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Oracle revamps supply chain software

Company launches its latest tools with increased focus on compliance issues, RFID.

Oracle has released the latest update to its supply chain management software package.

Dubbed Supply Chain Management 11i.10, the set of applications released late Wednesday attempts to further streamline business logistics management. It places an emphasis on adapting to reduced inventory, meeting regulatory compliance requirements and addressing the emergence of radio tag technology.

Company executives said the package represents the database and business software maker's increased focus on the supply chain sector over the past two years. The new software offers a far more integrated set of business automation applications than previous releases have, they said.

"Lots of the hype that was attached to supply chain management two years ago is becoming a reality today," said Jonathan Colehower, vice president of supply chain management at Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle. "Companies are effectively making the move away from silos of information and building global supply chain systems that coordinate business partners and allow for cross-organization decision making."

Among the functional upgrades to the package are expanded drop shipment tools designed to help companies react more effectively to changes in demand. The upgrades also include new forecasting applications meant to enable the improved management of worldwide trading partners. The other major thrust of the new supply chain management system is the addition of tools designed to work with radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, which wirelessly tracks inventory.

Colehower said Oracle is in a formidable position when it comes to RFID, which has emerged as perhaps the most recognizable trend in the supply chain sector in recent history. He asserts that Oracle's expertise in database software gives the company a greater ability than its rivals in the enterprise sector to effectively manage the massive amounts of data that the wireless tools funnel into corporate IT systems.

"RFID has greatly rejuvenated interest in supply chain management, but it's a unique situation, since executives rank the technology as a top priority, but we're really only in the pilot stages," Colehower said. "As RFID continues to develop, people will begin to understand just how much data these systems are going to produce. And our strength is obviously in the management of that data, as we've already been doing that sort of work for 20 years."

Other additions found in Oracle Supply Chain Management 11i.10 include new management "dashboards," portal-like interfaces that enable companies to map out and query the performance of their supply chain systems. The software also features expanded support for the use of electronic signatures.