LAS VEGAS — Craig Conway was in a far better mood this week as his company, PeopleSoft Inc., released new software offerings at its annual Leadership Summit in Las Vegas than a year ago, when he was blindsided by a takeover play by Oracle

Corp.

The Pleasanton, Calif.-based firm announced version 8.9 of PeopleSoft Enterprise CRM, “”the largest effort in CRM that PeopleSoft has ever done,”” according to George Ahn, general manager of the customer relationship management division. He said it addresses industry solutions in wealth management, revenue management and student lifecycle marketing, as well as 15 products and more than 700 features.

A key piece of the latest version of CRM is prescriptive analytics, which “”can suggest an action to avoid a problem,”” said Conway, president and CEO. The company said the tool can look at issues like customer value or churn and generate the most appropriate customer response.

A demand-driven manufacturing suite that handles in real time everything from customer demand, supply-chain planning, manufacturing planning, production and in-bound supply was also unveiled. Six new products under this banner include buyer workspace, which provides a single interface for buyers to manage all aspects of supplier relationships, and radio frequency identification.

To help customers comply with Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, PeopleSoft also released a solution to enforce internal controls, which it described as moving beyond documenting of internal control processes to enforcing accountability throughout organizations.

Montreal-based retailer Aldo Group, which has been using certain financial and human resource management systems products from PeopleSoft since 1999, is interested in the Internal Controls Enforcer solution. Vice-president and CFO Claude Sincennes said Aldo would not necessarily invest in the technology because the law dictated it, but because it’s important as the footwear retailer grows quickly.

“”For a billion-dollar company that’s spread into many continents, we can’t afford not to be in control,”” Sincennes said. This year’s technology investments are already in place, but the retailer reviews every fall how technological advancements will mesh with its main business processes.

Selecting PeopleSoft’s human resource-related solutions two years ago to pay more than 8,000 staff added quick benefits such as helping to keep track of benefits owed to part-time staff, Sincennes explained. Before implementing the system, “”We were paying benefits for people no longer with us.””

Sincennes said Aldo’s decision to install a financial system related to accounts payable and general ledger accounting has also helped the company, which receives sales information every day and must publish financial statements. He said it would be old information if Aldo waits a few weeks after its month-end to release data. Using PeopleSoft’s solution has allowed the retailer to provide financial information after about five days, compared to the 12 days it had to wait three years ago, Sincennes explained.

In other news, PeopleSoft and IBM launched a global SMB channel initiative to expand the former’s reach in the market of small- and mid-sized businesses by allowing IBM’s SMB reseller channel to offer PeopleSoft applications. The partners will also develop a Linux program to provide the advantages of these SMB solutions to the open-source community.

PeopleSoft also revealed initial results from its Total Ownership Experience effort begun last year. The firm said the idea behind total ownership is to make it easier for customers to install, use and maintain enterprise applications, and thereby reduce costs in the long run. Last year it dedicated more than 1,000 developers to work on this project.

Ram Gupta, executive vice-president of products and technology, said the initiative has led to, among other things:

  • 25 per cent less time for application installations;
  • a 30 per cent cut in applications set-up times; and
  • 80 per cent fewer tasks in making application updates.

In the case of one PeopleSoft customer, the Ontario region of Durham, which needed to extend financial software to more users without hiking support costs, the total personnel time needed to make upgrades in technology was cut by 15 per cent and end-user training time was lowered by 40 per cent, said Gupta.

Commment: info@itbusiness.ca

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