What in the World will PeopleSoft say?

It may be old, and it is definitely green screen but IBM AS/400 and iSeries users will be demanding straight answers from PeopleSoft about where their former JD Edwards (JDE) ERP application World is headed when the vendor's top brass fronts user group meetings in Sydney and Melbourne next week.

After six tight-lipped months in the developmental never-never, PeopleSoft looks to be finally bending to user demands for ongoing development and support for its inherited Big Iron software. A force ignored at peril, green screen users account for almost half of the JDE installed base in the US, with similar numbers entrenched in Australia's manufacturing, heavy industry and construction sectors - and all areas where PeopleSoft hopes to make sizeable gains.

Shane Bubb, president of Quest, JD Edwards' Australian user group, said that after six months of hearing "very little", he is looking forward to finally being enlightened as to what PeopleSoft intends for the JDE product sets - but is circumspect about any verdict until he sees the roadmap in detail.

"I think I'll have to wait and see what is left after all the razzamatazz. It will be interesting," Bubb said, adding that a New South Wales chapter of Quest had now been established and would also meet with senior management imminently.

Concerns about the future of World surfaced (two weeks ago) when PeopleSoft CEO Craig Conway outlined a three-pronged strategy for the JD Edwards ERP product line, which consists of World, the newer EnterpriseOne and the PeopleSoft Enterprise suite.

World Advisory Council, the US JDE green screen user group, last week resisted even the faintest hint of being force-marched over to newer systems, demanding PeopleSoft commit to further development of World which has seen more than 200 new enhancements added over the last three years.

"We're taking this as an opportunity to [encourage PeopleSoft to] take another step and make three viable lines instead of two and a half," said North American operations manager of Cargill Global Financial Solutions, William Gabby, who has 7000 users worldwide running general ledger and financial applications in green-screen mode.

Locally, PeopleSoft was moving quickly to stem any fears of a forced march to more modern platforms, pledging World development and support will continue into the future.

"We're going ahead very firmly with three product lines aimed at customers with very different fits and needs and buying behaviour. World continues to be supported - and developed. As Craig Conway said [World is] a very important part of our business and [that’s the case] in Australia," PeopleSoft director of corporate communication Tanya Brown said.

(Marc Songini contributed to this report.)

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