J.D. Edwards has released version 2.0 of its CRM suite, available immediately. The product includes 175 enhancements, according to the company, including tight integration with its supply chain applications. Forecasting is an area of special focus in this release.
Instead of basing forecasts on historical information, J.D. Edwards product marketing director Joel Reed told CRM Buyer Magazine, executives can combine past demand with current sales force activity. Version 2.0 also will track the accuracy of forecasts down to the individual salesperson level and weigh those predictions going forward.
CRM 2.0 Enhancements
CRM 2.0 also delivers a prepackaged mobile sales solution. Technology provided through a partnership with Synchrologic lets salespeople access information both on and offline. They can synchronize with the company’s core systems when they are online.
The Service Management package combines contact center and field service applications, allowing a company to track equipment service history and manage the flow of service work being performed.
Contact center enhancements include directing questions or service requests to specific service groups based on specified product characteristics, defining workflow definition for each level of service priority and level of escalation, and preparing customer service staff with access to past history of customer issues and recurring problems.
Both contact center personnel and field service technicians now will have access to a broader range of customer information, such as warranties, specific equipment configurations and past repair calls. Through an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) agreement with Apropos announced several weeks ago, J.D. Edwards has added multichannel capabilities to its contact center tools.
Reed said that J.D. Edwards continues to see the field service niche as an underserved market and thus is “absolutely targeting” the area going forward. He added that he sees this direction as a strengthening of J.D. Edwards’ market position rather than a new thrust.
This CRM version includes a set of tools for building wizards to help users make their way through specific business processes, Reed explained. For example, J.D. Edwards is shipping with CRM 2.0 a wizard for generating proposals. Through links to Microsoft Office applications, the wizard pulls templates from MS Word and quotes from J.D. Edwards systems to build prepackaged proposals.
Enterprises also can develop wizards in-house. For example, a company might want to provide a sales order wizard for executives who rarely issue them and thus need extra help in negotiating the process. Data export would be another possible use of wizards, said Reed — pulling data into an Excel spreadsheet to analyze equipment failures, for example.
The wizard feature may be a differentiator for CRM 2.0 because manufacturers — J.D. Edwards’ core customer group — have been slow to add CRM functionality, and their users are not as experienced with CRM tools as those in other industries.
For example, Nancy Soderquist, CIO of supercomputer maker Cray, told CRM Buyer that her company’s implementation of the entire J.D. Edwards product line marks the first time that Cray has automated many of the customer service and marketing functions that the CRM suite will provide.
Toward Open Standards
“Our customers have driven home to us that proprietary systems mean additional costs to them,” Reed said of the company’s mid-market base. Thus, he said, J.D. Edwards is moving toward non-proprietary tools — including adoption of IBM’s portal infrastructure and webMethods’ integration tools.
“You’ll continue to see that trend from J.D. Edwards,” he added. “We’ll be using standard tools that people in the industry know how to use and that other solution providers have written products for.”
Aberdeen Group vice president Denis Pombriant told CRM Buyer that J.D. Edwards has a “reasonable strategy” for staying competitive in the mid-enterprise CRM market. “They’ve always focused more energy and attention on their installed customer base,” he explained. “They’re taking care to focus on the verticals in which they’ve done well.”
Taking care of that installed base — traditionally strong verticals for the company like manufacturing and new areas like home construction — can mean a certain amount of technical hand-holding, which is difficult to balance with an open architecture.
But Pombriant said he sees J.D. Edwards doing both — offering pre-packaged and integrated systems for companies that want quick and easy installs, but also leaving the door open for other customers to integrate with third-party products as they wish.