Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

NICE Systems Ventures into the Agent Back Office

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 28, 2010 12:52:22 PM

Most people involved with contact centers know of NICE Systems and its SmartCenter suite of workforce optimization products that support key contact center management capabilities such as call recording, quality monitoring, workforce management, customer feedback management and a variety of performance management and analytics tools. NICE recently received the top ranked Hot Vendor rating in the Ventana Research 2010 Value Index for Agent Performance Management.

Read More

Topics: Customer Experience Management, NICE Systems, Call Center Optimization, Customer Relationship Management, Customer Service Marketing, Operational Performance, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, CRM

inContact Provides Contact Center in the Cloud

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 28, 2010 12:50:40 PM

All the buzz in the contact center market these days is about the “contact center in the cloud.” I have written on the subject, in particular “Is a Contact Center in the Cloud a Reality?” and “Will Cloud Computing Finally Bring Innovation to the Contact Center?”. In considering this issue my thinking focuses on what goes into a contact center and then what vendors offer these systems in the cloud. At the risk of oversimplifying things, I believe a contact center has two core components – communications management and agent and process management.

Read More

Topics: Customer Experience Management, Call Center Optimization, Customer Relationship Management, InContact, Operational Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, CRM

XBRL Filing Errors Point to Need for Automation through Technology

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 28, 2010 12:49:22 PM

The US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) “Interactive Data” initiative continues to progress forward. Thus far, some 1,500 corporations have filed their financial information using XBRL tags to facilitate review and analysis, of which almost 400 have had done detailed tagging of their footnotes. By June 2011 all public companies will have to provide an XBRL-tagged, interactive version of their financial statements. As I’ve noted in the past, I think companies should find ways to automate the XBRL tagging process to make it as efficient as possible and make this a part of a close-to-report process automation effort that can lower the cost of compliance, and give companies more time to review the substance (not just the details) of their filings.

Read More

Topics: Accounting and Finance, XBRL, IT Performance, Business Performance, Business Technology, Financial Performance, Chief Financial Officer, Corporate Finance, Financial Performance Management

LiveOps Enhances Contact Center in the Cloud

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 28, 2010 12:47:58 PM

I have written a couple of pieces this year about the exciting news that a few vendors are now able to provide companies with a call center they can access in the Internet cloud – Will Cloud Computing Finally Bring Innovation to the Contact Center? and Is a “Contact Center in the Cloud” a Reality? There is currently a lot of hype around any kind of cloud-based computing, and the same is true of the contact center. From my perspective, people should be clear about what this phrase really means. Anyone that has been involved in building an on-premises contact center knows it typically involves integrating complex call-management systems (such as PBX, ACD and IVR) and several computer systems including call routing, call recording, workforce management, CRM, agent quality monitoring and performance management, reporting and analytics. The idea is that calls or other types of interactions are delivered to the company’s call center location and then the combination of these technologies determines the best agent to handle the interaction and delivers it to that person. The contact center in the cloud shifts some or all of these systems to a third party, and the company accesses them over the Internet. The difference is that instead of going to the company’s location, an interaction is directly delivered to the best person to handle it, regardless of whether that person is in another location, in a contact center, in another line of business, working at home or even out of the office using a mobile phone. In addition, users are in control in the sense that rather than depending on in-house IT, they can access the service from anywhere with an Internet connection and get new features and functions without waiting for IT to upgrade.

Read More

Topics: Customer Experience Management, Call Center Optimization, Customer Relationship Management, LiveOps, Operational Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM

Kronos Goes Usability and Mobility in New Releases

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 12:24:28 PM

At its annual user conference in Las Vegas, Kronos unveiled the next stage of its approach to workforce management to its customers and partners, showing an aggressively confident posture after completing its fiscal year 2010 with revenue increased 9 percent to $741 million. Kronos is the largest provider of workforce management systems for time and attendance, scheduling, absence tracking, hiring and workforce analytics. Kronos offers the software in several delivery options: through conventional licensing and deployment on-premises, as a managed, hosted service and now software as a service (SaaS). Kronos has made progress since my in-depth analysis last year of its roadmap for its workforce management applications.

Read More

Topics: Human Capital, Human Resources Management, Kronos, Mobile Applications, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Workforce Performance, Compensation, Talent Management, Workforce Management

Enkata Advances Contact Center Analytics to Improve Customer Experience

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 28, 2010 12:22:50 PM

Among the important findings of our latest benchmark research on contact center analytics were these two: 88 percent of companies said they can use analytics to improve the performance of the contact center (41% said they could make significant improvement), and the main issue holding them back from doing that is an excessive reliance on spreadsheets (90% indicated they use spreadsheets on a regular or universal basis).

Read More

Topics: Customer Experience Management, Call Center Optimization, Customer Relationship Management, Enkata, Operational Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM

What is the Value of Your Financial Performance Management Software?

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 28, 2010 12:21:02 PM

Ventana Research has just announced its Value Index for Financial Performance Management (FPM) for 2010. Our value indexes are user-focused assessments of how well software vendors and packages enable companies to improve their execution of core processes. This one is designed to help businesses, especially the finance organization, evaluate the FPM software suites offered by major vendors in the context of their specific needs. Ventana Research defines financial performance management as the practice of managing the efficiency and effectiveness of financial processes including analytics, budgeting, consolidation, planning, reporting and strategy. The methodology we use to produce the Value Indexes involves evaluating in detail aspects of product functionality and suitability-to-task as well as the effectiveness of vendor support for the buying process and customer assurance.

Read More

Topics: ERP, Accounting and Finance, Financial Applications, Business Performance, Business Technology, Financial Performance, Business Planning, CFO, Chief Financial Officer, finance, Corporate Finance, Financial Performance Management

Planview Does Initiative-Based Planning

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 28, 2010 12:17:58 PM

I’ve written quite a bit about integrated business planning (IBP), which is the process of connecting aspects of the planning function across an organization to improve its internal alignment and financial performance. IBP begins with operational – rather than financial – planning (that is, budgeting) because it’s about running the business and figuring out how to make the financial aspects work to support the business plan.  IBP is especially important for corporations in which projects can have a noticeable impact on expenses, revenue and cash flow. This is because of two key differences that set project-type businesses apart from process ones. Planning and managing the financial elements of discrete, high-value activities such as capital investments or important business projects can be time-consuming and problematic. Projects are irregular in both time sequence and use of resources whereas processes are routine and have well-defined inputs. Projects are planned as discrete efforts while processes are recurring and routine and so do not require definition before they are started. It’s really difficult to manage the project-related parts of a business that’s most process driven. To address this problem, Planview introduced an operational planning application earlier this year. Planview’s objective was to address an important gap in the planning software market: enabling companies to plan, manage and assess the both operational and financial performance of their business critical initiatives or (more formally “projects”). Most senior executives would say: “Sure, but can’t we can use our ERP system to do that?” The answer is, unfortunately, no.

Read More

Topics: Performance Management, Project Portfolio Management, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Chief Information Officer, Financial Performance, Business Planning, Chief Financial Officer, Initiatives Management, Initiatives Planning, Operational Planning

Aurix Powers New Generation of Speech Analytics

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 28, 2010 12:16:07 PM

Aurix is not a widely recognized vendor in the speech analytics market even though its technology powers products provided by companies such as CallCopyKnoahSoftNewVoiceMedia and OnviSource. In fact its strategy is to provide the engine that these and other partners use in market-facing speech analytics solutions. Its main product, Aurix speech search SDK, is a search engine that searches through call recordings to find specified words, terms and phrases. It uses advanced phonetic search technology rather than the more common technique of large-vocabulary continuous speech recognition (LVCSR) and thus allows users to avoid setting up a library of the words they want to search for. This approach makes it easier to work with different languages and to pick out slang, jargon, product and place names, and other words not normally found in a dictionary.

Read More

Topics: Customer Experience Management, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Call Center Optimization, Customer Relationship Management, Customer Service, Uncategorized, Contact Center Analytics, Voice Analytics

Tableau 6 Combines In-Memory Processing and Visualization

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 28, 2010 12:14:12 PM

Tableau Software officially released Version 6 of its product this week. Tableau approaches business intelligence from the end user’s perspective, focusing primarily on delivering tools that allow people to easily interact with data and visualize it.  With this release, Tableau has advanced its in-memory processing capabilities significantly. Fundamentally Tableau 6 shifts from the intelligent caching scheme used in prior versions to a columnar, in-memory data architecture in order to increase performance and scalability.

Read More

Topics: Data Visualization, Enterprise Data Strategy, Tableau, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Chief Information Officer, In-Memory Computing

Advantages and Challenges of In-Memory Databases and Processing

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 28, 2010 12:12:40 PM

Interest in and development of in-memory technologies have increased over the last few years, driven in part by widespread availability of affordable 64-bit hardware and operating systems and the performance advantages in-memory operations provide over disk-based operations. Some software vendors, such as SAP with its High-Performance Analytic Appliance (HANA) project has been advancing with momentum, have even suggested that we can put our entire analytic systems in memory.

Read More

Topics: Database, Enterprise Data Strategy, IT Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Chief Information Officer, Complex Event Processing, In-Memory Computing, Information Management, Information Technology

Microsoft Hopes for a Miracle with Windows Phone 7

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 12:10:54 PM

Mobile computing isn’t new anymore. The capabilities of smartphones, among other things, enable businesses to run applications across an enterprise and workers to collaborate across business and social networks. In this endeavor Microsoft was early to market with its Windows CE devices that provided e-mail and Web browsing to phones. For the first years it was a low-level battle among Microsoft, RIM Blackberry and Palm as well as Nokia devices that were used mostly in Europe. In the last few years Microsoft has fallen behind in hardware and software sophistication, and even last year’s introduction of the Windows Mobile operating system had major issues, lacking multitasking, cut-and-paste, search and other basics that are essential for a phone to be smart. Meanwhile Apple has had massive growth with its iPhone, and Google has deployed the Android operating system for multiple devices and is growing its position in market. When I wrote about this movement with Apple in 2009 Apple had had a successful first year and I personally had ditched my Windows phone after giving up on Microsoft’s inability to develop effective mobile software integrated with hardware.

Read More

Topics: Microsoft, Mobile Applications, Mobile Industry, Mobile Social Networking, Mobile Technology Smartphones, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Apple, Business Performance, Business Technology, Chief Information Officer, Mobility

Saba Dedicates Itself to People and Collaboration

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 12:08:22 PM

At its annual user conference in Boston, Saba provided insights to industry analysts on its progress over the last year and its direction for 2011. Best known for its learning management system (LMS), collaboration and more recently its talent management applications, Saba now has more than 19 million users in 1,400 customer organizations that are mostly in the public sector, have 5,000 or more employees and are based in North America, although it operates in 28 languages in 195 countries. Now the company is refining its mission. I analyzed the first indication of this shift in focus to business social networking in 2008 (See: “Saba to Innovate Workforces with Business Social Networking”); that started a movement that Saba communicated more clearly this year in describing its focus on providing “people systems.” That term means it wants to enable businesses to have people collaborate through open dialogue and its collaboration software and human capital management applications.

Read More

Topics: Human Capital, Human Resources Management, Learning, Mobile Applications, Performance, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Workforce Performance, Compensation, Saba, Talent Management, Workforce Analytics

Happy BIRT Day

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 28, 2010 12:06:54 PM

Actuate held its annual customer day in San Francisco amid the happy chaos of the World Series champion Giants’ ticker-tape celebration, and on that day the company’s ticker symbol changed from ACTU to BIRT (a shift, incidentally, botched by NASDAQ). There was a great deal of focus on its ActuateOne platform (which my colleague reviewed here) and the advancements in using open source software like BIRT with now over ten million downloads, but the aspect I want to highlight is the BIRT spreadsheet (originally Actuate’s e.Spreadsheet).

Read More

Topics: Microsoft, Open Source Software, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Chief Information Officer, Information Management, Actuate, BIRT, Microsoft Excel, Spreadsheets

IBM Makes InfoSphere Information Server a Force in IT

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 28, 2010 12:05:35 PM

In the weeks leading up to and as part of its Information On Demand Conference that my colleague assessed, IBM introduced version 8.5 of InfoSphere Information Server and several related product updates. As my colleague suggested earlier, IBM has an ambitious agenda to provide comprehensive information management capabilities through a combination of product development and acquisitions. The breadth of this portfolio is impressive, and InfoSphere Information Server 8.5 makes significant strides in tying the various pieces together.

Read More

Topics: Enterprise Data Strategy, IT Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Chief Information Officer, Data Integration, IBM, Information Management, Information Technology

Teradata Advances Analytics across the Board

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 12:03:26 PM

The battle for business analytics rages on. IBM, Oracle, SAP and SAS as billion dollar and larger companies each combine analytic computation and processing in the underlying data but Teradata remains a key player. For its part Teradata used its annual Partners conference to tout the next generation of analytics in its product portfolio and brought along customers to testify to their success in using its technology.

Read More

Topics: Enterprise Data Strategy, Teradata, IT Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Chief Information Officer, Information Management, Information Technology

Plateau Brings Mobility to Talent Management and Simplifies Applications

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 12:01:24 PM

At its 2010 user conference in Miami, Plateau Systems reviewed for analysts its progress in the market for talent management software. Plateau has a unified platform and suite of applications that cover learning, compensation, job performance and analytics. The company’s financials have been steadily growing as more customers adopt its platform and show good year-to-year growth in its applications that are rented through software as a service (SaaS). Plateau claims that its SaaS business has customer retention of 99 percent. The conference itself grew 40 percent from the previous year, with about 500 people in attendance, and Plateau has started a European conference that provided a local event for the first time.

