On Monday, Oracle announced that it was releasing E-Business Suite Release 12.1. From a sourcing perspective, the release is actually somewhat of an important deal, as it introduces a number of capabilities that help Oracle close the gap with its best of breed competitors. Granted, there are still many companies that will opt for best-of-breed sourcing capabilities from Ariba, BravoSolution, Emptoris, Iasta and others, but this latest release very well might prove sufficient for a range of organizations who have the option of purchasing the solution on either an on-demand or installed basis. Clearly, Oracle, like SAP, is proving that it is getting serious about the broader Spend Management opportunities that a recession can bring -- especially in contrast to the challenges of selling non hard-dollar cost-reduction solutions in a downturn (e.g., HR, CRM applications).
Up until this release, I was hesitant to shortlist Oracle when practitioners and consultants asked me what sourcing products I would recommend. With R12.1 available, however, I have already started to strongly encourage all Oracle customers I talk with to at least investigate the Oracle sourcing option (and I know of two Oracle channel / consulting partners already in the upgrade process). At the very least if you introduce Oracle into the game, it will now put pressure on best of breed providers to sharpen their pencils, as they’ll know they’re competing against a viable functional alternative. And at most, you might find that your ERP provider has become "the one", a vendor that allows you to keep IT happy by rationalizing providers while also finally delivering a solution that meets the majority of your current and anticipated sourcing needs -- at reasonable price points to boot. All in all, this should be a big win for Oracle shops, whichever way they chose to play their cards.
As a final aside, check back early next week if you're curious to learn about some of the other functional enhancements in 12.1 outside of sourcing -- and whether or not they bring Oracle closer to best-of-breed parity in the broader source-to-pay Spend Management arena.