J.D. Edwards upgrades CRM tools

J.D. Edwards & Co. this week took the next step in binding its back-office software with the customer relationship management (CRM) applications that the company bought through its acquisition of YouCentric Inc. in late 2001.

Denver-based J.D. Edwards announced Version 2.0 of its CRM suite, saying the upgrade includes 175 enhancements and expanded integration with its supply chain management and enterprise resource planning applications.

Robbie Herzig, senior marketing manager for CRM at J.D. Edwards, said the company’s main objective for the new release “is to continue to build on the visibility the customers are asking for from the front office to the back office.”

For example, J.D. Edwards has connected its contact center application to its field service software, letting mobile customer-service workers look at account histories, warranty data and other information, Herzig said.

There is also now a tie-in between the company’s sales force automation applications and supply chain software. That feature will give demand planners access to real-time data feeds from salespeople in addition to historical sales information, she said.

The supply chain and CRM integration appeals to Brian Capone, director of marketing at Hutton Communications Inc., a Dallas-based distributor of wireless communications products. He said Hutton’s sales force now relies on two systems – contact management software from Best Software Inc. in Reston, Va., and J.D. Edwards’ OneWorld XE applications – to check inventory and do other supply chain-related functions.

But Hutton plans to replace Best’s technology with J.D. Edwards’ new CRM software within the next four months, Capone said.

The combination of the CRM and OneWorld XE applications should give Hutton’s 50 mobile and in-house sales staffers an integrated set of software for doing things such as generating price quotes and checking product stock levels, Capone noted.

J.D. Edwards is also embedding multichannel customer-contact capabilities in the CRM upgrade and adding an option that lets mobile workers run sales applications when they’re off-line and then synchronize the data with back-office systems when they reconnect to their corporate networks, Herzig said.

At its Focus 2002 user conference last June, J.D. Edwards promised increased ties between its back-office applications and the CRM tools developed by Charlotte, N.C.-based YouCentric. J.D. Edwards bought YouCentric 15 months ago after previously reselling Siebel Systems Inc.’s CRM software.

John Moore, an analyst at ARC Advisory Group Inc. in Dedham, Mass., said J.D. Edwards doesn’t offer as full a set of CRM functionality as Siebel and other vendors do.

But for most of the midsize users that J.D. Edwards targets, the CRM software “fits perfectly,” he said.