Oracle Corp has ditched its mid-market-oriented E-Business Suite Special Edition in favor of a broader and more flexible alternative via its recently launched Accelerate program that has just been launched in the UK.
The move is part of its maneuvering to find the right product and packaging format for the coveted mid-cap market. The company appears to be learning the lesson that it cannot thrust a rigid, off-the-shelf business application and implementation package at SMBs and expect it to sweep through the market. Special Edition was based on a preconfigured, pre-installed version of Oracle’s mainstream E-Business Suite, with partners providing installation, hardware, consultancy, and support services.
David Forrest, director of UK-based Oracle partner Percipient Consulting, said that while it served a purpose in reducing cost and complexity, the ready-to-go model was rigid.
Hazel Nash, senior director of Oracle Applications for SMBs, also said the out-of-the-box, pre-configured set-up was limited in its approach. We are replacing the E-Business Special Edition with Accelerate, which offers the whole suite to multiple industries. Special Edition was limited because it was offered to three industries. With Accelerate there are 20 industries covered already, she said. Special Edition was a predefined bundle, with predefined configuration, for predefined industries. Now there are no limitations.
Nash said she does not see the replacement of Specialist Edition by the Accelerate program as a sign of failure. Special Edition was launched on the market three years ago as a predefined bundle. In reviewing what the market needed…it was necessary to rethink the strategy, she said. The 2007 strategy is to deliver SMB solutions via the partner network by providing infrastructure plus cost-effective flexible offerings suited to rapid, fixed-price, fixed-scope implementations.
The Accelerate program aims to bring together a range of resources for partners to use to put together Accelerate-branded solutions tailored for specific verticals, which will have the Oracle seal of approval, and can be quickly implemented under a fixed-price, fixed-scope contract. The approach is similar to SAP’s All-in-One software and services offering.
A core part of Accelerate is an SMB pricing model that enables partners to select and bundle only the modules they and their customers need. Other important resources include a set of about 30 Oracle-designed business process flows that can be mapped onto the business and are designed to speed up implementation and training. Organizations are encouraged not to alter them, with Oracle and its partners believing that they will meet the vast majority of mid-market business requirements. For their part, partners have to bring their industry-specific expertise and a history of Oracle implementations and reference customers. Oracle supplied configuration tools, and best-practice methodologies plus marketing support and referral fee and loyalty programs also form part of the Accelerate package.
Forrest believes the whole process of sales and implementation should be easier and more oriented to the business under the Accelerate framework. Rather than choosing specific modules, businesses select business flows, such as order management, inventory or purchasing, for example. This delineates the modules that are needed, and the configuration tool is designed to ease and speed up implementation. There is a tremendous time reduction because you don’t need to spend weeks on understanding the business, then putting the base system in and training, then putting in the specifics and training on them, he said. Using the configurator and the accelerator tools, it can be up in a few days. He said partners can spend time educating the users not creating the software, training them in what they need to know to run the business.
The Accelerate program is available for the Oracle E-Business and JD Edwards software suites but there are plans to extend it to the PeopleSoft and Siebel product lines.
However, just how soon UK customers will be able to access the program, which was announced in October 2006 and had its initial launch in North America last month, is uncertain. Partners need to be trained and certified for the Accelerate program, but so far, in the UK at least, none has completed the certification process, and there are no specific dates as to when the first will come on stream.