PeopleSoft's CEO thanks customers for support

Speaking at the London stop of PeopleSoft Inc.'s "Leadership Summit" tour, company President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Craig Conway on Tuesday thanked customers for their ongoing support as the company attempts to get on with business while Oracle Corp. and the U.S. Department of Justice argue in a San Francisco federal court over Oracle's hostile takeover bid for PeopleSoft.

"If there was ever a year that PeopleSoft appreciated the support of its customers, it's this year. Believe me," Conway told an audience of current and potential customers.

Conway refrained from making many direct references to Oracle as he laid out the case for the Pleasanton, California, company's growth potential in the area of human resources and financial management software, though he did not shy away from naming SAP AG as its major competitor in Europe. "The European press always asks me, 'How are you going to compete with SAP?' and I reply, 'Quite well,'" Conway said.

"Eight years ago, SAP was 10 times our size, four years ago they were four times our size and today, SAP is just over twice our size, so we are gaining market share," the CEO said. "The competition with SAP is motivating and exciting."

Conway will be required to cut his appearances at the traveling customer conference short to make himself available to give testimony in court on June 29, on the order earlier this month of Judge Vaughn Walker.

Though Oracle was hardly mentioned in Conway's speech, it wasn't far away from the minds of attendees of the conference. "The troubles with Oracle were a concern for us," said Geoffrey Milton, director of HRD (human resource development) in Europe for Royal P&O Nedlloyd NV, a provider of point-to-point container shipping services. "It was, of course, there in the background."

Milton said that his company is currently using PeopleSoft Human Capital Management 8.0 and is looking to upgrade to its version 8.8. "Though I wouldn't say the issue (with Oracle's takeover bid) has been resolved, it has been covered over and so for us, it really isn't a factor now," he said.

Milton said he was attending the conference to gain more information on the gap between 8.0 and 8.8, and though he wasn't working at the company when P&O Nedlloyd initially implemented the PeopleSoft software, he sees no need to look at competing versions of the software system for his company's software upgrade planned for later this year. "What I'm most interested in is making sure we know all the stuff we need to do pre-upgrade to make the process go as smoothly as possible," he said.

In general, PeopleSoft seems to be not only retaining, but also expanding its customer base. On Tuesday, PeopleSoft announced that British Telecommunications PLC will deploy PeopleSoft Enterprise Human Capital Management software to manage its worldwide workforce of almost 100,000 employees.

Last April, PeopleSoft reported revenue of US$643.1 million and net income of $24.2 million in the first quarter, results that topped its own guidance but fell slightly short of analyst expectations.

Though P&O Nedlloyd's Milton said he is pleased with the level of service he has received thus far from PeopleSoft, he would in general welcome a more consumer-oriented process from customer relationship management companies.

"What I would really like is an experience similar to what I get when I go into a store like (U.K. computer superstore) PC World (owned by DSG Retail Ltd.) where I buy what I need and it works out of the box," he said.

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