Oracle Redefines B2B Apps

New e-procurement services seek to offer full collaboration between Internet buyers and sellers.

0racle Corp. last week introduced several tools and services for its Oracle Exchange Marketplace that company officials said will enable Internet e-marketplaces to offer full collaboration between buyers and sellers.

The additions to the platform, which were discussed at a press event at Oracle headquarters here, redefine the companys business-to-business offerings around the trading hub metaphor and encompass e-procurement in its broadest definition—product development, manufacturing and transportation.

The first tool, Oracle Product Development Exchange, puts data from every area of collaborative product development online, where it will be accessible to groups inside and outside a companys firewall. Marketing projections, three-dimensional CAD designs and vendor pricing information are housed in a single database and are available to partners on the Web.

Oracle Supply Chain Exchange connects trading partners with disparate enterprise systems for real-time collaboration and planning. The system offers a series of automatic alerts and e-mails that notify partners of exceptions and uses an integrated performance measurement tool to resolve problems.

The Oracle Transportation Exchange will help shippers and transportation providers communicate, collaborate and plan transportation needs. Shippers will be able to manage the buying of logistics services across all modes of transportation, according to Oracle officials.

Looking to use expertise across many fields, the Oracle Exchange Partner Initiative, or OEPI, is a program for online B2B collaboration between Oracle and about 30 partners from several disciplines. The OEPI partners break up into four areas—transactional services, customer and content management, business planning, and portal services—and will integrate their services into the Oracle Exchange platform.

San Francisco-based supply chain infrastructure provider MedChannel Inc. is starting a pilot this quarter to use the Oracle platform. Chief Operating Officer Denis Reilly likes that he can give users the ability to both push information to and pull it from their partners. But it will take more than technology for the Oracle platform to reach its full potential.

"A lot of companies have to re-engineer their business processes before they can leverage technology," Reilly said. "This has to evolve even with very large companies." Inc. opted for an exchange solution based on software from SAP AG because it wanted all of the various supply chain and logistics pieces in a single package.

"Youre always dealing with upgrades. We had experience in the past with upgrades, and ... every time we made an upgrade, it wouldnt work," said Rutger Borst, COO at the Miami-based exchange. "If we are going to have one fully integrated package, we are not going to have that problem.

"That was Oracles weakness—they werent fully integrated. If they have changed that and are fully integrated, it would make their system up to par," Borst said.