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10/26/2004
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PeopleSoft Tries Out CRM In A BlackBerry

Enterprise Sales for BlackBerry is designed to deliver full application functionality, including alerts on hot sales leads, prescriptive analytics, and remote security.

To make its sales-force-automation software handier for the field reps who use it, PeopleSoft Inc. says it will begin selling later this year a mobile application that will let companies running the latest edition of PeopleSoft's customer-relationship-management software provide access to the application via BlackBerry wireless devices.

Enterprise Sales for BlackBerry is designed deliver full application functionality, including alerts on hot sales leads, prescriptive analytics, and remote security that will let an administrator shut off access to the app should a device be lost or stolen. The mobile app will automatically sync with the core sales-force-automation system any time wireless connectivity is detected, meaning that sales reps within range will have access to real-time customer data. Users also won't have to re-enter data in the main application once they've entered it into their BlackBerrys. The app automatically saves entries in both locations.

Perhaps the most attractive feature for IT departments is the ease of deployment. Rolling out the tool won't require any interaction between IT and mobile users, says George Ahn, general manager of PeopleSoft CRM. Rather, the application will be pushed out, popping up as an icon on the BlackBerry home screen without users having to do anything. And the interface is designed to require little or no training. A click on the PeopleSoft icon will open the app, where tabs for contacts, leads, opportunities, and tasks provide simple navigation.

The wireless auto-sync capability gives PeopleSoft an edge over its competition, says Yankee Group analyst Sheryl Kingstone. Giving sales reps the ability to get into the application, get the information they need, and get out quickly could fuel increased use of wireless CRM capabilities, she says.

"That's what's needed. It's exactly where the field-service adoption has gone," she says. Wireless access still won't address fundamental needs missing from CRM applications, Kingstone says, such as content-management-type tools that would let sales reps do things like generate their own proposals. "The Blackberry's not going to be the be-all and end-all to improve sales effectiveness," she says.

Enterprise Sales for BlackBerry is being tested by several unnamed beta customers, Ahn says, and it should be generally available by the end of the year for customers running PeopleSoft CRM 8.9. Pricing hasn't been announced.

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