Read More

Topics: Learning, Performance, Plateau, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Workforce Performance, Compensation, Talent Management, Workforce Analytics

IBM Brings Business Analytics and Information Management to Center Stage

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 11:59:54 AM

This year IBM joined its annual Information on Demand conference with the new IBM Business Analytics Forum. Some 10,000 attendees came to learn about managing information assets using analytics for business, and the value of integrating business intelligence (BI) with information assets across the enterprise. All these topics are relevant, as large organizations have created thousands of silos that house data in many enterprise and personal computing environments. The conference was highlighted by the announcement of Cognos 10 that my colleague analyzed and of IBM’s emphasis on the business value of BI for performance management. The focus on business analytics is now a key part of the company’s overall strategy, and IBM has committed more trained consultants and employees to this market than anyone else.

Read More

Topics: Enterprise Data Strategy, IT Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Chief Information Officer, IBM, Information Management

Corporations Must Manage Taxes More Intelligently

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 28, 2010 11:56:38 AM

For the past couple of years I’ve been asserting that most larger companies (those with 1,000 or employees) need to adopt a new approach to using software to handle their taxes comprehensively, both the direct sort (income taxes) and the indirect variety (sales and use taxes as well as value-added or goods and services taxes). This is a necessary response to an emerging challenge from more competent and determined tax enforcement by governments worldwide. It will require corporations to make changes in how they employ software to manage their taxes, structure their tax-related data and manage their tax processes. Increasingly, corporations will need to have better control over the way they manage tax data, calculate taxes and handle associated processes so they can minimize their tax liabilities and their tax risk exposure.

Read More

Topics: Accounting and Finance, Enterprise Tax, Tax Software, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Chief Financial Officer, Corporate Finance, Financial Performance Management, International Finance

Cognos 10 Breaks Down Barriers To Business Intelligence and Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 28, 2010 11:55:11 AM

On October 25, IBM introduced Cognos 10 at its Information on Demand and Business Analytics Forum in Las Vegas that I attended to review the technology closer from my examination at its recent IBM Business Analytics analyst summit in September. According to Rob Ashe, IBM’s general manager of business analytics, Cognos 10 has been developed for over six years. You’re probably aware that in that period IBM made a variety of acquisitions including Cognos itself. These acquisitions and their impact on the new product are clearly in evidence as part of the release.

Read More

Topics: Enterprise Data Strategy, Performance Management, Planning, IT Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Chief Information Officer, IBM, Information Management

Think Outside the Box when Investing in Salesforce Chatter

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 28, 2010 11:53:28 AM

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog discussing salesforce.com (SFDC) Chatter and the buzz the technology is making in which one of my biggest questions was how a non-SFDC customer could justify purchasing Chatter. Well I finally got to speak with someone who has paid at least partially for Chatter. I say partially because this particular customer already has several hundred licenses with SFDC (which entitle them to use Chatter for free) but has paid for several hundred other users to also have access.

Read More

Topics: Social Media, Social CRM, Customer Relationship Management, salesforce.com (CRM), Chief Information Officer, Collaboration, Operational Intelligence

Merced Systems’ European Event Showcases Best Practices and Customer Insights

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 28, 2010 11:51:05 AM

Merced Systems provides software to support performance management in both sales and service. Its products extract data from various systems to produce business-related reports, dashboards, scorecards and analysis that help companies improve performance in these two key functions. To further its efforts, Merced recently invited around 100 partners, customers and prospects to its 360 Degree Performance Management Forum in London. As well as the usual presentations and demonstrations to convey its messages, successes and strategy, the customer presentations provided practical insights into how companies use these products to gain real business benefits. Since my colleague covered Merced’s U.S. event in depth on applications and technology, I will assess one of the customer presentations in more depth.

Read More

Topics: Customer Experience Management, Merced Systems, Operational Performance, Agent Performance Management

IBM Acquires Clarity Systems for More Financial Performance Management

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 28, 2010 11:41:45 AM

IBM announced it has acquired Clarity Systems, a Toronto-based vendor of performance management software and consulting. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. (My most recent blog and analysis about Clarity Systems can be found here. The acquisition fills an important hole in the IBM Cognos applications portfolio, as Clarity FSR is a leading application for automating and managing the close-to-report cycle. This capability has become essential for companies that are required to file financial statements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under its “interactive data” mandate. That mandate, which is being phased in now, requires these corporations to tag their financial statements (and most of the footnotes attached to the statements) as well as their 8-K forms (which are essentially press releases, but especially earnings announcements). I estimate that for a large majority of Fortune 1,000-size public companies, automating the close-to-report cycle alone will have a positive ROI and a short payback period. This is why earlier this year I listed automating the close-to-report cycle as a 2010 priority for finance departments. Many finance departments use up a great deal of time of highly paid employees in this process, cobbling together tables with data from multiple sources; writing, editing  and reviewing scattered snippets of text and triple-checking the resulting documents for errors. Many of them, too, will have to automate the process of tagging data to reliably meet filing deadlines. I also expect that most corporations ultimately will prefer to prepare their own filing documents internally and use the financial publishers (Bowne, Donnelley and Merrill are the leaders) as conduits rather than outsourcing this work to them.

Read More

Topics: Clarity Systems, Financial Close, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Financial Performance Management

SuccessFactors Takes a Calculator into the Cloud?

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 11:39:35 AM

SuccessFactors is known for applications in performance and talent management but has been working to expand its portfolio more broadly into business. This year the company expanded its focus to workforce analytics with the acquisition of Inform, which I assessed. I have assessed that Inform needed to improve the usability of its tools to compete better which is now more easily possible with a new acquisition.

Read More

Topics: Human Capital Management, SuccessFactors, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Talent Management

Qlik Here for My View of QlikView 10

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 28, 2010 11:37:48 AM

My colleague recently wrote about QlikView, noting its rapid ascent to providing a very robust support of mobile technology platforms among BI vendors and integration with SAP. On the occasion of its release of a major product revision, QlikView 10, I’d like to add my perspective on the company and its most recent release. I first learned of QlikView about five years ago while working on the TM1 product line which, like QlikView, is also a 64-bit, in-memory analytic technology supporting business intelligence needs across business and IT.

Read More

Topics: QlikView, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Information Management, Mobility

iWay Software Connects Salesforce Chatter to the Enterprise

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 11:36:19 AM

It is not easy for businesses to make their operations more efficient, partly because their information systems do not provide notifications of events as they are happening. Most enterprise technology uses batch processing and is designed to move data from one database to another; otherwise it requires people to go and find the data they need. To be more responsive, new technologies capture and process events that are triggered by underlying systems and manage them through complex event processing (CEP). This technology is part of our research in the general category of information management; and in researching the category we call operational intelligence but now CEP is becoming embedded in other technologies in the enterprise.

Read More

Topics: Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Data Integration, Information Management

Putting Hadoop To Work

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 28, 2010 11:34:29 AM

If you enjoyed my previous blog, “Hadoop Is the Elephant in the Room,” perhaps you’d be interested in what your organization might do with Hadoop. As I mentioned, the Hadoop World event this week showcased some of the biggest and most mature Hadoop implementations, such as those of eBay, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo. Those of you who need 8,500 processors and 16 petabytes of storage like eBay likely already know about Hadoop. But is Hadoop relevant to organizations with less data that is still a lot?

Read More

Topics: Business Intelligence, Hadoop, Information Management

Hadoop Is the Elephant in the Room

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 28, 2010 11:33:09 AM

Earlier this week I attended Hadoop World in New York City. Hosted by Cloudera, the one-day event was by almost all accounts a smashing success. Attendance was approximately double that of last year. There were five tracks filled mostly with user presentations. According to Mike Olson, CEO of Cloudera, the conference’s tweet stream (#hw2010) was one of the top 10 trending topics of that morning. Cloudera did an admirable job of organizing the event for the Hadoop community rather than co-opting it for its own purposes. Certainly, this was not done out of altruism, but it was done well and in a way that respected the time and interests of those attending.

Read More

Topics: Business Intelligence, Hadoop, Information Management

HR Technology Conference Brings Insight to Opportunity

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 11:31:29 AM

The annual HR Technology conference in Chicago provided a glimpse into the activities of HR organizations and their technology investments. It was a busy event with large attendance and much movement between sessions and the exhibit floor as attendees sought to learn more about the technology and what it can do for them. As always event organizers presented a large number of awards and announcements on the latest in technology for managing the workforce. The months leading up to the event saw various vendor consolidation activities that were part of the dialogue and discussion at HR Tech. First Kenexa acquired Salary.com to gain a talent management suite to complement its compensation and performance management software. Then ADP acquired Workscape for its compensation and performance management software, Taleo acquired Learn.com to bring learning to its suite, and SumTotal Systems acquired Softscape for its HRMS and talent management suite. All of them attended the conference. Also present were large providers of a range of business applications Infor, Oracle and SAP, which have several offerings for HR environment both HRMS and talent management applications. Oracle just made a move in talent management with the announcement of Oracle Fusion for Human Capital Management that I assessed; it is part of the larger Fusion family of new applications shown at Oracle OpenWorld. WorkDay continues to promote its blend of HRMS and talent management in its HCM offering appears to be making progress in catching up to the maturity of other offerings in the market.

Read More

Topics: Human Capital Management, Business Performance, Workforce Performance, HRMS, Talent Management

Longview FXR Automates Close-to-Report Cycle

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 28, 2010 11:25:40 AM

With its FXR offering, Longview Solutions becomes the latest entrant into the market for software that automates the close-to-report cycle. Addressing the steps in the accounting cycle after the books are closed, the product assembles this accounting data, data from other sources (for example, management data such as a business segment breakout of revenues and operating profits or nonaccounting data such as the amount of real estate owned or leased), and the written commentary that accompanies such data in external reports, such as a legally mandated filing by a public company (for instance, in the United States, form 10-Q, 10-K or 8-K) or a periodic filing required by a creditor or lien holder. Longview FXR and its competition come at an opportune time for both vendors and users. Until recently, companies prepared these documents manually with little if any automation. However, the mandate of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that U.S. public companies must tag their filings using the eXtended Business Reporting Language (XBRL) is forcing companies to rethink this manual process because of the time it will take to perform once the requirement is fully phased in. Larger companies may have thousands of items that they will have to tag at this stage. If history is any guide, the number of tagged items is likely to grow over time. For example, items in the management discussion and analysis and in the compensation table are not covered by tagging at this point because of how long it will take to create a useful taxonomy for these items. Moreover, governments worldwide are likely to increase the scope of business reporting that must be tagged.

Read More

Topics: Financial Close, LongView, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Financial Performance Management

Oracle Expands Its Playbook at OpenWorld

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 11:23:34 AM

At its annual conference Oracle OpenWorld this year Oracle flexed its muscles as a technology giant. The company has been steadily growing through acquisitions to expand its database, middleware and applications, and the recent acquisition of Sun Microsystems gives it a way to sell hardware for servers and storage. This momentum is enabling Oracle to develop new streams of revenue, which were on display at OpenWorld in offerings such as a new generation of appliances from Oracle Exalogic for transactional computing and Oracle Exadata 2 for analytical processing along with the Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud. This move into database appliances provides a route to capturing market share, particularly from Hewlett-Packard and IBM. As well its market and technology consolidation efforts are paying off in strong financial growth, as shown in its results for the first fiscal quarter of 2011. The conference had hundreds of announcements and insights delivered in breakout sessions or customer presentations regarding all aspects of Oracle’s portfolio of applications, middleware and database technologies. Seeing the former CEO of HP, Mark Hurd, on stage as President of Oracle added to the sense that the company is making dramatic steps for the present and future (See: “Oracle Hopes Mark Hurd Brings New Herd of Business“). And while there were few references to the previous president, Charles Phillips, it is clear that his hard work sowed the crop for Hurd to harvest in marketing, sales and services.

Read More

Topics: IT Performance, Operational Performance, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Enterprise Software, Information Applications, Information Management, Information Technology

Teradata Advances Personalized Marketing Using Analytics

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 28, 2010 11:21:41 AM

Most people would describe Teradata as a data warehouse and analytics vendor as my colleague has reviewed its core technology. In addition to that, through its own development and by partnering, the company has branched out into the applications market. One such application is Teradata Relationship Manager (TRM) main purpose is to personalize customer interactions, regardless of channel or type of interaction, although its target area is predominantly marketing.

Read More

Topics: Marketing, Operational Performance, Analytics, CRM

What Is Wrong with Business Intelligence?

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 28, 2010 11:19:58 AM

I attended the IBM Business Analytics Analyst Summit in Ottawa and while I can’t tell you much about what was discussed there due to confidentiality restrictions that will be released shortly, I can share with you some of my own observations regarding the state of BI, particularly what’s wrong with it. By “wrong,” I mean why aren’t adoption rates higher?  Why aren’t users more satisfied?  Our Ventana Research benchmark research on BI indicates that only 37 percent of organizations are satisfied or very satisfied with their BI efforts.

Read More

Topics: Business Intelligence, Information Management

Cicero Has Smart Agent Desktop for Contact Centers

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 28, 2010 11:18:41 AM

My research over seven years persistently shows that the two main business objectives in a contact center are to reduce average call-handling time (AHT) and improve customer satisfaction. It doesn't seem unreasonable to ask why after all this time most companies haven't come up with solutions to these challenges. To find the answer, I think you have to look at the causes. I believe the big two are that "not all agents are equal" - some are more successful at handling calls than others - and that the combination of tools most of them are given - their agent desktop - to support their efforts is a mess.

