J.D. Edwards customers concerned about how the takeover by PeopleSoft will affect them got a look at how the product line of merged companies stack up as the acquisition takes root.

At a customer event hosted by Markham, Ont.-based Mid-Range Computer Group, which sells IBM as well as PeopleSoft

and J.D. Edwards products, PeopleSoft Canada vice-president and managing director Andy Aicklen told J.D. Edwards customers every effort would be made to ensure a smooth transition.

“”My boss, (PeopleSoft CEO) Craig Conway will say it’s over and done with, but you as customers want to know What’s the future?”” Aicklen said as he addressed about 120 Mid-Range customers and partners. “”My commitment is to have organizational integration complete in the next 90 days so you will know who your account executive is.””

Aicklen then gave customers a sneak peek at what the combined product set will look like and what they can expect to hear at PeopleSoft’s annual Connect user conference in Anaheim, Calif., next week. It will be the first year J.D. Edwards customers will attend Connect.

Under the new organization, the three product families will include PeopleSoft Enterprise, an upmarket product for service-intensive industries; Enterprise One for current J.D. Edwards customers that are asset-intensive companies; and PeopleSoft World for use with the IBM iSeries platform.

PeopleSoft has 682 customers in Canada and only 14 are common with J.D. Edwards. Aicklen said combining the product lines of PeopleSoft 8 and J.D. Edwards 5 will mean more solutions for all customers.

“”It presents an opportunity to take the strength of one and complement the other,”” he said. “”It’s a growth play in terms of taking customers living in different worlds and bringing them together.””

For example, plans are underway to integrate J.D. Edwards’ corporate real estate management (a product PeopleSoft did not offer) in by the fourth quarter of this year. As well, supplier relationship management from PeopleSoft will be integrated and made available to J.D. Edwards customers.

Shawn Latimer, manager of business systems effectiveness at Baxter International in Mississauga, Ont, said he had some initial concerns about what would happen with the J.D. Edwards product line, but has since had most of his questions answered.

Latimer expects the product set will change, but hopes it is done over time and not rushed to achieve integration quickly.

“”I’m hoping it’s a planned and organized approach and not some sort of quick reaction to gain synergies internally; that they plan and look at the best migration path for their customer base to move on to new solutions. What concerns me more than anything is support on legacy applications,”” he said.

A maker of medical products and services, Baxter has been a J.D. Edwards OneWorld customer since 1998. While Baxter’s CRM is from Siebel (a partnership struck when J.D. Edwards was a Siebel partner) and some financials are run on Hyperion, the large ERP pieces are with J.D. Edwards.

Latimer said initially he had concerns about what was happening in the industry, but ultimately after some time spent researching and attending the J.D. Edward’s Quest user conference earlier this year, he arrived at a certain comfort level.

“”At first I wondered what it meant in terms of the longer-term relationship we have with J.D. Edwards. I didn’t feel worried that the product was going anywhere any time soon. I knew enough about PeopleSoft that they didn’t have an iSeries platform they could provide to customers and by no means would anybody have any business sense to drop that many customers and force them on to something else,”” he said.

“”The way it was positioned from the leadership from both companies, I really believed they were trying to find synergies and offer bigger and better opportunities to current platforms for now and in the future,”” he said. “”I kind of bought into that pretty quickly.””

Latimer said he is looking forward to what PeopleSoft can do with the J.D. Edwards product now that there is a combined resources and combined cash flow and expertise.

And while he hears from his J.D. Edwards account executive quite regularly, he gets more from being part of the Ontario J.D. Edwards user group. Active in the user groups in Ontario, he wonders whether the user groups will remain.

“”Quest had a fairly dynamic organization of user groups across the globe and I don’t understand the PeopleSoft user groups yet. I’m concerned about whether they will be kept separate until the applications really get streamlined together,”” he said.

Aicklen said tools such as the J.D. Edwards newsletter sent to customers was “”good value”” for communicating and will be continued.

Latimer said he doesn’t have concerns about the current bid by Oracle for PeopleSoft.

“”I discounted the Oracle bid early on. The intentions here are for PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards to create one collaborative organization to serve its customers. Oracle’s bid is to muscle its way into that bigger market and take it over. The customer are going stand up and make sure that doesn’t happen,”” he said.

“”I think ultimately the organizations providing the solutions services we use are doing the best they can for their customers and I don’t think anybody is out to lose customers,”” he said.

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