PeopleSoft Announces Enterprise CRM 8.9

PeopleSoft has unveiled the 8.9 edition of its CRM suite of applications for enterprises, including the introduction of industry-specific versions for three new verticals, a total of 15 new products, and what the company calls significant usability enhancements. The announcement came as part of PeopleSoft's 2004 Leadership Summit in Las Vegas this week. George Ahn, PeopleSoft's group vice president and general manager of Enterprise CRM, notes that the 8.9 release, which supplants the 8.8 version released in December 2002, represents "the largest development effort in CRM that PeopleSoft has ever done." When it becomes available in June the updated version will include solutions for customer portfolio management, partner relationship management, and a more robust analytics function known as prescriptive analytics. It will also include new industry-specific solutions for revenue management (billing and collections), wealth management (private banking), and student lifecycle marketing (higher education). Steve Roop, vice president of CRM product marketing, says that customer portfolio management has become necessary as a result of the drive to automate customer service processes. That trend, he says, "has created a gap in a critical area: It treated each customer the same and gave the company no guidance." The new setup builds on the idea that each customer has a different revenue potential, and that the key is to "understand the value of the customer--both today's revenue and the potential," he says. In conjunction with the new analytics capabilities, customer portfolio management "allows [users] to recommend prescriptive action to sales reps in real time." Version 8.9 also introduces a new analytics feature, Prescriptive Analytics. The feature, according to Ram Gupta, executive vice president for products and technology, will "not only diagnose, but also provide a solution." Where current analytics offerings merely locate problems, Ahn says, PeopleSoft's prescriptive analytics software will "fully diagnose customer needs and prescribe individual actions" to address them, and also is able to track the results of those actions. PeopleSoft decided that the feature was so important, "we embedded it into the core CRM technology," he says. Roop says that overall the new release provides 38 percent faster average time to complete more than 150 CRM tasks. PeopleSoft cites several metrics to bolster its claim of improved usability in version 8.9, including 30 percent faster performance and a 46 percent reduction in the number of clicks required to perform business tasks. Ahn says that the majority of failed CRM deployments have usability problems at their core, and that as part of PeopleSoft's company-wide "Total Ownership Experience" initiative, intended to cut users' costs for maintenance and upkeep of PeopleSoft products, the goal is "to make sure to integrate future planning with [users'] usability needs." Both Roop and Ahn note that users are likely to recoup the cost of the product simply through the reduction in training time required by the average call center, where annual turnover can reach 40 percent. "The more intuitive the system, the faster the ramp-up" for new hires, Roop says. Furthermore, he adds, "if the application responds faster and is more intuitive, agents can take more calls per day." See Related Story PeopleSoft Taps New CRM Leader
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