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PeopleSoft details new vertical CRM plans

The list of vertical market CRM offerings is expanding. PeopleSoft is adding four new suites due out by the end of the year.

Pleasanton, Calif.-based enterprise applications specialist PeopleSoft Inc. will further its drive toward vertical markets with the addition of four new industry-specific CRM packages later this year.

The company detailed a roadmap for the remainder of 2002 that includes the roll out of PeopleSoft CRM for the energy, government, high tech and insurance verticals. The government package will arrive sometime during Q3, officials said, with the three remaining products slated to arrive sometime before the end of the year.

Robb Eklund, vice president of CRM product marketing at PeopleSoft, said the company will continue investing in vertical applications, with products aimed at the consumer packaged goods sector and service industries on the drawing board already, though no timetable for their release was made public.

The firm released its offering intended for the communications industry earlier this year and launched its first vertical package -- for the financial services industry -- at the end of 2001.

PeopleSoft is playing up the idea that its vertical CRM offerings aren't just re-packaged versions of its basic platform, a strategy it charges competitors including Siebel Systems Inc. with pursuing.

The company detailed functional aspects of several of the upcoming products including the CRM for Government release. Among the technical elements being emphasized in the software aimed at federal, state and local organizations, are improved communications applications. PeopleSoft said it wants to help government agencies interact with each other more effectively. Faced with the challenge of integrating many of the aging legacy systems present in the public sector, the company touts its Web-based architecture.

PeopleSoft claims some 900 existing customers in the government arena for its existing products. The Internal Revenue Service and the Detroit Public School Department are two of the higher profile organizations on that list.

PeopleSoft said its CRM for Energy offering will feature tools aimed at ongoing deregulation in that industry as well as applications for premises management, bill management and customer support. The CRM for Insurance release will carry elements aimed at mapping beneficiary details and tracking policy issues. The company did not announce specific aspects of the high-tech package.

One industry analyst feels that PeopleSoft has done well with its vertical strategy thus far and believes the company has done a good job in selecting the markets it has chosen to target. Dr. Katherine Jones, managing director of Boston-based Aberdeen Group, said she expects the popularity of vertical applications to grow in the coming years.

"[Enterprise systems] traditionally followed the idea that they should do the most good for the widest audience in any implementation," Jones said. "The environment has changed so that one-size-fits-all isn't going to cut it anymore."

The analyst also said she believes PeopleSoft stacks up well with the current level of competition in the vertical field. While companies including Siebel Systems Inc. have brought forward their own industry specific offerings, Jones said she feels PeopleSoft's approach of delivering all the traditional elements of CRM onboard with its vertical packages will win favor with customers.

"Breadth of solution will probably be a significant differentiator when it comes time to buy," Jones said. "I'm not sure companies will buy several different pieces of enterprise software when they can opt for just one."

In addition, PeopleSoft also announced a slew of new customers across different industries including Fairchild Semiconductor International Inc., Sears Roebuck and Co., and Wells Fargo Services Co.


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