PeopleSoft Pulls Out of J.D. Edwards User Group Meeting

PeopleSoft will be noticeably absent at this week's gathering of J.D. Edwards' users. PeopleSoft, which completed its acquisition of J.D. Edwards in July in a deal valued at $1.7 billion, inherited the seven-year-old Quest user group, but has backed out of the Quest Midwest Conference slated to take place today through Wednesday in Chicago. Quest is an independent, not-for-profit user group comprising more than 7,000 PeopleSoft World and EnterpriseOne (formerly J.D. Edwards) users. This week's conference is expected to attract more than 600 users, and PeopleSoft officials had been scheduled to hold 16 sessions, as well as to deliver a keynote and exhibit at the event. "PeopleSoft's decision not to participate in these user conferences is extremely disappointing," according to a letter dated January 7, 2004, which was posted on the Quest Web site. The letter, written by Barbara Schmit, president of Quest and CIO at CNT, went on to state that "Customers indicate that Quest's services are highly valued, appropriate, and necessary; thus, Quest user conferences will go on, as will other Quest services that create additional value for PeopleSoft World and EnterpriseOne users." According to Quest's Web site, the user group had previously received a commitment from PeopleSoft to participate in its regional and international conferences throughout January and February. However, in mid-December PeopleSoft stipulated specific conditions for participation in the conference, which were declined by the Quest board of directors. In response PeopleSoft withdrew its participation. Neither Quest nor PeopleSoft would reveal the specific conditions, however according to a Quest member, PeopleSoft wanted a greater level of control in the conference. However, PeopleSoft officials say that it had been looking to consolidate all the events it supports under one umbrella, and had explained to Quest directors that it planned to have a single annual user conference. Over the past three months PeopleSoft has sponsored a committee to integrate best practices from the PeopleSoft International Customer Advisory Board (ICAB), Quest, and J.D. Edwards to form a new integrated user-group model. The ICAB group already has more than 170 sub units based on geography, industry, and products. Along with Connect, the major user show, PeopleSoft will sponsor other smaller events, such as the higher-education conference. A Quest member acknowledges that PeopleSoft had made it clear that there would be one major show, but adds that Quest was looking for PeopleSoft to fulfill previously made commitments. Still, the door is open for PeopleSoft to participate in any customer-led or customer-driven events, if the company changes its conditions of participation, Quest officials say in the letter on the Quest site. Quest says all its upcoming events will take place as scheduled, including the Quest SIG Forum, Quest West, Quest Australia & New Zealand and Quest Global Conference. "Quest will continue to sustain our commitments, regardless of PeopleSoft's level of participation. Lack of participation by PeopleSoft will not diminish the quality of education and networking resources that Quest provides. In fact, with a growing network of more than 15,000 members worldwide, Quest is well positioned to provide value," Schmit's letter states. According to Patrick Walravens, a financial analyst with JMP Securities, this development does not bode well for PeopleSoft's efforts to retain a large and loyal J.D. Edwards' installed base. However, Walravens says his firm is maintaining its Market Perform rating on PeopleSoft.
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