Powering New Growth
To explore growth opportunities, midsize companies need good information.
by David Baum, February 2008
Many midsize businesses struggle to balance the need for automation against the responsibility of maintaining complex information systems. They are concerned that enterprise-caliber software applications are too costly, too general, or too complex for their needs.
Oracle's answer is Oracle Accelerate, a new suite of industry-focused solutions that are simple enough for midsize businesses to deploy, yet sophisticated enough to turn those businesses into some of the world's most valuable companies. As part of this program, Oracle has identified industry-specific business requirements and system preferences to help companies ramp up quickly with the software. In addition, Oracle Accelerate has been optimized for a wide range of industries, from aerospace and defense to consumer products.
Learn how BREG, a rapidly growing medical device company; Hunter Douglas, a manufacturer and distributor of window furnishings and architectural products; and HOPPE Holding AG, a developer and manufacturer and marketer of door and window hardware systems in the European market, all have achieved success investing in and updating their Oracle-based information systems. Each company has realized that implementing an enterprise resource planning system is a major commitment, but with the right technology and expertise, they can achieve huge returns.
When it comes to information technology (IT), many organizations walk a tightrope, as they constantly balance the need for automation against the responsibility of maintaining complex information systems. Equilibrium is fleeting. Often, managers implement new software functionality only to be confronted with another IT challenge, and the cycle begins again. Companies merge, markets evolve, and customers demand new products and services—all of which require changes to the information systems that keep the business moving steadily forward.
Midsize businesses are particularly vulnerable to these upheavals. They might be expanding into new geographies, streamlining supply chains, consolidating operations, or embarking on an acquisition strategy—and they need new business systems to make it happen. In all these scenarios, IT is critical, but business owners worry that enterprise-caliber software applications are too costly, too complex, or too general for their needs.
But Oracle is proving them wrong with a new suite of industry-focused solutions that are simple enough for midsize businesses to deploy, yet sophisticated enough to turn those businesses into some of the world's most valuable companies.
Consider BREG, a rapidly growing medical device company that produces knee braces and other orthopedic products. BREG's acquisition by Orthofix in 2003 marked a major turning point for the company—a logical point at which to upgrade its information systems. "We wanted to adopt new business processes and not try to recreate what we already had," recalls Steve Romeo, BREG's IT director and a member of the national board of directors of the Oracle Applications Users Group. "We realized we couldn't get where we wanted to go by using yesterday's technology. But we were leery of big software applications and the cultural changes that these upgrades would cause."
It's a familiar quandary, particularly for manufacturing companies such as BREG. Until recently, midsize companies in this sector mainly catered to local markets because they didn't have the resources to reach much further. But today any company can compete with the industry leaders—if they can efficiently connect and exchange information online.
Romeo and his colleagues were well aware of these business dynamics, which is why they made a strategic decision to deploy a single global instance of Oracle E-Business Suite. Romeo says the primary motivation was to standardize production processes, centralize key back-office capabilities such as order entry, and create a more-nimble supply chain. He believed that consolidating organizational information would yield a clear and accurate picture of every customer, every product, every service, and every transaction. Additionally, having a standard set of business applications, deployed on top of a standard data management platform, would simplify IT administration, maintenance, and upgrades—enabling his team to respond more effectively to the needs of the business.
The bet paid off. In 2003, when BREG standardized on Oracle E-Business Suite, the company's annual revenue was US$50 million. Today, BREG depends on Oracle software to manage a US$80 million company. The software has also smoothed its merger with Orthofix, which had revenues of US$300 million in 2006. BREG's orthopedic products are sold through a worldwide network of more than 100 distributors in 36 countries, and the company is extending its global reach. "Implementing a single global instance of Oracle software has given us incredible leverage to stand out in the medical device field with our products," says Romeo.
Ramping Up, Scaling Out
Oracle has decades of experience working with midsize businesses such as BREG. The technology and expertise from these engagements is now bundled into a program called Oracle Accelerate. As part of this program, Oracle has identified industry-specific business requirements and system preferences to help companies ramp up quickly with the software, according to Mark Keever, group vice president of Oracle's Application Business Flows and Oracle Accelerators division. "Oracle Business Accelerators incorporate vast amounts of industry and regional best practices into a set of tools, wizards, and templates that get our customers up and running quickly." Keever adds, "Business accelerators are a standard part of every Oracle Accelerate solution."