The product, which Oracle plans to update on a quarterly basis, will begin with a focus on permits and inspections before moving on to zoning, land use, professional licensing and other areas.
Oracle, a tech titan and one of the largest providers of back-end software to state and local governments in the U.S., is jumping into the land management, licensing and permitting arena.
The company has launched a cloud-based product called Oracle Public Sector Community Development, which will begin with a focus on permits and inspections and then add new modular functionality as time goes on, in a move that will put it in competition with established market players like Tyler Technologies and Accela.
That’s because permitting and licensing is a pretty core component of government work, especially at the local level — think business licenses and zoning. So there are a lot of potential buyers out there.
But it’s not an area Oracle has really touched before. According to Paco Aubrejuan, a senior vice president of development at Oracle, the emergence of cloud computing has changed the equation when it comes to serving those customers. That is, Oracle believes it can use a more price-flexible, subscription-based business model to reach smaller governments in particular.
“The rapidly changing nature of the tech landscape allows us to bring in things like machine learning, chatbots (and) a lot of the mobile technologies that we think can make a difference here in terms of the value of the solution, the cost it takes to deploy it and the fact that this allows communities to interact with their constituents in the ways they expect,” Aubrejuan said.
Chatbots — often powered by machine learning algorithms that can apply lessons from commonly performed tasks — have become a staple of experimentation in areas of government that deal in customer service. That’s because government call centers and help desks often spend a lot of time answering the same questions from different people. If a chatbot built on top of machine learning algorithms can find the most common solution to those frequent questions, it can effectively automate a big chunk of those call centers’ and help desks’ work, freeing up those people to help people with more complicated needs.
Aubrejuan stressed that even though the product is cloud-native, it can easily integrate with on-premise operations. After all, Oracle has a lot of experience with on-premise work.
But the company is launching the product with an eye on those who don’t have much of an IT budget.
“Our hope would be to make this kind of technology available that before couldn’t afford the kind of IT staff to procure, deploy, run and maintain existing on-premise software,” he said.
The company has embraced the idea of continuous delivery with this product, meaning it’s planning on updating it four times a year. For the next 18-24 months, Oracle will be focusing on community development functions such as land use management, zoning and code enforcement. After that it plans to tackle business and professional licensing.
“What I expect is that Oracle getting into this space will help change it,” Aubrejuan said. “We’re a very large, very established, trusted partner with a lot of these cities. And when we say that we’re here to solve a problem they know we’re not here today and gone tomorrow.”