Oracle showed off the new "self service" element of its Internet applications suite on Monday in a release the company promised would knock more than 35 per cent off user organisations' raw materials and travel reservation costs combined.
Under the banner Oracle Applications Release IIi - i for Internet - the refreshed line up is built specifically for Internet based commerce and communications requirements.
Oracle defines self service as the ability to give end users access to the right information to purchase office goods themselves online instead of having to fill out requisition forms.
Ron Wohl, senior vice president of Oracle applications Development, said during his opening session at Oracle Application User Group (OAUG) conference in San Diego this week, "self service systems can be used by anyone who has the information [to buy things and deal with enquiries] directly with no intermediaries."
"Users are not only internal people but also your suppliers and customers. Self service is not just for straightforward applications such as expense reporting but also accounts receivables," he said.
Wohl demonstrated Etravel, Oracle's online travel reservation application, that takes into account the user organisation's booking policies, such as preferred airlines or existing discount rates based in the company's Oracle 8i database.
Etravel allows users to compare prices and even monitor and assign seating plans on flights themselves, rather than through travel agents.
Wohl claimed Etravel has helped Oracle axe its cost of making travel arrangements by $50 million a year and promises other firms could save around 15 per cent.
Oracle is offering Etravel under a limited promotional scheme for $10,000 to kit out an entire organisation. Said Wohl, "For negligible up front cost or difficulty the payback would be within 30 and 60 days."
In a similar vein Oracle demonstrated the strategic procurement element of the applications suite which enables firms to monitor and examine their raw materials suppliers' performance to help them decide whether to keep or sack them.
Wohl claims this would enable companies to slash 10 per cent off the cost of buying materials by comparing prices with buying data in their database.
He said: "99 per cent of companies have manual purchasing policies - we can eliminate this by self service."
Under purchasing module, users can either build their own catalogue or use one from a third party.
Other features of Release 11i will be the ability to run global application policies from one applications platform. For example, the central server could manage and coordinate applications and rules used by all the offices of an international organisation.
These include languages, currencies and all processing practices. The key to this, continued Wohl, is Release 11i's integration with the parallel server feature of Oracle 8I, to hook multiple systems together under a database environment.
An English language version of release IIi will begin shipping in September with updates for 28 other languages to follow. It will be available as an automatic installation upgrade for Release 10.7 and Release 11 users.
Oracle launched its flagship Release 11 Applications suite a year ago to help the firm move away from simply selling databases. It is currently in use by around 100 organisations and has been shipped to 2,300 customer sites worldwide.
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