Kodak Versamark Inc., which manufactures high-speed printers for use in commercial shops, recently completed an upgrade to Oracle E-Business suite and plans to upgrade its database to Oracle 9i later this year.
Formerly Scitex Digital Printing Inc., Versamark became a wholly owned subsidiary of Kodak in 2004 as part of Kodak's pursuit of digital technologies.
The company sells and maintains the printers used to spit out thousands of lottery tickets, print countless catalogs and produce packaging and business forms for large companies. Recently it set out to improve the way it stored, and accessed, its customer and maintenance records.
The company's most recent project included an integrated package of service applications from the Oracle E-Business suite, including Oracle iSupport, Oracle TeleService, Oracle Field Service and Oracle Service Contracts. The implementation cost the company paid was an initial investment of about $700,000, said Keith Satterfield, CIO of Kodak Versamark.
The company is also upgrading to Oracle 9i with plans to go live in June, Satterfield said. Oracle 9i was "priced appropriately" for the company's needs and seemed like the next logical step, Satterfield said. Like many customers, Satterfield said he'd rather wait until 10g has been around a while before he adopts it..
"I've been to a seminar on 10g and I've seen their concept and it sounds good," Satterfield said. "But we haven't bought into the fact whether it is or isn't mature enough to use yet."
Kodak Versamark has been an Oracle customer since 1997, when it implemented Oracle financials and Oracle manufacturing. The company had also been running legacy customer relationship management (CRM) software called Open Uptime CRM -- but now it has Oracle CRM within the E-Business suite.
"Our former CRM product had a lot of manual input on transactions that we had to put in our Oracle solution," Satterfield said. "At the time we put in Open Uptime, Oracle didn't have a good standalone product.".
New sales of Oracle E-Business Suite have been sluggish, according to the company's recent Q3 earning call. However, Bill Swanton, vice president for research at Boston-based AMR Research Inc. said Oracle's E-Business suite is slowly helping Oracle gain on SAP.
Swanton said he typically wouldn't recommend implementing Oracle E-Business suite in pieces, the way Versamark did.
"The benefit of using these suites is integration, and if you have different departments using different modules at different levels, it becomes an integration mess," Swanton said. "I tell customers to think of this as a big implementation, because they're not making a change only to the software, but also they should be making changes in their business processes."
At Versamark, the move from E-Business Suite version 10.7 to 11i caused interruptions, since the company was using the two different versions -- and legacy systems -- at the time. The company was an early adopter of the E-Business suite, and a lack of testing on its part may have been the cause of interruptions to the upgrade, Satterfield said.
"We did have some interruptions, but they weren't anything different than what everyone else had documented moving to 11i," he said.
Once the systems in Dayton, Ohio were upgraded, employees were given direct access to the applications from units in Singapore, Tokyo and Switzerland, Satterfield said.
"We were familiar with the Oracle technology and we used Oracle Services for the upgrade, so there was no alternative choices for us," Satterfield said. "We had Oracle consultants go out and train our people to use the product."
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