Read More

Topics: Operational Performance, Agent Performance Management, Contact Center

SAS Supports Marketing through Customer Intelligence

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 28, 2010 11:17:04 AM

SAS is a presence in analytics of virtually every kind and my colleague the broader value of SAS earlier this year. Only a couple of months back I wrote briefly about one of its newest offerings, Social Media Analytics. Since then I have had a chance to see this product in action. While the current version isn’t what I would describe as on the leading edge, it provides capabilities companies need right now. In simple terms it lets companies farm data from multiple social media sites (using extensions of its well-proven data extractors), processes these through a version of its core BI applications and then presents what consumers are saying about a company in ways that are easy to use and understand. Users can see customer sentiments about various topics such as company brand, products or services and get a view of trends and likely causes of changes of sentiment. Now that many consumers and customers are expressing their views through social media, this kind of information becomes vital to plotting future activities and helping to make smart decisions.

Read More

Topics: Customer Experience Management, Customer Intelligence, Operational Performance

IBM Business Analytics Workshop Illuminates Performance Management

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 28, 2010 11:15:33 AM

As part of its recent IBM Business Analytics Industry Analyst Summit, I participated in a demonstration of IBM Business Analytics Workshop, a simulation that the company uses to demonstrate the capabilities of its performance management software. Rather than offering a canned demo or a Microsoft PowerPoint deck, the workshop gives a team of individuals from a company a reasonably realistic interactive experience of using the software for a purpose. The group starts with a set of financial goals and then has to comb quickly through a set of operating data to establish a product strategy for the coming year - which products to emphasize in which segments of the geographical markets it serves. In a series of "moves," participants progress through the year, seeing how well they've done, adjusting their strategy if necessary, reforecasting and making sure that the company's resources are aligned with the strategy that they established. IBM and its analytics from acquisition of Cognos offers different flavors of the workshop: The shortest, most basic one takes several hours and can be played with a handful of people, but longer versions that involve many more players and get into many more details are also available.

Read More

Topics: Performance Management, Sales Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Information Management, Workforce Performance

Perillon Takes Sustainability to the Next Level

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 28, 2010 11:13:45 AM

Ecology and economy are two words with the same root. Similarly, the focus on sustainability in business has two sorts of "green" impacts: on the environment and (if you do it right) on the bottom line. Perillon has an on-demand and cloud computing-based solution for companies that want to manage their double-green sustainability efforts more effectively. Perillon Workspace Suite offers "sustainability performance management" for organizations in energy and environmental management. It delivers the kind of benefits that all enterprise performance management systems are designed to provide: the ability to assemble all relevant performance-related data, put that data into the proper context, present it relative to objectives, provide individual managers with alerts when results require their specific attention and incorporate a mechanism for ensuring that out-of-tolerance situations are addressed adequately. Moreover, because of its engineering history, Perillon captures data, in effect, all the way from the smokestack and not just in the technology stack. This differentiates the product from reporting tools that, while intelligent enough to have already built data and reporting structures designed to support sustainability efforts, must obtain the data from separate systems.

Read More

Topics: Supply Chain Performance, Perillon, Sustainability Management, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Financial Performance Management

It’s Alive!: A Look at Why the Software Ecosystem Matters to You.

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 28, 2010 11:11:59 AM

With the ongoing spate of mergers and acquisitions in the software industry, I’d like to offer some perspective on what these acquisitions mean to software-purchasing organizations. Think of the software industry as a thriving ecosystem, with large software companies at the top of the food chain. Small companies are formed and, if they have an interesting idea and some good marketing, they grow. The really good ones may continue to grow and be independent, but most of the good ideas eventually get bought by larger, more established companies.

Read More

Topics: IT Performance, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Enterprise Software, Information Technology

Joining the Ventana Research Team and Community

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 28, 2010 10:44:33 AM

Here’s a big shout-out to the Ventana Research community. I’m happy to be here. I think it would be appropriate to introduce myself and tell you a little bit about why I’m here and what I hope to accomplish as a member of the Ventana Research team.

Read More

Topics: IT Performance, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Enterprise Software, Information Technology

Sneak Preview and Analysis: Oracle Fusion Applications for Financial Management

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 28, 2010 10:25:43 AM

Oracle unveiled its Fusion Financials applications at its latest OpenWorld confab as part of its broader Fusion Applications announcement. The software will be generally available shortly. Beyond it being the approach to bringing together the disparate ERP/Financial applications the company owns (E-Business Suite/Oracle Applications, PeopleSoft and JD Edwards), Oracle Fusion Financials rethinks the architecture on which the software is built consistent with the longer-term business software trend of having applications mould themselves around business processes rather than having to mould business processes around available software. This is not just a simpler integration of business intelligence and on-line transactions processing. It results in an easier, more consistent and faster way to execute the execution of finance department functions. It is a breakthrough in the making, but owing to the conservative nature of the buyers and the lack of any compelling reason for Oracle to encourage them to migrate, one that I expect will take most of this decade to pan out.

Read More

Topics: Financial Close, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Oracle, Financial Performance Management

Sneak Preview and Analysis: Oracle Fusion Applications for CRM and Sales Organizations

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 10:23:35 AM

At Oracle OpenWorld this week the company announced its next generation of business applications call Oracle Fusion Application ,  , which Larry Ellison touted in his closing day keynote at last year's conference, as I noted then. I attended the conference partly to learn what Oracle is doing in providing applications for sales organizations. In the late 1990s Siebel Systems introduced customer relationship management (CRM), which proved to be the next generation of sales-assisting technology after sales force automation (SFA). Since Oracle acquired Siebel a few years ago, it has advanced CRM through its own products and those acquired with PeopleSoft, and more recently with the Oracle OnDemand offerings. At OpenWorld Oracle began the formal  unveiling of next generation applications called Oracle Fusion Applications for CRM. Under this umbrella is a portfolio of applications designed to help lines of business with specific activities and processes, especially those involving sales operations and managers.
I was eager to attend a session at OpenWorld that had the phrase sales performance management (SPM) in its title because Oracle has not explicitly recognized this as a category for sales applications and also other sessions on its new approach to sales applications. More than five years ago our firm defined SPM as a category and since then has provided research and education on it. More and more sales organizations are adopting applications in this category to replace their SFA and CRM applications; SPM includes applications for managing incentives and rewards, compensation, goals, coaching, assets, territory, quotas and other sales functions not well addressed by those older applications. The need for these types of applications is clear from our benchmark research on SPM, which found only 13 percent of organizations to be very satisfied with SFA and many organizations rating other applications more important than it to their sales operations and performance.

Read More

Topics: Sales Performance, Sales Operations, Operational Performance, CRM, Sales Performance Management

Sneak Preview and Analysis: Oracle Fusion Applications for Human Capital Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 10:21:29 AM

At Oracle OpenWorld this week the company announced its next generation of business applications call Oracle Fusion Applications ,  which Larry Ellison touted in his closing day keynote at last year's conference, as I noted then. Oracle's head of strategy, Gretchen Alarcon, and head of development, Clive Swan, presented the introduction to one of the seven Fusion families, Human Capital Management, and afterward many sessions provided depth on the product. Though this application suite is not ready for sale to the public yet, Oracle Fusion Applications for HCM has many new capabilities that will be welcomed not just by HR professionals but by line-of-business managers and employees. After all, human capital management (HCM) or what many in the industry call talent management matters as much to people whose career it affects as it does to those who use it in HR.

Read More

Topics: Human Capital Management, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Talent Management, Workforce Performance Management

IBM Makes Major Buy in Analytics Market with Netezza

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 10:18:46 AM

IBM has announced its intention to acquire Netezza, one of the world’s fastest-growing providers of data appliances, for approximately $1.7 billion. Founded only 10 years ago, Netezza has over 500 employees and 350 clients including brand names Burlington Coat Factory, Con-way Freight, Estee Lauder, Marriott and Nationwide Insurance. IBM has been investing in analytics software for five years and now becomes one of the strategic providers in the market. Many organizations are unwilling to spend the large amount of resources and budget to configure and tune complex databases like Microsoft, Oracle’s and even IBM on a specific brand of hardware and then have to deal with issues in storage, performance and scalability in processing data across their network. Instead they would like to find a technology package that handles data simply for various analytic purposes and is as easy to buy as a dishwasher or a clothes dryer.

Read More

Topics: Data Warehouse, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Information Management, Netezza

Talent Management Market Contracts Further as SumTotal Acquires Softscape

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 10:17:09 AM

The market for talent management software continues to consolidate as SumTotal will acquire Softscape to bring together a combination of customers, people and products that reaches more than 25 million users and 1,800 customers globally. This purchase follows three other recent ones: ADP acquiring WorkscapeKenexa acquiring salary.com and Taleo acquiring Learn.com. The result is fewer but stronger software companies providing applications that enable human resources departments and others in the organization to manage workforce performance. In recent years SumTotal has gone through a transition of management and rationalization of products from acquisitions with financial backing from Vista Equity Partners to help stabilize the company. On the other hand, Softscape had been growing organically over the last 15 years through its closely held ownership to expand its presence across the world. While SumTotal specializes in learning and collaboration along with performance management, Softscape has a complete HRMS and talent management suite that includes recruiting, onboarding, performance, compensation, succession planning and analytics.

Read More

Topics: Human Capital Management, Softscape, Business Performance, Workforce Performance, HRMS, SumTotal Systems, Talent Management

Actuate’s Xenos Enterprise Server Dishes Out Mounds of Content

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 28, 2010 10:15:26 AM

For the past couple of decades Xenos' distinctive competence has been the transformation of print streams into content used to assemble documents. Its focus these days is in addressing the needs of organizations that have to handle high volume transactional output (HVTO) and all forms of enterprise content. The company, which was acquired by Actuate earlier this year, recently released their Enterprise Server Version 2.0.

Read More

Topics: Information Management, Content Management

IBM Opens a Page for GRC

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 28, 2010 10:12:50 AM

IBM has announced its intention to acquire OpenPages, a privately held, Massachusetts-based software company focused on governance, risk and compliance (GRC). I noted that after the deal finishes, the business will reside within IBM’s analytics group rather than in document management; this arrangement signals IBM’s intention to integrate its collaboration and communications around performance management (and achieve a fusion of text and data) and sharpen the ability of OpenPages to get an audience with finance and IT organizations, which are mainstays of IBM’s business analytics efforts after its acquisitions of Cognos, SPSS and others.

Read More

Topics: GRC, Open Pages, Operational Management, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Financial Management

ActuateOne Advances Information Platform with Analytics and Business Intelligence

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 10:11:25 AM

Actuate has announced a major new version of its software called ActuateOne. Its technology is integrated in a single platform and set of tools for performance management, analytics, business intelligence (BI) and information applications; the product can be managed on-premises or in the cloud and is accessible via mobile devices such as the Apple iPhone and iPad. Actuate has been in the BI market since the 1990s; this release counts as version 11, which by itself represents a significant milestone for an independent company like Actuate.

Read More

Topics: Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Information Management, Actuate

SAP Unveils Next Generation of Business Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 10:09:16 AM

On Tuesday in Silicon Valley, SAP introduced its latest business software: business analytics applications for specific vertical industries. The event was kicked off by SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott, who demonstrated the simplicity of the applications on an Apple iPad, which has become the demonstration system of choice for SAP as well as a tool it provides for its sales force. Bill and EVP of Business Analytics Keith Costello provided a glimpse of the applications’ capabilities as part of the product launch event. This announcement was expected as SAP has been known to be working on advancing its analytics through its own development efforts and from applications acquired with Business Objects. The announcement is significant for SAP’s ability to compete with IBM and Oracle in vertical industries but has not arrived to their point of also offering independent and cross industry analytics across all line of business areas like sales, operations, marketing, contact center and customer management . Bringing new applications to the analytics market enables SAP to utilize its business intelligence (BI) platform and tools with analytics models and metrics brought together in a package for an industry. Specifically SAP announced 10 applications for vertical industries including consumer packaged goods (CPG), retail, banking, healthcare, the public sector and telecommunications and plans to release new ones on a quarterly basis along with updates.

Read More

Topics: SAP, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Information Management

The Buzz Is about Salesforce.com Chatter

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 28, 2010 10:07:19 AM

On Wednesday, September 9, 2010 the massive marketing machine called salesforce.com rolled into London to stage its 2010 Cloudforce event at the Royal Festival Hall. The clout of CEO Mark Benioff and his team in the IT industry was evident in the fact that at short notice they could postpone the event by a day and still get about 3,000 attendees, stage a massive partner show and put on a keynote speech and side events that kept the attendees busy and informed about latest developments with salesforce.com and its customers and partners. But through it all one thing stood out – Chatter.

Read More

Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Operational Performance, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Customer Service, CRM

Looking forward to Oracle OpenWorld

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 28, 2010 10:05:18 AM

Looking forward to Oracle OpenWorld, I was recalling that about 20 years ago, when I started covering the software industry as a Wall St. analyst, I paid a visit to the company. There were many fewer database-shaped glass buildings there in Redwood Shores then but the lack of corporate focus on business applications and users remains unchanged.

Read More

Topics: Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Enterprise Software, Financial Performance, Information Management, Information Technology, Oracle, Workforce Performance

Informatica Cloud Asserts Its Strength

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 28, 2010 9:58:10 AM

Recently I wrote a blog outlining a relatively new offering, Informatica Cloud. I questioned how many companies understood the need for data management and whether they would turn to a cloud-based solution to meet their needs. It seems that my doubts have been addressed with the rapid adoption of it in 2010. At salesforce.com’s recent Cloudforce event in London, I learned that Informatica Cloud now has more than 1,000 customers and that it is the application most often downloaded from salesforce’s AppExchange. Basically, Informatica Cloud allows business users to extract data from one or more systems and have it integrated into another system. Business people pick the systems they want to use and define rules for how integration should take place; the process then happens automatically. All the technology resides “in the cloud” so after a little help getting started from IT, business users can handle their own data integration requirements.

