In the early 90's, ERP came of age. Everyone had to have the functionality
ERP packages promised. Since then, as Web and Internet technologies have
matured, CRM on the front end, and e-Procurement and Supply Chain Management
on the back end, have come into their own.
in 2001, the catchphrase is "Collaborative Commerce," where we unite all
of the above elements into one coherent system within and between organizations.
This is the Big Kahuna, the zero latency, fully transparent, 360 degree
exposure that is the stuff systems integrators dream of. Is it here? Are
the technologies mature enough? Simple enough?
the last in a series of articles on Collaborative Commerce (C-Commerce),
takes a look at the fresh, new efforts of PeopleSoft, as it continues
to expand its own software footprint while welcoming integration with
Conway Foments a Revolution
Just two years ago, PeopleSoft was regularly dismissed as "struggling,"
and "lost," particularly in the shadows of more formidable and marketing-oriented
companies such as SAP and Oracle. It was being run by David
A. Duffield, who built a friendly culture for both employees and customers.
The company peaked financially in 1998, when it was, for a brief time,
second only to SAP in enterprise software sales. But the walls came tumbling
down in 1999, as the market for giant software packages that handled corporate
internals from Human Resources to Supply Chain Management dried up, and
the lure of dot-com riches danced in departing employees heads.
May of 1999, Craig A. Conway was brought in as PeopleSoft's President
and Chief Operating Officer, and was named four months later as the company's
Chief Executive Officer, adding corporate and product strategy to his
day-to-day operations duties. Dave Duffield remained as Chairman but gave
Conway free rein to overhaul the company.
established several key goals, among them:
a back-to-business atmosphere at PeopleSoft while saving key
employees in the midst of departing for the dotcom dreamland. He increased
salaries, reduced vesting time on options from four years to two years,
and managed to stem the tide of defections, reducing turnover from 30%
in 1999 to a very reasonable 10% in 2000. Half of the executive management
team departed, unable or unwilling to participate in such fundamental
changes to the company. The other half were Conway backers who knew
the company needed to change or face extinction.
all corporate applications to the Internet. Conway was convinced
that "pure Internet" (client browser interface; "zero client footprint")
was the future of enterprise applications, and the place where PeopleSoft
could gain competitive advantage.
a CRM offering to add to its Human Resources, Supply Chain Management,
and Financials suites, turning the company into a true, end-to-end player.
collaborative e-business applications, allowing PeopleSoft components
to interact with software elements from other companies. The strategy
here was both a realistic one and a marketing one. First, Conway knew
that the key to collaboration was to "play nice" with others in the
field. There was no way to build a PeopleSoft-only application suite
and still enable companies to work collaboratively with other companies,
be they partners or suppliers. But Conway also believed that, by allowing
current, say Oracle or SAP, customers to add bits of PeopleSoft functionality,
PeopleSoft was gaining a toehold in companies it couldn't otherwise
on the Path
Conway began with an overhaul of his existing Human Resource, Supply Chain
Management, and Financials applications, focusing his engineers on full
re-writes of the code in XML and HTML, for the Internet. The first result
of the efforts was the shipping of PeopleSoft 8 in September of
2000. The suite included complete re-writes of PeopleSoft Supply Chain
Management, PeopleSoft Human Resources Management, and PeopleSoft
Financials. PeopleSoft considers their new, Internet-only architecture
to be the industry's most open and scalable e-Business platform, facilitating
application integration and collaborative commerce. As many as 60 other
applications, among them Customer Relationship Management (fundamentally,
the unchanged Vantive Support and Field Service modules) and Employee
Relationship Management, were also shipped, though they were not fully
the first version of PeopleSoft 8 was released, phased releases of other
components kept apace while Conway trained 100 engineers under "Operation
Leapfrog," on the task of overhauling and completely Internet-enabling
the CRM components gained in the company's acquisition in January of 2000
of the fallen-from-grace CRM vendor, Vantive.
December of 2000 through June of 2001, key PeopleSoft releases included
PeopleSoft Portals, containing Employee, Customer, and Supplier
portals; PeopleSoft CRM Analytics, which includes Sales Activity
Insight, Marketing Insight, and Customer Scorecard, integrating customer
analysis across the front office; PeopleSoft 8 Supplier Relationship
Management (SRM), a roles-based, collaborative portal between company
the January 2000 acquisition of Vantive paid off in the company's delivery
of PeopleSoft 8 Customer Relationship Management in July, 2001.
considerable background and analysis of PeopleSoft's move to the Internet,
view TEC's three part series:
of PeopleSoft's Collaborative-Commerce-related Applications and Tools
Portals - PeopleSoft offers three flavors of portal: Employee, Customer,
and Supplier. PeopleSoft employs tools from Interwoven for content management.
