J.D. Edwards' CRM FOCUS

Traditional enterprise resource planning (ERP) software vendors are eager to broaden their functionality to cover broader e-business ground, and J.D. Edwards is no exception. The company is using its FOCUS 2002 event in Denver, where it is also headquartered, not only to trumpet enhancements to its ERP suite but also to make a bigger push in application areas like customer relationship management (CRM) and supply chain management (SCM). CRM is an arena J.D. Edwards entered with 2001's acquisition of pure-play YOUcentric. At the beginning
of this year, J.D. Edwards reiterated its commitment to CRM. Analyst Kelly Spang of Current Analysis, freshly returned from FOCUS 2002, says that J.D. Edwards has taken big CRM steps in a relatively short amount of time. "They may have gotten into CRM a little later [than other ERP vendors] but have been more aggressive about integrating CRM with back-office applications," Spang says. As proof, J.D. Edwards introduced Wabash Alloys, the first customer taking advantage of both ERP and CRM, who went live only months after the general availability of the integrated solution. Naturally, being close to the installed base is an excellent way of being to sell new products to them, but what about J.D. Edwards' CRM functionality itself? Spang says that the company "isn't necessarily on the leading edge of any particular CRM area or technology" but adds that that isn't the point. "J.D. Edwards will win from an integration standpoint." In Spang's opinion, the customer base is looking for a CRM solution that links up well to financials, accounting, and the supply chain, not a best-of-class CRM solution with all the bells and whistles. For example, based on research among the installed base suggesting that marketing automation wasn't a huge priority with customers, J.D. Edwards chose to forego building it out and instead partnered with another software vendor, Aprimo, who now provides that functionality. Karl Johnson, VP of CRM strategy for J.D. Edwards (and YOUcentric co-founder), points out that the company's CRM functionality goes deeper than suggested by its two and a half quarters of selling time. "We signed a mutual reseller agreement prior to the acquisition and began polling customers about their priorities early." The poll listed customer priorities, in order, as sales force automation (SFA), service and support, and marketing automation. Johnson says that, although it's still early, J.D. Edwards has seen CRM get some traction. He reveals that there are now 55 customers on CRM, with a 50-50 split between new and existing customers. Analyst Denis Pombriant of Aberdeen says that J.D. Edwards' sweet spot, the mid-market, is a good place to be right now. "The enterprise market has begun to congeal around handful of players, but the mid-enterprise market is still fairly open to vendors. So J.D. Edwards could do well there." Lending some strength to that assessment, a recent poll by J.D. Edwards found that less than 10 percent of the customer base has CRM, but that 40 percent plan to purchase it within 18 to 24 months. Demir Barlas also writes for Line56.com
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