Oracle braves the wireless frontier

The push for viable wireless e-business is on and Oracle says it’s positioning itself to lead the charge.

Redwood, Calif.-based Oracle Corp. announced Wednesday that it is shipping a mobile-enabled version of the Oracle E-business suite, the company’s collection of ERP applications.

The new suite allows users to access field sales, field service and warehouse management applications from Web browsers, desktop PCs and mobile devices. Other wireless functions are planned for future releases.

It also enables the rapid deployment of applications to both Internet and mobile users, said Barnaby Jeans, national mobile/wireless solution leader for Oracle Canada in Mississauga, Ont.

Utilizing the integrated wireless functionality of Oracle9i Application Server, the e-business suite enables roaming users to access new wireless-enabled applications expected to be released early next year, Oracle said in a statement.

“There are various business sectors that could benefit from mobile applications such as those dealing in field service and field sales. Anytime you have a workforce out in the field, being able to capture that information in real time and then relay it back to the central system is going to be a benefit,” said Jeans.

“We’re currently shipping it as the shipping release of Oracle applications and different components within the e-business suite are on different release schedules but generally as part of the larger application suite,” said Jeans.

This latest announcement follows last month’s joint venture with Ford Motor Co. and Qualcomm Inc. to develop and market wireless computer services for passenger vehicles and reflects the company’s continuing strategy to implement wireless and voice access across all its product lines.

Wireless e-business is expanding on the move to Internet applications and depending on the business model, there is some customer value in making information available always regardless of where the user is located, noted Jeans.

Demand for wireless applications in Canada exists, but current technology capabilities and speed still act as restrictions, said Barry Oxby, analyst with Sierra Systems in Calgary.

In the coming years those speed challenges should be overcome, he added.

Customers are still waiting to see the cost effectiveness of wireless technology and switching requires a certain level of wireless infrastructure, noted Jeans.

“One of the overriding factors, especially in the Canadian marketplace depends on the geography and territory of the company or workforce. But it’s definitely worth moving towards and becoming prepared for wireless now,” said Jeans.

Oracle Canada is at

– With files from IDG News Service.