PeopleSoft evolves CRM suite

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PLEASANTON, CALIF. -- PeopleSoft early next year will start shipping an updated version of its Web-based customer relationship management suite for call centers, plus a sales application for sharing data via handheld devices or cell phones based on the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP).

Though PeopleSoft is following in the footsteps of several of its enterprise resource planning (ERP) and CRM competitors -- including Oracle, SAP and Siebel Systems -- when it comes to WAP support, observers say the company is distinguishing itself with its call center application strategy.

That strategy entails extending the Vantive sales force automation product PeopleSoft acquired last year and on which PeopleSoft 8.0 CRM is based. PeopleSoft has added hooks between the CRM package and other PeopleSoft applications, such as those for supply-chain management and order processing.

"Vantive has been separated from the PeopleSoft suite and now it's all being put together, based on HTML interfaces," says John Hagerty, an analyst with AMR Research in Boston.

Now call center representatives using PeopleSoft 8.0 CRM will have access to information on product availability, customer profiles and order status.

The WAP support in PeopleSoft 8.0 CRM will let sales agents or other workers in the field armed with PDAs or Web phones place orders or make inquiries to get information available through the more than 100 applications that make up the PeopleSoft 8.0 ERP suite, which began shipping last month.

Also on the horizon for PeopleSoft's CRM offering are connectors to non-PeopleSoft ERP applications, including SAP's. Customers write such connectors on their own, but that can be time-consuming, PeopleSoft Vice President Ed Schreyer says.

At its annual user conference last week in Los Angeles, PeopleSoft announced that Agilent Technologies has selected the PeopleSoft CRM package to manage its call center and field service operations. PeopleSoft also said that Salomon Smith Barney, Expedia and Caterpillar were among other new CRM customers signed on recently.

PeopleSoft 8.0 CRM, a Java-based server program, typically costs more than $100,000.

PeopleSoft: www.peoplesoft.com

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