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Oracle helps customers find their true worth

The company's Strategic Enterprise Management package is designed to help companies sort out a host of conflicting and complicated business data gathered enterprise-wide.

Oracle wants customers to know their true worth.

The company's Strategic Enterprise Management (SEM) package, announced today, is designed to help companies sort out a host of conflicting and complicated business data gathered enterprise-wide. That data includes planning goals, budgets, monthly and quarterly financial results, and employee incentive plans.

The products should help companies tap financial and nonfinancial data to improve business strategy and planning, analysts said.

"Companies at the high end want to better leverage important information so they can establish which customers they should continue to sell to, which are the most profitable customers, and who are the high-cost customers," said Judy Hodges, analyst at Framingham, Massachusetts-based International Data Corporation. The goal of better financial analysis is to ultimately improve shareholder value, she said.

SEM applications work with Oracle's Enterprise Data Warehouse, which can be used to retrieve and store data from Oracle and non-Oracle applications, legacy systems, and others.

The Oracle SEM includes four separate applications:

  • Balanced scorecard: An application, based on a product the company obtained through acquiring Graphical Information, used to create performance goals by measuring the company's competitive landscape and capital market fluctuation. This application is available now.

  • Value-based management: This application, available early next year, creates a picture of how the investment community views the company.

  • Activity-based management: This component, available now, uses Activa, an activity-based costing and management product Oracle bought from Price Waterhouse. It measures cost and performance of activities to help corporate planners make decisions.

  • Strategy formula: A common platform, which will be available early next year, used to craft global strategy.

    While Enterprise Resource Planning Systems ERP systems automate and improve a company's efficiency, these huge projects lack critical financial analysis applications, said John Wookey, vice president of Oracle Financials Applications Products.

    "What we're missing are tools for decision-making," he said. "That's the purpose of this new [product] family--to understand profit better."

    Oracle, a competitor in the emerging business analysis applications market along with rivals SAP and, to some extent, PeopleSoft, assembled its application suite around several recent acquisitions. While the financial analysis space is growing rapidly, it's still developing and not mature enough to measure in depth, Hodges said.

    With its announcement, Oracle is targeting the financial industry, telecommunications companies, and utilities.

    Oracle did not release pricing for the applications.