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PeopleSoft adopts portal strategy

PeopleSoft wants to Yahoo, or at least usurp the Internet content provider and portal's business strategy.

SAN FRANCISCO--PeopleSoft wants to Yahoo, or at least borrow the Internet content provider and portal's business strategy.

The Pleasanton, California-based software vendor announced today at its user group conference here a new program called e-business, which melds content from a variety of sources such as healthcare companies, retirement plan administrators, and suppliers into a Web-based package that's intended to be as easy to use as any Web portal.

"PeopleSoft sees e-business as much more than making Web-based commercial transactions," said Mark Vershel, PeopleSoft's vice president of e-business. "The concept is to get the right information to the right people at the right time. The strategy is to move the use from the business world which is focused on administration, and get to the other 90 percent of the people and getting information to them to be more effective than just making transactions," he said.

"This isn't a software business anymore," said Joshua Greenbaum, analyst at Enterprise Application Consulting in Berkeley, California. "This is a content provider."

The program consists of several elements including: the development of an e-business backbone, extensions for e-business, and the PeopleSoft Business Network; a program for managing and integrating other vendors' products into PeopleSoft's products; and offerings such as a healthcare organization. PeopleSoft is also building a customizable interface for users that closely resembles the My Yahoo personalized news and portal interface in which users can customize Yahoo's Web site to deliver only news and items of interest to that user.

The backbone is an effort to beef up PeopleSoft's core enterprise applications by integrating electronic data interchange, messaging agent technology, and developing prewritten application programming interfaces.

PeopleSoft wants to design interfaces to its applications that not only give users access to PeopleSoft's core transaction applications, but feed such content as the local weather, traffic, and news, or stock quotes to a user. It will also feed internal and external news about a user's company or news that effects the company to the user.

PeopleSoft also plans to expand the number of applications that can be deployed over the Internet. The effort includes developing "E-Business Communities," or a collection of applications predesigned to support specific business processes like benefits enrollment, procurement, travel, and expense management. PeopleSoft is also planning to add content from third-parties to the applications such as integrating content from a travel service or a health maintenance organization.

The software firm is also planning to partner with e-commerce vendors to set up Web-based store fronts for selling products over the Internet and supply chain management systems and linking those to transactional enterprise resource planning systems.

The core piece of the initiative is the PeopleSoft Business Network, which is the framework for tying all these pieces together. But the catch is that healthcare firms or 401k plan administrators wanting to be part of the program will need to pay a fee to PeopleSoft and pay to be certified for the program.

And PeopleSoft is hoping it will be a revenue source. PeopleSoft plans to charge a fee to merchants who want to be a part of its program and develop the integration to PeopleSoft's program in a certification program.

Greenbaum said the program presents a sticky situation for users who may have a healthcare provider that isn't on PeopleSoft's approved list. PeopleSoft executives said their firm will provide application programming interfaces to which other organizations can link, but Greenbaum said such interfaces still take a lot of work and some vendors or users may not be willing to go through the labor.

PeopleSoft is to roll out the program over the next year, beginning in the first quarter of 1999. The architecture will also be rolled out at that time.