Read More

Topics: Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Data Integration, Informatica, Information Management

Oracle Hopes Mark Hurd Brings New Herd of Business

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 9:56:28 AM

At the eye of the tornado of accusations, rumors and gossip in Silicon Valley that began with CEO Mark Hurd’s departure from Hewlett-Packard are the internal politics and lack of management procedures and oversight at the company. I have pointed out a connection not discussed elsewhere to issues around the enterprise software efforts at HP (See: “HP Scandal Reflects on Enterprise Software Issue“). Now with Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s hiring of Hurd as president and appointment of him to the company’s board of directors, this topic comes up again because Mark will bring energy and ideas for advancement of Oracle’s technology portfolio. Larry continues to deliver interesting one-liners to the media, beginning at the time of the firing (“The HP Board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple Board fired Steve Jobs many years ago.”) and continuing as HP sues Oracle over Hurd bringing proprietary knowledge from there (“The HP board is acting with utter disregard for that partnership, our joint customers, and their own shareholders and employees. The HP board is making it virtually impossible for Oracle and HP to continue to cooperate and work together in the IT marketplace."). Larry is right that his move will impact the Oracle/HP partnership at many levels, but the war of words also shows the personal nature of high-stakes gamesmanship in Silicon Valley.

Read More

Topics: Sales Performance, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Enterprise Software, Information Technology, Oracle

Contact Center Analytics Help Reduce Average Call-Handling Time

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 28, 2010 9:54:54 AM

My research continues to show that the most important key performance indicator (KPI) for call centers is average call-handling time (AHT). Furthermore, second in importance only to improving customer satisfaction is the challenge of reducing operating costs, which invariably involves trying to reduce AHT, which contact centers need to do without negatively impacting customer satisfaction. An indicator of the complexity of this issue is its persistence as one of the longest-running and most active debates on LinkedIn.

Read More

Topics: Operational Performance, Analytics, Agent Performance Management, Call Center, Contact Center, CRM

ADP Acquires Workscape to Consolidate Talent Management Market

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 9:53:04 AM

Consolidation activity increased in the market for applications in talent management or what I call workforce performance management as ADP announced and now has closed the acquisition of Workscape. ADP is a $9 billion outsourcing provider that is well known for providing employer and payroll services; the company has been expanding its breadth of services for employers by responding to demand for software as a service (SaaS), a deployment model that does not require significant involvement from the customer’s IT staff.

Read More

Topics: Performance Management, Kenexa, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Compensation Management, Talent Management

KnoahSoft Harmonizes Agent Performance Management

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 28, 2010 9:51:03 AM

Over the last decade in my research into contact center operations has revolved around the four operational challenges faced by center managers: to reduce average call-handling time, increase agent utilization, increase customer satisfaction and one recently gaining in importance, to increase first-contact-resolution rates. The first two clearly relate to the core issue of reducing operational costs; the latter two focus on customer retention. At the center of meeting all these challenges are the contact center agents. Those of us who follow relevant LinkedIn discussions see that many experts and center managers agree on his point, but most also point out that even skilled agents need technology to help them.

Read More

Topics: KnoahSoft, Operational Performance, Call Center, Agent Performance

Host Analytics Performance Management is Sweet in the Cloud

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 28, 2010 9:49:16 AM

Most large corporations have embraced some form of “performance management” software – perhaps even multiple forms – including business analytics to help create key performance indicators, reporting systems for graphically presenting information in a useful context (such as dashboards, scorecards or a recurring performance report) as well as planning systems to create budgets and forecasts or handle reviews. These sorts of systems become rarer as the size of the organization gets smaller. One reason is that in smaller organizations the time and effort needed to create and maintain these sorts of systems doesn’t seem to be worthwhile. Having an IT department that is large enough to have (and maintain) the skills support multiple applications and the data infrastructure to feed it can be more than midsize company or the division of a large corporation may be willing to bear. Yet, few of them want to compromise on features and capabilities and so they continue to cobble together their data, reporting and planning and review functions, often using desktop spreadsheets as the backbone. In midsize or large companies this can produce false economies. Our research finds that organizations this size that rely on spreadsheets to handle their performance management requirements waste a considerable amount of time trying to overcome the shortcomings of the technologies they are using and do not achieve the kind of return on the time invested they should. Time is a precious commodity to any business, but especially in any organization that has outgrown more informal systems and yet are not giant enough to be able to afford a large IT department.

Read More

Topics: Financial Close, Host Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Financial Performance Management

Kenexa Advances in Talent Management and Saves Salary.com

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 9:47:20 AM

Today was another inflection point for the talent management market and buyers of HR applications with the announcement that Kenexa is acquiring salary.com (NASDAQ: SLRY) pending shareholder and SEC approval. Kenexa is offering a cash-per-share agreement that should work to complete the transaction. More complicated will be figuring out how to retain the talent at salary.com; that company has been decreasing in sales and size of the organization over the last couple of years and has struggled to reduce operating expenses. Its recent quarterly SEC filing showed a loss of more than $5.5 million on $9.7 million of revenue. It’s obvious that salary.com needed to find a buyer fast or face closing its doors. In contrast, according to its most recent quarterly SEC filing, Kenexa generated a $1.1 million profit on $44.8 million of revenue.

Read More

Topics: Performance Management, Kenexa, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Compensation Management, Talent Management

Clarabridge’s Text Analytics Improve Customer Experience

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 27, 2010 5:50:20 PM

I have been doing research into customer relationship management (CRM), contact centers and analytics for seven years. Throughout that time some customer-related themes have remained constant: Companies say their top driver is to improve customer satisfaction; customer experience management (CEM) has overtaken CRM as a top priority; and companies still search for a 360-degree view of the customer (which now is often called “the voice of the customer”). For many companies these themes remain problematic. Most don’t really know how satisfied their customers are; many are not sure exactly what CEM is; and that 360-degree view of the customer remains elusive.

Read More

Topics: Customer Experience Management, Clarabridge, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Information Management, Text Analytics

Infopia Launches Retail Analytics for E-Business

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 27, 2010 5:48:13 PM

The rapid evolution of business on the Internet has dramatically changed many organizations’ strategies for growth and profitability, especially those in the retail sector. I have written about the importance of analytics overall and in retail, but many companies are maturing slowly in using them to analyze electronic business and commerce. Data derived from analytics can enable them to manage the cycle from electronic merchandising and promotions to assessing interactions with sales categories and products and then to details of customer behavior and revenue. While there have been advancements in analytics of Web traffic, more is needed to be done to operate the Internet channel of retailing like those of “bricks and mortar.” As I have written about the evolution of Web sites to business sites (See: “Destroy the Website and Build Your Business on the Internet“), organizations need to invest in this business not just with people and processes but with the information and technology required to be successful. Our recent benchmark research into business intelligence found slight maturity and inadequate use of analytics to support retail. The research specifically discovered that the overuse of spreadsheets and lack of analytic capabilities are holding back organizations from maturing: Only 15 percent of retailers are at the highest Innovative level of maturity according to our Ventana Research Maturity Model.

Read More

Topics: Retail Analytics, Operational Performance, Commerce Analytics, InfoPia

Dashboards for Continuously Improving the Close

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 27, 2010 5:45:39 PM

Accelerating the completion of the accounting cycle remains an important objective for Finance organizations. Research shows that about half of the midsize and larger companies take more than five business days to close their books on a monthly or quarterly basis; some much longer. A fast, accurate close is important if only because it enables companies to provide financial feedback to executives and managers sooner and therefore allows them to address issues or opportunities faster. One of the most important insights provided by Ventana’s Research Benchmark on the financial close is that cutting the time to complete the accounting cycle is rarely a matter of finding one or two bottlenecks. Like most management challenges, it is almost always a matter of addressing a large number of small things, which in aggregate add up to days or weeks that can be saved. Moreover, the research also shows that companies that have established clear objectives to shorten their closing cycle and ones that have frequent formal periodic reviews of their process execution (at least monthly or quarterly) are more likely to succeed in reducing the time it takes to close the books.

Read More

Topics: Financial Close, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Financial Performance Management

Operational Intelligence Gets Boost from eg solutions

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 27, 2010 5:44:08 PM

The market for operational intelligence (OI) has grown as organizations realize the importance of having information in real time and in the right context. To accomplish this requires that operational data is processed as it happens, commonly by being packaged into what are called events and made available through technologies for complex event processing or event monitoring. Operational intelligence has long been part of our research focus. In benchmark research on it, we found that optimizing business processes and reducing time to respond drive more than 70 percent of organizations to invest in OI and that utilization of events for managing risk and complying with regulations is important to more than half of organizations today.

Read More

Topics: Operational Performance, Complex Event Processing, Operational Intelligence, eg Solutions

Maxager Figures What it Costs for Improved Profitability

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 27, 2010 5:42:37 PM

Activity Based Costing (ABC) is one several popular techniques to apply marginal cost analysis to arrive at a more accurate measure of a product’s true economic cost. It became popular in the United States starting in the 1980s (earlier in Germany) as it became clear to many that traditional cost accounting techniques do not reflect the true, economic cost of production in complex, multi-product environments. Consequently, companies might price items higher than they should and lose market share, or consider them unattractive from a profitability standpoint and possibly under invest in them from a sales/marketing standpoint. Or, the company’s profitability might be impaired because standard cost accounting measures do not enable them to determine the decisions that will maximize their profitability. Sales people might be given the wrong set of incentives, heavily promote less profitable products while ignoring high margin ones. ABC attracted a great deal of attention in the English-speaking world in the 1980s and early 1990s because proponents presented compelling arguments for its adoption. Unfortunately, it quickly fell out of favor because the time and cost of doing the type of “boil the ocean” comprehensive analyses associated with it at that point did not provide commensurate benefits. This was especially true because marginal cost analyses must be performed periodically to keep them up to date.

Read More

Topics: Supply Chain Performance, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Cost Management, Maxager, Profitability

Vitria Adds Operational Intelligence to Customer Experience Management

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 27, 2010 5:40:11 PM

In my writing and speaking, I try to avoid “market babble,” which numbs ordinary readers with technology buzzwords and three-letter acronyms. Lately I have been accused of overusing the phrase “interaction-handling processes,” which some people have taken as an instance of market-speak. So I’ll explain what I mean by it. It has to do with contact center agents – or customer service representatives, if you prefer – trying to resolve customers’ issues. When handling a call, for example, this includes how they identify the caller, how they identify the caller’s issue, the systems they use to resolve the issue, how they close the call, and what they need to do afterward. It used to be common for companies to provide agents with a script to guide them through this process, but now these inflexible routines are being replaced with more advanced automated systems. These systems guide the agent through interactions of different types – general inquiries, complaints, sales and support, say – and allow them to personalize responses based on the caller’s profile. It is generally true that the more an agent can adapt the process to personalize the responses, the better the customer experience will turn out.

Read More

Topics: Vitria, Operational Performance, Complex Event Processing, Operational Intelligence

Workforce Analytics is Easy and Simple with Accero

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 27, 2010 5:38:40 PM

To utilize a workforce effectively requires information about it and the ability to analyze that in the context of the business’s needs. Yet it has long been the case that the use of analytics and business intelligence (BI) is least advanced in the human resources function. It remains so even as organizations introduce talent management applications to supplement or replace legacy human resource management systems (HRMSs). We believe that to apply analytics effectively to talent management processes in HR and also support the finance and operations management teams, organizations should examine new technology tools. I recently wrote about the challenges in workforce analytics (See: “Workforce Analytics: Do You Know How Much Your People Matter?“) and noted confusion about vendors and their offerings to meet this need.

Read More

Topics: Human Capital Management, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Accero, Talent Management, Workforce Analytics

Agent Performance Management Is Important to the Customer Experience

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 27, 2010 5:37:24 PM

My research into Customer Experience Management shows that four of the top five factors that influence a customer’s experience in dealing with a contact center relate to agents: their attitudes, understanding of the customer’s issue, ability to resolve issues the first time and general knowledge (third on the list was average queue times). The research also shows that the largest volumes of actionable interactions are still phone calls to a contact center; social media interactions perhaps generate more in pure numbers, but many of these are complaints about the way consumers are treated during other forms of interaction. In any case, there is no doubt that agent performance has a fundamental impact on the customer experience.

Read More

Topics: Customer Experience Management, Operational Performance, Agent Performance Management

Australia Adopts XBRL for "Standard Business Reporting"

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 27, 2010 5:35:40 PM

In July, Australia adopted what it calls "Standard Business Reporting" (SBR), which is designed to reduce the reporting burden imposed on businesses by the country's federal and state governments by streamlining the information submission ("lodging" for the Oz) process. In essence, the country is on its way to a file-once-use-many approach whereby companies provide data using a single secure sign-on known as "AUSkey"  As of now, SBR reports include the Business Activity Statement, Tax File Number Declarations, payment summaries, payroll tax returns and financial statements. While the data can be compiled manually, the objective is to have SBR-enabled software to pre-fill and complete government forms directly from their own accounting and other business systems. The Australian initiative has been in the works for several years and appears to be off to a good start.

Read More

Topics: XBRL, Business Performance, Financial Performance, finance, SEC

IBM Antes Up for Marketing Applications by Acquiring Unica

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 27, 2010 5:33:53 PM

In a second move indicating its seriousness about competing in the market for marketing software, IBM announced its offer to acquire publicly traded Unica Corp. Unica is one of the larger providers in this space, with more than $100 million in annual revenue and 1,500 customers worldwide. Its success in very large marketing organizations, including brand-name customers Best Buy, Marriott and IBM itself, enabled it to be one of the few that has continued to grow in the challenging economic environment. It provides enterprise marketing automation and analytics software in both on-premises and on-demand forms. Unica had grown significantly in sales to business-to-consumer (B2C) companies, competing against EloquaSAS Institute and Infor’s CRM product, which was derived from its acquisition of Epiphany and has advanced since then (See:  “Infor Launches Innovative E-mail Management“).

