VTech Holdings is moving to overhaul its business-automation strategy by adopting Oracle technologies across its global operations. The Hong Kong and London-listed firm has contracted Oracle and IBM Global Services to deploy an advanced information technology system that covers its entire corporate, manufacturing supply chain and marketing infrastructure. It has decided to implement the full suite of business software applications from Oracle, which includes enterprise resource planning, supply chain management, financial management and customer relationship management systems. Financial details were not given. 'We are aiming for operational efficiency,' VTech Group chief information officer Helen Wong said. By making Oracle the standard for all of the group's back-office functions, VTech hopes to improve customer services in its key North American and European markets, and boost supply chain efficiencies between those markets and its operations in Hong Kong and the mainland. VTech designs, manufactures and markets telecommunications and electronic learning products through an international distribution network. With 17,500 employees and operations in 10 countries, the firm is also a much sought-after contract manufacturer of electronics products. Subsidiary VTech Telecommunications is one of the world's largest manufacturers of high-frequency cordless phones. It has exclusive rights to sell products, including data networking systems, under the AT&T brand in Greater China, and non-exclusive rights in Europe and the Americas. The group posted revenues of US$866.5 million and invested US$31 million in various research and development activities in its last financial year. The first phase of VTech's Oracle implementation has begun with the telecommunications unit, with deployment to be completed by the third quarter of next year. The rest of the group will start standardising on Oracle soon after, and complete implementation by the second quarter of 2005. Oracle's supply chain management applications will streamline VTech's entire operations, from purchasing and manufacturing in China, through business management in the Hong Kong headquarters to sales and marketing in the United States and Europe. The CRM applications are primarily designed to interface with clients and users in the US and Europe. Ms Wong said that, previously, three main business units operated on a fragmented collection of legacy IT systems, resulting in high operating costs and inefficiency. Two years ago, VTech brought in new management with extensive marketing experience to develop a more customer-centric approach to business. Ms Wong said the move to Oracle's E-Business Suite held the key to revamping and improving the company's operations. 'VTech anticipates considerable competitive benefits from standardisation on Oracle,' she said. 'As a global company, we require a unified and secure IT architecture. Our decision to go with Oracle E-Business Suite is based on the business efficiency and manageability provided by a single database platform.' Other local manufacturing enterprises that have adopted Oracle's back-office and customer-facing applications include Van Shung Chong Holdings, Orient Power Holdings and May Cheong Toy Products Factory.