JD Edwards & Co is making up for its late arrival at the CRM party with an expanded offering that features integration with its Demand Consensus application, a move that provides a task-specific link between CRM and SCM systems.
With this release, the Denver, Colorado-based company has concentrated on improving front-to-back-office visibility as part of its broader strategy to provide applications to boost collaboration and enable its target mid-market customers to respond to the changing needs of customers, and the markets they operate in, while simultaneously managing costs.
The CRM/Demand Consensus link is aimed at improving organizations’ forecasting capabilities, which will not only directly impact costs and customer satisfaction, but will also go some way toward enabling collaboration among divisions. Traditionally, forecasting is based on historical data analysis but the historical nature means that the forecast can be out of step with current market activity. By integrating CRM-based data with forecasting capabilities, forward-looking sales information can be combined with historical information to build a more accurate forecast model.
Although there is an industry-wide move to link supply and demand chains, much of the work has been generic and has focused on data-level integration or has been geared towards supporting end-to-end transactional processes. With version 2.0, JD Edwards is moving a step beyond transactional integration. "What has driven the link between CRM and SCM is visibility across the enterprise as it relates to the customer," said Joel Reed, director of product marketing. "This is the first step; other [vendors] have talked about it but not delivered."
Reed said the new version of its CRM software with its emphasis on pre-packaged and function-specific enhancements will have a major impact on the company’s performance. "The installed base in the mid-market has been reluctant to install CRM because of the lack of IT resource to manage it, so we have pre-packaged it," he said. Renewal rates are at 50%, he added, which is a big step forward and it can now go to market with a credible offering over ERP, SCM and CRM areas.
He said the CRM component is helping the company to win deals in multi-division opportunities because of its componentized base and the use of data model inheritance that combines to provide configurability and flexibility to support different processes across the divisions, without having to re-implement the processes.
Data model inheritance, combined with JD Edwards’ XPi integration platform, means the CRM module can be mapped to any other data store and does not require data to be moved into a separate CRM data store. It provides visibility into the back office, not via another database, but directly and in real time, an approach that has the potential to slash implementation time and cost. "This is a key differentiator in the mid market - once you are past a level of key functionality it comes down to how long it takes to implement and how much it will cost," said Reed.
Version 2.0 comes with a total of 175 enhancements that fill out several gaps in the application specification. In addition to integration with the forecasting application, major improvements include support for mobile sales forces using technology from Synchrologic that provides the capability to support disconnected users. JD Edwards is also supplying the mobile sales solution in a pre-packaged way to ease configuration and deployment.
This release also sees the introduction of a Service Management solution consisting of the company’s contact center and field service applications, designed to enable companies to track equipment service history and manage the flow of service work being carried out. By tying the two elements together the aim is to get a broader view of the customer so that service requests can be directed according to product characteristics, define workflow according to a customers’ level of service priority or level of escalation, and provide customer service staff with access to customers’ past history relating to issues and problems.
Reed said there is a lot of value to be gained from linking the call center to the field service operation because of its potential impact on customer service and expects significant growth in this area with demand coming from asset intensive customers such as telcos, real estate agents and clients on the project and service management sectors.