PeopleSoft revamps World with new focus

PeopleSoft Inc. is preparing a major sales push and technology update for the World software it inherited in its July acquisition of J.D. Edwards & Co. The company will soon release PeopleSoft World Express, a small business-aimed repackaging of the World software, with new features tailoring the suite for customers in four industrial markets, it said Monday.

World is one of three software portfolios PeopleSoft created after absorbing J.D. Edwards. Run exclusively on IBM Corp.’s iSeries mainframes, the software has been treated for years as aging, legacy technology, even though World has a user base as large as that for J.D. Edwards’ other applications suite, now called PeopleSoft EnterpriseOne.

Pleasanton, Calif.-based PeopleSoft now plans to revive the World brand and position the software as a low-cost enterprise resource planning (ERP) system for companies with annual revenue of up to US$100 million. The smaller end of that will be World’s primary target: “We believe US$20 million to US$50 million is a very underserved market,” said Dave Siebert, PeopleSoft’s World general manager.

Though the new release carries the tag “Express,” it doesn’t differ from the traditional World software in functionality or scalability, Siebert said. In fact, it will be World suite PeopleSoft leads with for new sales — something World hasn’t seen much of in recent years.

“We have expanded the World base over the years, but it’s been minimal,” Siebert said. “This is a very aggressive approach.”

What’s new in World Express is a set of 30 preconfigured business processes for common operations such as returning items to suppliers and managing accounts receivable balances. The templates are tailored for customers in the industrial manufacturing, wholesale distribution, homebuilding and construction industries.

PeopleSoft’s goal is to make it easy and inexpensive for small businesses without deep IT resources to deploy World, Siebert said. In tests, PeopleSoft has modeled a one-week turnaround for deployment of one application in the suite, PeopleSoft World Financials. Software installation can be done in hours — converting a business’s existing data to work with the World software is the biggest deployment hurdle, according to Siebert.

The starting price for World Express is about US$50,000 for 10 to 20 users, PeopleSoft said. It will be available in North America by the end of June, and in Asia-Pacific and Europe during the third quarter. In addition to English, the software will be available in Japanese, French, Italian, Spanish and German.

“Express” is the name IBM has given to its products with a small- and medium-sized business focus, and the similarity in naming conventions isn’t a coincidence: PeopleSoft and IBM, longtime partners, are in discussions about offering bundled hardware and software packages, Siebert said. An alliance with IBM would put World Express into IBM’s network of resellers. Meanwhile, PeopleSoft will push World Express through its J.D. Edwards channel partners.

Norcross, Georgia-based ERP consultancy CD Group Inc. will be one of the firms selling and servicing World Express. Vice-president Don Landrum, a longtime J.D. Edwards specialist, said he’s happy to see PeopleSoft revive World.

“The biggest issue has always been the life of the product. They weren’t really doing enhancements to it. Now, there’s actually a product plan that includes enhancements,” he said. “The price will be a selling point. A lot of iSeries customers are on older technology with homegrown applications they’d like to replace.”

World customer Dave Hyzy, director of IT for Benderson Development Co. Inc. in Buffalo, N.Y., is also pleased with PeopleSoft’s plans for World sales and development. He’s been testing a new Web interface PeopleSoft recently released, which gives users a modern GUI for tapping into World’s applications.

“Since (PeopleSoft has) taken over, they’ve put more time and effort into developing the World product than we saw in the last five years combined under J.D. Edwards,” Hyzy said. “It’s a great step toward making World into a living, breathing software product again. It should be a viable alternative in the market. Its only real detriment has been the fact that it’s been perceived as a legacy application without any growth potential.”

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