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Is Oracle’s E-Business Suite Too Much for Your SMB?

Enterprise Resource Planning

Is Oracle’s E-Business Suite Too Much for Your SMB?

For smaller businesses, the question is no longer if but when. If SMBs (small- to medium-sized businesses) intend to compete globally, they can no longer wait to upgrade their ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software, especially when it comes to CRM. With the release of Oracle’s E-Business Suite 12 last January, one of the most comprehensive and flexible systems on the market got even better. But the question for SMBs became, “Can we afford this?”

For Oracle Corp., the answer was “Can you afford not to?” Oracle is well-known as one of the worldwide leaders in the CRM marketplace, and according to IT research company Gartner Inc., revenue from CRM software sales will exceed $7.4 billion in 2007. That's up from $6.5 billion in 2006 and $5.7 billion in 2005. Clearly, there's a growing urge to invest in ERP and CRM solutions, and Oracle’s release of E-Business Suite 12 only solidifies its place as a leading choice in the market.

“E-Business suite was designed for a single instance with all functions," said Steve Tonas, senior director of Oracle E-Business Suite CRM. "It has HR capability, financials, full supply chain, manufacturing, business intelligence wrapped around all the different modules, and then of course a full CRM suite integrated to the other modules."

Tonas continued, "Within CRM specifically, it has all the modules you’d expect: sales, marketing, partner management, service, field service, e-commerce and master data management as well. In terms of delivery, customers can take the whole suite and run it on premise; we have hosted offerings and we have a hybrid.”

Oracle hasn’t had trouble getting businesses to come its way. This isn't surprising, with so many companies investing in technologies that help record and analyze critical information across multiple areas of the business. In the first five months after its release, more than 300 companies of all sizes invested in E-Business Suite 12. But it isn’t a purchase made lightly; according to Tonas, companies can expect to spend upward of $200,000 to buy the product, depending on the level of investment. The price tag is still enough to make some companies blink.

“It is a big purchase for them. In many ways, we characterize it as a bigger decision than a large company like GE spending $10 million,” Tonas said. “I don’t think the potential problem is the cost of the software, but perhaps the cost to implement the solutions. E-Business Suite has rich functionality and a lot of different ways to configure it, and that adds some complexity.”

As the company continues to develop and refine its applications, businesses that partner with Oracle will also benefit from the ease of upgrading to newer versions of the software. CEOs who are questioning the value of their current CRM systems (or lack thereof) need to make an investment sooner rather than later to keep up with the competition.

With that in mind, Oracle’s products may very well be the right choice for SMBs. The products aren’t inexpensive, but the prices are competitive. The solutions the company provides are among the most advanced in the industry, and the support, flexibility and added-value that Oracle can offer is better than most other options.

That's why companies like Xsigo Systems Inc., a datacenter I/O virtualization solutions provider, and roamfree.com, an online, global accommodation search company, both invested in E-Business Suite 12 in 2007.

"After evaluating other solutions, we found only Oracle provided the broad, cost-effective solutions and support that we required,” said Rick Fabiano, vice president of finance at Xsigo Systems. “Our implementation was very smooth, and we can now easily and effectively scale to our growing business demands now and in the future."

With Oracle’s purchase of Siebel a few years ago, the company put itself in position to increase its piece of the overall market share and stay ahead of the curve with new solutions and innovations. Still, Oracle needs to make its products flexible and cost-effective if it hopes to attract more SMBs. Tonas said that he thinks his team has done that, but now is no time for complacency.

“I think we have challenges to simplify and improve the applications in the user interfaces. We’ve come a long way, but I think there’s more we can do to simplify and automate setups, and also make the applications tailored toward certain industries,” said Tonas. “We also will continue to work on the flexibility of the application, so customers can easily make them conform to their business and workflows.”

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Is Oracle’s E-Business Suite Too Much for Your SMB?