Oracle today released a new version of its PeopleSoft CRM product, keeping its promise to continue developing applications under the "Applications Unlimited" program even after completing the acquisition.
PeopleSoft Enterprise CRM 9 features enhanced Fusion Middleware capabilities, industry-specific enhancements for financial services and communications, and new usability and productivity tools for end users. Oracle has vowed to continue to enhance its PeopleSoft applications.
"We'll be working on a release beyond 9 as well," said John Webb, vice president of PeopleSoft enterprise application strategy. "There is a separate team dedicated to developing PeopleSoft applications, different from the Fusion team. There is no end date as long as our customers want it."
Today's release should allay some concerns of PeopleSoft CRM customers who had invested heavily in the application only to be thrown into limbo when Oracle acquired their vendor in 2004. Oracle's Fusion project will marry the "best of" functionality of all its recent acquisitions, including PeopleSoft, Siebel and J.D. Edwards.
Bill Band, consulting analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research, said of today's announcement, "It's good news for PeopleSoft customers. The name of the game from a user point of view is to extend and enhance their existing investment. This provides a clear message to PeopleSoft CRM customers that the product will be supported and enhanced going forward."
PeopleSoft Enterprise CRM 9 offers improved processes for call centers in telco, such as wireless number portability, prepaid account, or lost or stolen phone processes. New financial services enhancements include sample processes for financial account creation, lead referral management, and Web services for remote portlets. Financial services and telco were two of the largest industries in PeopleSoft's installed base.
"This is clearly a play to hang onto the existing customer base," Band said. "The bigger question is: Will Oracle be able to pull off this multi-brand strategy? It's not clear to me where innovation will come from if all the vendors are enhancing and upgrading solutions that are sold into their installed base."
For now, PeopleSoft enhancements have come from the PeopleSoft development team, Webb said. CRM 9 has improved the user experience with user-defined macros, fewer clicks through processes, and enhanced views of customer information.
The release also features integration with Oracle's Fusion Middleware and PeopleSoft's PeopleTools, with 19 new Web services, integration with Oracle XML Publisher, and the ability to leverage Oracle's BPEL Process Manager to deploy applications across heterogeneous systems and Oracle Database 10g and Oracle Application Server 10g certification.
The new release is now available.