Oracle promises more savings with its e-hub

Oracle Corp. announced Tuesday three new products that the company says add a new layer to its Exchange Marketplace product.

Of the three new products, two are available worldwide now: the Product Development Exchange and the Supply Chain Exchange. Oracle expects its third add-on, dubbed Transportation Exchange, to be available during the second quarter.

The Product Development Exchange enables companies to manage the development of products via the Exchange marketplace.

With the Supply Chain Exchange, users can publish their company supply chain details to the online marketplace. “Suppliers will see demand coming. It will allow them to better decide what inventory to keep,” said Jeremy Burton, senior vice-president product and services marketing for Oracle in a conference call with European reporters and analysts.

Burton said large industries, like the automotive industry, could “potentially save billions of dollars” on their supply chain. “The business-to-business (B2B) market has been focussed on exchanges and procurement. Saving money on indirect materials like pencils. The real savings are in direct materials,” he said.

The Supply Chain Exchange will also work with supply-chain management software from Oracle’s competitors, said Burton. “We have included XML (extensible markup language) APIs (application program interface) so other applications can talk to our Exchange software,” he said.

The upcoming Transportation Exchange also provides “huge savings,” said Burton. It allows companies to make logistics more efficient by tapping into the distributors’ systems to get an overview of available transportation slots.

“Where it was about procurement, it’s now about visibility and information exchange,” said Burton, calling it the Oracle electronic hub or e-hub. Burton said today’s announcement is Oracle’s “biggest B2B announcement ever,” a move from exchanging products to information sharing in a collaborative hub.

Burton said the new products were developed with the help of current customers. Some are about ready to buy the software, he said, declining to give names.

One analyst said Oracle was boasting. “The wrapping was larger than the contents. I feel Oracle is mainly playing catch-up to SAP AG,” said Charles Homs senior analyst at Forrester Research BV in Amsterdam. “Oracle did not have a supply-chain exchange or transport exchange, whilst SAP does.”

Homs gives credit to Oracle for realizing there is a need for a hub for business to be done online, but the U.S. software company is slacking with it’s supply-chain offering. “There is no such thing as a generic supply-chain application, it needs to be tailored to an industry,” he said, noting SAP and i2 Technologies Inc. outperform Oracle.

Oracle’s chairman and chief executive officer Larry Ellison will host another conference call Tuesday afternoon to announce the new products to the U.S. media and analysts.

Oracle, in Redwood Shores, Calif., can be reached at