At the CeBIT conference in Hanover, Germany, PeopleSoft Inc. today announced a slew of enhancements to its J.D. Edwards products that were welcomed by both users and analysts.
EnterpriseOne's latest version, 8.10, includes functionality that supports demand-driven manufacturing and RFID capabilities. The PeopleSoft World enhancements include a new HTML user interface, manufacturing and distribution management, financial management, human capital management, and integration with the Enterprise application performance management.
While PeopleSoft has pledged support and continued enhancements for the World line, which runs on IBM's iSeries platform, those claims have been met with some skepticism from analysts and users, many of whom wonder how PeopleSoft will maintain three separate product lines. For one World user, the arrival of enhancements was better news than the details of the enhancements themselves.
"We're probably even more pleased with the fact that we're seeing effort and money being spent on World than with the HTML client," said James Berlekamp, manager of applications support for Libbey Glass in Toledo, Ohio.
Libbey Glass, one of about 3,400 JDE users running their applications on the iSeries, had been using JDE applications since 1997.
"We did not know the call was coming on this," said Michael Doane, a vice president at Stamford, Conn.-based Meta Group. "We were really pleased because so much of the news we've gotten from PeopleSoft was about fending off Oracle. It's encouraging that a lot of the better elements of J.D. Edwards have been retained and moved forward."
The new HTML user interface will allow users to access World from anywhere through their Internet browser, said Les Wyatt, vice president and general manager of the EnterpriseOne line.
The more than 250 enhancements also cover manufacturing and distribution management, providing visibility into sales orders, demand information and supply chain; financial management, which streamlines reports and processes; human capital management, which give employers quicker and more accurate assessments of employee benefits and accruals and meets new regulations for state unemployment Insurance. The latest World enhancements also include integration to customer information onto the PeopleSoft Enterprise data warehouse.
"If anything, now that we've done the merger, we're seeing more investment to service [World] customers," Wyatt said. "While we're delivering new capabilities, we've also built migration capabilities. If and when they want to migrate from World to either the EnterpriseOne or Enterprise products, we have good migration products there."
Despite his enthusiasm for the enhancements, Berlekamp said Libbey Glass has no interest in migrating.
"We do not have a case we can make to migrate to another platform on PeopleSoft," Berlekamp said. "We're stable. Staying where we're at makes sense."
Berlekamp was pleased with the HTML features, however, which he said would foster adoption by casual users who are not familiar with the application's "green screens," as well as its zero footprint on the desktop.
"I don't think these enhancements are going to be a major lure to move people onto EnterpriseOne," said Meta Group's Doane. "We look at their vertical targets and see manufacturing and distribution is their bread and butter. These enhancements really address this vertical."
The enhancements to EnterpriseOne focuses on the concept of demand-driven manufacturing, which links the entire manufacturing process around customer demand, Wyatt said.
Version 8.10 includes customer and supplier self-service portals, which allows customers and suppliers to gain visibility into the status of their orders and how to access their forecast, Wyatt said.
The other major addition to the latest version of EnterpriseOne is radio frequency Identification (RFID) tags.
With Wal-Mart and the Department of Defense set to require their major suppliers to provide RFID tags on shipping pallets at the beginning of next year, PeopleSoft is well ahead of the curve, shipping EnterpriseOne enhancements in May, Wyatt said. The RFID enhancements will provide support for all global trade ID numbers, as well as electronic product codes.
Version 8.10 also includes enhancements to asset life cycle management, allowing users to determine maintenance based on an event such as a sandstorm rather than routine schedules, Wyatt said. It includes financial forecasting and human capital management improvements, using Web-based recruiting.