While some market observers might speculate regarding why Oracle’s interest is recently heightened in the hardware arms race with HP or IBM or in the in-memory database and middleware arms race with the SAP, IBM, and Microsoft powerhouses, the fact remains that a large proportion of Oracle customers are small to medium businesses (SMBs). One Oracle enterprise resource planning (ERP) brand, Oracle’s JD Edwards EnterpriseOne has been doing very well at Oracle, despite competitors’ repeated fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) tactics. Time and again I hear from other ERP vendors that they no longer see Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne being shortlisted for enterprise software selection projects, but something just doesn’t add up. Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne has been the constant participant in the 14 Vendor Shootout for ERP events to date. In fact, Oracle and its partners tell us that Oracle JD Edwards consistently is a standard shortlist player.
Seven years and over a dozen product releases after Oracle purchased PeopleSoft, which had previously acquired JD Edwards (based in Denver, Colorado), the Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and Oracle JD Edwards World product lines have become a critical and very relevant part of Oracle’s applications portfolio. The software delivers core ERP functionality to a still-loyal customer base, as well as to an ever-growing set of new companies. Oracle does not break out numbers by product line, but it is safe to assume that several thousand corporate licenses have been issued. The install base for Oracle JD Edwards continues to grow substantially across regions and industries, according to Oracle.
Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Traits
On a high level, Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne is an ERP software suite of pre-integrated business applications—with extensive core, operational, and specific industry functionality suitable for organizations of any size. Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne is a natively integrated suite of products. And more than just being single-database or single-data model applications, they are truly natively integrated from top to bottom, including the transaction context and the user interface (UI). The solution is engineered for rapid time to value, reasonably low total cost of ownership (TCO), and flexible configuration (allowing customization that doesn’t require changing the core code).
In addition, the product has traditionally been scalable for company growth and offers popular technology choices and the capacity for multiple companies, languages, currencies, and versions (see figure 1). A bevy of capabilities can be added with packaged integrations, some of which will be illustrated later.
As Oracle offers several ERP product lines, its sales teams and partners work with prospects to identify the best solution for their business needs based on industry, size, and platform, among other criteria. Oracle PeopleSoft is straightforwardly marketed as the human capital management (HCM) platform for large enterprises. The situation can be a bit trickier when it comes to distinguishing between Oracle JD Edwards and the Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) offering.
One difference is that Oracle E-Business Suite is a Tier 1 business suite that runs on Oracle databases only. Often, owing to the scale of Oracle E-Business Suite, growing corporations with complex global business needs might use only parts of the suite (e.g., Financials or Procurement). Conversely, Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne is a compact (all-in-one) ERP system for midsize enterprises, which runs on Oracle as well as on other database platforms. For its part, Oracle JD Edwards World is a mature offering that runs only on IBM System i and is not very actively offered to new customers.
JD Edwards EnterpriseOne’s Defendable Niches
In addition, the product has been developed for some defendable market sectors, such as manufacturing, farming/agribusiness, fashion/apparel, real estate, construction, asset-intensive industries, etc. (see figure 2). If it’s true that JD Edwards EnterpriseOne is nowadays rarely seen in software selection projects (as purported by competitors), it can only be because the product has carved out a niche for itself within Oracle, thus not too often pursuing opportunities for general manufacturing ERP.
Possibly the best example of a differentiating capability for a specific vertical is grower management, which is a typical gap in basic ERP systems, but there are several best-of-breed (BoB) solutions for grower accounting. While there are many growers/farms, there are relatively few agricultural cooperatives (co-ops), and most growers sell through these few co-ops. So while this agribusiness subvertical within the food and beverage vertical (see figure 3) requires the functionality to manage these transactions, many ERP vendors don’t recognize it as a sufficiently large or attractive market to invest in developing the required capabilities.
Recently, grower accounting within Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 9.1 was expanded to include new business processes, to be able to pay farmers based on proceeds, more accurately capture costs, and improve visibility of crop information. As market prices can fluctuate widely in a short period of time, profit margins are very low, and it is thus important to accurately track costs and plan carefully based on demand. To that end, users can create purchase orders based on the crop estimate, to view demand against estimated crop output. They can also match incoming weigh tags to outgoing sales orders, to pay a grower based on the market price for a crop, and add new fields to capture more accurate costs for equipment usage.
