PeopleSoft increasing efforts in vertical CRM apps

PeopleSoft this year plans to emphasize vertically oriented CRM, setting its sights on specifically tuned functionality for multiple industries.

"Vertical applications are a tremendous focus for us going forward," said Robb Eklund, vice president for CRM product marketing at PeopleSoft in an interview this week.

"2002 is very much about vertical solutions. We have plans to release one to two vertical applications per quarter," Eklund said. PeopleSoft's plan is to support vertical markets by taking its base functionality and modeling customer and product information uniquely to a particular industry, he said.

The company is tracking approximately 18 vertical industries, including government and utilities for possible inclusion in its vertical CRM endeavor. Consumer packaged goods also are on PeopleSoft's radar screen.

PeopleSoft currently has two vertical offerings: PeopleSoft CRM for Communications, for wireless, wire line, and satellite communications companies, and PeopleSoft CRM for Financial Services, for retail banking, brokerage, and insurance companies.

"A customer who has [the financial services CRM application] actually has the same line of code that a generic customer does, but we just expose incremental functionality to them," such as financial contracts and Internet banking," Eklund said.

Industries where PeopleSoft already has a presence with its non-CRM applications, such as human resources, supply chain, and financials, are being considered. PeopleSoft has a large presence in the health care, education, and government markets with its other applications, Eklund said.

"It makes sense to target customers who have already invested in our solutions," said Eklund.

New releases of the PeopleSoft CRM for Communications and PeopleSoft CRM for Financial Services, both labeled Version 8.4, are planned for March. Improvements to mobility are planned to enable delivery of specific business processes to a mobile device, rather than requiring that the entire application be replicated. Windows CE support also is to be highlighted.

CRM market leader Siebel has been emphasizing vertically oriented CRM recently, with the recent release of a multitude of applications for markets such as chemicals, media, medical products, oil and gas, retail, wireless communications, and travel-hospitality.

A CRM consultant partnering with Siebel said the company's focus on vertical applications has been beneficial. "We believe that the best CRM packages are the ones that are already customized to specific vertical industry needs," said Adam Honig, president of Akibia Consulting in Westborough, Mass. "Specifically, one of the reasons why we chose to work with Siebel Systems is that their product line is extremely verticalized."

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