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Users Pressure Oracle To Extend 10.7 Support

A group of Oracle 10.7 enterprise resource planning software users is pressuring the vendor to push back the date on which it will stop supporting the software. The group says that Oracle is "de-supporting" version 10.7 as a tactic to force them to upgrade to version 11i. Oracle plans to drop support of 10.7 in December 2002.

John Holdeman, plant IT manager for BorgWarner Automotive Inc., an automotive supplier in Chicago, says the company upgraded to 10.7 just before Jan. 1, 2000, because of the Y2K scare. The economic downturn, he says, has recently hit BorgWarner, so he can't make a business case for upgrading to 11i--especially because he feels Oracle hasn't shown that the new suite is stable.

An Oracle spokesperson says the vendor recently extended the date to end 10.7 support from June 2002 to December 2002 at the request of the Oracle Applications User Group. But Holdeman, who belongs to the group, says members asked Oracle to extend support until December 2004. The company says it's considering whether it will extend support beyond the end of next year.

--Steve Konicki ([email protected])

Marimba's New Push Packs A Punch
Once synonymous with push technology, Marimba Inc. has been trying to reinvent itself as a serious systems-management vendor--despite the fact that many had written the company off for dead. "They were barely on our radar a year ago," says Richard Ptak, a senior VP at the Hurwitz Group.

But Marimba's new approach seems to be paying off. Procter & Gamble Co. last week said it chose Marimba to manage software configuration and content across all the consumer-products company's desktop PCs, notebook computers, and servers, spread across 70 countries.

William Scheid, manager of global workplace technology for Procter & Gamble, says Marimba won the deal because of its robust management software and because it took presales support to an extreme. "They were extremely responsive to helping us get things where they needed to be," Scheid says, adding that Marimba was much more available than other vendors competing for the multimillion-dollar deal. Procter & Gamble now runs Marimba's software in limited production in Asia; it will soon start rolling out the software companywide.

Despite Marimba's strong technology, Ptak is surprised the vendor has had quick success in its new market. "They came out of nowhere," he says. To continue to grow, he adds, the vendor needs to expand through partnerships. "They're still self-centered. Their overall strategy is they think they can do it all themselves."

--George V. Hulme ([email protected])

Tool Gives Universal View Of Customers
Understanding the relationships between a retailer's Web sites and its offline sales channels has always been a challenge. NetGenesis Corp. this week will ship a new release of its analysis software that will help businesses better understand their customers' behavior across multiple Web sites and diverse sales channels.

Many retailers use advertising and other inducements on their Web sites to drive business to their brick-and-mortar stores, but few know how effective those efforts are. Only 28% of retailers track offline sales driven by online marketing efforts, says Yankee Group analyst Lisa Melsted.

To provide that insight, NetGenesis 5.5 combines data from multiple Web sites and sales channels for analysis--even when they're based on different technologies. The tool also provides new customer identification and privacy capabilities, and scalability enhancements. The software is available now, starting at $100,000.

--Rick Whiting ([email protected])

CRM Tools Offer Product Configuration
Fourthchannel Inc. last week unveiled ProfitBuilder Selling Suite 4.0, an upgrade to its ProfitBuilder Commerce Suite that lets customers and sales representatives configure products and track the design throughout the transaction, better enabling them to see what changes have been made, when, and by whom. The software also stores a company's best sales practices, and new analytics can help sales professionals predict customer expectations and buying trends.

Richard Adkins, an E-marketing specialist for Kuhlman Electric Corp., in Versailles, Ky., expects the upgrade's "punch out" feature to give the electronic transformer manufacturer better integration capabilities. Kuhlman participates in two online exchanges; customers who view the company's catalog via an exchange will be able to click a button and go directly to Kuhlman's site to complete the purchase.

ProfitBuilder Selling Suite 4.0 will be available in September, starting at $175,000. The software will go up against Calico Commerce Inc.'s product-configuration application, Network Advisor 3.5, which launched last week, as well as i2 Technologies Inc.'s customer-relationship-management software, which Ingram Micro Inc. plans to integrate into its eStorefronts to give customers Web access to its product catalog.

--Jennifer Maselli ([email protected])

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