Oracle embraces 'Enterprise 2.0' with new PLM module

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Oracle embraces 'Enterprise 2.0' with new PLM module

Oracle plans to announce a new Customer Needs Management module for its Agile Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software suite early next year.

The module will add ‘Enterprise 2.0’ functionality to Agile, which has been in the market for more than a decade and counts among its customers Coca-Cola, McDonalds and Philips Medical.

Since being acquired by Oracle in May 2007, Agile has received a small number of updates to do with integration and interoperability.

The Customer Needs Management module will incorporate elements of social software -- such as user-generated content and mass collaboration portals -- into the business software suite.

According to Oracle executive Hardeep Gulati, the popularity of Web 2.0 in the consumer space could make Enterprise 2.0 an inevitable progression for businesses.

“There is a lot of recognition in Oracle, all the way to top management, that Enterprise 2.0 is changing the business layout,” said Gulati, who is Oracle’s Vice President, PLM and PIM Product Strategy.

“Every company who’s in the business of building products needs collaboration, whether internally or externally,” he told iTnews.

Gulati expects Enterprise 2.0 to benefit PLM by facilitating collaboration between suppliers, manufacturers, and designers of software and hardware.

Enterprise 2.0 elements could also be an aid in ensuring that products are compliant with regulations such as the European Union’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) by providing an overview of various processes.

Gulati expressed an interest in the Australian market for PLM, which is valued at $90 million and bolstered by a large number of companies that deal in Consumer Packaged Goods.

“PLM is an area we see as a demand. We have a very strong pipeline, and this [Australian] market is very important to us,” he said.

But although Web 2.0 has been highlighted by analysts as an industry-shaping trend, a lasting effect of Enterprise 2.0 on businesses is yet to be seen.

While North American businesses have been seen to embrace Enterprise 2.0 tools, Asia Pacific is approaching the technology with caution, Gulati observed, noting that the technology is less common still in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

Intellectual property (IP) rights have been of particular concern to businesses who may be considering the use of public Web forums to obtain user feedback and discuss future technological directions.

Noting that IP is a ‘sensitive topic’, Gulati argued that collaboration and an open discussion with users promotes innovation.

To counter IP concerns, he suggests the tiered approach employed by Oracle and its partners, in which a broader community is open to the public, and a smaller, closed-loop ‘strategy council’ caters to selected partners and industry leaders.

“As a company, if you don’t embrace it, there’s going to be some Web 2.0 community out there about your product anyway,” he concluded, alluding to the viral, user-generated nature of the Web.

“You’d [The company] might as well be a part of that community,” he said.

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