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PeopleSoft wants in on IM craze

Eager to profit from the growing corporate use of instant messaging, the business software maker plans to draw on features from IBM, Microsoft and Yahoo.

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Instant messaging, corporate software
rub shoulders in the workplace.

Peoplesoft is eager to cash in on the growing business use of instant messaging software.

The company hopes that, by integrating its products with instant messaging technologies, its clients will be able to more effectively collaborate in real time with their customers, suppliers and partners.

"The ability to exchange instant messages within applications and portal frameworks is essential for improving business efficiency across the enterprise," said Rick Bergquist, PeopleSoft chief technology officer, in a statement. The company announced its IM plans Friday at the CeBit trade show in Germany.

The IM features harness IBM's Lotus Sametime technology for presence detection, Microsoft's real-time communication server called Greenwich and Yahoo's Messenger Enterprise Edition.

PeopleSoft is latching onto a technology that has evolved from a teenage fad to a communications tool in businesses--albeit one that, until very recently, was often used by employees without the consent of their company's information technology managers. Despite corporate resistance, IM has grown into central part of business communications. Many business users have found it more effective than e-mail for quick communications, using it to send real-time messages, collaborate on projects, exchange data and create networks linking all types of Internet devices.

The exploding popularity of IM in the corporate world has created business opportunities for enterprise software giants such as IBM, Oracle and Sun Microsystems, which are tweaking their collaborative applications to include the communications tool.

Internet services such as America Online,

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Microsoft's MSN and Yahoo that spearheaded the growth of IM in the teen and consumer market are well-placed to benefit from corporate usage, as companies such as PeopleSoft integrate their IM technologies in business applications. The technology has also spawned its own cottage industry, with smaller companies such as IMLogic, FaceTime, Jabber and Bantu, providing additional services.

PeopleSoft said the new IM capabilities will allow customers to determine privacy settings, while also tracking who is available on IM. The company also plans to offer a feature dubbed "Follow-me," which allows messages to be forwarded to different devices such as mobile phones or converted into speech and delivered through voice mail.

PeopleSoft said the IM features from IBM and Yahoo will be available sometime in the second quarter, and features built using Microsoft technology will be available in the fourth quarter.

Separately, the company also announced at CeBit the release of Enterprise Portal 8.8, which will also have integrated IM features. In addition, PeopleSoft said it plans to offer a integration to connect PeopleSoft Supplier Relationship Management and SAP financial applications.