Read More

Topics: Sales Performance, Marketing Automation, Operational Performance, CRM, Unica

Integrating Strategic Planning With Jonova

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 27, 2010 5:32:32 PM

I’ve focused attention of integrated business planning for the past several years as our benchmark research on business planning and other related topics consistently finds companies are not getting enough of a return on the considerable amount of time and effort they spend on budgeting and planning. Moreover, the current economic climate makes substantive contingency planning more important than ever. Our research finds that there is a great deal of planning going on. Most managers and executives participate in multiple planning exercises, although these are focused on their own business silo and do not have a firm, ongoing connection with other plans. Unfortunately, this leads to a lack of coordination between various parts of the organization because the plans in one area are only vaguely understood by others. Moreover, when changes take place in the future outlook of one part of the business, they are not immediately communicated (or communicated in sufficient detail) to everyone that would benefit from this knowledge. The main form of integrated business planning is the annual budget and the periodic budget review and re-forecast. However, this is relatively short-term and financially focused, usually does a poor job of projecting the operational aspects of a changing business landscape and is not always in sync with the company’s various operating plans. Even when companies do some integrated operational planning, it often does not do a good job of measuring the financial impact of changes in the operational forecast because the models use simplistic financial assumptions that can quickly become outdated.

Read More

Topics: Jonova, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Financial Performance Management, Integrated Business Planning

HP Scandal Reflects on Enterprise Software Issue

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 27, 2010 5:30:54 PM

The recent turmoil at Hewlett-Packard that went public with news of the resignation of CEO Mark Hurd is only superficially about the facts of the scandal or the question of who will be the new CEO, sexy as those issues may be. What it really shines a light on is the performance of the company itself. I wrote earlier this year (See: “HP Takes Technology Portfolio to the Clouds with New Growth Strategy”) about the challenges HP faces in building its brand credibility and gaining traction to advance its enterprise software business. Then in May, HP hired Bill Veghte from Microsoft to run its $3 billion software business unit. Bill and his boss Ann Livermore stated at the time, not surprisingly, that software is a strategic part of delivering innovation to customers. In my view that’s more a description of their goal than the then-current reality. In fact, HP has had a low profile in the software segment. Though the division gets its place on its Web site, many of us close-in watchers question claims that HP is a leader in any enterprise software category beyond data center and network management. Convincing us otherwise will require more than fancy words and sales collateral; Mark Hurd or no Mark Hurd, it’ll require walking the talk: having the people and products companies want – products that will make a difference.

Read More

Topics: IT Performance, Operational Performance, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Enterprise Software, HP, Information Management, Information Technology

Knowlagent Increases Agent Effectiveness

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 27, 2010 5:28:57 PM

My benchmark research into agent performance management (APM) found that the number-one objective of companies trying to improve the handling of customer interactions was to utilize agents more effectively; this also was their top objective in creating agents’ work schedules. In the latter case, the research uncovered a primary reason for difficulties in achieving this objective: Only 36 percent of companies use a dedicated tool to create these schedules; the majority do it manually or with spreadsheets.

Read More

Topics: Knowlagent, Operational Performance, Agent Performance Management, Call Center

CallCopy Emerges as a Player in Agent Performance Management

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 27, 2010 5:27:51 PM

Last year I carried out research to discover how companies manage their workforces in handling customer interactions; I investigated their best practices, technologies being used and priorities for the future. The findings led me to define agent performance management (APM) as an extension of what other observers call workforce optimization; APM includes call routing, call recording, quality monitoring, workforce management, training and coaching, agent compensation management and agent-focused analytics. The results showed that many companies want to expand their call-recording capabilities to include all calls, that optimizing the utilization of agents is high on their agenda and that they want to take advantage of new technologies such as analytics for the agent’s desktop, speech and text to get a fuller picture of agent performance.

Read More

Topics: Call Copy, Operational Performance, Agent Performance Management, Call Center

Intacct Gives Professional Help

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 27, 2010 5:26:12 PM

Intacct, which offers cloud-based accounting software for small and smaller midsize companies is starting to put more emphasis on addressing the needs of project-oriented, professional services businesses. One of the challenges that these companies face is getting their accounting systems to support their business at a functional level. To be sure, any ERP system can account for projects, in the sense that they can aggregate labor and material costs attributed in some subcategory such as "new building" or "annual conference." However, unless they are built from the ground up to support businesses that revolve around projects, people in the finance department will wind up wasting time doing workarounds to overcome the system's deficiencies and companies will need to invest in adapting the system to offer the process support they need to perform routine business tasks. A lot of those workarounds will involve desktop spreadsheets which means there will be errors that will also take time to address and impose needless costs to the business.

Read More

Topics: Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Accounting, Financial Management

Taleo Brings New Intelligence to Talent Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 27, 2010 5:24:49 PM

Today’s intense competitive pressures demand that organizations utilize their human capital more effectively. Taleo has been steadily growing as a provider of talent management by offering its applications and platform through software as a service (SaaS). Now it has advanced into what they call Talent Intelligence that can help organizations gain new insights on their workforce and individual employees by examining their potential and areas for improvement. Research has shown that performance is at risk when individuals doubt that their contribution is fully valued and lack confidence that executives are compensating them appropriately. Talent Intelligence can help alleviate these issues. Adding to its availability for large organizations, Taleo has released a version for small and midsize businesses to help organizations of any size manage their talent better.

Read More

Topics: Human Capital Management, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Talent Management, Taleo

Infor Launches Innovative E-mail Management

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 27, 2010 5:23:31 PM

On August 2, Infor launched its next generation of products for customer relationship management (CRM), which are built on its Interaction Advisor that in May I called “its CEM surprise.” At the time it was clear that Interaction Advisor was a platform on which Infor could build a series of innovative products. I didn’t expect the first of them to be just around the corner.

Read More

Topics: Sales Performance, Marketing Automation, Operational Performance, CRM, Infor

Contingency Planning, Now More than Ever

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 27, 2010 5:21:36 PM

It turns out that some consumer goods manufacturers and retailers are having a hard time finding space on container ships and even finding containers to ship in. This has driven up the cost of shipping these items and at times resulted in deliveries arriving too late for scheduled promotions or seasonal demand peaks. This, during a time of constrained consumer spending in North America and Europe and an extended period where the Baltic Dry Index (a measure of shipping rates for bulk commodities such as ore and grain) has been dropping at a record-breaking rapid clip. This sort of unexpected and counterintuitive event has been having a negative impact on the affected companies. Could they have anticipated this possibility? Should they have? I think the answer is: Yes.

Read More

Topics: Planning, Budgeting, IBP, Operational Performance, Financial Performance

Will Cloud Computing Finally Bring Innovation to the Contact Center?

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 27, 2010 5:20:10 PM

I have been associated with the contact center industry for more than 20 years, first as a systems integrator building centers and more recently covering it as an analyst with Ventana Research. From this experience I have distilled three major observations: that centers are dominated by technology, that they change very slowly and that performance is largely judged by the average handling time (AHT) of calls. The main challenges have not changed much over the years: Centers constantly have to balance improving customer satisfaction with reducing AHT; this remains true even though many companies are realizing that first-contact resolution (FCR) is a much better indicator of performance.

Read More

Topics: Operational Performance, Cloud Computing, Contact Center

Adapting and Planning Your Way Out of the Recession

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 27, 2010 5:18:36 PM

Anyone who has had to regularly produce a written business forecast that goes out more than a couple of months understand all too well Yogi Berra’s famous observation: “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” Certainly the economic events of the past two years have regularly made forecasts obsolete in a very short period of time. Using the wisdom of crowds can help the accuracy of forecasts in some cases because the impacts of individual biases are largely cancelled out. But surveys of expected business trends turn out to be most accurate in stable business environments when simple extrapolation turns out to be the best forecasting tool. It’s less reliable at turning points because people tend to extrapolate from current conditions. Nonetheless, I think it’s always good to examine surveys of expected business conditions, if only because they accurately summarize current attitudes.

Read More

Topics: Planning, forecasting, IBP, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Financial Performance

SAS Helps Companies Make Sense of Social Media Comments

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 27, 2010 4:58:53 PM

I often read and hear today that social media is the new channel for marketing and customer service channel and also that companies must improve customer satisfaction to survive (I agree with the second proposition). Several observers have put the two ideas together and concluded that in the future all marketing and customer service will happen through social media – that I don’t agree with. My research shows that most customer interactions occur through a contact center or on a customer self-service portal, and I see no evidence that this will change, at least not for several years. However, it is true that many companies have created presences on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook – Ventana Research was one of the first research companies to do this. Many companies blog to promote their views and make announcements, and many use YouTube to show customers and prospects informational, marketing and training videos, but only a few have used social media as a customer forum to gather feedback and opinions. Of more significance is consumers’ use all of these sites to stay in touch with friends, find information – and complain about poor customer service. So we have a situation where both companies and consumers are experimenting with social media, but no one is sure how this new channel will affect business in the long run.

Read More

Topics: Social Media, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Intelligence, CRM

Infor24 Makes Applications Simpler To Acquire and Integrate

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 27, 2010 4:57:02 PM

The advent of cloud computing and renting of applications has provided another realm of opportunity for applications software vendors. Infor, which already is the third-largest in the world, is taking advantage of it. Infor announced Infor24, an initiative to bring its role-based applications into the cloud. It will use the Infor ION platform that supports other new Infor applications, including one for hospitality that my colleague recently discussed (See: “Infor Simplifies Hospitality Management Software“). Infor24 is built on the Microsoft Azure platform, which will help Infor support interoperability through standard interfaces such as SOAP, REST and XML  utilizing Microsoft SQL Azure. Additionally Infor provides tight security on Infor24 and integration across processes to facilitate alerting, monitoring and reporting. This is an important step for customers as well as the company in balancing support for different ways to acquire software.

Read More

Topics: Supply Chain Performance, Enterprise Applications, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Infor

IBM Innovates in Call-Routing for Agent Performance

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 27, 2010 4:55:18 PM

One often-cited approach to improving the performance of contact centers and customer service agents is skills-based routing. This involves tagging data about the skills of individual agents – for example, languages spoken, training courses passed or the ability to handle well a particular type of call – and using a call-routing system to deliver calls to an extension where an agent with the requisite skills has signed in and is available. Identifying the required skills typically is done by an interactive voice response (IVR) system or perhaps through the number dialed by the caller; in the latter case, a high-value customer might call a special number and identify the issue by selecting among options in an IVR system. Either way, matching customers and their requirements with agents skilled in dealing with them is thought to increase the chance that the customer’s issue will be resolved efficiently in the first attempt.

Read More

Topics: Call Routing, Operational Performance, IBM, Agent Performance

Snowfly Motivates Agents To Improve Performance

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 27, 2010 4:53:44 PM

I have often seen evidence that contact center agents’ performance is strongly influenced by the key performance indicators managers use to judge, and often reward, their performance. In one extreme example I found that agents in a high-value-customer service center were rewarded if they kept the average call-handling time below two minutes. This sounded positive until I uncovered the common practice of agents dropping calls as soon as they reached two minutes, regardless of whether the customer’s issue had been resolved. This and other observations lead me to conclude that agent performance metrics should be chosen carefully, as companies will reap what they sow, and that companies must positively reinforce performance so agents deliver on the chosen metrics.

Read More

Topics: Uncategorized, Call Center, Agent Performance, Snowfly

Hadoop Gets Easier with Cloudera Version 3

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 27, 2010 4:51:58 PM

Managing large volumes of enterprise data continues to challenge IT organizations as they deal with administration and storage of no longer just terabytes but now petabytes of data and costs increase accordingly. This massive size of data complicates the underlying issues of where and how to store it easily in low-cost hardware and manage the data efficiently. One attempt at a solution is Hadoop, an open source community-based project. It began as part of Yahoo and was led by Doug Cutting, who used the MapReduce concepts for large-scale distributed computing to create a distributed file system. Yahoo itself runs the largest deployment of Hadoop. Doug Cutting is not new to the open source world, being involved in the creation of Lucene, open source search technology among many other open source community projects.

Read More

Topics: Cloudera, Hadoop, Information Management, Data

Research Finds New Adoption and Interest in Mobile Business Intelligence

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 27, 2010 4:50:37 PM

The demand for access to business information and applications through mobile technologies such as the Apple iPhone and iPad, devices running Google Android or using RIM Blackberry is surging as consumer preferences and behavior spill over into the business workforce. The massive growth of adoption of these technologies around the world as consumers seek instant access to information has many business managers wondering how to benefit from the trend. The drive for mobility is part of the 2010 business technology agenda (See: “Using Innovative and Disruptive Technology in 2010”) as a source of innovation inside the enterprise and in interactions with consumers and customers. Of course in a business rather than personal context, more types and complexity of information are needed, ranging from access to documents and presentations, to status on initiatives and processes, for specific application needs to performance in what is known as business intelligence.

Read More

Topics: Mobile BI, Android, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Mobility, iPhone

Kalido Does Data Governance Right

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 27, 2010 4:48:37 PM

The proper management of data is ever more important and complex. Business people must have easy access to data from all over the enterprise, but unguarded access and distribution may enable users to bypass the IT organization’s rules for data management, copy and paste whatever they like into spreadsheets and share it in uncontrolled fashion. Firm control of enterprise data requires policies and practice for governance, yet our benchmark research found that only 12 percent of organizations are innovative in their data governance. Reaching this highest level of maturity is not easy when you have to manage a portfolio of policies and rules that span business units and IT and must take into account people, processes, information and supporting technology. Despite this it is essential to address this data governance need and as I wrote is a 2010 priority (See: “Optimized IT and Focus on Information Technology in 2010“).

