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Interop: Oracle Looks Beyond ERP

The company announced at Interop that it will follow the money by emphasizing line-of-business applications embedded with Web 2.0 features.

Most businesses now view enterprise resource planning software as a commodity and are turning their eyes -- and IT budgets -- to applications that can give them a competitive edge and a Web 2.0 presence. Not surprisingly, software developer Oracle wants to follow the money.

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"Our customers don't see a lot of newness in ERP," Jesper Andersen, Oracle's senior VP for application development, said Wednesday at the Interop conference in Las Vegas. "They want to spend more on the edges, on commercial, off-the-shelf technology, when they can."

As a result, Oracle is looking "beyond ERP" and its traditional database stronghold and will put greater emphasis on creating line-of-business applications for vertical industries such as banking and manufacturing.

Key to the company's effort, said Andersen, is a plan to embed those applications with Web 2.0-style intuitive interfaces and functionally so they'll appeal to the next generation of workers. "My daughter has never read a software manual and I doubt she ever will," said Andersen, referring to the fact that today's teens and preteens, when they eventually enter the workforce, will expect business applications that are as easy to use as Facebook or their iPods.

"We want uptake to be viral," said Andersen.

Oracle has already started building its next-generation apps, which it's calling Fusion Applications. It's expected that the first products in the line will be the Sales 2.0 suite, which will feature a number of CRM-related modules.

The applications will be accessible as a service, said Andersen.

Oracle's focus on end-user applications puts it into a crowded market that's dominated by traditional powerhouses like Microsoft and upstarts like Salesforce.com.

But Andersen thinks Oracle's ability to tie everything together with its Application Integration Architecture, essentially Oracle's version of a service-oriented architecture, gives the company an edge. "We're going to deliver integration as an out-of-the-box product," he said.

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