Oracle’s Value Chain Summit: When Endeca Met iProcurement and Sparks Flew

In recent memory, Oracle E-Business Suite iProcurement has not offered a truly bad shopping experience for front line requisitioners like some not-so-distant versions of other ERP procurement tools. Still, a small cottage industry has emerged to support the re-skinning and improvement of Oracle’s E-Business Suite iProcurement search, catalog management and shopping experience (just as it has with SAP SRM mind you). Vinimaya built a good portion of its business on it. More recently Enrich (formerly EnrichIT) and BuyerQuest have done the same.

These efforts may be for naught in the not too distant future. At Oracle’s Value Chain Summit in San Francisco this week, the technology giant announced a new capability on top of its Oracle E-Business Suite iProcurement workhorse, Oracle E-Business Suite Extensions for Oracle Endeca Beyond this long name is an incredibly powerful and simple piece of technology that Spend Matters believes will set the standard for all eProcurement search and content management tools in the next 12 months. This is a new, optional feature for Oracle E-Business Suite iProcurement, but it’s a game changer.

We’ll be covering the news in-depth and reporting on the capabilities of this eProcurement extension in the coming weeks on Spend Matters and Spend Matters PRO. But to whet everyone’s appetite, Oracle E-Business Suite Extensions for Oracle Endeca brings a level of search support to the eProcurement shopping experience that is like nothing else in the market (see past Oracle Endeca coverage here and here). Built on an in-memory architecture, it is fast and powerful in ways other eProcurement search tools are not. In its current procurement-focused release, Oracle E-Business Suite Extensions for Oracle Endeca does have holes (e.g., no cross-catalog federated search) but that will be remedied in 2013, according to Oracle.

In the meantime, users can still opt for Oracle E-Business Suite Extensions for Oracle Endeca in a procurement capacity to search in entirely new ways for catalog items and improve catalog spend. Because Endeca indexes and evaluates different types of disparate information and allows “Google-like access” to data in Oracle E-Business Suite without the need to enter advanced search criteria, the entire search experience is simplified.

The idea here is to greatly improve the productivity of requesters and buyers by enabling true free text search and then the ability to compare items in a true attribute-based side-by-side manner (with both structured and unstructured information pulled into the query). Users can then “pivot” on various dimensions to filter the search or gain additional field-based insights. For example, filters might include dimensionality, certifications, warranties, etc. Users can then also pivot based on any number of fields to refine searches. For example, by supplier, supplier site, part numbers, manufacturer, manufacturer part number, shopping category, etc.

This may sound similar to other shopping and search tools in the procurement space, but it’s not. Consider the “type ahead” capability that can match search criteria based on certain characters that are entered with Oracle E-Business Suite Extensions for Oracle Endeca. For example, a search for “pad” would surface different search returns such as the ability to continue to query by key word description (e.g., Apple iPad, bottled tablets, Transformer pad Infinity), UNSPSC Commodity classification (e.g., Table Top pads), shopping category (e.g., > IT Hardware > Pads and tablets, > Furniture > tables), supplier catalog classifications or just about any type of taxonomic structure – or even non-organized information.

Oracle E-Business Suite Extensions for Oracle Endeca is priced separately than E-Business Suite iProcurement capability. Oracle is lowering the pricing (the change was announced at the Oracle Value Chain event). Stay tuned as we cover this new capability and entirely new eProcurement shopping paradigm in the coming weeks.

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