As a result, there will be improved crop visibility and demand planning, whereby one can more accurately capture farm activity costs by using actual time for equipment usage and pay growers based on the market price of the crop when sold. I would expect to see lot tracking/traceability and all sorts of safety/compliance attributes in the future. “From farm to fork” traceability requires companies to start tracing at the farm. To achieve this, one needs info on the chemicals that were used (or not used), local testing for salmonella, etc.
Another good example of vertical focus is the apparel solution with “Collection Management” capabilities, whereby one style (e.g., a jacket) can belong to many collections at the same time (e.g., sports, spring, fall, hip, etc.). These capabilities provide a coherent assortment of items while the collection is marketed over a limited period of time and control data consistency in sales, purchase, and work orders. Companies also must manage sales prices by season and collection.
Allocation (fulfillment) management capabilities are about optimizing product delivery, automatic shortage management, and dynamic order priority definition among customers with delivery constraints. This sales order management application, introduced with Oracle JD Edwards EntepriseOne 9.0 Update 1, lets customers prioritize orders for items where demand exceeds supply (previously, this functional gap was filled via expensive customizations, despite this capability being commonly required for distribution). Users can define weighting of attributes (e.g., customer priority, requested date window, transaction types, etc.) and define event rules. The weighted average is calculated and sequenced according to priority, resulting in improving fulfillment rates to highest priority customers and better meeting service level agreements (SLAs).
Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne has good native multi-modal transportation/shipping capabilities for SMBs. Unless an enterprise handles at least US$25 million in freight annually, Oracle’s flagship Oracle Transportation Management (OTM) suite (former G-Log) might be overkill. Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne also features strong enterprise asset management (EAM) functionality for both internal plant maintenance and external service maintenance.
JD Edwards and Oracle—The Bigger Picture
Over the past several years since being acquired by Oracle, JD Edwards EnterpriseOne has benefited from having many of Oracle’s certified tools embedded within it (see figure 4). For example, Oracle Fusion Middleware (OFM) has been instrumental in terms of delivering integration and interoperability, which are a big piece of the Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne story. As mentioned earlier, Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne can put in place prepackaged integrations where that makes sense, or at least put in place some of the “plumbing” to reduce the costs that customers incur when they implement an overall solution. While interoperability has always been a key component for Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, as a standalone company it simply did not have sufficient leverage, resources, or capitalization to deliver everything natively. But as a division of Oracle, it can deliver full solutions based on Oracle complementary products.
Under Oracle, the Oracle JD Edwards product lines benefited from the following:
- compatibility with Oracle Fusion Middleware (OFM)—some components have been productized in the JD Edwards EnterpriseOne OracleTechnology Foundation, a prepackaged set of Oracle technology that will run with JD Edwards EnterpriseOne
- standards-based Web services and service oriented architecture (SOA)–based systems, leveraging OFM and Oracle SOA Suite to expose Web services and thus enable interoperability and integration
- integration to Oracle Webcenter and Oracle Secure Enterprise Search
- population of Oracle Business Intelligence (OBI) data warehouse through an ETL (extract, transform, and load) map for both ERP product lines
- generally available built-in Oracle Business Intelligence analytics for financials, supply chain/inventory and order management—with plans for filling the central data warehouse for other key functional areas (e.g., analytics for procurement and spend, projects analytics, manufacturing, etc.)
- integrations for the entire Oracle Value Chain Planning (VCP) suite of products, including Oracle’s Demantra products
- shipping integration to Oracle Transportation Management
- prepackaged Integration for Oracle’s Agile Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) products
- integration with Oracle Primavera and Oracle Primavera Contract Management—for engineering and construction vertical, a construction site management product to simplify payment of subcontractors, receipt of materials, project-based accounting, etc.