Read More

Topics: Master Data Management, MDM, IT Performance, Data Governance, Information Management, Kalido

IBM’s Advances Business Analytics and Optimization in First Year

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 27, 2010 4:46:55 PM

At its Business Analytics and Optimization (BAO) analyst summit in Washington, D.C., IBM provided direction on the state of its software and services in this category of business technology. This annual event goes back to 2005 when IBM started making BAO-related software acquisitions in earnest. I have written before about IBM’s focus on analytics and optimization (See: “IBM Fuses New Generation of Analytics for Deeper Business Optimization”), but I want to point out the company’s focus is not just on software but also on services, hardware and larger efforts. At the executive level IBM has communicated to investors and shareholders four strategic areas of focus: Business Analytics, Smarter Planet, Cloud Computing and Growth Markets. IBM sees itself as leading the business analytics market with unified services, software, hardware and a platform for them.

Read More

Topics: Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, IBM

Sales Compensation Easier To Manage with Varicent 7

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 27, 2010 4:44:21 PM

To help sales teams to maximize their value to the company, sales operations and management must find the right balance of compensation and incentives to motivate them to achieve their quotas. To do this requires the ability to design compensation plans that take into consideration products, territories and accounts and of course the number of customers and prospects. Sales managers also need flexibility so they can build plans that align to sales objectives and realistically evaluate the potential of products and services for each territory and customer opportunity. Our benchmark research on sales performance management found that many organizations fall short in these capabilities: One-third of research participants said they have no confidence in their existing sales operations and management, and 26 percent more said they are only somewhat confident in them. Faced with this negativity, many organizations are trying to improve their processes by adopting applications designed for these and related aspects of sales.

Read More

Topics: Sales Performance, Sales Compensation, Operational Performance, Sales Performance Management, Varicent

Information Applications is a New Technology Category Designed for Business and IT

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 27, 2010 4:41:34 PM

In today’s world, without information there is no business. That is, without having the right information and making it available to the right people at the right time, an organization cannot be fully informed, make the right decisions and act on them, and compete effectively enough to survive and prosper. That much is a given. Finding ways to ensure that an organization’s information is available, timely and in the right form is a complex, ongoing process; I call it the ”secret sauce” that is needed for efficiency and profitability.

Read More

Topics: IT Performance, Business Intelligence, Information Applications, Information Management, Data, Information Availability

Informatica Simplifies Cloud Integration with New Data Plugs

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 27, 2010 4:38:30 PM

Businesses continually need to improve their abilities to utilize data generated by their activities and interactions. Retrieving, cleaning and sharing data are ongoing processes, and along with data within the enterprise, applications in cloud computing are becoming critical sources. Vital data about customers and even employees among many other types is distributed across the cloud and must be integrated with the rest of data in the enterprise for applying analytics to gain visibility into the entire business.

Read More

Topics: Cloud Computing, Data Integration, Informatica, Information Management

Plateau Advances Talent Management in the Cloud

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 27, 2010 4:33:17 PM

The market for talent management continues to grow as organizations realize that they have not invested enough to make their workforces more productive and valuable. Not many human resources organizations have enabled innovation in their workforce processes or taken the next step to work more strategically with finance and operations executives. Now savvy HR organizations have been renting a new generation of talent management applications through software as a service (SaaS) in a cloud computing environment.

Read More

Topics: Human Capital Management, Plateau, Business Performance, Workforce Performance, Talent Management

Merced Systems Customer Summit Advances Sales and Customer Service Organizations

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 27, 2010 4:09:39 PM

Many organizations want to improve the performance of their sales and customer service operations but have difficulty increasing efficiency and producing better results. One barrier to improvement is sticking with the status quo of managing sales operations and performance through spreadsheets, as 47 percent of organizations still do, according to Ventana Research’s benchmark research on sales performance management. Also many organizations continue to expect good results from using sales force automation (SFA), but our research shows that 39 percent of organizations are not satisfied with these systems. We also found that the number-one driver of efforts to improve is to make sales performance strategic. In customer service, optimizing utilization of call center agents is a top requirement; another is increasing customer satisfaction, cited by 89 percent of participants in our benchmark research on agent performance management.

Read More

Topics: Sales Performance, Merced Systems, Operational Performance, Agent Performance Management, Sales Performance Management

iWay Software Deepens Information Management Expands to Cloud Computing

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 27, 2010 3:54:46 PM

At the Information Builders 2010 conference I spent some time to learn about the latest in its business intelligence (BI) technology and also performance management, which my colleague has analyzed recently (See: “IBI’s Eye Popping New Performance Management Software”). But I focused more on information management, which is becoming a strategic component of the company’s portfolio. Its iWay Software includes a suite of integration adapters used to interoperate across processes and data types along with its integration server, and I investigated several products that use these two foundation components for various aspects of information management.

Read More

Topics: IT Performance, Business Intelligence, Data Integration, Information Builders, Information Management, iWay

Upstream Works Helps Improve Contact Center Performance

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 27, 2010 3:35:57 PM

Anyone involved in running a contact center is aware of the imperatives my research has highlighted: reduce operating costs, transition to multichannel support, raise customer satisfaction levels and increase up-sales. On a daily basis, these demands spur managers to focus on reducing average handling times, increasing first-call-resolution rates, optimizing agent utilization, delivering more pertinent agent training and personalizing responses in light of the customer’s profile, the context of the call and targeted business outcomes. The foundation of all these efforts is information and systems that support the contact center agent.

Read More

Topics: Operational Performance, Call Center, Contact Center, Upstream Works

ResponseTek Underpins Customer Experience Management

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 27, 2010 3:23:46 PM

Most of all, customer experience management is about a company delivering the optimal experience during an interaction. For example, during a conversation the contact center should ensure that the agent’s responses are appropriate to the context of the overall customer relationship and are personalized. The same should be true for a customer’s visits to the Web site, during chat sessions and in responses to mobile text messages. It goes without saying that the person or system involved in an interaction needs all relevant information about the customer, so responses meet the customer’s expectations while also delivering against business goals.

Read More

Topics: Customer Experience Management, CEM, ResponseTek, Uncategorized

Softscape Demonstrates Leadership in Managing Talent with New Release

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 27, 2010 2:24:28 PM

Cliché or not, a business’s most valuable asset is its people, and for 15 years Softscape has been dedicated to providing applications that help human resources organizations handle a range of processes that I call workforce performance management, including what the industry refers to as talent management. Privately held Softscape operates in 156 countries, and its customers range from large companies (with 1,000 to 10,000 employees) to the extremely large (which have over 50,000 employees). It has one of the highest customer renewal rates in the industry, is growing consistently and is attracting new customers with its cloud computing offering that provides software as a service (SaaS) that organizations rent rather than license and install themselves. Softscape also has entered the expanding market for customer experience management to support processes for maximizing customer relationships.

Read More

Topics: Human Capital Management, Softscape, Workforce Performance, Talent Management

Microsoft Hopes for a Miracle with Windows Phone 7

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 5:31:53 PM

Mobile computing isn’t new anymore. The capabilities of smartphones, among other things, enable businesses to run applications across an enterprise and workers to collaborate across business and social networks. In this endeavor Microsoft was early to market with its Windows CE devices that provided e-mail and Web browsing to phones. For the first years it was a low-level battle among Microsoft, RIM Blackberry and Palm as well as Nokia devices that were used mostly in Europe. In the last few years Microsoft has fallen behind in hardware and software sophistication, and even last year’s introduction of the Windows Mobile operating system had major issues, lacking multitasking, cut-and-paste, search and other basics that are essential for a phone to be smart. Meanwhile Apple has had massive growth with its iPhone, and Google has deployed the Android operating system for multiple devices and is growing its position in market. When I wrote about this movement with Apple in 2009 Apple had had a successful first year and I personally had ditched my Windows phone after giving up on Microsoft’s inability to develop effective mobile software integrated with hardware.

Read More

Topics: Microsoft, Mobile Applications, Mobile Industry, Mobile Social Networking, Mobile Technology Smartphones, Operational Performance, Apple, Business Performance, Business Technology, Chief Information Officer, Information Management, Mobility

Saba Dedicates Itself to People and Collaboration

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 5:29:45 PM

At its annual user conference in Boston, Saba provided insights to industry analysts on its progress over the last year and its direction for 2011. Best known for its learning management system (LMS), collaboration and more recently its talent management applications, Saba now has more than 19 million users in 1,400 customer organizations that are mostly in the public sector, have 5,000 or more employees and are based in North America, although it operates in 28 languages in 195 countries. Now the company is refining its mission. I analyzed the first indication of this shift in focus to business social networking in 2008 (See: “Saba to Innovate Workforces with Business Social Networking”); that started a movement that Saba communicated more clearly this year in describing its focus on providing “people systems.” That term means it wants to enable businesses to have people collaborate through open dialogue and its collaboration software and human capital management applications.

Read More

Topics: Human Capital, Human Resources Management, Learning, Mobile Applications, Performance, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Workforce Performance, Compensation, Saba, Talent Management, Workforce Analytics

Teradata Advances Analytics across the Board

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 5:27:19 PM

The battle for business analytics rages on. IBM, Oracle, SAP and SAS as billion dollar and larger companies each combine analytic computation and processing in the underlying data but Teradata remains a key player. For its part Teradata used its annual Partners conference to tout the next generation of analytics in its product portfolio and brought along customers to testify to their success in using its technology.

Read More

Topics: Enterprise Data Strategy, Teradata, IT Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Chief Information Officer, Information Management, Information Technology

Plateau Brings Mobility to Talent Management and Simplifies Applications

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 5:25:48 PM

At its 2010 user conference in Miami, Plateau Systems reviewed for analysts its progress in the market for talent management software. Plateau has a unified platform and suite of applications that cover learning, compensation, job performance and analytics. The company’s financials have been steadily growing as more customers adopt its platform and show good year-to-year growth in its applications that are rented through software as a service (SaaS). Plateau claims that its SaaS business has customer retention of 99 percent. The conference itself grew 40 percent from the previous year, with about 500 people in attendance, and Plateau has started a European conference that provided a local event for the first time.

Read More

Topics: Learning, Performance, Plateau, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Workforce Performance, Compensation, Talent Management, Workforce Analytics

IBM Brings Business Analytics and Information Management to Center Stage

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 5:23:52 PM

This year IBM joined its annual Information on Demand conference with the new IBM Business Analytics Forum. Some 10,000 attendees came to learn about managing information assets using analytics for business, and the value of integrating business intelligence (BI) with information assets across the enterprise. All these topics are relevant, as large organizations have created thousands of silos that house data in many enterprise and personal computing environments. The conference was highlighted by the announcement of Cognos 10 that my colleague analyzed and of IBM’s emphasis on the business value of BI for performance management. The focus on business analytics is now a key part of the company’s overall strategy, and IBM has committed more trained consultants and employees to this market than anyone else.

Read More

Topics: Enterprise Data Strategy, IT Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Chief Information Officer, IBM, Information Management

SuccessFactors Takes a Calculator into the Cloud?

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 5:20:31 PM

SuccessFactors is known for applications in performance and talent management but has been working to expand its portfolio more broadly into business. This year the company expanded its focus to workforce analytics with the acquisition of Inform, which I assessed. I have assessed that Inform needed to improve the usability of its tools to compete better which is now more easily possible with a new acquisition.

Read More

Topics: Human Capital Management, SuccessFactors, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Talent Management

iWay Software Connects Salesforce Chatter to the Enterprise

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 5:17:41 PM

It is not easy for businesses to make their operations more efficient, partly because their information systems do not provide notifications of events as they are happening. Most enterprise technology uses batch processing and is designed to move data from one database to another; otherwise it requires people to go and find the data they need. To be more responsive, new technologies capture and process events that are triggered by underlying systems and manage them through complex event processing (CEP). This technology is part of our research in the general category of information management; and in researching the category we call operational intelligence but now CEP is becoming embedded in other technologies in the enterprise.

Read More

Topics: Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Customer & Contact Center, Data Integration, Information Management

HR Technology Conference Brings Insight to Opportunity

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 5:15:20 PM

The annual HR Technology conference in Chicago provided a glimpse into the activities of HR organizations and their technology investments. It was a busy event with large attendance and much movement between sessions and the exhibit floor as attendees sought to learn more about the technology and what it can do for them. As always event organizers presented a large number of awards and announcements on the latest in technology for managing the workforce. The months leading up to the event saw various vendor consolidation activities that were part of the dialogue and discussion at HR Tech. First Kenexa acquired Salary.com to gain a talent management suite to complement its compensation and performance management software. Then ADP acquired Workscape for its compensation and performance management software, Taleo acquired Learn.com to bring learning to its suite, and SumTotal Systems acquired Softscape for its HRMS and talent management suite. All of them attended the conference. Also present were large providers of a range of business applications Infor, Oracle and SAP, which have several offerings for HR environment both HRMS and talent management applications. Oracle just made a move in talent management with the announcement of Oracle Fusion for Human Capital Management that I assessed; it is part of the larger Fusion family of new applications shown at Oracle OpenWorld. WorkDay continues to promote its blend of HRMS and talent management in its HCM offering appears to be making progress in catching up to the maturity of other offerings in the market.

