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J.D. Edwards sharpens CRM focus with Linux release

In a series of announcements at its user group conference, including word that it will release software based on the Linux operating system, J.D.Edwards may have positioned itself as a one-stop provider of both ERP and CRM.

Enterprise software specialists J.D. Edwards & Company pushed deeper into the market for customer relationship management (CRM) last week and analysts think it may just have positioned itself as a one-stop shop for ERP and CRM.

Since its acquisition of CRM vendor YOUcentric in 2001, J.D. Edwards has shown a growing interest in becoming a single-source for both CRM and ERP applications. Industry analysts observed that the strategy might pay off in the long run, as customers could warm to the idea of dealing with one fewer enterprise technology provider.

"J.D. Edwards claims they've done the research and found their existing customer base has digested ERP to the extent that it is ready to step up CRM efforts," said Denis Pombriant, analyst at Boston-based Aberdeen Group.

At its user group conference in Denver, J.D. Edwards unveiled plans to deliver CRM applications built on the Linux operating system in partnership with IBM Corp., Armonk, N.Y., and detailed its latest strategy around collaborative supplier relationship management (SRM).

It also announced upgrades to its ERP package that include more powerful enterprise asset management, workforce management, project management and real estate management capabilities. The company claims that architectural improvements have strengthened areas such as human resources, project staffing and billing. Officials at the firm said it would continue to target service industries with the ERP offering, as customers in those markets currently account for approximately one-third of the software maker's license revenue.

Pombriant said the CRM on Linux release could prove a point of differentiation for the company as it tries to build its single-source image and distance itself from other applications vendors.

"Linux provides customers with a lower cost of entry while giving the vendor an ability to bring down prices without hurting profits," Pombriant said. "The other driving factor with Linux could be to provide a common platform for ERP and CRM."

The analyst said the latter point could help further J.D. Edwards' image as a convenient answer to the issue of developing infrastructure around both CRM and ERP applications.

In addition, executives detailed the firm's strategy around an upcoming SRM package. The company said that existing collaborative supply chain offerings leave gaps on the supplier side. J.D. Edwards said the future release would strive to integrate planning, execution and fulfillment functions, as well as design and settlement capabilities.

Traditionally seen as a player in the middle of the enterprise applications market, the vendor may be making a play for larger customers with its all-in-one provider approach. Pombriant said that while top-tier vendors including Siebel Systems and SAP have launched CRM efforts aimed at J.D. Edwards' existing mid-market customer set, the software maker may try to move upstream in the flurry of activity across user groups.

"It may not be long before we see Siebel, SAP and others competing with J.D. Edwards for customers of many different sizes," the analyst said.


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