PeopleSoft throws customers a discount and free upgrade

PeopleSoft unveiled a new incentive program on Wednesday offering customers free upgrade assistance and a credit toward new purchases, an initiative the company hopes will spark sales and encourage customers to move to its latest releases.

Announced at the company's Connect conference in San Francisco, the "PeopleSoftNow" program is available worldwide to customers on PeopleSoft maintenance plans. The initiative is a four-part offer: a free technical upgrade from PeopleSoft Global Services, one quarter of free remote application support, a year of free access for as many as five users to 500 Web courses in PeopleSoft's training catalog, and a US$100,000 credit toward the licensing cost of additional new modules valued at $200,000 or more.

"We wanted to demonstrate to customers that we're trying to protect their investment in PeopleSoft," said Michael Gregoire, PeopleSoft's executive vice president of global services. "We firmly believe that these upgrades pay for themselves on ROI (return on investment)."

Gregoire said PeopleSoft's support costs are lower for customers on its newest releases, so the company stands to save as a greater percentage of its base moves to modern versions. PeopleSoft also hopes the upgrade incentives will show off the value of its "total ownership experience" program, a strategy launched last year that focuses development efforts on easing the administrative costs and burdens of running its software. PeopleSoft says its newest versions are significantly easier to install and update than are earlier ones.

PeopleSoft's discounting offer could also help it generate much-needed sales. The company has missed its revenue and earnings expectations for the past two quarters, a result it blamed on the difficulty of closing deals amid the uncertainty created by Oracle's hostile takeover bid. That uncertainty grew earlier this month when a judge rejected the U.S. Department of Justice's attempt to block the deal on antitrust grounds.

Enterprise applications sales are traditionally skewed toward the end of quarters, but PeopleSoft's recently have been even more back-loaded than usual: Last quarter, half of PeopleSoft's new license sales closed in the quarter's last two days, according to Chief Executive Officer Craig Conway. PeopleSoft's current quarter ends next week. The PeopleSoftNow program will run through Dec. 31 and is available to customers in each of its three product lines.

Les Wyatt, general manager of PeopleSoft's manufacturing-focused EnterpriseOne product line, expects significant customer uptake for the initiative.

"With the uncertainty, customers wonder, 'Should I really spend the time to do the upgrade, or should I wait?' We're telling our customers, 'You need to get current on your releases,'" said Wyatt, who came to PeopleSoft from J.D. Edwards & Co. "We're in a market environment where stuff happens. Companies merge, companies get sold, companies get bought. Look at J.D. Edwards. If you're current and you have a contract for support, then you have protection."

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