Ever since Oracle announced its Applications Unlimited strategy last year, it has made it clear that it plans to enhance JD Edwards EnterpriseOne and World for years to come. However, the vendor has been less clear about the specific enhancements it will make to the applications and the timelines for those enhancements. That appears to be changing, as Oracle executives are becoming increasingly open with us about their product road map through the rest of this decade. What they are saying leads us to conclude that EnterpriseOne will continue to be a viable solution well beyond 2010. That should reassure current users who are concerned about the impact that Oracle’s Fusion Applications will have on their software.

Evolution on Two Fronts

We met recently with Lenley Hensarling, Vice President and General Manager for JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, to discuss Oracle’s enhancement strategy for the applications. Our discussion confirmed that EnterpriseOne’s functionality is going to expand considerably over the next two to three years. While Oracle will add some of the functionality via enhancements to the applications themselves, the company plans to add other capabilities via packaged integrations with its other applications.

One of the most noticeable enhancements is the gradual addition of at least ten role-based dashboards that provide managers with immediate visibility into key corporate metrics. Oracle has already shipped a Manufacturing Plant Manager’s Dashboard that runs on EnterpriseOne 8.11 and 8.12. The company now plans to deliver an average of two to three additional dashboards each year. Dashboards are planned for financial and compliance management, procurement, spend management, sales, order processing, CRM, HCM, asset management, manufacturing, project management, and homebuilders. Oracle intends to ship dashboards asynchronously from EnterpriseOne releases, so they could appear at any time.

In addition, look for Oracle to continue to add functionality for selected vertical industries to future releases. For instance, while EnterpriseOne 8.12 included specific modules for the agricultural industry, Version 9.0 will likely include functions for government contractors, particularly in the construction industry where the product already has a considerable presence. This focus on vertical markets indicates to us that Oracle could eventually position EnterpriseOne as its “lead with” solution for a number of industries.

Extending by Integrating

While EnterpriseOne’s native functionality will continue to grow, perhaps the biggest development for the solution will be its accelerating integration with other Oracle products. At present, the company is developing integrations between EnterpriseOne and two of its acquisitions. These are Oracle Transportation Management (OTM), formerly known as G-Log, and the Demantra demand management solutions.

Both of these integrations should interest a wide range of customers. As a comprehensive logistics solution, OTM will appeal the most to manufacturers and distributors that have not outsourced their shipping operations to third parties. As for Demantra, its integration with EnterpriseOne will be of interest to nearly all customers who do demand planning. It should prove particularly useful to Oracle’s consumer packaged goods customers, as Demantra includes modules for managing promotions and forecasting their effect on demand.

Like the dashboards that Oracle is developing, the packaged integrations that are in plan may not be delivered as part of an EnterpriseOne release. Moreover, future integrations may also ship separately from new releases. As a result, the enhancement roadmap is increasingly looking more like a steady series of improvements than a handful of “big bang” upgrades. We find this encouraging, as it indicates that Oracle is eager to bring new capabilities to EnterpriseOne rather than wait for a release boundary. That said, Oracle is indicating that EnterpriseOne 9.0 is likely to ship during 2008 and that Version 9.1 could be delivered as early as 2009.

The Long View

While Oracle has numerous functional improvements on tap for EnterpriseOne, it is also working on a broad array of technical enhancements. The main objective for these enhancements will be to bring more of the technologies found in Oracle’s Fusion Middleware and development tools under the covers of EnterpriseOne. While this will make it easier for companies to integrate the product with other Oracle applications, it will also support Oracle’s argument that its middleware stack is the best platform for EnterpriseOne users. We will discuss Oracle’s plans for EnterpriseOne technical enhancements further in a separate research note.

As we see it, Oracle’s aggressive enhancement agenda has several implications for EnterpriseOne users. First, it indicates that Oracle sees the solution as a strategic product that merits a substantial long-term investment. That is good news for customers who have been concerned about EnterpriseOne’s place in the vendor’s portfolio.

Second, it indicates that the vast majority of users will find that EnterpriseOne meets most of their needs over the next several years. As such, we expect that few customers will upgrade to Fusion Applications before 2011 or 2012. However, many customers are likely to integrate EnterpriseOne with other Oracle applications and take advantage of the Fusion technologies that EnterpriseOne supports. Indeed, many customers could find it advisable to switch to Fusion Middleware as EnterpriseOne becomes more intertwined with Oracle’s infrastructure products.

Finally, Oracle’s application integration strategy could make EnterpriseOne more attractive to users of the vendor’s other applications, especially OTM and Demantra. As a result, users of these applications in selected industries could become more inclined to deploy EnterpriseOne than they were in the past. While the additional accounts that could be gained from such cross-sales would likely be minimal, it would still contribute to the growth of the EnterpriseOne customer base.

In short, the odds are good that Oracle’s enhancement strategy will solidify EnterpriseOne’s position within its product pantheon. If Oracle ever does position the solution as an onramp to its Fusion Applications, it will take years to do so. In the meantime, EnterpriseOne will remain a highway of its own that has many miles to go before it merges with another product.

What are your plans for evolving and extending your EnterpriseOne applications? What enhancements do you need from Oracle to meet your company’s changing requirements? Let us know and we will share your comments with Hensarling and other top Oracle executives at our next meeting.