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Oracle Extends Business Intelligence Applications Portfolio

Project Analytics and Loyalty Analytics apps round out the ERP- and CRM-integrated portfolio. Oracle stresses fast deployment and ongoing support.

Since acquiring Siebel in early 2006, Oracle has steadily built on that vendor's collection of Siebel Analytics applications. With today's 7.9.6 release of what are now called Oracle Business Intelligence Applications, the portfolio gains two more analytics apps as well as additional integrations and upgrades. With each app providing predefined ETL adapters, data warehouse schemas, and dashboards and reports, the appeal for many customers is fast-track deployment and ongoing support.

"These applications give you the technologies you need to pull information from Oracle and non-Oracle sources, do federated queries and present information in the right context," says John O'Rourke, a vice president of marketing at Oracle. "At least 80 percent of what the customer needs is predefined, and they can then customize the dashboards and add links and metrics. The benefit is not only faster deployment but also lower ongoing cost of ownership, because we're supporting the applications and keeping them in sync with transaction systems."

The two new BI Applications are Project Analytics and Loyalty Analytics. The first is designed to help companies control project costs and performance by tracking budgets, forecasts, cost, revenue, billing, profitability, agreements, funding and project performance. The application is integrated with the project-management capabilities in Oracle E-Business Suite and PeopleSoft Enterprise. Government agencies, engineering and construction companies, and professional-services organizations are among the target customers.

The Loyalty Analytics application helps companies measure the effectiveness of customer and partner programs administered within the Siebel Loyalty Management application. "The analytic app lets you extract information out of transactional apps, summarize in a high-level dashboard and then drill down to understand underlying causes behind the trends," O'Rourke says. "It's a timely release, in that many companies are trying to maintain existing customers and win new customers in light of the economy."

Release 7.9.6 also brings enhancements to Oracle's existing Human Resources Analytics and Oracle Procurement and Spend Analytics applications. The HR app gains dashboards for talent management, learning management, recruiting, leave and absenteeism; the Procurement app now offers a Spend Analyzer and new employee expense and enhanced procurement dashboards.

Oracle says more than 2,000 customers use its BI Applications. Rivals including SAP BusinessObjects, IBM Cognos and SAS also offer analytic apps, though each with different levels of depth, breadth and support.

IBM Cognos Blueprints, for instance, provide frameworks that help you apply BI to a certain content area, "but they are not supported," says AMR Research Analyst John Hagerty. "They are not standard products, and you're on your own in terms of extending them and keeping them in sync with applications."

SAP BusinessObjects is starting to build out analytic applications as part of its Enterprise Performance Management Framework, and that list includes Spend Analytics and Supply Chain Performance apps. "SAP doesn't have the same breadth of applications that Oracle offers at this point," Hagerty says.

SAS, in contrast, offers a range of "very deep and rich analytic applications in specific, industry-driven content areas," Hagerty explains. Examples include drug discovery, warranty management and environmental impact management, and the apps offer ongoing support.

Meanwhile, observes Hagerty, "What Oracle is doing is more of a broad-brush approach, addressing the main content areas that ERP and CRM systems address."

Integration with Oracle transactional applications is, indeed, a core appeal of the BI Apps. The 7.9.6 release includes a new integration between the Oracle Financial Analytics app and JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Financial Management. The release also updates existing integrations with Oracle E-Business Suite (11i10 and R12), PeopleSoft Enterprise 8.9 and 9.0, and Siebel CRM 8.0 and 8.1.1.

Adoption of the BI Apps has been highest among Oracle's Siebel and Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition customers, so there's room for growth across the rest of the application portfolio. "These applications can pull information from legacy apps and even SAP," Hagerty says. "But practically speaking, the real value is very much geared to extending the Oracle suite of assets."

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