Oracle plans E-Business Suite for Euro midmarket

Oracle Corp. plans to announce a version of its E-Business Suite of enterprise applications for mid-size European companies next Thursday, pitting it against rivals Microsoft Corp.’s Business Solutions unit, IBM Corp. and SAP AG, among others.

Details of the offering are still under wraps, but Oracle will announce a new software package for the European midmarket next week, said Fiona Campbell-Howes, an Oracle EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) spokeswoman on Friday.

Furthermore, the midmarket offering will not merely be a slimmed-down version of Oracle 11i, the E-Business Suite for large enterprises, she said.

Oracle’s E-Business Suite is an integrated suite of enterprise applications that allows companies to manage business processes, such as financials, payroll and customer relationship management.

Oracle executives have previously mentioned the company’s plans to launch midmarket products. The Redwood Shores, California, vendor has said that it plans to launch region-specific offerings around the world, with China being one of the first markets it will target.

Oracle’s definition of midmarket varies from region to region, but the company generally considers the term to cover businesses with under US$1 billion in annual revenue.

In a tough economic climate where enterprises continue to curtail IT spending, the midmarket, once the domain of smaller software companies, has become the promised land for vendors that traditionally target only large companies.

Big-name players such as Microsoft (in Europe through the acquisition of Danish software company Navision A/S), Oracle, PeopleSoft Inc. and SAP are all revving new enterprise software applications to meet mid-market demand for integrated front and back-office systems, quickly crowding the ERP (enterprise resource planning) midmarket.

Overall sales of IT products to small and medium-size businesses will grow 4 per cent next year, eclipsing growth in sales to larger customers, according to IDC.

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