I had a chance to talk with… Hardeep Gulati at Oracle about the recent Agile PLM 9.3 product release. Product analytics has been, and still is for the most part, a gap in the PLM market. So considering Oracle’s acquisitions of Hyperion and Agile in recent years, it’s not a surprise that the Oracle 9.3 PLM release is focused squarely on this area. The challenge is making this product intelligence consumable to each of the different roles along the value chain – engineering and design, manufacturing and supply chain, marketing and sales. Make the information easy to access and relevant, or you’ll have a nice analytics tool that no one uses. Oracle realizes this and has also focused the release on enhancing an already good (based on conversations over the past year with Agile users) user experience by adding “productivity tools” – for example drag and drop, inline editing, and more personalization. The company will focus their next release on leveraging their portal technology for a common user interface – a critical component of their strategy.
What do they offer?
More specifically, the product lifecycle analytics solution Oracle is offering is focused on risk management – i.e. product quality, obsolete parts, supplier’s financial liability, new sourcing options, design process, demand volatility, and where exposure is in a product portfolio. Future focus will be on deeper customer analytics during the front end of innovation, and manufacturing intelligence.
In addition to analytics, Oracle has focused on integration. We’ve heard about AIA (Application Integration Architecture) as the platform for weaving together the numerous assets Oracle has acquired, including Agile. This “backbone” (or, FUSION middleware) is an open platform that can integrate the heterogeneous environments (other PDMs, best of breeds) that are so prevalent in product development. Oracle even offers a “PIP” (process integration pack) for integrating Agile to SAP. With the 9.3 backbone you can create product development-specific services (e.g. product cost management), and have scripting available to support integration to components and segments of the product lifecycle.
How Does it Fit into the Ecosystem?
With the lack of rich product analytics in the PLM world, this is a welcome announcement. If you are looking for better product performance intelligence at all stages of the product lifecycle, Oracle’s new release warrants a look. This announcement should accelerate competitive efforts in this arena – IBM with Cognos (and it’s recently announced closer partnership with Siemens PLM), Siemens PLM, PTC, and SAP (who is working to integrate the acquired Business Objects capabilities into its product intelligence platform). I expect the next 12 months to bring rapid improvement from these and other PLM vendors, from better product portfolio analysis to product, manufacturing and supply chain analytics.
So that’s what I hear from Oracle. What do you think? What else should I have asked them?