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PeopleSoft readies new business apps

The software maker next week will debut the first components of a major new release of its business software.

PeopleSoft next week will debut the first components of a major new release of its business software.

PeopleSoft Enterprise Warehouse 8.8, part of the forthcoming PeopleSoft 8.8, is designed to make setting up and using the software maker's data mining system easier than previous versions, according to company executives.

The application is able to automatically gather data from components of PeopleSoft's business resource planning software and alert employees to changes in data. The product, available starting Dec. 11, also comes with more built-in corporate reports and queries such as outstanding employee vacation days and past-due account payments.

With its 8.8 release, PeopleSoft plans to introduce updated and new applications across most of its business management software, which automates human resources, manufacturing, accounting, sales and marketing activities. PeopleSoft will release the new applications in stages between now and March.

The company's last major release, PeopleSoft 8, began shipping in 2000 and was the company's big leap to a software architecture designed around Internet standards. With version 8.8, PeopleSoft has focused on making its applications more interoperable with other business software by incorporating Web services capabilities, according to Paola Lubet, vice president of product marketing at PeopleSoft.

Web services, an emerging set of computing standards built on Internet protocols such as XML (Extensible Markup Language), is widely expected to help companies share data among previously incompatible computer systems. Reducing the pain of software integration is a top priority for many information technology managers, according to recent surveys.

Several PeopleSoft rivals, including SAP and Siebel Systems, also are working at improving the interoperability of their applications with other systems. But analysts are skeptical that such efforts will solve all integration problems.

"I'm very suspicious of universal connectivity claims," said Joshua Greenbaum, an IT analyst with Enterprise Applications Consulting. "Software integration will always involve some level of customization, coding and hacking away at it."

Two new components of PeopleSoft's human resources and accounting packages, due by the end of the year, incorporate Web services. One component, Global Consolidations, aims to help companies with numerous, incompatible general-ledger systems to report financial information to regulators and investors in an accurate, timely way.

Sales Incentive Management, the second new component, is designed to help companies automate compensation payments, such as commissions and bonuses, to their employees. The application can exchange data with a variety of systems such as those used by human resources, accounting and sales departments.

Other elements of PeopleSoft 8.8, due early next year, include an updated version of its payroll applications, with support for more foreign languages and other country-specific requirements, and a new version of the company's risk management system for banks, with support for expected new banking industry regulations. In addition, PeopleSoft plans to release a set of homeland security applications for colleges and universities as well as for government agencies.