PeopleSoft to unveil new portal

PeopleSoft Inc. on Monday will announce the next generation of its portal offering that will include support for Web services and an intelligent context mechanism designed to link user behavior to business processes.

The move comes on the heels of SAP AG recently consolidating its SAP Portals Inc. and SAP Markets Inc. companies into the greater SAP, with the intent of integrating SAP applications with non-SAP applications via the Web services model.

Pleasanton, Calif.-based PeopleSoft, for its part, is expected to unveil a new Web services interface in the portal offering that will allow any application vendor or content provider to bring their content into the portal via Web services, according to company officials. In addition, the company will announce new intelligent context management in the portal designed to predict or drive the behavior of users in the context of a business process, said Ram Gupta, executive vice-president of products and technology at PeopleSoft.

Although Web services are most likely at least a year away from being deployed en masse, portals will be where Web services get introduced, said David Yockleson, an analyst at Meta Group in Stamford, Conn.

“[PeopleSoft] is positioned well, but I don’t think demand is huge right now for that,” he said. “In 99.8 per cent of the portal decisions that I talk to people about, the Web services … is not a huge differentiator.”

The context management feature in the portal is a good way to offer users ancillary information about their work or their roles in an enterprise, he added.

PeopleSoft’s Gupta said the context management feature will be key to tying together crucial data that may be far-flung across the enterprise. For example, a worker in a company’s billing department may need to know that although a certain customer may have been 30 days late in paying a bill, they have committed to filling the sales pipeline for the next quarter, Gupta said. In that example, it would be better to wait for the late payment than to send out a payment notice, he added.

“The predictiveness is to say, ‘Ah ha, the process should be checking out the pipeline, don’t just look at the bills.’ You may also want to check in the past six months how many invoices they have paid late — this may be an exception,” he said.

In related news, PeopleSoft also will roll out a new human capital management solution that will feature incentive management, performance management, and learning management products, Gupta said.

By tying the three together, companies will be better able to take goals from the “board room to the storeroom” by filtering down objectives set by top management, providing incentives for sales and tying payment to performance, he added.

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