is about tying in the metrics and alerts that customers receive to many different parts in a production environment. One of our customers develops floor tiles with built-in intelligence. So if you’re in a retail operation, you can sense retail hotspots and customer movements. And you can also take that concept into a warehouse environment to analyze picking patterns. New ways to apply IoT are coming out of the woodworks right now. It is a very leading-edge technology and is still quickly evolving.

From my perspective, the IoT movement has done something amazing to the EnterpriseOne product. We have provided a gateway into our application. We now have an integration platform that allows us to talk from other devices and other applications, in a very clean and easy-to-use architectural structure. So the whole IoT and Mobile movement, and the digital economy that we are interfacing with is also providing us with a different framework that customers can use to extend our applications. That leads you into a new paradigm where it’s not just the developers sitting back in Oracle’s development organization who can add value to our product.

It’s now available to our partner community. It’s available to our customers, our contractors out there. It’s a new economy of developing applications and extending applications to do things in a very structured way that allows the customer to keep using EnterpriseOne even when there’s a new upgrade coming out. So there’s protection of that extension. And that’s a game-changer for us.

Aaron Chappell Aaron Chappell: Surety Systems does an annual survey with JD Edwards customers nationwide, and one of the statistics that stuck out to me from this year’s survey…is that 65% of the folks responded that they either A) don’t know what IoT is, or B) know what IoT is, but aren’t sure how it would benefit their business specifically. What are your thoughts on the challenges of customer education specifically as it relates to the Internet of Things?
John Schiff John Schiff: It’s common that companies are asking the question “What’s in it for me?” Internet of Things is a new technology. We need to go through a series of case studies and look at how IoT applies. Some of our partners are getting really good at discovery, and asking customers “What are your specific pain points?” and “What if I could improve the quality of your production and cut the rejects down?”

I heard a very interesting story about a motor manufacturer that was having a seasonal reject on the casting of their engines. Without understanding the measurements around it, you’d think “Why is that seasonal?” They discovered that somewhere in the casting process, there was a heat sensitivity. They combined the digital readings, and then performed analytics on the data to determine the overlap, and where the detraction existed. They actually found a very quick fix to the problem. It turns out, there was sunshine landing on some of their equipment during certain times of the year, causing it to be hotter than it should be. So the solution to your problems isn’t always intuitive.

But, you start seeing that if you’re measuring and collecting this data…you can also do pattern recognition within the data, and then get some significant savings. If you have to re-melt an engine block, that takes a lot of time…so if you can narrow down what’s causing the defect, then it could save you a tremendous amount of time and money.

Hear about John’s thoughts on cloud and his crystal ball prediction on the IT landscape over the next decade!

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