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Inside Oracle's product lifecycle management strategy

Oracle customers increasingly see the need for holistic product lifecycle management, according to one Oracle PLM executive.

Product lifecycle management (PLM) has been a major focus area for Oracle since it acquired PLM stalwart Agile Software Corp. last May. PLM software helps companies manage the entire lifecycle of a product from conception to design to manufacturing and, ultimately, to disposal. interviewed Sarvesh Jagannivas, Oracle's vice president of Agile PLM product marketing, to find out more about Oracle's PLM strategy and product set and future product plans. Here are some excerpts from that conversation:

How would you characterize Oracle's overall approach to product lifecycle management?

Sarvesh Jagannivas: We are now calling it Enterprise PLM [because it's] now drawing on other functions within the company [besides engineering], including quality, regulatory affairs, operations which have always been there like sales and marketing, a number of other areas within the company, as well as across the four walls into the supply network, with contract manufacturers and contract designers and customers. That interaction in a seamless fashion, done globally to launch better products to the market faster -- that area is now being called Enterprise PLM, and we are going to continue to assign ourselves that moniker of Enterprise PLM vendor because sometimes PLM now gets confused with [simply] CAD capabilities.

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How have your customers' attitudes changed toward PLM?

Jagannivas: Customers are really now beginning to view Enterprise PLM as a complete offering and are not looking at buying just one module at a time and do this over a number of years. It's more like they're thinking about PLM holistically, and many of them are buying the whole suite all at once. They may actually implement it over a period of time, but they now understand the requirement to think about PLM end-to-end.

Could you tell me a little about the Agile PLM product set?

Jagannivas: We have two different solution sets. One is the Agile 9.2.2 offering for the discrete markets. It covers high tech, life sciences, medical devices and consumer packaged goods, all of the non-process-related processes like packaging and labeling and portfolio management and things like that. We also address aerospace and defense and automotive, specifically on the electronic side and industrial manufacturing. So we're able to address anything in the discrete space with that solution.

Then we have another solution, Agile PLM for Process. That came from an acquisition a couple of years ago of a company called Prodica, which was kind of the standard industry leader for food and beverage, all the way from recipe optimization, creation of recipes, to creating supplier collaboration and downstream data syndication to third-party data hubs. So they manage all of the complex specification management. On both fronts, Oracle is making significant investments, and this is a new area of growth for the company.

What types of new functionality will you add in the next Agile versions?

Jagannivas: The next release is going to be called 9.3, and the time frame is about 18 months. There are three different fronts where 9.3 is moving forward. One is simple innovations to capture some capabilities around attribute level stuff. If you think about products and their descriptions, there are a number of attributes which are captured. Significant changes occur not only at the part level but also at the attribute level. So there are some capabilities being added into the product to make it easier to negotiate through attribute changes. The other area is to make the application much more Fusion applications compliant. [That means making] the application take on more Fusion components for a point in the future when all Oracle applications can talk to each other purely on the Fusion framework.

The third area that we are surely doing is allowing for Application Integration Architecture-based integrations to occur from Agile to other [Oracle and] third-party systems, including Oracle ERP systems, SAP ERP and, in the future, also to CRM and demand planning and those kinds of systems.

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