Selling to SMBs complex, says Oracle exec.

Smaller doesn't mean easier in the business software market

Selling to small and medium-sized businesses can be as complex as selling to large customers, says Oracle New Zealand country manager Robert Gosling.

"With smaller organisations, there's a lot of lot of sensitivity re cost and sales cycles are as long as at the big end of the market, " he told Oracle's OpenWorld conference in Melbourne last month.

Oracle has "several customers in the pipeline" in New Zealand for its E-Business Suite special edition, a pricing model of the suite targeted at SMBs, he says.

One SMB that has already implemented the E-Business Suite is distributor SellAgence, which distributes Gillette and Ferrero products in this country. SellAgence implemented version 11.5.6 of the suite 18 months ago, shortly before the Special Edition became available, replacing a system from manufacturing resource planning (MRP) vendor FourthShift and is in the process of upgrading to version 11.5.9.

Moving to the E-Business Suite was necessary because SellAgence is looking to grow to the point where it distributes five product sets, SellAgence executive chairman Kerry Gleeson told Computerworld at Oracle OpenWorld. "FourthShift didn't fit with our vision of distributing for five companies."

Going from two to five distributors would raise SellAgence's turnover from $80 million to $200 million and Gleeson says moving to the E-Business Suite was necessary because of the need to communicate with different client systems. "Gillette uses SAP, Ferrero uses BPics on IBM and they have different reporting timeframes."

When looking for a replacement for the FourthShift system, SellAgence considered products from Microsoft and SAP, but the E-Business Suite "stacked up in terms of out-of-the-box functionality," Gleeson says. He says with the suite, SellAgence can see "the go-forward path converging with what we want to do."

The company is mainly a distributor and radio frequency identification (RFID) is important to it.

SellAgence uses the financials, order management and supply chain modules of the suite and the company's IT systems manager, Mark Emirali, says Oracle's Collaboration Suite "is in our minds" as a possible replacement for the company's Lotus Notes email and Novell file system.

He echoes Gleeson's point that SellAgence believes the E-Business suite will "scale easily" if the company grows to the extent it plans to.

Watson attended Oracle OpenWorld as a guest of Oracle

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