Oracle Takes Supply Chain Global

Oracle officials announced
Wednesday that the company is releasing the latest version of its supply
chain management (SCM) software within the next 90 days to improve
collaboration around the world and within the enterprise.

Oracle SCM 11i.10 targets global growth, government
compliance/management and the “lean” enterprise at a time when software
sales are starting to show signs of a rebound.

According to a recent report by AMR Research, SCM software will grow five
percent in 2004, to $5.5 billion, as companies look for demand-driven supply
networks and execution initiatives.

“The good news is that SCM investment is growing; the great news is that
companies are grasping what enterprise applications can do for their
businesses,” said Tony Friscia, AMR Research CEO, in a statement. “Using IT
to bring great ideas to market will undoubtedly keep technology spending up.
Innovations in RFID and changes in the retail industry are spurring renewed
growth.”

Jonathan Colehower, Oracle SCM vice president, calls it the growing
popularity and need for inter-enterprise applications. The sector has moved
beyond departmental SCM deployments to enterprise-wide, he said, and the
next step in the evolution is tying software integration with business
partners.

“We’re going to take that beyond the enterprise collaboration to
inter-enterprise, so you’re collaborating with your trading partners,” he
said. “And not just your trading partners; if I’m General Motors and I buy
my seats from Dana Corporation, I can find out who’s providing the leather
for those seats, the supplier’s supplier. I think that’s where [SCM] is
heading.”

Colehower doesn’t see any one of the three improvement areas in the latest
version of SCM that’s more important than the other.

The global growth enhancements deal with multi-national organizations
combining local and regional elements — forecasts, inventory and resource
utilization — and combining it with other operations around the world in an
automated fashion. Other improvements in the global arena include the
ability to connect and manage SCM accounts at remote locations using
laptops.

With Sarbanes-Oxley compliance becoming a reality for many companies around
the United States, compliance measures are taking hold in many new software updates.
Oracle SCM 11i.10 is no exception, with expanded digital signature support
for various business processes like inventory, bill of materials, shipping
and quality.

The software will also include RFID capabilities to allow for the
next-generation tracking of inventory items, as well as integration with
Oracle’s Internal Controls Manager to track all transactions
throughout the supply chain.

The last of the SCM enhancements come in the area of “lean” enterprise
management to clarify different types of inventory, like items that are
measured in pounds or individually, as well as items separated by lot numbers
that have variable pricing.

As Oracle’s SCM software expands, the number of functions it performs
becomes more generalized, a trend that some companies are trying to reverse.
IBM, for example, is starting to tailor
its product line and support around specific industries, like manufacturing
or retail, to bring in new customers or keep existing ones.

Colehower doesn’t believe that’s necessary or that people will be turned off
by an all-encompassing solution.

“When we build our applications, we have a very clear philosophy. That is,
number one, we start with the business process” he said. “It’s not about the
technology, its about the business process; once you start with that
business process then we build the application so the modules work together.
And once we deploy them, we make sure it’s done in a modular fashion, so you
don’t have to be overwhelmed.”

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