Oracle Eyeing Midmarket with Fusion Development

The company is considering a separate suite geared toward smaller companies.

Oracle is sitting on the fence when it comes to the midmarket—at least about building a separate suite for smaller companies when it builds out its next-generation suite of applications, dubbed Fusion.

The possibility of a second suite, it seems, is on the table.

"Theres been no decision," said Lenley Hensarling, vice president and general manager of JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, who is also in charge of Oracles SMB (small and midsize business) strategy. "With different accelerators, we believe we dont have to do anything different than build process flows [for the midmarket]. Right now I feel we have it nailed as a configuration."

Currently, Oracle offers Accelerators, which enable its applications resellers to simplify the initial configuration of its E-Business Suite Special Edition software. Special Edition is essentially a scaled-down version of Oracles enterprise E-Business suite, geared for the midmarket. The idea with the Accelerators is that companies are able to "get live quick" by providing a list of questions that guide implementers along a configuration (not customization) path, according to Hensarling.

/zimages/1/28571.gifWhere is Oracle on its Fusion road map? Click here to read more.

"SAP has templates around best practices; we have accelerators," he said. "But we also believe we shouldnt be dictatorial [with best practices]. Our customers innovate based on what they need."

The idea, at least currently, with Fusion applications for the midmarket is to provide accelerators based on a specific process—lead-to-cash, for example—that speeds configuration across applications. Special Edition for Discreet Manufacturing, for example, has 20 such accelerators.

The advantage with Fusion accelerators for the midmarket is that the company will be able to cover more verticals and be able to develop better process flows once the Fusion applications are componentized, said Hensarling. To determine which accelerators to hone in on, Oracle is in the process of a worldwide analysis with partners and customers—an effort that dovetails into Oracles moves to build a partner channel around its midmarket applications business, a nascent effort at this point. (To this end, Oracle has partnered with AvNet, a big IBM reseller, to develop models for multitier channel partners.)

But given Oracles status as the worlds second-largest enterprise-class business applications provider, a separate suite for the midmarket is not out of the question. It would provide another option for smaller companies that dont want the hassle of a full-scale implementation—even one thats scaled to core applications for the midmarket—or for divisions of larger companies looking to integrate back to the mother ship. Archrival SAP has two separate product lines for the small and mid markets, mySAP All-in-One and SAP Business One, respectively.

With or without a second suite, Oracle is looking at adjusting its licensing model for the midmarket.

"Were engaged now in a pricing discussion," said Hensarling. "Expect in the three-to-six-month time frame some interesting work from Oracle on pricing. It needs to be rationalized across our product lines."

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