AI the single most exciting period in tech, Oracle chief says

Companies that can properly leverage AI are in a 'perfect position' going into the future economy, according to Safra Catz

Safra Catz, chief executive of Oracle, and Dara Khosrowshahi, chief executive of Uber Technologies, at the Oracle CloudWorld conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday. Photo: Oracle
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The current momentum of artificial intelligence has created "the single most exciting period in technology in decades", the chief executive of US technology major Oracle has said.

Consequently, companies that will be able to properly leverage AI's benefits are placing themselves in a "perfect position" to prosper going into the future economy, Safra Catz told the Oracle CloudWorld conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

"We have waited for this moment where the data, compute, GPUs [graphics processing units], and all the technologies come together ... you’ve done the hard work in many ways, now you’ve got all of your data," Ms Catz said.

"It’s exciting to see a company that is hyper-focused on the customer and on better outcomes, all by building the platform first to bring it all together – and that puts you in the perfect position to use the newest technologies moving forward."

AI has come a long way and has been widely used across categories, and the advent of generative AI has changed all that and created a new race.

Companies, led by global majors Google and Microsoft-backed OpenAI, have thrown their hat into the AI race, jockeying for position to take the early lead in the emerging technology.

Texas-based Oracle, meanwhile, has been using AI for more than 20 years, having integrated it into its various global services, including across its analytics, the cloud and database portfolio.

In June, Oracle announced plans to develop "powerful" generative AI services that aim to help organisations automate end-to-end business processes, as well as improve decision-making and customer services.

Also that month, Oracle announced that it was spending “billions” of dollars on chips from Nvidia, as it seeks to boost its position in generative AI and cloud computing.

Companies need to have "courage and leadership to have that mindset for action", Ms Catz said.

That mindset is "having that attitude to really use the newest technologies because this is a very, very important time and things are changing around us", she said.

Ms Catz, who reports to Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, was joined in her keynote speech by a number of executives whose companies are championing AI.

"AI will be one of the biggest topics here and in the future for quite some time," said Lori Goltermann, chief client officer and chief executive for enterprise clients at consultancy Aon.

While acknowledging that the new wave of AI technology is still in its early days, Ms Goltermann said it was moving fast and would promote the same pace of progress should companies pick it up.

"Thoughtfully, the message around AI is that it’s going to make us wildly more efficient on the brilliant basics; what would take weeks would take seconds and we know it’s going to unlock innovation," she said.

Data from London-based Aon shows that 35 per cent of companies say they have the right skills to meet their strategy, but this goes down to 5 per cent when it comes to AI.

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Companies can improve on this by building skills and assembling a capable staff but without compromising on the security of the organisation's data, Ms Goltermann said.

"While we’re really helping the fast-paced discussions, we’re also really also thinking through the risk mitigation strategies; we need to protect their data, privacy and intellectual property," she said.

AI, like other technology, has been key in transforming and scaling enterprises, including in helping them identify customer habits and predict trends, which in turn would be helpful in boosting revenue generation and bottom lines.

This kind of expansion, in any company, requires a continuous and forward-looking strategy that will support growth on all fronts, said Dara Khosrowshahi, chief executive of Uber Technologies.

"All of the growth requires incredible innovation," he said. "It means building out new products."

Updated: September 21, 2023, 3:30 AM