PeopleSoft users mull big choices

A new Yankee Group survey sheds light on PeopleSoft users' post merger plans.

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Few customers of the former PeopleSoft Corp. would associate themselves with an 80's song performed by The Clash, but in the aftermath of the Oracle merger, many are asking, "Should I stay or should I go?"

At present, there are three choices facing PeopleSoft customers. They can switch to Oracle's Fusion product development roadmap, jump ship to Oracle nemesis and technology leader SAP and the NetWeaver platform, or sit tight and play the waiting game as the two vendors battle for the industry lead.

A report released today by Boston-based the Yankee Group sought to gauge the intentions of PeopleSoft customers following the January press conference where Oracle officially announced its post merger intentions. The survey polled 193 PeopleSoft customers during the months of December and January for their pre- and post-merger reactions.

Philip Fersht, a software and systems infrastructure analyst with the Yankee Group, said an average of 46% of PeopleSoft organizations were "demonstrating a propensity towards switching away from their current applications, while 31% of the respondents were undecided."

"On the surface, this appears like stunningly great news for [competitors] SAP, Siebel and Microsoft," Fersht said. "However, when we actually look at preferred alternative enterprise resource planning products, Oracle is the number one alternative."

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This scenario begs that Oracle maintain a solid defensive strategy so that it can fight off the inevitable campaign coming from Microsoft, SAP, Siebel and others, he said.

"A lot of PeopleSoft customers will switch, but many of them will switch to Oracle," Fersht said.

A switch to Oracle is precisely in the cards for Jim Calabrese, the Chief Financial Officer of AMS Services, based in Bothell, Wash.

"We're staying with Oracle," he said. "These implementations require a significant amount of internal resources to configure these applications. To consider repurchasing another application and completing another implementation isn't justifiable from a cost perspective."

Calabrese added that since the acquisition, his company's service level from PeopleSoft has remained consistent with pre-acquisition levels. However, there was some difficulty accessing PeopleSoft training resources during this same period, he said.

The important factors for many PeopleSoft customers looking to stay with Oracle remains support and reassurance. Mitch Myers, the vice president of operations at Tulsa, Oklahoma-based FW Murphy, said both of these factors have been major contributors to his company remaining with Oracle. FW Murphy currently runs PeopleSoft EnterpriseOne for ERP and CRM.

"Oracle has done a very good job of assuring us. The most important thing is the product and support, specifically J.D. Edwards" products, he said. "We are currently in the camp of 'staying with Oracle."

If I go there could be trouble

Before CRM customers make any decisions, Fersht advises them to take time to examine their environment carefully. It's probably not a a good idea to make a "rash move" and quickly replace their current system with SAP or Siebel.

"If your current implementation is meeting the majority of your needs, take a wait and see approach before embarking on a very difficult, time consuming rip and replace initiative," he said.

As for the hard numbers regarding customers' willingness to replace their PeopleSoft CRM, they were mixed according to the results of the Yankee survey.

Nearly a quarter of survey respondents said they were "very unlikely" to replace PeopleSoft CRM, 17% were "very likely" and 30% were "somewhat likely" to replace PeopleSoft now that Oracle has taken over.

With the current commitment to support PeopleSoft products through 2013, there is plenty of time to evaluate future CRM requirements within a normal replacement cycle of two to seven years depending on customer requirements, Fersht said.

"More than likely the decision to replace a CRM system will not be an independent one, but very much contingent on the overall enterprise application strategy including ERP."

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