Oracle refreshes entire SaaS line to fuel cloud momentum

As the migration of enterprises to the cloud picks up steam, Oracle is intent on keeping up. It has taken to refreshing its SaaS applications twice a year, bringing them up to feature parity with its on-premises software and adding brand-new features for e-commerce and internet-centric supply chain management.

Oracle Cloud Applications Release 13, announced Wednesday, is the newest iteration of the company’s cloud-based business applications. It upgrades the user interface across all the apps and delivers new capabilities for supply chain management (SCM), ERP, human capital management (HCM) and the CX Cloud Suite for customer experience management.

Enterprises are looking to cloud computing as a way to slim down IT staff and infrastructure, focusing on core competencies and trimming costs along the way, said Brent Leary, co-founder of CRM Essentials.

Oracle is battling entrenched rivals like SAP and Salesforce as well as newer cloud-era competitors, but it has one of the broadest product lines in the industry.

“Oracle has built up a really big presence in almost every category from the enterprise business applications perspective and now it’s about attracting their current customers who are using their more traditional stack to the more flexible cloud-based technical infrastructure,” Leary said.

“A lot of these companies don’t want to have huge IT staffs and if they can find a solution that allows them to get away from maintaining old systems and infrastructure, they’re looking at it –- that also allows them to take the next step and focus on implementing new business models that are more agile, and implementing service experiences that allow them to engage with customers,” Leary said.

Oracle also sees an opportunity to expand its customer base to young companies that are leapfrogging older businesses by going directly to SaaS products, said Steve Miranda, executive vice president for Oracle Applications Product Development.

"Before the cloud you had a higher barrier of entry for Oracle," Miranda said. "You needed an IT staff and a data center to buy Oracle."

Oracle reports that in its last financial quarter, ending May 31, about two-thirds of all its 868 new cloud ERP customers (not including NetSuite, which Oracle acquired last year) never had the company's ERP before.

During Oracle's fourth-quarter earnings call for analysts, it said that it had about 13,000 SaaS customers, or 25,000 including NetSuite. SaaS revenue for the quarter was up 67% year-over-year to $964 million. This was so significant for the company that it was the first number it reported in its press release announcing the results.

"We have a big installed base now and they've been giving us feedback on the UI," Miranda said. "Release 13 is a big improvement in the UI across the board with new visualization capabilities and new mobile abilities throughout," he said.

Oracle has brought the concept of responsive design to its cloud software, so that the UI adapts to the display of users' device, whether they are mobile phones, tablets or laptops, Miranda noted.

"The UI refresh is also about staying contemporary with the way the apps look and flow," he said. "For example you see web pages now that scroll vertically, getting away from train-style (navigation) where you go from one page to the next page and the next and so on."

Oracle Cloud Application Release 13 includes new applications and features for the following suites: