Oracle Readies Upgrade To Financial Application

Improved Oracle Financials will provide real-time analysis of business performance and add customization features.
Oracle plans to update its financial software this week in a move designed to help businesses increase financial visibility and manage risk. The upgraded software, to be released Thursday, provides real-time analysis of business performance instead of deriving the analysis from a data warehouse. It also adds more customization features.

"If someone just put an order in a minute ago, or made a payment 30 seconds ago, when you click on your browser refresh button, you'll see it," Oracle spokesman Sean Mills says.

The upgrade to Oracle Financials, a part of the Oracle E-Business Suite, is designed to help companies meet newer, more-stringent requirements for disclosure of financial information, establish internal controls, and increase efficiency.

The analysis tools are designed to let executives find the root cause of deviation from targets and take immediate action to correct problems. The updated software provides financial intelligence to users based on their roles in the organization, and to integrate budget and planning information with actual results. Also new are portals for getting information on profit and loss, and on expense management.

"If you're a C-level executive you see P&L at the corporate level; if you're a line-of-business executive you see performance in your department," said Steven Miranda, Oracle's VP of application development.

Oracle Risk Management is designed to help companies manage the risks associated with global treasury operations, monitoring exposure to risks outside the company's control, such as a rapid change in interest rates. The software provides a pricing and analysis tool and is designed to aid in complex tasks such as calculating pricing and sensitivities of financial interest and analyzing a portfolio of treasury deals for market risks.

Previously, analytics had been a separate function from real-time business management. Now it's included in business applications, AMR Research analyst John Hagerty says.

"Oracle is providing information regarding profitability, revenue, and expenses tailored to the audience looking at it," he says. "They are giving you a snapshot of what is going on from a financial perspective."

The functionality will make Oracle Financials more attractive to enterprises, he says. "This has become a requirement for financial applications as they are implemented in customer sites, both for existing customers of Oracle and new customers," Hagerty says.

Oracle faces stiff competition in the analytics market from enterprise application vendors such as Lawson Software, PeopleSoft, and SAP, as well as companies that specialize in analytics research, such as Business Objects, Cognos, and Crystal Decisions, he says.

PeopleSoft this month introduced a new version of its data-warehousing software that analyzes financial, supply-chain workforce, and customer-relationship management information. Siebel also provides real-time analytics for its software.

Some users see benefit from built-in analytics, while others prefer to use their own tools.

The Oracle application upgrades come as users are under pressure to upgrade to the company's E-Business Suite 11i. The company plans to drop support for Version 10.7 of the suite in June; the Oracle Applications User Group plans to form a working group to help stranded 10.7 users provide support for each other.

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