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Oracle readies e-biz suite lite for Europe

Trawling in that tiny sub-$1bn sector

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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Oracle Corp is set to take the wraps off its new E-Business Suite of applications specially designed for the European midmarket sector. All eyes are on the Redwood Shores, California software vendor to unveil the software later this week.

Although the technical specifics of the new suite are still closely guarded by Oracle, ComputerWire has learnt that the software will not necessarily just function as a 'lite' version of Oracle 11i, which is Oracle's e-business suite offering for large enterprises. The E-Business Suite integrates a set of applications that support key business processes such as finance, HR and customer management.

The move follows a concerted effort by Oracle to narrow its application focus into more niche sub-markets. Oracle defines 'midmarket' on a regional basis, but generally uses the term for business organizations that generate under $1bn in annual revenues. Earlier this year the database giant also stated its intention to launch region-specific versions of its enterprise application offerings worldwide, with China targeted for the near term.

The midmarket sector is the best opportunity for IT vendors in the tight economy and climate of reduced IT spending. Market research firm IDC predicts that sales of IT to small and medium sized companies will grow 4% next year, but this modest figure will still beat growth in IT sales to larger enterprises.

Arch-rivals Microsoft Corp' Business Solutions unit (Great Plains Software), SAP AG and IBM Corp will be among those most interested in Oracle's offering. All these vendors, which have traditionally targeted large companies, have moved 'downstream' into the midmarket domain that has up to recently been the exclusive preserve of smaller software companies.

For example, Microsoft has sharpened its focus on the midmarket enterprise through its acquisition of Navison A/S, a Danish software company in May 2002. Similarly, large ERP players, such as SAP and PeopleSoft Inc, are also developing new integrated front- and back-end application suites that meet the unique functional and price-point requirements of mid-sized enterprises.

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