J.D. Edwards highlights product upgrades

While confusion swirls thanks to Oracle Corp.'s attempt to take over its parent-to-be, PeopleSoft Inc., J.D. Edwards & Co. proceeded with plans to highlight its recent product enhancements and customer wins, at its Quest Global 2003 show this week in Denver.

At last year's show, the company promised customers it would roll out a flurry of new features over the next two years. This week, it's showing off the several hundred additions and upgrades it's made since then to products in its J.D. Edwards 5 portfolio of enterprise applications.

The company's CRM (customer relationship management) software has been expanded with new features for handling product customizations, additional prepackaged analytical reports, and support for remote access via Pocket PC handhelds. J.D. Edwards said it has added 150 new customers for its CRM software since it picked up the technology in its November 2001 acquisition of the software's creator, YouCentric Inc.

J.D. Edwards concentrates on the midmarket end of the enterprise applications sector. It spotlighted this week its work on product enhancements for two key vertical industries, life sciences and industrial manufacturing. New ERP (enterprise resource planning) and SCM (supply chain management) modules for each will be released by the end of the third quarter, the company said.

In the life sciences, the new additions will cover functions such as sales order management, price and profit management, and enhanced lot control for distributors. Additions aimed at manufacturers include upgrades in project management, configuration management, demand forecasting and cost accounting.

J.D. Edwards also spoke at the show about its global growth plans. In China, the company intends to more than triple its network of partners within the next two years, with a particular emphasis on the manufacturing, wholesale distribution, utilities, pharmaceutical and retail sectors. J.D. Edwards goal is to expand its customer base in China by 20 percent, the company said.

Hardware vendors IBM Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. turned up at the show to tout complementary wares. Some J.D. Edwards software is now available preinstalled on HP's ProLiant servers, and on IBM's eServer iSeries machines.

J.D. Edwards' competitors include SAP AG, which has recently set its sights on wooing smaller customers, to compensate for a slumping sales market among its traditional base of large corporations.

SAP hopes to exploit the turbulence created by last week's J.D. Edwards-PeopleSoft deal and the subsequent Oracle takeover bid with a new sales campaign aimed at luring away its rivals' customers.

"The idea is to reach out to customers of PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards who might be feeling a bit anxious right now," said SAP spokeswoman Laurie Doyle-Kelly.

Print ads are planned for later this week, and direct solicitations are already underway to potential switchers. Some financial incentives, varying from market to market, will be offered, Doyle-Kelly said.

Next week, SAP will discuss its own product upgrades and strategy, at its Sapphire 2003 user show, in Orlando.

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