PeopleSoft Launches Major CRM Upgrade

PeopleSoft today announced the release of Enterprise CRM 8.9, which the company calls the most significant release in its history. The release includes usability enhancements, analytics and new products in the areas of customer portfolio management and partner relationship management.

Although the software’s title may lead some observers to believe it is only a point release, PeopleSoft noted that based on its existing naming conventions, a move to CRM 9 would have indicated a major technology shift. Instead, 8.9 is a culmination of 18 months of effort intended to give the product significant enhancements over version 8.8 and address some industry-specific issues.

“It’s one of the largest development efforts we’ve ever done,” PeopleSoft group vice president and general manager of CRM George Ahn told CRM Buyer. In all, version 8.9 offers 15 new products, three new industry management solutions and more than 700 new features.

Ease of Use

Ahn noted that one of the most important areas of focus for developing CRM 8.9 was usability.

The release includes hundreds of usability enhancements, and according to PeopleSoft, it boasts a 38 percent improvement in usability and a 46 percent reduction in clicks required to perform business tasks. It also has 30 percent faster performance.

The speed and usability enhancement percentages are derived from how long it takes users to complete 151 key CRM tasks.

“The reason we put so much effort into usability is that it becomes painfully clear that the number one reason to implement CRM is to have a total ownership experience,” Ahn said.

Howdy, Partner

The release also features partner relationship management (PRM), which allows companies to sell through channels, brokers, dealers, agents and other third parties to manage their partner relationships.

Besides a set of PRM capabilities, Enterprise CRM 8.9 offers an integrated suite of operational and transactional applications, plus built-in security features.

Beagle Research founder Denis Pombriant told CRM Buyer that PRM has been an issue for some time in the CRM world, largely because it has not been done very well.

He noted that there has been difficulty in establishing relationships and using them in an effective way. Most problematic has been sharing up the chain. In other words, customer data might get to a reseller, but when it reaches a distributor or someone higher in the channel, it could be lost.

If CRM 8.9 delivers on its promise of more effective PRM, it could be a boon for the company. “If PeopleSoft is trying to address PRM issues, and they’re successful,” Pombriant said, “that could be extremely valuable.”

Customer Service

Another advancement, according to PeopleSoft, is comprehensive customer portfolio management (CPM), which appears in 8.9 as a new module in the suite.

This CPM component enables companies to determine the value of each customer, develop customer segments based on that value, create differentiated plans for each segment and then act on them.

Steve Roop, PeopleSoft’s vice president of CRM marketing, told CRM Buyer that in traditional CRM, there has been a great deal of focus on automating sales and customer service. While this is important, he noted, it tends to ensure that every customer is treated in a similar manner.

“That’s a pretty glaring mistake,” he said. “Our customers asked us to give them some clarity on which customers drive value, so we focused heavily on that for 8.9.”

Unfulfilled Promise

Roop added that the ability to differentiate customers allows a company to tie strategies to customer value. “People have been talking about these kind of concepts for years,” he said. “It’s been the unfilled promise of CRM.”

In the past, he noted, CRM application developers have found it too difficult to put together the various components necessary for customer differentiation. PeopleSoft is confident that with Enterprise CRM 8.9, it has addressed this problem. “We made a very deliberate effort to make it seamless,” Roop said.

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