J.D. Edwards Intros New Suite

J.D. Edwards today unveiled a product suite for customer relationship management. The software,called Customer Service Management System, is aimed at manufacturers whose products require post-sales servicing and support, such as medical equipment or photocopy machines.

The CSMS application is integrated with J.D. Edwards' OneWorld ERP software. Company officials say the new module will let users move more data across the enterprise--and thus give them a single point of reference for customer contact and interaction, from manufacturing to distribution to call center. "If a customer calls up with a problem, the manufacturer will now have a complete view of that customer's service history and will also have visibility into the spare parts needed to fix the problem," says Michael Schmitt, a senior VP at J.D. Edwards.

New CSMS functionality includes: call-center management designed specifically for high-volume calling and online access to customer and product information; installed-base management, which lets customers track information about all manufactured and sold items; service-contract management, which lets users manage all service contracts from the same system and thus avoid redundant data entry, and service- order management, which ensures that all internal and external operations that comprise a service order are easily monitored and executed.

J.D. Edwards isn't the first ERP vendor to unveil plans for customer management. SAP formally unveiled its sales force automation and customer management initiative last week, while Oracle and Baan have been aggressively targeting this market since the beginning of the year. But unlike its competitors, J.D. Edwards has no plans to sell CSMS as a standalone module.

Peggy Wheeler, an analyst with IT advisory firm AMR Research says it makes sense for the big ERP vendors to attack the customer-management market. "Right now, most companies have homegrown customer systems or piecemeal functionality from a bunch of different vendors," she says "This makes it difficult to pull information together from across the enterprise and get a complete view or your customer environment." She adds that if ERP vendors are offering products that promise to easily integrate customer information with manufacturing and financial data, then users should take a long, hard look at them.

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