Managing Automation recognizes two Oracle customers— Hologic and Batesville Casket—that are reaching new business heights.
by Tony Kontzer, February 2008
Hologic and Batesville Casket Company are two Oracle customers that are successfully leveraging Oracle technology to streamline business processes, tackle complex hurdles for complying with regulatory requirements, and establish single data repositories that reach across the enterprise. In 2007, both companies won Managing Automation Magazine's Progressive Manufacturing Summit and Awards.
Hologic, which develops, manufactures, and supplies medical imaging systems designed to improve detection, diagnosis, and treatment of breast cancer, osteoporosis, and other diseases, has implemented a global instance of Oracle E-Business Suite. It is noteworthy because the system has allowed the firm to transform itself into a streamlined global business supported by a common IT environment.
Batesville Casket Company, which manufactures steel caskets, contends that its smart use of technology has enabled it to improve customer relations and productivity. The firm implemented an Oracle's JD Edwards system that allows the facility to see historical data on orders in more detail. Improved customer information has enabled Batesville Casket Company to reduce customer disappointments, enhance on-time delivery, and improve customer satisfaction.
The magazine Managing Automation introduced its Progressive Manufacturing Summit and Awards in 2005 to recognize companies in the manufacturing sector that are using technology to establish mastery in an area of their business. After three years, it has become clear that Oracle customers are making their mark in the manufacturing field.
Last year, two of the Oracle customers that were recognized by Managing Automation—Hologic and Batesville Casket Company—were companies that leveraged Oracle technology to streamline business processes, establish single data repositories that reached across the enterprise, tackle complex hurdles for complying with regulatory requirements, or achieve some combination of these.
"Our goal for our customers from a supply chain standpoint is to help enable what we call the information-driven value chain," says Maha Muzumdar, vice president of supply chain marketing, Oracle. "That means being able to provide complete visibility of information across their value chain and provide capabilities to help sense, shape, and respond to demand; adapt to changing business conditions; and align internally and externally with their business partners to maximize supply chain performance."
That's no easy feat, says Jeff Moad, executive editor of Managing Automation. More companies are outsourcing their manufacturing operations and relying heavily on their partners, and that makes it more difficult to gain visibility into inventory and how it can be affected by market changes.
"This is something that many, many companies are struggling with," says Moad.
And that, he says, makes projects like Hologic's global instance of Oracle E-Business Suite so noteworthy. Hologic has transformed itself into a streamlined global business supported by a common IT environment. "This is often a goal of companies, but it's very difficult to pull off because frequently different functions within a company either have their own systems or want their own systems," Moad says.
Still, manufacturing companies won't be able to rest on their laurels. As the markets they depend on continue to change rapidly, they will have to find ways to adapt to those changes by being able to adjust their operations on the fly. Historically, says Moad, it has been the IT systems that have hindered agility. That's largely because enterprise software has tended to be difficult to modify and configure, making it a challenge to respond to change.
Going forward, Moad expects growing interest among manufacturers in establishing robust service-oriented architectures (SOAs) to simplify integration challenges.
One of the areas that will get a boost from the spread of SOAs is the need of manufacturers to extend their technologies outside the walls of the company and to their networks of partners. "It's not that partners are unsophisticated about technology," says Moad. "It's just that it's difficult."
Every so often, Oracle gets to provide the technology behind something special. Sometimes Oracle technology powers educational environments; other times, it helps nonprofits run their businesses more efficiently so that more funds can be preserved for their causes. And once in a while, Oracle technology helps people save lives.
That's the case with Oracle customer Hologic, which develops, manufactures, and supplies medical imaging systems designed to improve detection, diagnosis, and treatment of breast cancer, osteoporosis, and other diseases.
Every year, more than 1 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and hundreds of thousands more die from it. Meanwhile, osteoporosis—a bone disease most often associated with postmenopausal women—affects more than 200 million globally, with annual costs related to managing the disease estimated at more than US$15 billion.
Hologic's imaging products are helping to prevent these numbers from rising by enabling caregivers to detect early signs of the diseases and minimize their affects on patients. "Everyone at Hologic is really passionate about what we do because we feel we're making a difference in women's health," says David Rudzinsky, CIO, Hologic.
Which is why when October—Breast Cancer Awareness Month—rolls around, Hologic isn't just sponsoring numerous walks and fundraisers; its employees are participants. And when Hologic is recognized for things such as its use of Oracle technology, as it was at last summer's Managing Automation Progressive Manufacturing Summit and Awards, Rudzinsky takes the opportunity to promote the cause. He makes sure to bring attention to the topic, wearing the familiar pink ribbon on his lapel and urging women to get annual mammograms. "I talk about what we do because it's important and I think people should know," he says.
And while Oracle's products aren't saving lives directly, they're certainly having an impact by enabling Hologic to be more efficient at what it does.
"They're behind the curtain, but they're helping us to run this business," says Rudzinsky. "So, as we're building product, shipping product out the door, and servicing our customers, our people are all touching Oracle technology in the background to make that stuff happen."
Consider what Oracle is enabling Hologic to achieve: reduced inventory, better customer service, and more-efficient business processes, all fueling the company's ability to prevent unnecessary death and suffering. Business technology doesn't get any better than that.
For More Information
Oracle for Industrial Manufacturing
Hologic: Achieving a Single View Across the Supply Chain
Batesville: Improving Productivity and Customer Relations
is a business and technology writer in Silicon Valley who has contributed to InformationWeek, Investor's Business Daily, CIO Insight
, and Network World.