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Global CIO: Oracle's New Fusion Apps: An Inside Look

Here's an advance look at some of the features and product strategy behind the Fusion Apps that Larry Ellison will introduce today at Oracle Open World.
"Take ledgers: people asked us, why would you rewrite financial applications?" Kurian said. "The rules haven't changed since, oh, 1990—what do you think has changed in accounting that requires new financial applications? But in fact, something very fundamental has happened: it is not that the accounting rules have changed, but rather that how people run an accounting system has changed.

"If you look at Oracle, in 1990, we were a much smaller company than we are today, and we had about 2,000 people who touched our internal Oracle Financials implementation. Today, we have about 45—because 90% of these applications are automated through batch processes. So today, more people are using our financial applications as a reporting system—so we fundamentally changed how people can use the application so that when you come into work you don't have to say, 'Oh my God, tell me which accounting entries I need to pay attention to in my ledger today'—we tell you, 'Here are the pending transactions, here are their amounts, here are all the journals you need to close today, here are the tasks you're behind schedule on.' "

Supply-Chain Management: Deeper Granularity And Visibility "In supply-chain management, order-management is one of the most-complicated processes in companies today, and that's because all the software vendors—Oracle, SAP, and everybody else—tie the order-management flow and process directly to the instance in which they're capturing orders," Kurian said, noting that orders come in by phone, fax, online, and in person.

"This is an incredibly common problem: all companies that run multiple order-capture systems have this problem that the visibility of inventory, the ability to do availability-to-promise, and the ability to centralize order-management processes is impossible because it's tied into the order-capture system. With Fusion, we have a new module called Distributed Order Fulfillment which handles this."

Buying Fusion Apps: A Kinder, Gentler Oracle (?!) "We wanted customers to not be afraid of Fusion. So from day one, we have said that customers who are on Oracle's existing product lines—Peoplesoft, Siebel, E-Business Suite—if you're a guy who came in from a product line like PeopleSoft or Siebel, you can say, 'Hey, I only care about that one product line—I don't want to talk to you about anything else.' Fine—and we'll give you new releases that are easy to uptake," Kurian said.

"Another alternative is somebody says, 'Hey, I just have one of your product lines, and I didn't realize you guys have all this other stuff. Can I pick up a couple more pieces?' "

Kurian noted that 70% of Oracle's current apps customers are on releases that have been shipped in the last three years, which he says is an indication that customers are comfortable with Oracle's overall upgrade program. On top of that, he said, about half of that 70% that have upgraded have also added at least one new module from a different product line, which Kurian says makes him confident that many customers looking at Fusion will at least consider expanding their reliance on Oracle's new apps.

Here's how he described the new and nicer Oracle approach:

"With Fusion, all we are saying is that you now have yet another choice, and Fusion was designed to exist with the Applications Unlimited product family—from Day One. Example: I'm a PeopleSoft HR customer, it's running fine, but I'd like to see if I'm paying the people in my organization for performance. Traditionally, that's a segment called Talent Management. So we have a Fusion Talent Management module that the Oracle Human Resources user group loves—they were super-concerned about whether this would mean that to get it, they would have to migrate their core HR system from PeopleSoft to Fusion, and we said, 'Of course not—why would we require you to do that?' You can choose to if you want to, but we're not going to force you."

Ellison emphasized in his remarks that Oracle was going to be deliberate and cautious in rolling out Fusion Apps to ensure the greatest likelihood for customer success. But if, after reading about these new capabilities, you're obsessed with getting the products as rapidly as possible, have no fear: Oracle will find a way to work with you, Ellison said.

"If Fusion Apps is something you're absolutely fired-up about and totally committed to doing, well then God bless you, and we'll work with you on your terms."

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GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO,
or write to Bob at [email protected].