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PeopleSoft rolls out new customer service software

PeopleSoft rolls out its long-anticipated suite of sales and customer service software that taps technology from its recent acquisition of software developer Vantive.

PeopleSoft has rolled out its long-anticipated suite of sales and customer service software that taps technology from its recent acquisition of software developer Vantive.

Less than one month after completing its Vantive buy, PeopleSoft is delivering customer relationship management (CRM) software coupled with Vantive's eBusiness applications. Together, PeopleSoft and Vantive are selling a software package intended to automate sales from back to front end. PeopleSoft sells the software that automates a company's financial and accounting needs, and Vantive installs the call center, sales and customer management component.

Available today, Vantive eSales provides a link through any standard Web browser to PeopleSoft's applications. In addition to providing Web access, the new software centralizes data collected from over the phone, email, fax and wireless devices in one data field, which helps salespeople view any information exchanged between the customer and the company.

The CRM market is growing at a much faster rate than the overall enterprise resource planning (ERP) market that PeopleSoft competes in along with German software giant SAP, Oracle and Baan. International Data Corp. expects the worldwide market for customer relationship management software will grow to $11 billion in 2003 from $1.9 billion in 1998. Siebel Systems is now the leader in the CRM space.

Over the past several years, PeopleSoft's larger competitors SAP and Oracle have both developed their own sales and customer service software. Baan acquired CRM software maker Aurum in 1997 to complete its product line.

"The reason we went ahead and purchased Vantive was to compete in the CRM space," said John Grozier, director of product strategy at PeopleSoft's CRM division.

International Data Corp. analyst Judy Hodges said PeopleSoft is late to release its CRM line, which the company claims is the first Internet-based CRM suite.

"The move represents a strategy of underdogs," she said. It's the 'Ours is better than theirs' syndrome. That's what PeopleSoft is doing. But the announcement does clearly show that PeopleSoft is retrenched in the CRM area."

Customers can use Vantive software to determine who their most profitable customers are and how much a company sells by geographic region or by salesperson. Using PeopleSoft's new e-commerce software, customers can track sales on the Web, shipping dates and customer maintenance records, analysts said.

Besides Web-based sales and services components, PeopleSoft's new suite includes Vantive's eFieldService, which enables field service technicians to review assignments, verify service level agreements and update service orders from anywhere that they have access to the Internet. Vantive eHelpDesk allows employees to review problem status and asset information, search for product information and query existing resolutions for known problems.

Pricing for the new products were not made immediately available by PeopleSoft.