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Oracle to roll out new client apps

The firm next week will roll out a set of 20 client-side tools for analyzing business performance in a number of areas.

Oracle next week will roll out a series of analysis tools for its business applications package, the first tangible results of chief executive Larry Ellison's stewardship of the company's sluggish applications division.

Oracle will announce the Business Intelligence System (BIS) version 1.0, a set of 20 client-side tools for analyzing business performance in a number of areas such as financial management, human resources, manufacturing, sales, marketing, and customer service, according to a company representative.

The BIS tools run in Web browsers and are intended to be installed on corporate intranets, the company said. No pricing was announced.

The BIS announcement will be made the same day the company introduces Oracle Applications Release 11. The new release of Oracle Applications will include enhanced Web tools, multilingual features, and added supply-chain and front-office capabilities like the BIS.

BIS is the first product to come out of the harried applications unit since Ellison reshuffled it in March in an attempt to boost sales at the slumping division.

"Larry is more involved now," said Jeff Caldwell, vice president of product marketing for Oracle applications. "This is the first example of his involvement."

Ellison will debut the new product at the Oracle Applications User Group Conference in San Diego next week.

Caldwell said the product is based on the Oracle database and applications scheme. It also consists of Oracle Developer/2000 and Reports 3.0, so anyone familiar with Oracle development tools can customize BIS for their own business needs, he added.

"We don't claim to have everything covered in this first release [of BIS], but companies can add more as they go," said Caldwell.

A number of analysts compared the new Oracle tool to SAP's Business Information Warehouse, a data analysis tool for the German company's R/3 enterprise application package.

"These [tools] are part of a similar trend," said Joshua Greenbaum, analyst with the Hurwitz Group. "What they've discovered needs to happen is a higher level of analysis of the system, which will enable higher levels of decision making. Companies have put in their ERP [enterprise resource planning] system and realize it's now time to improve the return on the investment."

Along with SAP, Oracle also competes with Baan and PeopleSoft in the global ERP systems market.

In March, Oracle said it was reorganizing its applications division in an attempt to boost sales. The division was broken into two separate pieces--"back office" and "front office"--creating a separate development group in the process.

Ellison reportedly drove the reorganization, and indicated that he would become more directly involved in the unit after its recent poor showing in the applications business.

Oracle reported in March that its applications licensing business missed its 50 percent annual growth projection, rising 35 percent in the Americas and 30 percent overall. It marked the second consecutive quarter that the business disappointed Wall Street, falling far short of the near triple-digit growth earlier in the fiscal year.