Oracle launched collaborative products for e-exchange

Oracle's new Exchange products may up the ante a little on what e-exchanges can or cannot do.

This week, Oracle announced a series of Exchange products that will add collaborative functions to its e-exchange platform. The move comes as an effort to beef up the functionality of e-exchanges. This had been in the works as early as October last year.

The company had believed that sharing ideas, collaborating on projects and developing products is the best use of B2B exchanges. The products released this week are the result of that effort.

The Exchange series functions as add-ons to Oracle's E-Business Suite of software. Extended features from Exchange will enable E-Business Suite customers to perform collaborative commerce activities through exchanges built by Oracle's Exchange Marketplace.

This week's release saw the roll out of 3 Exchange products covering transportation, supply chain and product development.

"I think what people are rapidly realizing is that the real cost of businesses are directly linked to critical business processes," said Jeremy Burton, Oracle's senior vice president of worldwide marketing at the press announcement, "things like supply chain management, transportation and product development."

While solution developers have always toyed with the idea of collaborative commerce on a one-to-one basis, the Exchange products are unique in providing those activities in a many to many environment through the mechanism of an exchange hub.

Still, the concept of an e-exchange hub is a largely unproven platform for e-commerce activities. It remains to be seen if businesses will use a hub for trading activities -- much less for collaborative ones.

According to Oracle's Derek Williams, senior vice president, Asia Pacific division, Oracle's own has so far seen the execuition of 7000 transactions from 1000 businesses - a transaction volume valued at around US$1.3 billion.

If nothing else, the new products raises the bar on what an e-exchange can or cannot do.

The products expand the functionality of a hub beyond the purchasing and procurement platform that it is today to encompass more complex e-commerce activities.

"Really what you're finding out now about B2B is that it's not a race of niche, it's a race of breadth," noted Burton when commenting on Oracle's competition. "The big businesses want to have B2B software which span across all their critical processes to their businesses."

In addition to the Exchange products, Oracle also announced a new partner initiative at the event.

The Oracle Exchange Partner Initiative boasts an initial membership of 30 companies and is described by the company as "a comprehensive partnership program for online business-to-business collaboration."