- additional technology leverage through the use of products such as Oracle BI Publisher and Oracle User Productivity Kit
The Chronology of JD Edwards Enhancements
To recap, under Oracle, the Oracle JD Edwards product lines have had more than 17 combined new product releases for both Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and Oracle JD Edwards World products. The vendor has brought several new products to market and announced integrations that should benefit Oracle customers. And these customers are reportedly proving Oracle’s strategy by upgrading to the newest releases of Oracle JD Edwards products (reportedly, approximately 60 percent of customers are working with the current releases). Add to that a share of new customers, which validates Oracle JD Edwards as providing viable industry solutions to the marketplace. Oracle JD Edwards’ partners and customers are particularly showing interest in product innovations in the areas of UI, end-user reporting, and support for tablets and smartphones. For more information on the product enhancements, see the appendix to this article.
JD Edwards World Not Neglected
Oracle has continued to enhance and support non-Oracle technologies, even within the venerable JD Edwards World product that runs on IBM’s System i platform. Developments in Oracle JD Edwards World A9.3 in 2012 include significant advances in role-based security, flex accounting for manufacturing, and enhanced sub-ledger accounting, among other enhancements.
In April 2012, Oracle announced Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 9.1. The application suite has been enhanced with a personalized user experience, new productivity features, additional industry-specific functionality, and greater support for global operations and compliance mandates. The Oracle JD Edwards team has also delivered mobile applications to extend Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne functionality beyond the back office to the front line, where users interact with, say, customers, assets, etc. There are several differentiators with the Oracle JD Edwards EntepriseOne 9.1 solution for Apple iPad devices. For one, the entire suite of Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne applications is supported so users can use the iPad both as a mobile device and as a laptop replacement. This is in sharp contrast to other ERP products that typically offer limited ERP functionality on mobile devices, and primarily for viewing purposes. Oracle has also added some nifty productivity improvements including custom touch gestures for common Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne operations and also context-sensitive on-screen keyboards. Special attention has been paid to optimizing the field service module for iPad use.
Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne 9.1 also features the game-changing Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne One View Reporting—a brand new feature and the enhancement most requested by user groups. It’s a set of modules that allows business users to create interactive reports effortlessly without IT support. This intuitive reporting solution (interactive query applications are empowered by OBI Publisher) enables users to access transaction data and transform it into lists, charts, graphs, and tables (see figure 5). A large library of pre-defined reports has been designed to answer the most common business questions.
Oracle sees Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne One View Reporting as a significant development in the way that it empowers users. This is a true end-user reporting solution, with built-in support for all Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne application modules. With very minimal training and without needing to know the Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne database schema, users can create their own sophisticated reports, and no IT staff need be involved. This elegant solution is based on interactive applications users already use and are familiar with. Empowering users to create reports leads to a more rapid time to value. Providing users access to the right data, in near real time, should lead to more effective decision-making, improved productivity, and lower IT costs.
Oracle Accelerate Programs for Midsize Companies
Oracle has two programs to benefit midsize customers, enabling rapid implementation and simplified deployment of applications:
- Oracle Accelerate is Oracle’s approach to providing simple-to-deploy, packaged, enterprise-class software solutions to growing midsize organizations through Oracle’s global partner network.
- Oracle Business Accelerators (OBAs) are Oracle-hosted next-generation rapid implementation tools, templates, and wizards to deliver significantly improved time-to-benefit at low risk. OBAs notably reduce implementation discovery, configuration, and testing time, and are based on industry- and geography-specific business best practices.
The Accelerate program has Accelerate “solutions,” which are built by partners. The engines they use to build solutions are the aforementioned OBAs. At the time of writing, the following are the current Oracle Accelerate program stats for Oracle JD Edwards, but both programs are growing significantly and further growth is expected in the future:
- Number of Oracle Accelerate JD Edwards partners: 100
- Number of Oracle Accelerate JD Edwards solutions: 126
- Number of available Oracle Business Accelerators (OBAs) for JD Edwards: 22
Over 620 Oracle Business Accelerators are available through Oracle's partner ecosystem and Oracle Consulting in 47 countries worldwide for Oracle E-Business Suite, Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, and an increasing number of other Oracle products (so-called “edge” products) such as Oracle Business Intelligence Applications, Oracle Transportation Management, Oracle Siebel CRM, Oracle Advanced Supply Chain Planning (SCP), and Oracle Agile Product Lifecycle Management.
