At its annual user conference, enterprise applications vendor Peoplesoft executives were in sombre mood, admitting the company's commitment to quality and service has been lacking.
Executives said the company has taken steps to put its house in order, this being seen as a precursor to getting Peoplesoft back on a growth track. In his keynote presentation, Craig Conway, chief operating officer said the company has seen a fall in customer satisfaction for two successive quarters.
"The proportion of customers who said they were extremely satisfied with Peoplesoft fell to 84 per cent. We made mistakes, I sincerely apologise and we need now to move on," he said.
Mike Goija, executive vice president products and technology, said that major releases had too many bugs, customers did not have enough information about how to tune application performance and that costly upgrades were coming at too frequent intervals.
To correct the situation, Peoplesoft has initiated a plan that will be introduced for 1 January, 2000, where platform testing will be undertaken on all supported platforms, cross product line testing will be introduced and there will be a much broader beta testing program prior to general release.
Analysts felt Peoplesoft's mood was that of a vendor that needed to be introspective.
Josh Greenbaum, principal with Berkeley based Enterprise Applications Consulting said, "They were right to be contrite," while Jim Holincheck, analyst with Giga added "They've been a bit too positive in the past with future announcements without necessarily being concerned enough about the present."
Ron Belt, analyst with investment bankers ABN Ambro added, "People are fed up with ERP and its no different with Peoplesoft."
Users were impressed. Thor Wallace, chief information officer with Cybex International, a $130 million healthcare equipment company, said the mood was one of relief.
"I know everyone wants to hear about ecommerce, but this was really good for us. It's very comforting to see individuals making personal commitments," he said.
According to Wallace, upgrades were coming every three months and it was proving 'brutal'.
Like other applications vendors, Peoplesoft has been finding it difficult to make headway in selling backbone enterprise resource planning products like financials and human resources. It has been particularly hurt in North America where its government and education traditional customer base has battened down for the Year 2000.
The company accepts it needs to find new revenue streams and part of that process lies in ensuring its customers are sufficiently satisfied to want new products and services.
For a full report from the Peoplesoft User Conference, (see today's analysis section).
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