Power to PeopleSoft's Web-based software

Summary:The software maker is set to unveil new features of its customer interaction center and to offer access to sales and marketing software from WAP-enabled phones.

PeopleSoft is branching out in the lucrative market for customer relationship management software.

The Pleasanton, Calif.-based software maker is getting ready to unveil new features of its customer interaction center application and the ability for companies to access customer, sales and marketing software from WAP (Wireless Application Protocol)-enabled phones. PeopleSoft, which makes Web-based software that automates business activities in areas such as financials, human resources, sales and manufacturing, said a formal announcement is slated for later this week.

The customer interaction center, which is part of PeopleSoft's latest customer relationship management (CRM) suite lets companies gain access to customer data through a single point of contact, regardless of where customer requests originate--via Web sites, e-mail, phones or handheld devices.

"We see (the CRM market) evolving to more comprehensive solutions that automate the entire life cycle from sales, marketing, customers, etc.," said Gita Gupta, PeopleSoft's vice president for CRM product strategy. "All companies are recognizing they need a consistent view of the customer."

The goal of providing a company and its customers with software that enables them to access customer requests over multiple channels--Web, phone, fax, and so on--is something that all software companies are striving to deliver. In the front-office arena, PeopleSoft rivals SAP, Oracle, Siebel Systems and others that have all been pitching new Web-based software that addresses this goal, but some analysts say there is still room for improvement.

"Every CRM (company) is struggling with this concept of multichannel (access) and how a customer can order on the Web two days ago, e-mail about their order status yesterday, phone to complain today, and still get consistent valuable feedback from the company," said Erin Kinikin, an industry analyst with Giga Information Group. "No (company) has really achieved this yet...We're seeing a lot of plumbing" but not enough success stories, she said.

Going wireless
PeopleSoft, which has already gotten its feet wet in the emerging wireless seas, provided details about a new mobile offering that allows access to its CRM software from a WAP-enabled phone. WAP is a set of specifications that let cell phone users view Web pages.

Like many of its competitors, PeopleSoft has been acting fast on its wireless application offerings. The company has a deal with wireless manufacturer Research In Motion to provide companies access to some of its CRM software via RIM's two-way pagers, used by sales representatives on the road who need immediate access to sales leads or other customer data to do their job.

During its recent applications show, Oracle also unveiled new developments on the mobile wireless front. Last year, Siebel introduced a new wireless suite to help employees monitor and update sales leads and order information on handheld devices. German software giant SAP has also made some noise in the sector.

Giga's Kinikin said the jury is still out on whether companies are latching onto the idea of accessing business applications over wireless devices.

"The potential is extremely exciting because companies don't have to wait for customers to contact them; they can send them immediate alerts and in real time get the latest information," Kinikin said. "The problem is, WAP standards are still immature, and there's a question on how much meaningful information you can communicate on a 2-by-2-inch screen. There have been a lot of pilots and not a lot of successful implementations yet."

PeopleSoft did not disclose pricing.

Topics: Enterprise Software, BlackBerry, Oracle, Software

About

Ian Ferguson is a partner at Olswang, specializing in commercial transactions including in relation to sourcing, technology, and telecommunications. Ian advises customers and suppliers on sourcing transactions across sectors including business processes, IT services, communication services and facilities management, multi-jurisdiction... Full Bio

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