PeopleSoft takes CRM to Web

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At a user conference next week in Las Vegas, PeopleSoft Inc. will attempt to demystify customer relationship management with demonstrations of its first-ever "pure Internet" version of software.

Dubbed PeopleSoft 8 Customer Relationship Management, it is designed to relay information about call center, sales force and Internet operations via a Web browser. Earlier versions of CRM software from PeopleSoft and others required special software to get at key information.

It amounts to a $900 million gamble for Pleasanton, Calif.-based People-Soft, which will have to sell CEOs, CFOs, and marketing and sales leaders on the importance of the system.

The new CRM software will be demonstrated June 4 at the PeopleSoft Leadership Summit 2001 at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The conference is for leading CRM analysts and customers of PeopleSoft products.

Acquisition leads way

In January 2000, PeopleSoft completed its $433 million acquisition of call-center specialist The Vantive Corp. Since then, it has spent more than $500 million rewriting more than 14,000 user-interface screens and other aspects of its products to facilitate the Web initiative, said Ram Gupta, exec VP-product and technology for PeopleSoft.

"The marriage of our call center abilities and pure Internet architecture is a defining moment for us,’’ Gupta said of 14-year-old PeopleSoft, which last year recorded revenue of $1.7 billion and net income of $145.7 million.

A $40 million marketing campaign, scheduled to run through the end of the year, will include advertisements in such publications as The Wall Street Journal and on business news TV networks.

CRM is indeed a key for all enterprise resource planning vendors, AMR Research Inc. said. The Internet-enabled enterprise resource planning market will grow from $108 billion in 2000 to $264 billion by 2005, driven by product areas such as CRM, the research company said.

Competition abounds

Siebel Systems Inc., SAP AG and Oracle Corp. are among the vendors threatened by PeopleSoft’s advance, analysts say.

PeopleSoft 8 CRM’s Internet client can reduce IT costs and improve contact with executives stationed around the globe, Gupta said. And it allows corporations to give real-time access to marketing and promotional programs, he said.

Larger beta users include FedEx Corp. and France Telecom. Among midsize users are Carreker Corp. and Polycom Inc.

Paula Casey, director of channel sales and support for Polycom, said her company has invested $500,000 in the technology, the average for a PeopleSoft sale.

"We needed something comprehensive, filling the needs of sales, marketing and channel sales and support,’’ Casey said. Polycom provides leads to sales people and extensive information to its channel partners via the Internet, she said.

PeopleSoft 8 CRM represents a step in the right direction, said Steven Gantz, manager of the enabling technologies group of RoundArch L.L.C., developers of CRM systems for corporations. Yet few will use the Internet capabilities for heavy-duty analysis of interactions, he predicted.

"Internet CRM implies customers would want to deploy PeopleSoft apps and access them through Internet channels alone, rather than more stable, protected and high-bandwidth internal environs, ’’ Gantz said. "This is a strong move for PeopleSoft relative to other ERP vendors trying to provide a consolidated CRM offering, but I do not think it will put them significantly ahead of the rest of the CRM pack.’’

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