PeopleSoft tries to bring Vantive users on board

Three years after the acquisition, the time is nearing when PeopleSoft stops supporting Vantive CRM software.

Three years after acquiring Vantive Corp. to help it enter the CRM market, PeopleSoft Inc. says it will continue to support Vantive software at least until the end of 2005.

The Pleasanton, Calif.-based PeopleSoft said that a Vantive product upgrade was issued in March 2001 and a service pack was made available to customers in July 2001.

PeopleSoft said it acquired hundreds of Vantive users in the buyout but did not say how many shops are still running Vantive software.

PeopleSoft is hoping to convert these users over to its CRM applications, saying it has already completed numerous upgrades from Vantive. Brad Wilson, PeopleSoft's vice president of CRM marketing, said his company has tried to contact every Vantive customer it knows of but admits that it may be impossible to bring every one of them on board.

"We can't guarantee that everyone knows what we can do for them, but we've been aggressive about trying to educate [customers] about the advantages of moving to PeopleSoft 8," Wilson said.

Wilson said there is no average migration price. He said that PeopleSoft's software implementation costs, including upgrades, varies by customer, industry, and unique business processes. The project usually takes from two to four months.

"I don't think it's as big a deal as some might imagine it to be," Wilson said. "A lot of the customization once done by Vantive users has become out-of-the-box functionality in our current products."

The PeopleSoft migration process includes an automated audit and assessment to look at a customer's data model and unique customizations. Recognizing that no two deployments are exactly the same, Wilson said PeopleSoft looks at a user's data and how to cleanse it, map it and convert it to PeopleSoft 8. He said the methodology also includes training on the newer platform for employees such as call center representatives and IT staff.

To industry watchers, the move further away from Vantive technology is something the vendor cannot avoid. Mary Wardley, vice president of CRM technology at researcher International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass., said PeopleSoft shouldn't let a few wary users stand in the way of its growth.

"One of the most dangerous things in this business is being held back by your installed base," she said. "If PeopleSoft didn't re-architect products and build in provisions for modern technology, they'd be dead in two years."

Wardley compares the situation to when Microsoft was forced to leave some customers behind to launch the first version of its Windows operating system, which subsequently catapulted the company into its position as the world's biggest software maker.

"Users are only left in the lurch if they want to remain unchanged, and they will have to bite the bullet at some point if they want a modern technology architecture," she said.

Within the CRM industry, Wardley said, PeopleSoft competitor Siebel Systems Inc., based in San Mateo, Calif., faced a similar dilemma when it decided to move away from client-server architecture.

"We'd be bashing [Siebel] for being dated if they hadn't moved on the way they did," Wardley said.

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