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JD Edwards rolls through user conference. (In Other News...).

Despite the uncertainty about its future status JD Edwards & Co this week sought to undertake business as normal at its Quest user conference with new CRM and SCM announcements.

On the CRM front, the company announced three enhancements to its existing CRM suite, building up the analytics capability with pre-integrated analytics, offering support for product configuration, and expanding the mobile sales function by adding support for the Pocket PC. Each component adds value to the suite but without breaking new ground, although the product configuration functionality will be particularly useful for JD Edwards' asset-based manufacturing customer set.

JD Edwards acquired its CRM capability following the completion of the acquisition of YouCentric in November 2001 and has been steadily integrating and building up its functionality since then. Although it does not have high status as a CRM player, partly because of the different needs and slow adoption of CRM by the manufacturing sector, it has been making progress. However, there are questions over how its CRM future will pan out. Prospective buyer PeopleSoft Inc has also invested heavily in CRM since its own CRM acquisition of Vantive Corp in January 2000, and sees CRM as a key market for its own operations.

At the PeopleSoft Leadership conference in London, UK, when asked what would happen to JD Edwards/You Centric CRM application if the merger went ahead, senior PeopleSoft CRM executives said they are still looking into it and have yet to make any decisions about CRM product integration, overlaps or redundancies.

To be fair, no decisions have been made with regard to any of the product sets and the duo have clearly stated that they will maintain three lines: an AS/400 line, a mid-market line based on JD Edwards products, and a high-end line centered on PeopleSoft products--adding components to cover weak areas. However, unlike traditional ERP applications, CRM remains a growth market, making it a sensitive area.

In addition to the CRM announcement, JD Edwards also announced a slew of enhancements to its SCM solution, specifically targeted at manufacturers and distributors. It represents the largest release of SC functionality the company has ever made. Enhancements include new, modular functionality for planning, order management, multi-mode manufacturing, distribution and logistics.

Highlights include a major extension to the Pricing and Promotions software which aims to provide customers with the ability to cut costs or boost profitability through the use of innovative pricing initiatives. There is also a feature to contractually reserve capacity and materials in the Order Promising module to enable a guaranteed service level based on forward-looking allocation of an item or a specific resource to be promised to a customer; and new Engineering Project Management functionality to help industrial manufacturing companies engineer products to specific customer specifications, while delivering them on time and on budget to maximize operating profits.

The company said that its aim is to slash costs by addressing complete business processes rather than isolated functions.

One the service front its launched an advisory service designed to help existing JD Edwards customers better prepare for compliance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Working on the premise that the requirements will extend beyond financials to other business processes, the advisory service will be able to conduct a review across multiple applications.

The JD Edwards Rapid Start on IBM eServer iSeries initiative, an integrated offering of software, hardware and service that allows customers to implement a pre-configured, single-server environment and rapidly deploy the preinstalled JD Edwards 5 applications, was put on general release.

There are currently Rapid Start vertical solutions for wholesale distribution and industrial manufacturing on the iSeries, but JD Edwards plans to introduce additional solutions for Intel-based technology platforms, including those from IBM eServer xSeries and Hewlett-Packard, which are scheduled to roll out to international geographies by the end of 2003.

Team JD Edwards also made its debut. This is a joint sales and delivery strategy that combines the consulting, education and implementation support services of JD Edwards with its Consulting Alliances partners--Accenture, Cap Gemini Ernst and Young, Deloitte & Touche, Hitachi Consulting, and IBM Business Consulting Services.

Finally, the SMB-centric, joint JD Edwards/IBM Global Business Value team announced two new offerings: Automotive for SMB and JD Edwards WorldSoftware Conversion for SMB, scheduled for release in the fourth quarter 2003. This team is involved in defining, launching and directing the implementation of integrated, low total cost of ownership solutions for the SMB market. It also delivers integrated consulting and industry templates, software and hardware, hosting, utility capabilities plus options, such as financing.

Although the company has made several product announcements during the week where it made enhancements to its core ERP functionality, significant additions to the SCM and CRM components plus several moves to bolster its vertical market solutions, the concentration of implementation initiatives reflects the fierce levels of competition within the mid-market and JD Edwards' determination to maintain the leading position it has gained for itself in this sector. This will be crucial no matter what the outcome of the Oracle/PeopleSoft/JD Edwards triangle.

As far as PeopleSoft is concerned, JD Edwards represents its mid-market strategy so JD Edwards needs to continue its momentum in the sector. If the Oracle bid succeeds it is unlikely that Oracle would want JD Edwards, so the mid-market specialist would need to be able to succeed alone while it looked into other options. While stressing his commitment to the merger with PeopleSoft, JD Edwards' chairman, president and CEO Bob Dutkowsky said earlier in the week that the company has a range of alternatives, which could include acquisitions of its own if the merger does not go ahead.
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Publication:MarketWatch: CRM
Date:Jun 24, 2003
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