7 May 2003 PeopleSoft CEO Craig Conway has said that the company will invest “hundreds of millions of dollars” in its Total Ownership Experience initiative, and has dedicated 500 developers to “enhancing the experience of deploying and using PeopleSoft applications”.
PeopleSoft’s Total Ownership Experience is intended to improve the management and ease of use of the company’s software, with a particular emphasis on integration. The initiative was unveiled at PeopleSoft’s 2003 Leadership Summit.
In an upbeat keynote speech, Conway acknowledged the economic and geopolitical challenges organisations currently face, but insisted that those problems “provide an opportunity for technology to make a difference”.
PeopleSoft, he claimed, will lead the way in user-friendly enterprise applications. “While deploying packaged software represents an improvement in cost terms from developing software in-house, it’s still too expensive and too people-intensive to implement applications and keep them up and running.”
He added: “Every industry — from automotive to personal computers — matures to a point where the focus is directed at the customer’s ownership experience. It’s time the enterprise software industry [did so].”
Under the Total Ownership Experience initiative, PeopleSoft will automate many of the processes involved in using its products. These improvements focus on three key areas, says Ram Gupta, PeopleSoft’s executive vice president for products and technology: installation; maintenance; and usability.
In the area of installation, for example, PeopleSoft will introduce installation wizards and configuration templates for specific business processes, such as order-to-cash. In addition, the company will develop tools that can spot conflicting configurations in a customer’s deployment. “Installation will be reduced to a matter of days, configuration to just weeks,” Conway promised customers.
In the area of maintenance, PeopleSoft will embed diagnostic probes into its software to identify trouble spots and bottlenecks, and alert systems administrators to problems. Upgrades will require no systems downtime, as new tools will make it easier for users to run old and new applications in parallel during the changeover period.
In the area of usability, said Gupta, PeopleSoft will focus on reducing the number of steps that users are required to perform in order to complete an action, such as creating a new customer record in its PeopleSoft CRM [customer relationship management] applications.
However, PeopleSoft executives were relatively guarded on when customers could expect to see these enhancements. “We are not talking about a big bang launch two years from now, these features and functions are being built today,” insisted Gupta, who, according to Conway, has drawn up a list of around 112 required enhancements.
Analysts attending the Leadership Summit were sceptical. “Of course they’re going to claim that they can make their products better, faster and cheaper — and if they can, it will be a winner for everyone,” said Josh Greenbaum at Enterprise Applications Consulting. “But we’ve all heard this before from a dozen different vendors. So far, PeopleSoft’s Total Ownership Experience initiative is long on vision, but short on deliverables.”