SAN FRANCISCO -- Oracle Fusion Applications is now generally available after the better part of a decade has passed since being first announced.
Oracle Vice President Steve Miranda said at a keynote address at the OpenWorld conference on Wednesday that the company already has 100 customers running Fusion Applications through its early adopter program. Now Fusion Applications -- which is a combination of features from E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, Siebel and other Oracle applications as well as a new user interface -- is now available to all customers, who can decide to adopt Fusion whole hog or piece by piece and module by module.
Oracle officials generally feel that the piece-by-piece approach will be most popular among Oracle shops. That was the method that the Principal Financial Group took through the early adopter program. It went live with Oracle Fusion Workforce Management in January and plans to roll out further modules in 2012.
In the early adopter program, Oracle shops had to adopt Fusion an environment hosted by Oracle. Principal did it through Oracle On Demand, for example. Now that Fusion is generally available, Oracle shops presumably have the option of hosting Fusion in their own internal data centers. Principal is still considering that. The company has sensitive client financial information that it’s not sure it wants to expose outside its own data centers, even if Oracle promises a secure environment through On Demand. Principal is now in talks trying to determine what to do.
Principal has a co-existence approach, running Fusion Workforce Compensation alongside PeopleSoft 8.9, which handles human-resources functions such as benefits, payroll and recruiting.
One feature Principal liked about Fusion Workforce Compensation was its ability to support multiple currencies and languages. With Fusion, company managers can see employees’ salaries in various currencies, depending on how they’re budgeting.
Embedded analytics within Fusion was also a plus.
“That was key with Fusion Workforce Compensation," said Fatema Madraswala, a senior advisory associate with PricewaterhouseCoopers, which consulted Principal Financial on its project. “There is a lot of analytics within the tool. You have graphs built-in as well as reports that you can export out to Excel.”
Principal’s implementation of Fusion was not without its problems. Some managers with large numbers of employees underneath them said it took longer to create reports and render their user interfaces than they would have liked.
Madraswala said that Oracle worked to fix some of those issues. Some of them involved managers running older Web browsers to render the Fusion Applications module; others just had older systems with not enough memory.
Fusion Applications is also just not for everyone. At least not yet. Paul Martin, director of business operations at The University of Western Ontario, said his organization is moving from PeopleSoft 8.8 to 9.0. Fusion isn’t really on his radar.
“We’re not really considering it right now, nor are we being forced, which is nice,” he said. Martin added that the functionality of PeopleSoft meets their needs. He said that with any system, normal users use maybe 20% of the system’s functionalities. He expects that to happen with PeopleSoft 9.0.
“We’re going to try to get more value out of that before we consider moving forward again,” he said.