Untethering CRM From Client

PeopleSoft 8 CRM upgrade enables Web access, adds integration to company's back-office apps.

Peoplesoft Inc. is taking another step to untether users of its enterprise applications from the traditional desktop client with the launch next week of its PeopleSoft 8 CRM suite.

The rearchitected customer relationship management applications, like the PeopleSoft 8 back-office applications released last September, are written entirely in HTML, making them accessible from a Web browser with no client software required.

In addition, the CRM upgrade adds connectors to third-party applications. Also new will be portal interfaces customized to various departments within an organization, further extending the applications within the enterprise.

The Web interface on its own would be enough to make current PeopleSoft CRM customer Ravi Nair upgrade. Nair, director of network operations at energy management startup Sixth Dimension Inc., said the browser-based access will allow his company to extend the PeopleSoft CRM applications to users beyond just those who typically deal directly with customers.

"Our engineers use Linux [workstations], so the pure HTML architecture would help us," said Nair, in Fremont, Calif. "The current version is written in Visual Basic, so you need to be running Windows to use it. If its written in pure HTML, they could get at it from a browser."

Nair said the engineers could use the CRM Quality application in the PeopleSoft suite for bug tracking.

The Web interface has enabled beta tester Future Farmers of America Inc. to use PeopleSoft CRM beyond basic content management and list management. The Indianapolis-based organization will use the upgrade for Web self-service and in its call center for taking phone orders for FFA merchandise.

With Version 8, FFA plans to integrate CRM with order and inventory management applications and accounts payable/receivable, said Tom Kapostasy, director of business and information services.

Kapostasy also welcomed the consistent interface of the Web-facing applications eStore and CRM eSupport for customers. "We hope that being able to put everything together with the same look and feel will help us to sell more merchandise going forward," Kapostasy said.

PeopleSoft 8 CRMs tighter integration with PeopleSoft back- office applications may make it the CRM application of choice in PeopleSoft shops, especially in a more cost-conscious market, where customers will look to avoid expensive integration headaches.

Industry analysts agreed that PeopleSoft 8 CRM will give the Pleasanton, Calif., company a more compelling solution as it competes against other CRM and e-business application vendors.

"This will allow PeopleSoft to move forward into a more competitive position against Siebel [Systems Inc.] because they can offer integration with their back-office applications and against Oracle [Corp.] and SAP [AG] because theyll have the advantage of having front-office applications that have been in the market longer and are more mature," said Joshua Greenbaum, an analyst at Enterprise Applications Consulting, in Daly City, Calif.