The (Real) Time Is Now

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas--for PeopleSoft Inc. customers awaiting the increased functionality of its latest offering, which will be made generally available on December 26.

In what the company is calling its biggest update in nearly two years, PeopleSoft has announced the release of PeopleSoft CRM 8.8. According to Brad Wilson, PeopleSoft's vice president of marketing, CRM products, the software takes advantage of the company's history of providing comprehensive solutions. Version 8.8 includes six new modules (a guided selling tool, a pricing engine, additional mobile functionality, sales incentive management, HR help desk, and real-time event management) and more than 150 new features to the marketing, sales, and service suite of applications.

Rich Penkoski, global lead partner of the PeopleSoft alliance at Deloitte Consulting, says the company will see plenty of opportunity for upgrades to 8.8, because its maintenance of PeopleSoft 7.5 will end early in 2003. "Once the maintenance ends, some companies will have to decide whether to upgrade or install another company's system, and PeopleSoft has made excellent technical improvements to its platform, enough to gain new business," he says, adding that version 8.8 will include enough tools to fully integrate the CRM package with other front- and back-end systems to make it an attractive alternative to Siebel. "Also, 8.8 fills the holes that have been present in the email and chat-support sections of earlier versions, which makes it a more viable solution for companies seeking remote customer service and support," Penkoski says.

Although the comprehensive solution aims to offer out-of-the-box functionality, it is also highly customizable. Barbary McGann, vice president of product strategy for CRM, touted 8.8's ability to be customized as the software suite's greatest asset. "The ability to customize 8.8 to fit an organization's particular needs allows that enterprise to focus on the business process as a whole, and not simply individual points," McGann says.

In fact, continuing to offer customer-specific options is an ongoing strategy for PeopleSoft. The company plans to continue to focus on verticals in 2003, and has introduced three new vertical solutions: CRM for High Technology, CRM for Insurance, and CRM for Energy.

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