PeopleSoft aims to ease CRM rollouts

As it continues to try to fend off Oracle's hostile takeover bid, PeopleSoft is readying the release of software that's designed to ease the installation and integration of its CRM applications for corporate users.

Pleasanton, Calif.-based PeopleSoft this week plans to announce the PeopleSoft CRM 8.8 Productivity Pack, which includes new technology plus enhancements of some existing functionality. For example, the company said that in an effort to help IT managers speed up PeopleSoft CRM deployments, it's adding integration tools with prebuilt plumbing that will let users quickly connect their customer-facing applications to back-office systems from rivals like Oracle and SAP AG.

The new tools are built on top of PeopleSoft's AppConnect integration technology. But they add business process and data-routing features for linking the CRM applications with finance or supply chain management systems to support complex transactions, such as order processing or field service requests, said Andrew Leigh, senior product marketing manager for the PeopleSoft CRM software.

Hands-off Approach

Also coming is an Infosync Server application, which will be designed to let servers running PeopleSoft CRM automatically exchange customer-related data updates via systems equipped with Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes, eliminating the need for manual intervention by users.

PeopleSoft's new capabilities might offer a great way to improve the CRM installation process, said Mark Federle, CIO at The Weitz Co., a Des Moines-based construction contractor. CRM projects can give IT managers "a black eye" because cost overruns often result when implementation teams are unable to fulfill deadline promises, he noted.

Weitz runs a hosted installation of J.D. Edwards & Co.'s OneWorld XE applications, which are now owned by PeopleSoft. Federle said he also is considering an installation of J.D. Edwards' CRM software.

PeopleSoft last month completed a friendly buyout of Denver-based J.D. Edwards, a deal announced just days before Oracle launched its unsolicited bid for PeopleSoft. At a meeting in New York next week, PeopleSoft is expected to unveil a road map for integrating its products with J.D. Edwards' applications.

The streamlined installation capabilities being announced by PeopleSoft should appeal to existing users that have burning integration issues, but they probably won't sway potential customers that have already been put off by the Oracle/PeopleSoft battle, said Laura Preslan, an analyst at AMR Research Inc. in Boston. What would really help drive increased sales for PeopleSoft is seeing Oracle's acquisition bid get "laid to rest," she added.

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