Last week I had the pleasure of attending the UKOUG Analytics Modernisation Summit in London, an excellent event with important lessons for all in the Oracle Analytics Ecosystem. This vital topic has been extensively discussed throughout 2019 and the event aided the community’s understanding of Oracle’s existing capability and roadmap for the future.

Of course, this event and others organised by UKOUG wouldn’t happen without the tireless work of the User Group and Volunteers, and I echo Tony Cassidy’s (Vertice Cloud) call for all who are interested to get involved with the committee.

After Tony’s brief introduction to the day’s events we kicked off with our keynote presentation by Duncan Fitter (Oracle), ‘The Story of The Bees, A Sensory Smorgasbord’. This was an extremely interesting look at Applied Analytics, and the benefit such technologies can bring to real-world challenges. Using the example of Oracle’s work with The World Bee Project, Duncan’s most important point, in my view, was stressing the need to use the most relevant technology for a task, rather than the technology which is the most technically impressive. In particular, studies show that monitoring the frequency of a buzzing sound is more accurate when identifying a Hornet (potentially a threat to a beehive) than facial recognition technology. Duncan also demonstrated the role of visualisation in helping an audience understand the story told by collected data, which I certainly appreciated as someone whose knowledge of beekeeping is extremely limited!

Duncan had a brief pause during Splash BI’s vendor awareness session, and I would encourage all users to check out their range of pre-built analytics solutions designed to offer complex data insights across dozens of sources without the need for lengthy, costly implementations.

Oracle’s Roadmap for Analytics is available for all to view on the Oracle website, and is well worth exploring. Duncan was back at the front of the room talking us through Oracle’s commitment to increased transparency and desire to simplify – something I am sure the community will support. In addition to dozens of upcoming enhancements for Oracle Analytics Cloud, December 2019 should see the launch of Oracle Analytics Server, a free upgrade to OBIEE simplifying organisation’s migration to cloud. Supporting hybrid systems, OAS will enable ‘moving to the cloud on your own terms’ and is expected to offer parity with OAC. I’m also closely following Oracle Analytics for Applications, and I know I’m not the only one pleased to hear the Packaged Solutions available for Fusion Apps will also apply to Netsuite!

 Mike Durran (Oracle) then elaborated on OAS with his presentation ‘Modernise your Analytics with Oracle Analytics Server’. This provided an interesting overview of OAS as a ‘Productivity Solution’, focusing on building Analytics into your Daily Workflow. I found this important as so many of my clients have needed to prioritise effective change management when embracing new Analytics solutions. It was also interesting to see the deployment choices available to users, including the option to migrate in full or in steps, and I would definitely encourage reading more about OAS on the Oracle website as this is sure to be an important product in 2020 and beyond.

Sam Thomas (Innovate Tax) gave the next talk I attended, introducing the room to Innovate Tax’s products Limelyte and Inflyte, an automated tax tool in the cloud which uses Oracle functionality. I’m sure everyone would agree they’d like to simplify or automate as much of their organisation’s tax as they could so this is definitely worth exploring!

This was followed by ‘Productive Machine Learning with Autonomous Data Warehouse’ by Oracle’s Harry Snart. Key to Harry’s talk was the vital reminder that Data Scientists are not Computer Scientists – a seemingly obvious statement but one which is often overlooked by many of us, I think.

The Machine Learning theme continued with the next talk, ‘An Introduction to Deep Learning’ by Tony Heljula (Peak Indicators). Tony demonstrated the application of Deep Learning with the example of Sports Technology such as Hawkeye. This showed Deep Learning’s use in Object Detection, Image Recognition, Motion Tracking, Gesture Detection, and Speech Recognition. Even in this high-tech age, though, Tony was quick to point out that labeling images is still tedious! Most importantly of all, though, was Tony’s reminder that whilst it is often more efficient to start with a pre-trained neural network for your project, you should always begin your Machine Learning use from scratch and don’t start with someone else’s data.

I had been looking forward to Abi Giles-Haigh’s (Vertice Cloud) presentation ‘Innovative AI to enhance the Customer Journey’ since reading of it on the agenda and it was certainly as interesting and useful as I had hoped. It was particularly good to gain an understanding of customer segmentation, used to divide customers into groups based on common characteristics, which forms the basis of many ‘suggested products’ features on popular shopping sites. Abi also provided an introduction to her big passion of Fraud Analytics, combing Data Analytics and Intelligence to identify Fraudulent behaviour.

My day concluded with Jon Mead’s (Rittman Mead) talk ‘Machine Learning in The Cloud’, which built upon the key questions common throughout the community and identified the biggest challenge to all Machine Learning projects as obtaining data sets of good quality. As ever, Jon drew on his extensive experience in both technical and leadership settings to present a highly complex subject to an audience of mixed-technical-ability and I was proud and thankful to say I understood most of it(!)

This was a well-organised and highly-focussed day all round, and keeping the talks to only two streams minimised clashes and catered well to a niche audience. There was plenty of talk about TechFest during the drinks reception afterwards and I’m already looking forward to December.