Oracle puts own suite to the test

Oracle is eating its own pudding. Having released E-business Suite 11i last month, Oracle New Zealand is now deploying modules from the suite internally.

Oracle is eating its own pudding.

Having released E-business Suite 11i last month, Oracle New Zealand is now deploying modules from the suite internally.

The suite enables companies to run customer management, supply chain and internal operations online.

The upgrade is part of a worldwide roll-out which Oracle officials say slashed $US1 billion from the company’s infrastructure costs in the last financial year.

Don Smallwood, Oracle Asia-Pacific director of CRM, says the company began rolling out the CRM modules of the suite last December and has gone from about 120 application servers around the world to two based in the US.

Oracle offices throughout the world access the servers via a Web browser.

“The only cost for the New Zealand office is the browser and then it’s into the US system,” says Smallwood, adding that this aspect has made 11i particularly interesting to multi-national organisations.

Until a couple of years ago Oracle partnered with dedicated CRM vendors because it had no product of its own but in the last 12 months it has had a meteoric rise in the market and is now number two behind Siebel. Version 11i is Oracle’s fourth CRM release and the company now has 1000 developers working on CRM applications.

CRM software aims to help companies better manage their dealings with their customers, especially in terms of having readily accessible data about individual customers so that their needs can best be served in order to retain their business.

The CRM modules of Oracle E-business Suite 11i bring together information held in other modules such as ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems and drawn from four major channels - the Web, email, call centre and field workers.

There are nine CRM service modules, three of which are new products, and the rest are upgrades of the existing CRM 3i suite, which shipped last year.

Oracle’s three new modules deal with customer intelligence, self-service via the Internet and using email to provide customer service and direct marketing. The other six modules are customer support, field service, scheduler, spares management, depot repair, and contracts.

While the product is ostensibly aimed at larger companies, the fact that it is priced per user should make it more attractive to smaller and medium sized companies, says Smallwood.

CRM is also one of the applications that Oracle intends to offer via the application service provider model. Under that model customers will be able to rent applications via the Web, possible on a pay-per-use basis making it more appealing to smaller organisations.

The new suite only runs on Release 8i of the Oracle database which shipped earlier this year. This could slow the update of the new suite as for many companies an application upgrade would require a database upgrade as well.

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