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PeopleSoft talks about user experience

A better user experience was a focus of this week's Leadership Summit 2004

By Marc L. Songini
May 19, 2004 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - LAS VEGAS -- Looking to bolster its market position, business applications vendor PeopleSoft Inc. is touting the success of its software ownership enhancement program and releasing new CRM and manufacturing technologies and other products.
Improving the user experience was a key topic here at the company's annual Leadership Summit 2004, which included keynote speeches by executives as well as special guests former Vice President Al Gore and former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole.
The show opened as Oracle Corp., which has been pursuing PeopleSoft in a hostile takeover bid, revised its offer to reflect PeopleSoft's lower stock price (see story). At the PeopleSoft event, company CEO and President Craig Conway noted that fending off Oracle cost the company some $12 million to $15 million per quarter, but he said no more than 25 employees have been tasked with defending PeopleSoft at any given time.
He also said that a year after the company first launched its total ownership experience (TOE) program (see story) -- which is aimed at making it easier for customers to install, maintain and manage their software -- solid progress has been made.
For instance, during a news conference, Ram Gupta, executive vice president for products and technology, said PeopleSoft has five new releases that are TOE-enabled, including integration packs for out-of-the-box integration between Oracle and SAP AG software. In addition, he claimed that PeopleSoft has cut the time it takes to resolve customer problems by 44%, reduced the number of steps to implement application updates by 80% and cut overall implementation time by 20%.
In a keynote speech, Conway touted the company's open integration strategy, which offers customers a Web services-based architecture that allows them to easily create composite applications that support business processes over different applications. Unlike competitors such as SAP, which recently unveiled its NetWeaver technology infrastructure, Conway claimed that flexibility and adaptability have always "been a core differentiator for PeopleSoft. I have yet to meet anyone who raves about the flexibility and adaptability of SAP."
Among the company's technology-related announcements was the rollout of its Enterprise CRM 8.9 product, which has been enhanced to be easier to use and will come with analytical capabilities, as well as partner relationship management and customer portfolio management capabilities. Conway said CRM 8.9 has diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive analytical support to let customers "gain more intelligence from the entire business process."
PeopleSoft also announced that it will offer a "demand-driven" manufacturing package that allows companies to create more accurate supply chain scenarios and respond to changes in demand more nimbly. The application is set toship next month.
A couple of users said PeopleSoft's TOE initiative is bearing fruit. At Imperial Sugar Co. in Sugar Land, Texas, the recent upgrade from PeopleSoft 7 financials applications to Version 8.4 was the smoothest its CIO had seen in a quarter century of upgrades.
"We accomplished it under budget and on time," said George Muller, the company's CIO. "I think TOE has been a big part."

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