Oracle is rounding out
its PLM platform with a new Customer Needs Management module that will help
development teams better manage the front-end innovation process.
Oracle's Agile Customer Needs Management, the newest member
PLM offering that came by way of its prior acquisition of Agile Software,
is designed to help customers easily capture and prioritize product ideas,
customer feedback and product requirements from internal sources, including
product managers, engineers, sales managers and executives, as well as from
external players like customers, design partners and suppliers.
The collaborative environment, designed as a social networking
application and employing Web 2.0 user interface capabilities such as tagging,
commenting and reviewing, is intended to serve as an open innovation platform
to ensure product teams capitalize on new product opportunities. While there have
long been stand-alone entries in this category, Oracle officials say the market
is now poised to adopt front-end innovation platforms because companies are
starting to prioritize innovation, and the new Web 2.0 technologies provide a
more natural user interface to make these tools more accessible to a wider
"The market is primed for getting more control over innovation
because this is where (companies) are getting the biggest bang for their buck,
investing in the right products," says Hardeep Gulati, Oracle's vice president
PLM and PIM Product Strategy. "That makes them much more ready to formally
track the ideation process."
The social networking capabilities also differentiate
Oracle's customer needs management tool from others on the market, Gulati says,
and open these capabilities up to those on the front lines working with
customers. "People who are interacting with customers are not used to heavy
applications, but rather are used to solutions like LinkedIn or Facebook," he
explains. "Our whole design pattern makes it easy to log into the system, log
ideas using quick fields and descriptions and put it out there to people who
will comment on the idea. This kind of more open, social collaboration process
is best for the user groups who are going to use this tool."
Agile Customer Needs Management leverages Oracles Universal
Content Management and AutoVue Enterprise Visualization functionality to allow
customers to collaborate, view and digitally annotate any product information
and engineering drawings to facilitate multi-disciplinary document
collaboration. The software also integrates into the PLM process and Oracle's
larger Value Chain solution, to ensure traceability and an integrated
idea-to-design-to-launch development process.
"The integration with PLM has been missing with the social
networking-based, pure ideation applications," Gulati says. "Our approach takes
the best of both ideas."