PeopleSoft to Bolster E-Sales

Calico selling technology to give customers complex transaction options.

PeopleSoft Inc. plans to add sales configuration technology it is acquiring from bankrupt e-commerce software vendor Calico Commerce Inc. to its CRM application suite by the third quarter.

PeopleSofts customer relationship management technology supports rules-based configuration, but the Calico technology will allow it to handle more-complex transactions where customers have a number of options, according to PeopleSoft officials in Pleasanton, Calif.

The Calico technology is expected to be particularly useful in telecommunications and financial services verticals, such as situations where customers must choose what calling or investment plan is right for them.

Enterprise software developer PeopleSoft last month announced plans to acquire Calicos Advisor and Network Advisor technologies and customer base for $5 million in cash.

Such technology is typically used for business-to-consumer applications, PeopleSoft officials said.

In addition, the acquisition brings to PeopleSoft Calicos forthcoming Thunder product, a J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition)-based tool for creating interactive selling platforms. AMR Research Inc. analyst Louis Columbus said Thunder would have made Calico the technology leader in assisted sales software, though the companys financial struggles hindered its ability to sign new customers. Calico lost $6.3 million on $1.4 million in revenues in its latest quarter, ended Sept. 30.

"Thunder will give customers the ability to create a platform for guided selling applications and automate the importing and exporting of data," said Columbus, in Irvine, Calif. "Its a pretty good bargain to pick up that technology for $5 million."

Columbus said he expects PeopleSoft to make more acquisitions on the sell side of e-commerce, with multichannel order management technology a likely target.

"PeopleSoft needs to build out their products as much as they can," said Joshua Greenbaum, an analyst at Enterprise Applications Consulting, in Daly City, Calif. "But I expected theyd make a move first into supply chain execution or manufacturing. Theyve got a discernible gap to fill in those areas, and there are some good opportunities out there."

Greenbaum said companies such as i2 Technologies Inc. and Manugistics Group Inc. could be next on PeopleSofts shopping list.

As for niche e-commerce players such as Calico, the end is near.

"They may have good technology, but they cant exist as stand-alone companies," Greenbaum said. "Theyll either get bought or go away."

Calico, of San Jose, Calif., sold its Market Maker business-to-business electronic catalog and transaction management software to Digital River Inc. in April and has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The sale of its remaining technology assets to PeopleSoft is subject to bankruptcy court approval.

Calico officials said the company will continue to support its customers and has enough cash to remain in business until the sale is completed, which PeopleSoft officials said should happen by the end of March.