It’s fair to conclude that the old reports of JD Edwards’ death were greatly exaggerated and out of touch with customer needs. In a 2010 issue of Profit Magazine, Lyle Ekdahl, Group Vice President and General Manager of Oracle JD Edwards, spoke about Oracle JD Edwards’ culture. While it has obviously evolved as a part of Oracle, the division is still a very strong independent voice within the Oracle Applications community. Oracle has allowed the Oracle JD Edwards product lines to retain those traits that make it different (e.g., its modesty and no-nonsense treatment of its customers), because that is part of the value that it delivers to customers and to the marketplace that it serves.
That is what’s implied in Oracle’s Applications Unlimited program and pledge—the reason Oracle is able to continue to invest in these multiple product lines is because overall they are additive to Oracle’s business. Mr. Ekdahl believes (and we concur) that Oracle has been wise to allow Oracle JD Edwards to keep its identity while leveraging what it needs from Oracle (e.g., Oracle’s hardware business will bring new performance benefits to users).
Oracle JD Edwards’ customers and partners are known for being very involved in the product’s roadmaps and vocal about it. The Oracle JD Edwards team engages with its customers via the Oracle JD Edwards Customer Strategy Councils, Quest User Group activities and events, Oracle COLLABORATE, Oracle OpenWorld (OOW) and the Oracle JD Edwards Partner Summit annual user conferences. These involvements provide updates on strategies, new products, selling skills, growing footprint, and provide the venue for networking.
Over time Oracle JD Edwards software and Oracle Fusion Applications (OFA) are going to continue their already strong integration. Oracle JD Edwards’ customers should carefully determine whether and when they should migrate from their Applications Unlimited solutions to Oracle Fusion Applications. Given Oracle’s good care of Oracle JD Edwards thus far, most likely many users will use either prepackaged or application integration technologies to deliver their existing applications alongside new differentiating Oracle Fusion Applications components.
Appendix: JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Enhancements
Enhancements, by major theme, of JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Release 9.1 (2012):
- Usability: driving improved user productivity
- One-view reporting
- Web-client user interface
- Mobile applications
- Automate voucher match
- RSS delegation
- Industry: offering more industry-specific functionality
- Project manufacturing
- Forecast consumption
- Blend management
- Grower management
- Advanced real estate
- Project revenue forecast
- Compliance: supporting compliance and global business
- Country of origin
- Global locator number
- Life sciences electronic batch records (EBR)/device history records (DHR)
- Environment accounting
- Hyperion integration
Some of the enhancements in JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Release 9.0 Update 1 (2010) are as follows:
- Expense Management Enhancements
- Relocated action buttons eliminate scrolling
- Workflow delegations
- Oracle Business Accelerator (OBA) for Engineering and Construction
- Improved Global Support
- Tax capture by pay item
- Support non-recoverable calculation for intra-community VAT
Enhancements made available with JD Edwards EnterpriseOne Release 9.0 (2009):
- New module: Project and Government Contract Accounting
- Financial Management
- Allocations option
- Data relationships between business data
- Expense management options
- G/L performance and speed
- Human Capital Management
- Timecard corrections
- Component pay
- Total time accounting (TTA)
- Contract labor categories
- Food and Beverage
- Dynamic configurator
- Component purchase orders
- Price and cost adjustments based on price
- Sales Orders
- Component level processing
- Component substitution
- Kits on blanket and quote orders
- Real estate management
- Cap rules
- Expense participation
- Expense classes added
- Home Builders
References and Recommended Reading
Oracle Corporation. Oracle Delivers New Release of Oracle’s JD Edwards World. April 23, 2012.
Profit Magazine. All in the Family: Innovation, Commitment, and Loyalty the Secrets to JD Edwards’ Success. August 2010.
Technology Evaluation Centers. Accelerating (and Fast-starting) the SME Business at Oracle (and SAP) – Part 2. December 11, 2011.
Technology Evaluation Centers. The 11th Vendor Shootout for ERP: Observations – Part 1. September 2, 2011.
Technology Evaluation Centers. Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne (v. 9.0): Discrete ERP Certification Report.