Oracle revamps business intelligence offerings

Oracle plans to broaden the appeal of its E-Business Suite to specific industries such as industrial manufacturing and healthcare...

Oracle plans to broaden the appeal of its E-Business Suite to specific industries such as industrial manufacturing and healthcare with a retooled interface and more vertical applications.

Version 11i.10 is due for release by the end of the summer. "Customers aren't looking to buy applications in general but want a specific fit for a company or industry," Ron Wohl, Oracle's executive vice-president for applications development

The company's direction means that in addition to expanding into new areas such as healthcare, Oracle also hopes to penetrate industries in which it already has a foothold, such as industrial manufacturing. Among the new applications coming in 11i.10 will be transportation planning, international drop shipments and service supply chain planning software.

Wohl also said that Oracle is enhancing its daily business intelligence capabilities, an architectural feature embedded in the suite that allows managers to get quick updates on business performance. To make the feature more appealing, Oracle is adding six dashboards to the existing 31 and increasing the number of reports it offers to 581, up from 319. It will also boost the number of business metrics to 254, up from 166.

To make the applications easier to use, a new interface can collapse more data into fewer screens. For instance, a sales lead follow-up workflow that once required navigating five screens has been shrunk to two on the new dashboard, he said.

In December, Oracle will add to its procurement application the ability to create contracts, buy services and handle complex pricing management. The company also plans to offer as a free service the ability to connect with the Oracle Supplier Network, which will help automate document processing between customers and their suppliers.

Oracle is also beefing up its service application to provide a wider set of capabilities. A callcentre worker, for example, will be able to see if a given piece of service work is covered by warranty, help determine the nature of a given problem and even assist in discovering the best route for a technician to take to his destination for on-site repairs, said Wohl.

Oracle is also offering a special interface for the public to field complaints.

Oracle will relaunch its sales and marketing products that will tap into existing enterprise resource planning information and - using analytical tools - help in upselling and cross-selling to existing customers.

Oracle will also enhance its business intelligence platform - part of the 10g Application Server suite - to help compete with Business Objects and Cognos, said Chuck Rozwat, executive vice-president of database technologies.

During the next several months, he said, Oracle expects to improve the front end of its business intelligence offerings to allow them to be more interactive with users.

The new capabilities in the next iteration of the Oracle Discoverer query, reporting and web publishing tool are designed to help users of the business intelligence platform to do drag-and-drop functions, drill down through various data views and do personalisation and publishing routines.

Marc L Songini writes for IDG News Service

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