Here, we look at the Customer and Supplier Portals:
Portal - includes PeopleSoft eStore, and allows users
to generate their own quotes while checking updated prices and product
availability, place their own orders, and keep abreast of order
status. Customers can fulfill their transactions through PeopleSoft
eBill Payment credit card facility. Customers are able to view
their account balances, recent transactions, and payment history,
as well as verify invoices and make payments on invoices and account
balances, in real time. Once customers receive their product, they
are supported through PeopleSoft Support, where they can
search a knowledge base for answers to problems, and create and
check status of problem tickets
Portal - embodied in PeopleSoft 8 Supplier Relationship Management
(SRM), which is a roles-based, collaborative portal and includes
eSupplier Connection, a company-to-supplier collaboration
vehicle to enable suppliers to monitor and maintain a company's
inventory levels, and; eProductManagement, allowing company
engineers to communicate online with suppliers to manage product
design and changes.
- Provides internal users with online catalogs, automated authorization
workflows, the ability to determine availability of funds, and ability
to transmit or receive online Purchase Orders, Shipment Notices, Return
Requests, and funds.
Exchanges - Enables the establishment of private trading exchanges
between a company and its partners. Through PeopleSoft's acquisition
of Cohera, the system provides a web-based format for managing catalog
Relationship Management Applications
PeopleSoft's CRM package includes functionality in four key front-office
areas: support, marketing, sales, and professional services.
- Some of the more basic support functionality found in state-of-the-art
CRM packages today can be found in PeopleSoft's solution, including: multi-channel
support (handles incoming web, phone, fax, or email inquiries), SLA, warranty
and RMA tracking, and self-service components in the aforementioned Customer
Portal. But more advanced elements are missing, including web assistance
tools such as Live Chat, Collaborative Web Browsing, Call Me Now functionality,
VoIP (Voice over IP), Message Boards, and Chat Rooms.
- Includes basic Campaign management (segmentation, tracking) and analysis,
but little support for "closed loop" targeted campaigning that has been
the hallmark of E.Piphany.
- Through a portal interface, includes such capabilities as automated
forecasting, lead and account management, automated quote and proposal
generation, and integrated analytics. The Sales team can also access,
though not update, account and order information from the field through
PeopleSoft Mobile Sales for WAP Phones. In addition, anticipated
for release early next year will be new mobile-ready applications, which
will place roughly 500K of code on client devices so employees can access,
untethered, limited content and features of the PeopleSoft 8 suite. It
will employ IBM's DB2 Everyplace as the local data store.
Services - PeopleSoft's Enterprise Services Automation (ESA)
module includes tools to control services incoming to the company, as
well as services outgoing from the company (the latter more commonly referred
to as Professional Services Automation, or PSA, and typically grouped
under companies' CRM solutions).
PSA component includes project management, automated resource scheduling,
as well as online staff collaboration, augmented through the announced
integration in July, 2001, of eRoom's Digital Workspace, apparently
indicating that the company had severed a previously-announced plan to
use Lotus' Quickplace and Sametime services for the same purpose.
Integration Framework (OIF)
technology foundation works through so-called Enterprise Integration
Points, which are pre-built connections that allow PeopleSoft applications
to share data with other applications. PeopleSoft delivers an EIP Catalog
which defines its publish-and-subscribe asynchronous messaging
architecture, its object-oriented, request-and-reply synchronous
component architecture, and its Business Interlinks which allow
access to third-party API's from within the PeopleSoft architecture.
with IBM's WebSphere and BEA's WebLogic Application Servers
July of 2001, PeopleSoft announced plans to pre-integrate IBM's WebSphere
application server into its enterprise application suite. Also, toward
the end of September, PeopleSoft announced that it had already integrated
BEA Systems' WebLogic application server into its enterprise application
suite, and that it planned on participating in the BEA WebLogic Integration
Adapter program, which is based on the Java 2 Enterprise Edition Connector
Architecture (J2EE CA) standard and enables standards-based inter-application
integration. In fact, both solutions move the integration problem to industry-standard
application servers, greatly simplifying integration efforts.
We make our observations in three categories: Application Depth and Breadth,
Technology, and Other Considerations.
