PeopleSoft extends CRM software suite

PeopleSoft made several announcements at its Leadership Summit in Las Vegas this week, most notably what the company is calling a major update of its customer resource management (CRM) software.

According to the software vendor, the new release of PeopleSoft Enterprise CRM 8.9 isn't a major shift in technology; rather it includes "significant" enhancements over version 8.8 and addresses industry-specific issues.

In a keynote, PeopleSoft president and CEO Craig Conway expounded on the company's open integration software strategy which allows users to develop and use applications on a Web-based architecture, and pointed to the inroads its total ownership experience (TOE) initiative has made.

After a year, the TOE program -- which centers on improving implementations, operations, upgrades, and usability of enterprise applications -- has made solid progress, Conway said. CRM 8.9 is designed to allow users "gain more intelligence from the entire business process" and function in real-time, according to Conway.

Ram Gupta, executive vice-president for products and technology at the company, said PeopleSoft has five new releases that are TOE-enabled, including Oracle and SAP software "out-of-the-box" integration packs.

In total, CRM 8.9 offers 15 new products, three new industry solutions, and more than 700 new features. According to George Ahn, group vice-president and general manager of PeopleSoft CRM, CRM 8.9 represents the "largest development effort in CRM that PeopleSoft has ever done."

The new release features new functionality in prescriptive analytics, which Ahn described as a "avoidance system" which prescribes specific actions based on predicted enterprise behavior and outcomes.

The suite also includes new Customer Portfolio Management and Partner Relationship Management modules, and several new industry-specific solutions. Specifically, PeopleSoft Customer Portfolio Management enables companies to determine the value of each customer, develop customer segments based on that value, create differentiated plans for each segment, and act on them, PeopleSoft said.

PeopleSoft claims the new CRM suite offers 38 percent improvement in usability, 30 percent faster performance and 46 percent reduction in clicks needed to complete enterprise tasks.

Also announced and slated for a June release are new Demand-Driven Manufacturing products, results of combined technologies from the recently acquired JD Edwards. Andy Aicklen, vice-president and managing director for Toronto-based PeopleSoft Canada Co., said the modules are ideally suited for Canadian manufacturing and distribution enterprises, particularly those who were using JD Edwards solutions.

Demand scheduling has been something that Canadian companies have been requesting for a while now, Aicklen said. The offering includes Lean Procurement, the Buyer Workspace, radio frequency identification (RFID), Demand Scheduling Execution, configured Order Promising, and Advanced Forecast Modeling.

In addition, PeopleSoft announced a new small- to medium-sized business (SMB) market partnership with IBM Corp. and new software designed for Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance.

The PeopleSoft/IBM partnership integrates the respective hardware and software solutions for the SMB space. The firms intend to both jointly market the products and create a plan to extend into Linux environments, according to Peoplesoft.

The PeopleSoft wave of product announcements comes at a time when the seemingly endless PeopleSoft/Oracle saga continues to unfold. For nearly a year, Oracle has been aggressively pursuing PeopleSoft in a hostile takeover bid and recently revised its offer to reflect PeopleSoft's lower stock price.

PeopleSoft Canada's Aicklen said that customer concern has abated since February, when the U.S. Department of Justice antitrust division made a recommendation to the department to block the proposed acquisition. "My phone has been silent from customers because they feel that this thing is over with," Aicklen said.

In Canada, Warren Shiau, a Toronto-based software analyst for IDC Canada Ltd., said both new and existing PeopleSoft customers already appear to have put the issue behind them. For PeopleSoft, the new, lower offering price doesn't necessarily make the bid more attractive, Shiau said. And on the customer side, "the saga appears to have gone off the radar screen."

For PeopleSoft customer Gilles Champagne, an employee services manager, human resources for the City of Calgary, any initial concerns have fallen by the wayside. "It's not on the radar screen anymore," Champagne said. "It was a concern ... (initially) we ended up taking a step back because we had just committed to the upgrade."

The City of Calgary recently completed a six month upgrade from PeopleSoft Human Resource Management System (HRMS) 7.51 to PeopleSoft Human Capital Management (HCM) 8.8. The upgrade provided Web-enabled software functionality for its human resources, payroll functions and expanded the functionality of the benefits administration system.

The City plans to roll out several self-service applications using the Web-based environment, Champagne said, adding that future functionality could potentially include CRM software from PeopleSoft. "We're committed to the PeopleSoft bandwagon," Champagne said. "We've done our due diligence and we're quite happy where we are."

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