Oracle, SAP Goal: Speedy Analytics

Software will give firms more timely analysis of data to better manage their businesses.

Oracle Corp. and SAP AG are building software to analyze data within their enterprise applications, but some users say the new and enhanced tools will have to prove themselves more effective than existing business intelligence tools from third-party developers.

The goal of the software from the ERP (enterprise resource planning) software makers is to give corporations more timely analysis of data to better manage their businesses.

Oracle plans to introduce new functions in its Daily Business Intelligence software at its Oracle AppsWorld show in San Diego next month. The features will expand users ability to analyze data from outside the Redwood Shores, Calif., companys Financials software, including data from Oracle Human Resources, Customer Relationship Management and Supply Chain Management applications.

The enhancements, which build off the release last week of analytic tools in Oracle Financials 11.5.8, will include such things as pre-built reports based on key performance indicators and user roles, Oracle officials said.

Separately, SAP, of Walldorf, Germany, this week will announce 3.1 Content, a new module that provides a library of report definitions and mappings for business applications that can be immediately ported into a data model usable for analysis. 3.1 Content negates the requirement that users build a data model to extract information from an application because it extracts report definitions and provides mappings, templates and user roles for specific business areas, officials said.

Oracle and SAP officials argue that they are in a better position to provide analysis of data in their applications because they understand the processes most intimately. Oracle officials also said that users of the 11i applications would be getting better drill-down capabilities because they can query the transaction database directly, rather than extracting data and loading it into a warehouse.

But not all users are convinced. Verizon Communications Inc. uses enterprise applications from SAP and PeopleSoft Inc. Scott Pelham, director of financial planning and analysis at Verizon, evaluated analysis tools from SAP and PeopleSoft and said that while they worked well on data from their own systems, they did not fare as well when fed data from other systems.

"One of the metrics we analyze is revenue per access line," explained Pelham, in Coppell, Texas. "We dont keep that in our ERP system, and we wouldnt want to. If all your data resides in your ERP system, then [the ERP vendors analytic products] would work well for you. But [when managing business performance], you have to look at a lot of different metrics like this, and not all of them reside in ERP."

Oracles effort to tap data from different applications will initially be slowed because the software is not integrated at every level, said Gartner Inc. analyst Bill Hostmann, in Stamford, Conn.

Oracle officials said their applications are integrated. The company will enhance integration next year with the Enterprise Planning and Budgeting product, which replaces the sales and financial analyzers, as well as with an integrated Activity Based Management tool, sources said.