Read More

Topics: Human Capital Management, Business Performance, Workforce Performance, HRMS, Talent Management

Oracle Expands Its Playbook at OpenWorld

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 5:13:46 PM

At its annual conference Oracle OpenWorld this year Oracle flexed its muscles as a technology giant. The company has been steadily growing through acquisitions to expand its database, middleware and applications, and the recent acquisition of Sun Microsystems gives it a way to sell hardware for servers and storage. This momentum is enabling Oracle to develop new streams of revenue, which were on display at OpenWorld in offerings such as a new generation of appliances from Oracle Exalogic for transactional computing and Oracle Exadata 2 for analytical processing along with the Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud. This move into database appliances provides a route to capturing market share, particularly from Hewlett-Packard and IBM. As well its market and technology consolidation efforts are paying off in strong financial growth, as shown in its results for the first fiscal quarter of 2011. The conference had hundreds of announcements and insights delivered in breakout sessions or customer presentations regarding all aspects of Oracle’s portfolio of applications, middleware and database technologies. Seeing the former CEO of HP, Mark Hurd, on stage as President of Oracle added to the sense that the company is making dramatic steps for the present and future (See: “Oracle Hopes Mark Hurd Brings New Herd of Business“). And while there were few references to the previous president, Charles Phillips, it is clear that his hard work sowed the crop for Hurd to harvest in marketing, sales and services.

Read More

Topics: IT Performance, Operational Performance, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Enterprise Software, Information Applications, Information Management, Information Technology

Sneak Preview and Analysis: Oracle Fusion Applications for CRM and Sales Organizations

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 5:09:45 PM

At Oracle OpenWorld this week the company announced its next generation of business applications call Oracle Fusion Application ,  , which Larry Ellison touted in his closing day keynote at last year's conference, as I noted then. I attended the conference partly to learn what Oracle is doing in providing applications for sales organizations. In the late 1990s Siebel Systems introduced customer relationship management (CRM), which proved to be the next generation of sales-assisting technology after sales force automation (SFA). Since Oracle acquired Siebel a few years ago, it has advanced CRM through its own products and those acquired with PeopleSoft, and more recently with the Oracle OnDemand offerings. At OpenWorld Oracle began the formal  unveiling of next generation applications called Oracle Fusion Applications for CRM. Under this umbrella is a portfolio of applications designed to help lines of business with specific activities and processes, especially those involving sales operations and managers.
I was eager to attend a session at OpenWorld that had the phrase sales performance management (SPM) in its title because Oracle has not explicitly recognized this as a category for sales applications and also other sessions on its new approach to sales applications. More than five years ago our firm defined SPM as a category and since then has provided research and education on it. More and more sales organizations are adopting applications in this category to replace their SFA and CRM applications; SPM includes applications for managing incentives and rewards, compensation, goals, coaching, assets, territory, quotas and other sales functions not well addressed by those older applications. The need for these types of applications is clear from our benchmark research on SPM, which found only 13 percent of organizations to be very satisfied with SFA and many organizations rating other applications more important than it to their sales operations and performance.

Read More

Topics: Sales Performance, Sales Operations, Operational Performance, Customer & Contact Center, CRM, Sales Performance Management

Sneak Preview and Analysis: Oracle Fusion Applications for Human Capital Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 4:43:45 PM

At Oracle OpenWorld this week the company announced its next generation of business applications call Oracle Fusion Applications ,  which Larry Ellison touted in his closing day keynote at last year's conference, as I noted then. Oracle's head of strategy, Gretchen Alarcon, and head of development, Clive Swan, presented the introduction to one of the seven Fusion families, Human Capital Management, and afterward many sessions provided depth on the product. Though this application suite is not ready for sale to the public yet, Oracle Fusion Applications for HCM has many new capabilities that will be welcomed not just by HR professionals but by line-of-business managers and employees. After all, human capital management (HCM) or what many in the industry call talent management matters as much to people whose career it affects as it does to those who use it in HR.

Read More

Topics: Human Capital Management, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Talent Management, Workforce Performance Management

IBM Makes Major Buy in Analytics Market with Netezza

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 4:41:31 PM

IBM has announced its intention to acquire Netezza, one of the world’s fastest-growing providers of data appliances, for approximately $1.7 billion. Founded only 10 years ago, Netezza has over 500 employees and 350 clients including brand names Burlington Coat Factory, Con-way Freight, Estee Lauder, Marriott and Nationwide Insurance. IBM has been investing in analytics software for five years and now becomes one of the strategic providers in the market. Many organizations are unwilling to spend the large amount of resources and budget to configure and tune complex databases like Microsoft, Oracle’s and even IBM on a specific brand of hardware and then have to deal with issues in storage, performance and scalability in processing data across their network. Instead they would like to find a technology package that handles data simply for various analytic purposes and is as easy to buy as a dishwasher or a clothes dryer.

Read More

Topics: Data Warehouse, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Information Management, Netezza

Talent Management Market Contracts Further as SumTotal Acquires Softscape

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 4:38:40 PM

The market for talent management software continues to consolidate as SumTotal will acquire Softscape to bring together a combination of customers, people and products that reaches more than 25 million users and 1,800 customers globally. This purchase follows three other recent ones: ADP acquiring WorkscapeKenexa acquiring salary.com and Taleo acquiring Learn.com. The result is fewer but stronger software companies providing applications that enable human resources departments and others in the organization to manage workforce performance. In recent years SumTotal has gone through a transition of management and rationalization of products from acquisitions with financial backing from Vista Equity Partners to help stabilize the company. On the other hand, Softscape had been growing organically over the last 15 years through its closely held ownership to expand its presence across the world. While SumTotal specializes in learning and collaboration along with performance management, Softscape has a complete HRMS and talent management suite that includes recruiting, onboarding, performance, compensation, succession planning and analytics.

Read More

Topics: Human Capital Management, Softscape, Business Performance, Workforce Performance, HRMS, SumTotal Systems, Talent Management

IBM Opens a Page for GRC

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 4:31:06 PM

IBM has announced its intention to acquire OpenPages, a privately held, Massachusetts-based software company focused on governance, risk and compliance (GRC). I noted that after the deal finishes, the business will reside within IBM’s analytics group rather than in document management; this arrangement signals IBM’s intention to integrate its collaboration and communications around performance management (and achieve a fusion of text and data) and sharpen the ability of OpenPages to get an audience with finance and IT organizations, which are mainstays of IBM’s business analytics efforts after its acquisitions of Cognos, SPSS and others.

Read More

Topics: GRC, Open Pages, Operational Management, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Financial Management

ActuateOne Advances Information Platform with Analytics and Business Intelligence

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 4:28:41 PM

Actuate has announced a major new version of its software called ActuateOne. Its technology is integrated in a single platform and set of tools for performance management, analytics, business intelligence (BI) and information applications; the product can be managed on-premises or in the cloud and is accessible via mobile devices such as the Apple iPhone and iPad. Actuate has been in the BI market since the 1990s; this release counts as version 11, which by itself represents a significant milestone for an independent company like Actuate.

Read More

Topics: Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Information Management, Actuate

SAP Unveils Next Generation of Business Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 4:22:28 PM

On Tuesday in Silicon Valley, SAP introduced its latest business software: business analytics applications for specific vertical industries. The event was kicked off by SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott, who demonstrated the simplicity of the applications on an Apple iPad, which has become the demonstration system of choice for SAP as well as a tool it provides for its sales force. Bill and EVP of Business Analytics Keith Costello provided a glimpse of the applications’ capabilities as part of the product launch event. This announcement was expected as SAP has been known to be working on advancing its analytics through its own development efforts and from applications acquired with Business Objects. The announcement is significant for SAP’s ability to compete with IBM and Oracle in vertical industries but has not arrived to their point of also offering independent and cross industry analytics across all line of business areas like sales, operations, marketing, contact center and customer management . Bringing new applications to the analytics market enables SAP to utilize its business intelligence (BI) platform and tools with analytics models and metrics brought together in a package for an industry. Specifically SAP announced 10 applications for vertical industries including consumer packaged goods (CPG), retail, banking, healthcare, the public sector and telecommunications and plans to release new ones on a quarterly basis along with updates.

Read More

Topics: SAP, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Information Management

Informatica Cloud Asserts Its Strength

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 4:18:39 PM

Recently I wrote a blog outlining a relatively new offering, Informatica Cloud. I questioned how many companies understood the need for data management and whether they would turn to a cloud-based solution to meet their needs. It seems that my doubts have been addressed with the rapid adoption of it in 2010. At salesforce.com’s recent Cloudforce event in London, I learned that Informatica Cloud now has more than 1,000 customers and that it is the application most often downloaded from salesforce’s AppExchange. Basically, Informatica Cloud allows business users to extract data from one or more systems and have it integrated into another system. Business people pick the systems they want to use and define rules for how integration should take place; the process then happens automatically. All the technology resides “in the cloud” so after a little help getting started from IT, business users can handle their own data integration requirements.

Read More

Topics: Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Data Integration, Informatica, Information Management

Oracle Hopes Mark Hurd Brings New Herd of Business

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 4:15:06 PM

At the eye of the tornado of accusations, rumors and gossip in Silicon Valley that began with CEO Mark Hurd’s departure from Hewlett-Packard are the internal politics and lack of management procedures and oversight at the company. I have pointed out a connection not discussed elsewhere to issues around the enterprise software efforts at HP (See: “HP Scandal Reflects on Enterprise Software Issue“). Now with Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s hiring of Hurd as president and appointment of him to the company’s board of directors, this topic comes up again because Mark will bring energy and ideas for advancement of Oracle’s technology portfolio. Larry continues to deliver interesting one-liners to the media, beginning at the time of the firing (“The HP Board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple Board fired Steve Jobs many years ago.”) and continuing as HP sues Oracle over Hurd bringing proprietary knowledge from there (“The HP board is acting with utter disregard for that partnership, our joint customers, and their own shareholders and employees. The HP board is making it virtually impossible for Oracle and HP to continue to cooperate and work together in the IT marketplace."). Larry is right that his move will impact the Oracle/HP partnership at many levels, but the war of words also shows the personal nature of high-stakes gamesmanship in Silicon Valley.

Read More

Topics: Sales Performance, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Enterprise Software, Financial Performance, Information Technology, Oracle

ADP Acquires Workscape to Consolidate Talent Management Market

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 4:11:01 PM

Consolidation activity increased in the market for applications in talent management or what I call workforce performance management as ADP announced and now has closed the acquisition of Workscape. ADP is a $9 billion outsourcing provider that is well known for providing employer and payroll services; the company has been expanding its breadth of services for employers by responding to demand for software as a service (SaaS), a deployment model that does not require significant involvement from the customer’s IT staff.

Read More

Topics: Performance Management, Kenexa, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Compensation Management, Talent Management

Kenexa Advances in Talent Management and Saves Salary.com

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 4:07:43 PM

Today was another inflection point for the talent management market and buyers of HR applications with the announcement that Kenexa is acquiring salary.com (NASDAQ: SLRY) pending shareholder and SEC approval. Kenexa is offering a cash-per-share agreement that should work to complete the transaction. More complicated will be figuring out how to retain the talent at salary.com; that company has been decreasing in sales and size of the organization over the last couple of years and has struggled to reduce operating expenses. Its recent quarterly SEC filing showed a loss of more than $5.5 million on $9.7 million of revenue. It’s obvious that salary.com needed to find a buyer fast or face closing its doors. In contrast, according to its most recent quarterly SEC filing, Kenexa generated a $1.1 million profit on $44.8 million of revenue.

Read More

Topics: Performance Management, Kenexa, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Compensation Management, Talent Management

Infopia Launches Retail Analytics for E-Business

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 4:05:11 PM

The rapid evolution of business on the Internet has dramatically changed many organizations’ strategies for growth and profitability, especially those in the retail sector. I have written about the importance of analytics overall and in retail, but many companies are maturing slowly in using them to analyze electronic business and commerce. Data derived from analytics can enable them to manage the cycle from electronic merchandising and promotions to assessing interactions with sales categories and products and then to details of customer behavior and revenue. While there have been advancements in analytics of Web traffic, more is needed to be done to operate the Internet channel of retailing like those of “bricks and mortar.” As I have written about the evolution of Web sites to business sites (See: “Destroy the Website and Build Your Business on the Internet“), organizations need to invest in this business not just with people and processes but with the information and technology required to be successful. Our recent benchmark research into business intelligence found slight maturity and inadequate use of analytics to support retail. The research specifically discovered that the overuse of spreadsheets and lack of analytic capabilities are holding back organizations from maturing: Only 15 percent of retailers are at the highest Innovative level of maturity according to our Ventana Research Maturity Model.

Read More

Topics: Retail Analytics, Operational Performance, Commerce Analytics, InfoPia

Operational Intelligence Gets Boost from eg solutions

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 4:02:50 PM

The market for operational intelligence (OI) has grown as organizations realize the importance of having information in real time and in the right context. To accomplish this requires that operational data is processed as it happens, commonly by being packaged into what are called events and made available through technologies for complex event processing or event monitoring. Operational intelligence has long been part of our research focus. In benchmark research on it, we found that optimizing business processes and reducing time to respond drive more than 70 percent of organizations to invest in OI and that utilization of events for managing risk and complying with regulations is important to more than half of organizations today.

Read More

Topics: Operational Performance, Complex Event Processing, Operational Intelligence, eg Solutions

Workforce Analytics is Easy and Simple with Accero

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 4:00:29 PM

To utilize a workforce effectively requires information about it and the ability to analyze that in the context of the business’s needs. Yet it has long been the case that the use of analytics and business intelligence (BI) is least advanced in the human resources function. It remains so even as organizations introduce talent management applications to supplement or replace legacy human resource management systems (HRMSs). We believe that to apply analytics effectively to talent management processes in HR and also support the finance and operations management teams, organizations should examine new technology tools. I recently wrote about the challenges in workforce analytics (See: “Workforce Analytics: Do You Know How Much Your People Matter?“) and noted confusion about vendors and their offerings to meet this need.

