Business Intelligence – An Oracle Future?

In ERP terms, there is little dispute that the big two, SAP and Oracle, basically have control of a very large part of the ERP market for medium and large scale organizations.

However in terms of Business Intelligence, the market has always been extremely competitive. Recently, quiet strategic moves by SAP and Oracle threaten that status quo. Possibly changing the landscape with a quiet, yet fundamental revolution.

There is a fundamental shift away from the concept of stand-alone data warehouses to the concept of embedding analytics into every day Business activities. Stand alone data warehouses are very much a 20th century view of the world. The new view is stand-alone yet fully integrated data warehouses to ERP, augmented with the 21st century concept of embedded analytics directly in your ERP Systems. This is a truly profound shift.

Both Oracle and SAP are now investing to this 21st century view. Both are turning what are, lets face it, pretty boring looking applications into stunning, state of the art applications. Both companies see Embedded Analytics in their respective ERP Suites as a strategic positioning of their products to gain market share. But this ain’t happening today, right? Wrong.

When Oracle released 12.1.2 (which is already out), this had in place rich container support, in OA Framework. This little gem should, in theory, allow you to put a fantastic Oracle BIEE Page directly into a transactional screen. Imagine the sales pitch you can give your users as you embed Business Analytics directly into your applications. Now this is not creating a simple link between BIEE and ERP or vice versa as you could previously do with Oracle BIEE/ERP – this allows you to create a custom transactional screen with half of it transactional and the other half analytics – ALL IN THE SAME SCREEN.

It’s an easy bet that Oracle Corporation will, with the release of 12.1.3 in 2010 (or a version in 2011), start to embed analytics directly in R12 itself. Why? Firstly it differentiates itself from boring, old ERP’s. Secondly it’s amazingly easy to write a BI Page with fantastic drill down, graphics, etc, reducing development and future maintenance costs. Lets face it, Embedded Analytics will be everywhere in your Oracle Applications.

Now when you look at the new Fusion Applications, and there’s not much info, but these are basically dashboards and ADF mix. Fusion Applications are built on Oracle Business Intelligence as a key foundation. Embedded Analytics is now viewed as essential to Operational work. You put in an invoice, your chart is there showing if the client has disputed invoices or other relevant info. Analytics at the fingertips of your basic frontline functions. Powerful stuff indeed.

So as an R11 or R12 Oracle ERP Customer where does this leave you?

If you haven’t upgraded to R12 (and your one of 95% of customers according to independent research that hasn’t) you have the opportunity to jump your competitors and move to Oracle BI embedded with R12.1.2. That’s a very interesting option to cut your costs in future for custom development, make support easier and make user acceptance of Oracle ERP a whole lot more easy.

More worrying if you are on a 3rd party Business Intelligence toolset, the writing is on the wall:

1. Oracle and SAP will embed their own analytics products directly into their applications. Now of course those companies will not “force” you to buy their BIEE Products, but well, if you want to change the screens in future, it’s looking likely you won’t have a choice. BIEE will become as essential as Oracle Forms or Java to Oracle ERP………..

2. If most large companies who use Oracle and SAP have to buy Oracle BIEE and SAP’s own product respectively, this ain’t going to be good for 3rd party BI products. Indeed Gartner expects an 8.5% migration from customers of one key BI vendor to other vendors. It’s easy to read between the lines of this argument……..

3. Gartner further states that due to the pure-play BI vendors weakness in the ERP market, this is going to hurt those particular vendors. Or to put it another way, with an aggressive and extremely smart policy from SAP and Oracle to embed their own products, 3rd party vendors are going to get squeezed. Imagine what this will do to the BI market – do you really want to be unaligned in terms of Business Intelligence with your ERP that supports your core business? That’s certainly a very dangerous, multi-million dollar Las Vegas style gamble.

4. As Oracle has now become, according to Gartner the clear leader in BI, the writing is very much on the wall. The Gartner research on this has been deep (and excellent as always) and reading between the lines, although Gartner never explicitly states it, has some pretty profound implications for organizations worldwide.

The full Gartner report can be found here and makes sobering reading for those planning a BI Strategy for the next 5-10 years.

http://www.gartner.com/technology/media-products/reprints/oracle/article121/article121.html

Oracle has already recommended that a key step to Fusion Applications is to move to Oracle BIEE. It’s a great paper written by Nadia Bendjedou, Director of Product Strategy at Oracle Corporation that can be found at:

http://www.oracle.com/technology/products/applications/events/oow-2008/10-things-to-do-nadiabendjedou.pdf

The picture will hopefully become clearer in Oracle Open World 2010, where everyone is waiting for Fusion Applications to be formally announced and hopefully available at the booths to test-drive.

Still don’t believe the prophecy? We’ll leave it to Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle Corporation, to spell out the future, which we believe equally applies to R12 and Fusion. 

“You can’t use the system without using business intelligence,” Ellison said.

All we can say is you’d better be on the right Business Intelligence train…………

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