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CRM companies beef up mobile apps

Siebel and PeopleSoft are readying new versions of their customer relationship management suites that enhance access to customer account information from laptops and handheld computers.

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Siebel Systems and PeopleSoft are readying new versions of their customer relationship management (CRM) suites that enhance the ability of roving sales and field-service people to access customer account information from laptops and handheld computers.

With the release of Siebel 7.04 at the end of the month, Siebel will offer access to its applications on handheld devices that run Windows CE and Palm operating systems. Currently the company offers access to its systems to mobile customers primarily via laptops and devices used by retailers.

Siebel will also add the Palm 7 and Research In Motion's BlackBerry to the Internet-enabled wireless devices through which sales and service can pull customer information stored in its software. That feature from Siebel is currently available for Internet-enabled mobile phones.

Handheld devices are becoming increasingly important sales and customer-service tools, said Jeff Scheel, vice president of Siebel sales products. For instance, Siebel customer First Service Networks, a commercial facilities maintenance company, equips its technicians with wireless handheld devices that interact with Siebel applications to generate price quotes and file job reports on-site that immediately begin the billing process.

The new release also incorporates Siebel's patented technology for data synchronization with laptop and handheld computers. More than 1,000 companies already use Siebel applications on mobile computers, which the company began offering in 1996.

PeopleSoft is plugging a hole in its application suite later this month when it introduces a version of its CRM applications that are available for the first time on laptops and handheld computers without being connected to a corporate network or the Web. The applications are available on Windows laptops and PocketPC handheld computers.

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