PeopleSoft Adds IM to New Enterprise Portal

Business software maker PeopleSoft used the CeBIT spotlight in Germany Friday to lift the wraps off the latest version of its enterprise portal, an upgrade that highlights real-time collaboration capabilities and instant messaging alliances IBM, Microsoft and Yahoo.

PeopleSoft’s Enterprise Portal 8.8 has been fitted with a new Resource Finder tool that will integrate business IM products from IBM and Yahoo in the second quarter this year and instant messaging capabilities from Microsoft in the fourth quarter.

Conspicuously absent in PeopleSoft’s announcement was mention of the other big name in the enterprise IM space — America Online — which has an enterprise IM solution with access to about 180 million users, including 60 percent of all businesses.

A PeopleSoft spokesperson told there was nothing in place with AOL, adding that the door was open for negotiations with the online media giant. “There’s nothing in place [with AOL] right now. There may be more IM vendors added in the future but, for now, it’s just IBM, Microsoft and Yahoo,” the spokesperson said.

At the CeBIT conference, the company showcased the new Resource Finder add-on, which lets users locate any resource needed to help execute a business process.

This is where a secure version of instant messaging comes into play. For example, PeopleSoft explained, users can quickly find a customer who has purchased a particular product, a member of an organization who can answer a specific supplier request or the appropriate application to create an expense report. “Integrated instant messaging technologies allow users to detect whether their business partners are online, and immediately communicate with them in real time to expedite business transactions,” the company said.

With IBM, Yahoo and Microsoft’s enterprise IM built into the product, Enterprise Portal 8.8 users can locate, connect to and collaborate with the appropriate person for a given task or business process, as well as maintain control over tailored sub-sites within the portal.

“The ability to exchange instant messages within applications and portal frameworks is essential for improving business efficiency,” said PeopleSoft CTO Rick Bergquist.

More importantly, by fitting IM into its offerings, PeopleSoft gets to ramp up its Customer Relationship Management (CRM) capabilities. Because it is real-time and is powered by buddy lists, one of instant messaging’s key feature is presence-detection and PeopleSoft said its customers can take advantage of the “follow me” functionality.

Presence detection allows users to immediately determine whether or not a messaging partner is on-line. “Follow-me” functionality enables messages to be forwarded to different devices such as mobile phones or converted into speech and delivered through voicemail. The privacy settings ensure that users are not subject to unwanted communication,” the company explained.

The latest iteration has been jazzed up with a new wizard-driven site administration capabilities enable business users to create and deploy sub-sites with little or no assistance from the IT department.

PeopleSoft, based in Pleasanton, Calif., sells enterprise applications that power back-office operations for corporate clients. Known primarily as an eCRM specialist, the company’s software also ties together accounting, human resources, manufacturing, and supply chain management systems.

PeopleSoft claims more than 600 customers have licensed the Enterprise Portal, which is the flagship component of the its AppConnect suite. The upgraded Enterprise Portal 8.8 will be generally available in the U.S. on March 19 and internationally on May 28.