Read More

Topics: Human Capital Management, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Accero, Talent Management, Workforce Analytics

IBM Antes Up for Marketing Applications by Acquiring Unica

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 3:58:01 PM

In a second move indicating its seriousness about competing in the market for marketing software, IBM announced its offer to acquire publicly traded Unica Corp. Unica is one of the larger providers in this space, with more than $100 million in annual revenue and 1,500 customers worldwide. Its success in very large marketing organizations, including brand-name customers Best Buy, Marriott and IBM itself, enabled it to be one of the few that has continued to grow in the challenging economic environment. It provides enterprise marketing automation and analytics software in both on-premises and on-demand forms. Unica had grown significantly in sales to business-to-consumer (B2C) companies, competing against EloquaSAS Institute and Infor’s CRM product, which was derived from its acquisition of Epiphany and has advanced since then (See:  “Infor Launches Innovative E-mail Management“).

Read More

Topics: Sales Performance, Marketing Automation, Operational Performance, CRM, Unica

HP Scandal Reflects on Enterprise Software Issue

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 3:54:35 PM

The recent turmoil at Hewlett-Packard that went public with news of the resignation of CEO Mark Hurd is only superficially about the facts of the scandal or the question of who will be the new CEO, sexy as those issues may be. What it really shines a light on is the performance of the company itself. I wrote earlier this year (See: “HP Takes Technology Portfolio to the Clouds with New Growth Strategy”) about the challenges HP faces in building its brand credibility and gaining traction to advance its enterprise software business. Then in May, HP hired Bill Veghte from Microsoft to run its $3 billion software business unit. Bill and his boss Ann Livermore stated at the time, not surprisingly, that software is a strategic part of delivering innovation to customers. In my view that’s more a description of their goal than the then-current reality. In fact, HP has had a low profile in the software segment. Though the division gets its place on its Web site, many of us close-in watchers question claims that HP is a leader in any enterprise software category beyond data center and network management. Convincing us otherwise will require more than fancy words and sales collateral; Mark Hurd or no Mark Hurd, it’ll require walking the talk: having the people and products companies want – products that will make a difference.

Read More

Topics: IT Performance, Operational Performance, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Enterprise Software, HP, Information Management, Information Technology

Taleo Brings New Intelligence to Talent Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 3:48:58 PM

Today’s intense competitive pressures demand that organizations utilize their human capital more effectively. Taleo has been steadily growing as a provider of talent management by offering its applications and platform through software as a service (SaaS). Now it has advanced into what they call Talent Intelligence that can help organizations gain new insights on their workforce and individual employees by examining their potential and areas for improvement. Research has shown that performance is at risk when individuals doubt that their contribution is fully valued and lack confidence that executives are compensating them appropriately. Talent Intelligence can help alleviate these issues. Adding to its availability for large organizations, Taleo has released a version for small and midsize businesses to help organizations of any size manage their talent better.

Read More

Topics: Human Capital Management, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Talent Management, Taleo

Infor24 Makes Applications Simpler To Acquire and Integrate

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 3:44:42 PM

The advent of cloud computing and renting of applications has provided another realm of opportunity for applications software vendors. Infor, which already is the third-largest in the world, is taking advantage of it. Infor announced Infor24, an initiative to bring its role-based applications into the cloud. It will use the Infor ION platform that supports other new Infor applications, including one for hospitality that my colleague recently discussed (See: “Infor Simplifies Hospitality Management Software“). Infor24 is built on the Microsoft Azure platform, which will help Infor support interoperability through standard interfaces such as SOAP, REST and XML  utilizing Microsoft SQL Azure. Additionally Infor provides tight security on Infor24 and integration across processes to facilitate alerting, monitoring and reporting. This is an important step for customers as well as the company in balancing support for different ways to acquire software.

Read More

Topics: Supply Chain Performance, Enterprise Applications, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Infor

Hadoop Gets Easier with Cloudera Version 3

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 3:36:48 PM

Managing large volumes of enterprise data continues to challenge IT organizations as they deal with administration and storage of no longer just terabytes but now petabytes of data and costs increase accordingly. This massive size of data complicates the underlying issues of where and how to store it easily in low-cost hardware and manage the data efficiently. One attempt at a solution is Hadoop, an open source community-based project. It began as part of Yahoo and was led by Doug Cutting, who used the MapReduce concepts for large-scale distributed computing to create a distributed file system. Yahoo itself runs the largest deployment of Hadoop. Doug Cutting is not new to the open source world, being involved in the creation of Lucene, open source search technology among many other open source community projects.

Read More

Topics: Cloudera, Hadoop, Information Management, Data

Research Finds New Adoption and Interest in Mobile Business Intelligence

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 3:33:45 PM

The demand for access to business information and applications through mobile technologies such as the Apple iPhone and iPad, devices running Google Android or using RIM Blackberry is surging as consumer preferences and behavior spill over into the business workforce. The massive growth of adoption of these technologies around the world as consumers seek instant access to information has many business managers wondering how to benefit from the trend. The drive for mobility is part of the 2010 business technology agenda (See: “Using Innovative and Disruptive Technology in 2010”) as a source of innovation inside the enterprise and in interactions with consumers and customers. Of course in a business rather than personal context, more types and complexity of information are needed, ranging from access to documents and presentations, to status on initiatives and processes, for specific application needs to performance in what is known as business intelligence.

Read More

Topics: Mobile BI, Android, IT Performance, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Mobility, Operational Intelligence, iPhone

Kalido Does Data Governance Right

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 12:29:30 PM

The proper management of data is ever more important and complex. Business people must have easy access to data from all over the enterprise, but unguarded access and distribution may enable users to bypass the IT organization’s rules for data management, copy and paste whatever they like into spreadsheets and share it in uncontrolled fashion. Firm control of enterprise data requires policies and practice for governance, yet our benchmark research found that only 12 percent of organizations are innovative in their data governance. Reaching this highest level of maturity is not easy when you have to manage a portfolio of policies and rules that span business units and IT and must take into account people, processes, information and supporting technology. Despite this it is essential to address this data governance need and as I wrote is a 2010 priority (See: “Optimized IT and Focus on Information Technology in 2010“).

Read More

Topics: Master Data Management, MDM, IT Performance, Data Governance, Information Management, Kalido

IBM’s Advances Business Analytics and Optimization in First Year

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 12:25:59 PM

At its Business Analytics and Optimization (BAO) analyst summit in Washington, D.C., IBM provided direction on the state of its software and services in this category of business technology. This annual event goes back to 2005 when IBM started making BAO-related software acquisitions in earnest. I have written before about IBM’s focus on analytics and optimization (See: “IBM Fuses New Generation of Analytics for Deeper Business Optimization”), but I want to point out the company’s focus is not just on software but also on services, hardware and larger efforts. At the executive level IBM has communicated to investors and shareholders four strategic areas of focus: Business Analytics, Smarter Planet, Cloud Computing and Growth Markets. IBM sees itself as leading the business analytics market with unified services, software, hardware and a platform for them.

Read More

Topics: Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, IBM

Sales Compensation Easier To Manage with Varicent 7

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 12:21:39 PM

To help sales teams to maximize their value to the company, sales operations and management must find the right balance of compensation and incentives to motivate them to achieve their quotas. To do this requires the ability to design compensation plans that take into consideration products, territories and accounts and of course the number of customers and prospects. Sales managers also need flexibility so they can build plans that align to sales objectives and realistically evaluate the potential of products and services for each territory and customer opportunity. Our benchmark research on sales performance management found that many organizations fall short in these capabilities: One-third of research participants said they have no confidence in their existing sales operations and management, and 26 percent more said they are only somewhat confident in them. Faced with this negativity, many organizations are trying to improve their processes by adopting applications designed for these and related aspects of sales.

Read More

Topics: Sales Performance, Sales Compensation, Operational Performance, Sales Performance Management, Varicent

Information Applications is a New Technology Category Designed for Business and IT

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 12:18:21 PM

In today’s world, without information there is no business. That is, without having the right information and making it available to the right people at the right time, an organization cannot be fully informed, make the right decisions and act on them, and compete effectively enough to survive and prosper. That much is a given. Finding ways to ensure that an organization’s information is available, timely and in the right form is a complex, ongoing process; I call it the ”secret sauce” that is needed for efficiency and profitability.
 
That need for information grows particularly acute as economic and competitive pressures flatten and thin the workforce; being able to act faster and smarter with fewer people involved requires ready access to information across a broad scope of needs. The traditional model of acquiring it – requesting answers from an analyst team or asking the IT organization for reports or changes to how data is presented – is today a recipe for competitive failure. Information should be available everywhere on demand in the form needed and through the channel requested, regardless of how or where it is stored. The information should be in a context relevant to the workforce areas that need it – marketing, operations, customer service, sales, field service, manufacturing and others. And in the global marketplace it must be available not just for the internal workforce but also for the external range of consumers, customers, suppliers and partners.
 
The increasingly large numbers of consumers seeking to interact with businesses or to interface with government entities through the Internet place intense pressures on information assets and access mechanisms. This demand can stretch the effort of  managing information to the breaking point: If the business or agency fails to take the steps required to make information easily accessible through portals, Web browsers and mobile devices, the clamor for more resources to support interactions at physical locations, telephone call centers and online interfaces will continue to drive costs skyward. And at the same time consumer satisfaction will plummet as people grow increasingly frustrated at being unable to conduct business or find what they want to know through the channels of their choice.
 
We all understand that data is a commodity in business, but information – data in a specific business context, today including content, text and rich media – is not. An emerging type of application is designed to make the right information available to employees, customer, suppliers, partners, visitors and consumers at the exactly right moment. Our firm has defined this focus in the market as a new category called information applications, and we are explaining to business and IT the opportunity for making information more available through a robust platform and tools with which these applications can be assembled, deployed and modified in a short timeframe. Information applications are built on new technologies that enable individuals to gain access to individual items or related sets of information through search and navigation and to interact with it. The information sought could be about a customer or location or could be a metric showing historical performance – no matter what it is, these applications can access and present it dynamically, and they are simple for anyone to use without training or having to involve others. Under the hood, though, deploying the capabilities to assemble and present the information requires planning. I have written about this new market category often (See: “Information Applications: New Focus on Information Availability“ and  “Information Applications: New Generation of Information Technologies “) since I started this research focus a couple of years ago. My colleague has put the use of information applications in the context of customer management (See: “Better Customer Management using Information Applications“).
 
The platform must handle both large volumes of information requests from individuals and the breadth of the content and data residing inside and outside the organization needed to answer them; at the same time it must maintain high performance and scalability potential. It must rank high in usability, offer flexibility in user interfaces and be accessible from many applications, portals and mobile devices. In short, the platform must serve as a foundation for the organization’s information architecture, supporting information access and discovery, and interactive action-taking and decision-making through collaboration.

Read More

Topics: IT Performance, Business Intelligence, Information Applications, Information Management, Data, Information Availability

Informatica Simplifies Cloud Integration with New Data Plugs

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 12:14:37 PM

Businesses continually need to improve their abilities to utilize data generated by their activities and interactions. Retrieving, cleaning and sharing data are ongoing processes, and along with data within the enterprise, applications in cloud computing are becoming critical sources. Vital data about customers and even employees among many other types is distributed across the cloud and must be integrated with the rest of data in the enterprise for applying analytics to gain visibility into the entire business.

Read More

Topics: Cloud Computing, Data Integration, Informatica, Information Management

Plateau Advances Talent Management in the Cloud

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 12:11:32 PM

The market for talent management continues to grow as organizations realize that they have not invested enough to make their workforces more productive and valuable. Not many human resources organizations have enabled innovation in their workforce processes or taken the next step to work more strategically with finance and operations executives. Now savvy HR organizations have been renting a new generation of talent management applications through software as a service (SaaS) in a cloud computing environment.

Read More

Topics: Human Capital Management, Plateau, Business Performance, Workforce Performance, Talent Management

Merced Systems Customer Summit Advances Sales and Customer Service Organizations

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 12:07:17 PM

Many organizations want to improve the performance of their sales and customer service operations but have difficulty increasing efficiency and producing better results. One barrier to improvement is sticking with the status quo of managing sales operations and performance through spreadsheets, as 47 percent of organizations still do, according to Ventana Research’s benchmark research on sales performance management. Also many organizations continue to expect good results from using sales force automation (SFA), but our research shows that 39 percent of organizations are not satisfied with these systems. We also found that the number-one driver of efforts to improve is to make sales performance strategic. In customer service, optimizing utilization of call center agents is a top requirement; another is increasing customer satisfaction, cited by 89 percent of participants in our benchmark research on agent performance management.

Read More

Topics: Sales Performance, Merced Systems, Operational Performance, Financial Performance, Agent Performance Management, Sales Performance Management

iWay Software Deepens Information Management Expands to Cloud Computing

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 11:54:20 AM

At the Information Builders 2010 conference I spent some time to learn about the latest in its business intelligence (BI) technology and also performance management, which my colleague has analyzed recently (See: “IBI’s Eye Popping New Performance Management Software”). But I focused more on information management, which is becoming a strategic component of the company’s portfolio. Its iWay Software includes a suite of integration adapters used to interoperate across processes and data types along with its integration server, and I investigated several products that use these two foundation components for various aspects of information management.

Read More

Topics: IT Performance, Business Intelligence, Data Integration, Information Builders, Information Management, iWay

Softscape Demonstrates Leadership in Managing Talent with New Release

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 11:48:56 AM

Cliché or not, a business’s most valuable asset is its people, and for 15 years Softscape has been dedicated to providing applications that help human resources organizations handle a range of processes that I call workforce performance management, including what the industry refers to as talent management. Privately held Softscape operates in 156 countries, and its customers range from large companies (with 1,000 to 10,000 employees) to the extremely large (which have over 50,000 employees). It has one of the highest customer renewal rates in the industry, is growing consistently and is attracting new customers with its cloud computing offering that provides software as a service (SaaS) that organizations rent rather than license and install themselves. Softscape also has entered the expanding market for customer experience management to support processes for maximizing customer relationships.

Read More

Topics: Human Capital Management, Softscape, Workforce Performance, Talent Management