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Oracle AppsWorld Update
Mark Rittman

It was Appsworld in San Diego last week, and Oracle made a few product and organisational announcements that it's worth taking a look at.

An article at VNUNet sums up the product announcements best, with details on version 11i.10 of the e-Business Suite, the Customer Data Hub, and tracking capability for it's warehouse management product. So, from a BI & reporting point of view, what's the story behind these new products?

Taking the Customer Data Hub first, this appears to be a subset of the e-Business Suite, that includes a database primarily based on that provided with Oracle CRM, but with the ability to store customer and transactional data from both Oracle and third-party data sources. Oracle issued a press release last week entitled "Ellison Offers New Paths to Customer Data Nirvana" which gave some more details;

"... "The biggest problem of the information age is data fragmentation." With this statement, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison opened his keynote today about Oracle's ongoing quest to provide better information at the lowest possible cost.

"Who are my customers?" "What did they last purchase and when?" These are questions that today's CRM systems can't answer nor can they deliver on the promise to provide a 360-degree view of the customer. What seemed like the Holy Grail has been hampered by data fragmentation and the separation between front office CRM systems and the back office ERP applications.

Mr. Ellison joked, "CRM gives you a 360 degree view of the customers as long as your customer doesn't pay you. And a lot of us business people are really interested in getting paid."

What organizations need is a global customer database, Mr. Ellison explained. A global customer record would contain a standard "global identity" for customers - a single point of truth. Accounting, billing, marketing and order information for that customer would be "consolidated and made consistent."

"Oracle has been on a quest. We provided comprehensive applications and a single database with customer information in one place. We've had a great deal of success with it," Mr. Ellison said. "But we're realized that some of our customers couldn't consider converting all of their packaged and custom applications over to Oracle."

This week, Oracle introduced the Oracle Customer Data Hub, which centralizes customer information in one place, and can be used with third-party applications not developed by Oracle, such as Siebel, SAP, PeopleSoft, Microsoft and Lawson,or legacy applications.

"It achieves the same goal by different means," he explained. "We've realized not all customers can walk this road. Our original dream hasn't changed - we want to provide a 360 degree view of customers."



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