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New PeopleSoft suite targets customer relationships

The business software maker launches updates of its core software and unveils new products for the blossoming world of online marketplaces.

    Business software maker PeopleSoft on Monday launched new versions of its core software and unveiled new products for the blossoming world of online marketplaces.

    The company, which is holding its annual user conference this week in Los Angeles, introduced PeopleSoft 8 CRM, a suite of Web-based customer relationship management (CRM) software. The front-office software automates a business's sales, marketing and customer-service activities.

    PeopleSoft 8 CRM includes a customer portal, customer interaction center, wireless-based applications, CRM analytics software and integration with third-party software products built on PeopleSoft's framework. New products and upgrades are slated for phased delivery beginning in December, the Pleasanton, Calif.-based company said.

    The unveiling signals a realignment of the company's offerings.

    "CRM in general is going to have to take center stage at the company," analyst Joshua Greenbaum, who heads Enterprise Applications Consulting, said in a recent interview. "They really have to get that out front as a leading product, especially (to work with) their B2B strategy."

    Like rivals Oracle and SAP, PeopleSoft has moved away from back-office software to more lucrative areas such as CRM and business-to-business marketplaces, as a growing number of companies shift core business processes to the Web. Research firm IDC expects the worldwide market for CRM software to reach $11 billion in 2003.

    Oracle and SAP have already released Web-based versions of their core enterprise software as well as CRM applications that target online marketplaces.

    "(PeopleSoft) has a fair amount they need to prove in terms of how PeopleSoft is doing in the B2B world," said Greenbaum.

    In July, the company detailed its long-awaited suite of Internet-based business applications. PeopleSoft 8, which was two years in the making, is the company's core back-office software re-architected and redesigned for the Internet.

    As more online marketplaces become operational, greater importance will fall on how the sites deal with customer service and completing transactions, Greenbaum said. The importance of CRM and online marketplaces "is going to be really big, really fast. You have to really turn these B2B networks into bona fide businesses, and that means (providing) customer service," he added.

    PeopleSoft also on Monday announced MarketPay, a Web-based financial settlement system for online marketplaces that automates and manages Web-based purchasing and payment processing. It is scheduled for general release in the first quarter of 2001.

    Online marketplaces, or trading exchanges, have become popular with many companies because they are thought to help cut costs through improved price and inventory management and to help reduce the amount of paperwork typically involved in most transactions.

    PeopleSoft is expanding the PeopleSoft MarketPlace beyond traditional online procurement and plans to offer a range of communities for the buying and selling of human resources-related products and services, such as benefits, staffing and travel.

    Additionally, PeopleSoft and longtime partner IBM said they will jointly provide Internet-based human resource management systems (HRMS) and consulting services for businesses of all sizes. Companies will be able to manage their human resources activities, keeping track of such things as resumes and retirement data using a combination of PeopleSoft software and consulting with IBM hardware and services.