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Applications

Oracle update gets tailored to industries

The next version of the E-Business Suite of applications will include features designed to meet the needs of a variety of industries, including support for RFID inventory tracking.

SAN DIEGO--Oracle plans to release a new version of its business applications package this year that will add specialized features for companies in certain industries, including support for inventory-tracking technology the retail industry is adopting.

The Redwood Shores, Calif., company announced the update of its Oracle E-Business Suite on Wednesday during the AppsWorld conference here. Version 11i.10 builds on corporate software programs that were revamped by Oracle nearly four years ago to incorporate Web technology. The "suite" includes programs designed to streamline companies' accounting, human resources, manufacturing and sales tasks.

The update, due out circa June, will introduce features to support business activities that are particular to certain industries, including construction, consumer goods manufacturing, banking, health care, electronics manufacturing and telecommunications, Oracle said. For instance, the company plans to add a program that analyzes clinical data gathered in the development of new drugs--an application that could appeal to pharmaceutical companies.

Oracle also announced this week its intention to add support for radio frequency identification (RFID) technology in the next release of its warehouse management software. RFID technology has been hailed as a next-generation bar code that should enable companies to handle inventory more efficiently.

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Larry Ellison, CEO, Oracle

Some major global companies, including retail giant Wal-Mart Stores, along with the U.S. Defense Department, have embarked on big RFID projects with the expectation that the technology will help prevent goods from being lost, stolen or otherwise misdirected and keep supplies flowing to where they're needed most.

The new version of Oracle's warehouse applications, expected to be available this summer, will help gather and process data RFID systems generate, according to the software maker. It plans to focus on applications to track shipments of merchandise in cases and on pallets, as they move from factory to store.

With the release, Oracle will follow SAP, Sun Microsystems and Microsoft, which are among the several leading technology companies that have recently launched RFID initiatives.

In the version 11i.10 update to its business software package, Oracle plans to add technology to make its applications more compatible with other business systems by adding support for communication protocols developed by standards bodies Open Applications Group and RosettaNet. It also expects to add more proprietary interfaces to the software.

These changes are part of a new interoperability push Oracle is touting this week. On Tuesday, the company said it had released a new product, the Customer Data Hub--another tool for linking disparate computer programs. Later this year, it plans to release a Product Data Hub, a central source of information related to the development and manufacture of goods, according to analysts.