We continue with our observations from Oracle Open World being held in San Francisco this week. Readers can view our first commentary at this link.

Among our initial goals was to check into the progress of Oracle’s technology offerings supporting Procurement, PLM and Supply Chain business processes. Our impressions after attending four different sessions dedicated to Oracle Supply Chain Management are somewhat mixed.

The supply chain focused suite of applications within the Oracle E-Business suite continues to make steady and noteworthy progress.  We were pleased to observe that Oracle Rapid Planner, which was previously a separate stand-alone application, is now to be incorporated directly within the Oracle Advanced Planning application.  This will allow supply chain planning teams to have the capability to run what-if and response planning scenarios in an intra-day period, with the ability to set different planning assumptions for the next optimized run that Oracle APS is scheduled to perform.  In our view, this is a direct response from Oracle to the response based planning approaches currently being deployed by SAP and other best-of-breed providers such as Kinaxis. Supply Chain Matters will be very interested in speaking with Oracle customers who have gained experience on this far different architecture approach. We suspect that this change came about from customer and Oracle sales feedback, and received confirmation during an evening social session.  Another interesting new feature is the soon to be released Advanced Planning Control Center (APCC) which consolidates all dashboard and planning intelligence into a single utility, which should contribute to planner productivity.

Progress has also been made on the integration of product management and project-based management initiatives within and across the supply chain suite. There is additional attractiveness to increased analytical and data visualization tools added to Oracle Execution. The area of supply chain execution remains an important success story for Oracle, particularly support for advanced transportation, distributed warehousing and global trade management.

Fusion SCM, which will be Oracle’s market response to supply chain business process support via the Cloud provided us with a different impression, one that has lots of fairly interesting future capabilities but with an overall calendar rollout that will not likely gather the interest of technology deployment teams. While current SCM, cloud-based applications support currently exist, it is more focused toward light service industry support, and even then, an admission from Oracle that initial efforts were mainly focused on Fusion ERP integration.

Oracle has a significant opportunity to lead in the ability to provide multiple industry supply chains a far different technology paradigm in supply chain technology support.  However, it is not clear that manufacturing industry supply chains will be compelled to embark on this platform without more meat to the bones. There is mention of support for advanced analytics, broader S&OP process intelligence, mobile based information integration, distributed order management, multi-channel commerce and product management hubs. Upon viewing a presentation on roadmap, we get the real sense that Oracle SCM development teams have some significant challenges to solve with SCM in the Cloud and web services platform presents some significant tasks related to de-coupling certain architectural functions under the packaged application offering.  The notions of capabilities that Oracle wants to deliver are diffused with a very non-specific timetable that stretches well beyond a year.  The mushy rollout calendar is the contrast to the customer panel we attended back in April, where select Oracle SCM customers like Red Robin stated their expressed interest in utilizing an SCM Cloud based offering, but were frustrated by Oracle’s rollout timetable. In his keynote today, Larry Ellison acknowledged that Red Robin will deploy an Oracle hosted deployment, as opposed to one of the cloud.

Stay tuned for ongoing Oracle Open World commentaries.

Bob Ferrari