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Oracle launches a chatbot development platform

Oracle cofounder and chief technology officer Larry Ellison demonstrates Oracle's chatbot development platform at Oracle OpenWorld 2016 in San Francisco on September 18, 2016.


At the Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco today, Larry Ellison, Oracle’s former chief executive and current chief technology officer, showed off a new platform for building and running chatbots.

Not surprisingly, Oracle is positioning its chatbot platform as a simple interface for enterprise applications. But the chatbots made with it can work in modern messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Slack, and Kik.

The tool doesn’t require you to write in Java, PHP, or even JavaScript, Ellison said. Instead, it involves dragging and dropping in a graphical user interface.

Facebook and Microsoft, among others, have both launched services for building chatbots this year.

Onstage today Ellison demonstrated a Messenger chatbot running on an iPhone that was built with the Oracle software. One could imagine interacting with it through voice commands, rather than text messages, Ellison said. That wasn’t shown today, though.

Instead, he exchanged text-based messages with the bot, which went by the name Oracle Mobile Procurement, to place an order for a new set of business cards.

When the chatbot showed him his current one, it had his previous title: chief executive officer.

“Hmm… Checked with the HCM system,” the bot said. “It looks like your title has changed since your last order. Would you like your updated title on your new cards?”

Ellison hit yes.

The chatbot asked if it should ship 500 cards to an existing shipping address, if it should update shipping address, and if it should adjust the quantity. Then it placed the order. Finally it asked if there was anything else it could help Ellison with. The answer was no — “unless I can change my salary back to what it used to be,” he said.

Ellison did not talk about when the new service would be available or how much it will cost.

Also today Ellison unveiled Oracle’s second-generation cloud infrastructure.

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