Oracle execs point toward integration across select enterprise apps

A panel of execs discuss the future of Oracle applications and how the user experience is changing across all of them.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO -- A big theme at Oracle OpenWorld 2012 is how the tech giant is touting to be engineering hardware and software together in a new way, which could be most evident to customers through the future of Oracle applications.

Specifically, that depends on the evolution of the user interface and experience across Oracle applications.

A panel of Oracle executives gathered on Monday afternoon to discuss the future for several Oracle applications in particular. Certainly, most of the objectives revolved around general and sometimes lofty goals just as lowering costs for customers and continuing to innovate.

But really, the easiest way to sum up the future of Oracle applications would have to be integration across the apps using both Oracle hardware as well as the cloud. In terms of the user experience, this means reducing wait times and navigating between all of these apps much more seamlessly.

Here's an overview of the future of Oracle Applications according to their team leaders:

  • Siebel: Oracle senior vice president Anthony Lye asserted that for Siebel, "the obvious thing to do" is to continue to innovate on the CRM application to improve upon the usability and integration. Specifically, Lye continued that the unit has moved to a strategy around innovation pacts and pieces of technology that don't force the customer into an expensive upgrade process. One advancement he cited was opening up Siebel UIs to generate Java scripts that can be used on non-Microsoft browsers. Lye added that Oracle has acquired a number of companies to provide more value to areas in which Siebel wasn't participating. Lye cited that this means Siebel can now be extended from the call center to the Web, which is especially important for areas such as e-commerce.
  • RightNow: Noting that the RightNow team is working to leverage Oracle's portfolio to deliver better customer experiences, Oracle senior vice president David Vap cited innovations around social and mobile. One would be the virtual assistant, which Vap described as a conversational interaction point for engaging with the system to get answers, adding that a human face could potentially be put on this if required a brand). Additionally, agents can better access incident cases and stats within contact center, among other metrics, all on a mobile device. Furthermore, Vap said that the unit is working on unifying a knowledge strategy by integrating the Oracle Social Network for collaboration and real-time dialogs to solve problems as well as enhancements around social listening. Vap declared, "We're putting together the best customer service experience portfolio in the industry, bar none."
  • Fusion: Reinforcing Oracle's belief in industry standards-based built technology, Oracle senior vice president Chris Leone said that the Fusion apps roadmap is developing quickly because they are built on industrial-strength, standards-based frameworks. Leone added that has allowed the team to offer something really different in the HR and back-office ERP spaces with not only the ability to offer standards-based apps but also a robust acceptability network to tailor applications to a customers needs, which can be done in a cloud environment. Leone added that social was "built in on day one," and that every feature is socially-aware. Thus, we can expect to see more in this area around social marketing as well as mobile, including developments thanks to the integration of Taleo.
  • Taleo: With the acquisition closing on June 1, talent management solutions provider Taleo is one of the newest members of the Oracle family. Jason Blessing, senior vice president of the Talent Management Products unit at Oracle, said that Taleo works on solving two fundamental issues with software: building world-class, high-performign teams as well as empowering employees to take control of their careers. Given that Taleo's software is focused on the needs of managers and employees, Blessing noted that the focus over the last year has been usability. More specifically, Taloe is focused on working with big data. Blessing remarked that there is a "a unique opportunity" to aggregate data and sell it back to consumers through Taleo applications. Additionally, the Taleo team will be working to integrate itself with other PeopleSoft and the rest of the Oracle HCM portfolio to streamline the user interface and process flows between products in an effort to take the burden off customer IT departments.
  • PeopleSoft: Along with integrations with Taleo, PeopleSoft SVP Paco Aubrejuan also emphasized the importance of simplifying the user experience by making user interfaces more intuitive. He added they'll be based on the "consumer Internet experience" along with making them available on mobile devices.
  • E-Business Suite: Oracle SVP Cliff Godwin said that the key feature for the E-Business suite is going to be online patching. Explaining that customers that have been asking for this component for "about 20 years," Godwin replied Oracle is finally going to deliver it. With online patching, the E-Business suite will leverage underlying Oracle technology as the E-Business team has worked with the Database group to ensure that the old and new versions have been provisioned to co-exist in the Oracle Database so that customers can move information from one to another seamlessly. Godwin says that they expect the feature to substantially reduce down periods and maintenance times to mere minutes.
  • JD Edwards World: Following a revamp of the entire user interface, the objectives were to offer a new, consumerized way to deliver applications while also delivering information to customers through a new end-user tool (meaning no IT required). Lyle Ekdahl, group vice president and general manager for JD Edwards at Oracle, stressed the importance of user interactions. While he noted that it's about more than just providing a "compelling UI," it can really extend ERP to more users and drive user adoption and productivity. Looking forward, the JD Edwards group wants to release more features for retail and manufacturing industries, among others. Ekdahl added that his unit is also focusing on global and compliance support to ensure international companies have a product that meets regulatory requirements but is easy to deploy, use and upgrade.
  • Oracle Supply Chain: Rick Jewell, senior vice president of Applications Development at Oracle, asserted that the last fiscal year was the best in Oracle's history for supply chain apps. Hoping to keep the momentum going, Jewell said that the plan is to continue to make these apps modular but also integrate them so the benefits can grow. "We've done that with a thought in mind that we are ERP-agnostic," Jewell continued, adding that the next releases will be focused on user productivity with most activities taking place in an advanced planning command center. Additionally, the Oracle Supply Chain apps will include a rapid planning product embedded in overall supply chain planning capabilities. This means that instead of running on 24-hour basis, customers can do intra-day planning and multiple simulations to react to specific events that may occur during that day.
  • BI Applications: Oracle SVP Balaji Yelamanchili said the priorities looking ahead for the BI Applications unit is making these pre-built apps available in the cloud just like CRM and similar platforms. He added that another focus will be bringing unstructured data analytics and providing that in specific applications demands.

While social was brought up here and there throughout these products, Oracle SVP and panel moderator Steve Miranda did mention another recent Oracle acquisition, Select Minds. Although details were sparce, Miranda briefly discussed Oracle's plans for social relationship management to socially enable sales, commerce, customer service, and HR.

Select Minds comes in by taking this to the recruiting level as Oracle continues to integrate social across business processes.

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