Depth and Breadth
the availability under the PeopleSoft 8 banner of the standard CRM components
(Sales, Marketing, Customer Support, Professional Services Automation
), and eCRM (portal-based sales and support) on the front end, Human Resources
and Financials in the middle, and Supply Chain Management (including eProcurement
and Supplier portal technology) on the backend, it looks, breadth-wise,
that PeopleSoft has the Collaborative Commerce game covered, with the
notable exception of Channel Management. When we look at individual components
and compare horizontal functionality with best-of-breed competitors in
each segment, we find holes, particularly on the front end. It's not surprising,
given that the application and its development base are so new, but they're
holes that other enterprise-wide vendors have filled, and PeopleSoft will
have to play catch up.
tradeoff in product depth has probably come as the company strove to completely
In a way, you could very well think of PeopleSoft 8 not as the eighth
iteration of a product under long-time development, but instead as Version
1.0 of a company's web-based product suite, with more robust application
and integration support sure to come.
for now, we need to mention some of the weak points in the current product.
On the front end, in the CRM space, there are notable gaps. There is no
online, collaborative help afforded customers, either in the sales cycle
or in the support cycle. In sales, PeopleSoft does not support Collaborative
Web Browsing, any form of Interactive, Guided Selling, Online Chat, Call
Me Now functionality, or Voice over IP (VoIP). In support, though there
is the availability of an online knowledgebase for researching problems,
there, again, are no Chat, Call Me Now or Voice over IP facilities, nor
can users seek out other users via Message Boards or Chat Rooms. These
are difficult omissions to not notice when the scope of analysis is collaboration.
on the Sales side, there are no Sales Channel Management tools, to better
enable partners to sell to and serve customers on your behalf.
mobile solutions are comparatively weak. Their support for wireless technology
(specifically, Wireless Application Protocol, or WAP), only enables sales
people to view, not change, update, or add, account and order activity.
Other companies are already providing bi-directional support on PDA's,
two-way pagers, and cell phones. And, though PeopleSoft has announced
plans to support untethered access to corporate data in an approach requiring
the install of IBM's DB2 Everyplace database and periodic synching to
the corporate network, it has yet to appear. This is functionality that
Siebel, for example, has long had.
marketing solutions are fine as far as they go, but they represent only
a chip against the block of, for example, industry leader E.Piphany's
very happy with PeopleSoft's inter-application integration tools. Their
Open Integration Framework, with messaging and component architecture
well-defined in their Enterprise Integration Points catalog, their open
API toolkit, and their componentized approach to application rollout,
enable the XML and HTML engineers of the world to lock in to bits of PeopleSoft
functionality, and stream data back and forth to legacy systems. An even
greater step toward openness and integration comes in the form of embedded
support for both IBM's WebSphere and BEA's WebLogic application servers.
In particular, engineers following the industry standard J2EE CA (java-based
component architecture) will be happy with PeopleSoft's relationships.
PeopleSoft is back on firmer financial turf. It returned to profitability
in the first quarter of 2000, and has remained profitable since.
company's new, upcoming pricing model might surprise you. The company
plans to "value price" its components, but we're not talking about the
department-store "value pricing" euphemism here. Instead, PeopleSoft plans
to price its software based on its customers' revenues, or, in other words,
based on its customers' ability to pay, not, paradoxically, based on the
value their customers derive from the software itself, most often represented
(granted somewhat inaccurately) by number of total seats or concurrent
user licenses sold. So, if your company is small and pulls in fewer dollars,
you get PeopleSoft on the cheap. If you're big and powerful, it'll cost
you more than a dime. This, in our eyes, makes little sense, since this
may dis-incent big accounts from buying the PeopleSoft solution. We'll
need to see how the numbers actually work out in negotiations over time
to know if PeopleSoft is doing itself a disservice.
PeopleSoft 8 is a bold, swift, sickle swipe at the client-server landscape,
clearing a clean Internet path, and leading the way. If you are hell bent
on zero footprint applications across your entire organization, then PeopleSoft
is showing the way. But it's not without it's drawbacks. This Internet
Version 1.0 is not as functionally robust as other solutions, and an HTML-only
interface for all modules might actually hinder the development of, or
at least make less accessible, more advanced functionality.
client-server-to-thin-client pendulum has swung from one extreme to the
other, but might better be positioned somewhere in the middle to satisfy
all users. Functionality and interface considerations aside, PeopleSoft's
solutions for application integration and inter-corporate collaboration
are best of breed, and tits allowance for a step-wise approach to purchasing
and implementing its components, allows for great implementation flexibility.
concludes TEC's series on Collaborative Commerce.