Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

Kalido Directs Data Governance

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 30, 2011 11:13:31 AM

Kalido recently introduced version 9 of its Information Engine product. The company has been around for 10 years but has had difficulty establishing its identity in the information management market. Kalido was perhaps ahead of its time, partly a vendor of data integration, partly master data management and partly data governance. As an example of the positioning challenge, its core product, Information Engine, while not a data integration tool, could in some cases provide sufficient capabilities to meet an organization’s data integration needs. Its real value, however, comes from authoring and management of information about the user’s data warehouse.

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Topics: Data Quality, Data Warehouse, Master Data Management, Data Governance, Data Integration, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Applications, Information Management, Kalido

Patent Documents Useful for Buyers of Price Optimization Software

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 30, 2011 8:04:04 AM

Doing one’s homework is vital in buying business software. However, unless you’re replacing a relatively simple application, it’s hard to know exactly what to evaluate. Indeed, if people in a company given this task don’t have experience in using a specific type of business application or don’t understand how new or improved functionality will help execute business processes better, they may do a poor job of assessing the available alternatives. Third-party consultants may be helpful, but their prejudices and familiarity with a vendor’s products may cloud their objectivity. In the end, a buyer might agree with their point of view, but this agreement should be an informed decision.

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Topics: Performance Management, Sales Performance, Zilliant, Model N, Navetti, Nomis Solutions, process automation, PROS Pricing, sales incentives, Servigistics, Signal Demand, strategy, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Oracle, pricing, Vendavo, incentive management, patent, Price optimization, Profitability, Software, Vistaar Technologies

Actuate Brings Business Intelligence to Customer Information

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 21, 2011 10:02:43 AM

Actuate, which develops commercial versions of the open source Business Intelligence Reporting Tool (BIRT) technology, recently held a one-day event in London. My colleague Mark Smith covers Actuate’s products, but I was impressed by the simplicity of the company’s message, the core of which is that the ActuateOne suite of products allows companies to extract data from multiple data sources, use one product to analyze it and present the results in multiple formats in response to individual user requirements. A key component of this visualization is how easily it can display the results on smartphones and tablets. Actuate presenters demonstrated these capabilities in a lengthy session designed to show that this is “BI for the layman”; that is, after some from help from IT in setting up access to data sources, users can do everything else through the software’s drag-and-drop capabilities. My recent benchmark research into contact center analytics suggests that such simplicity is critical for more business users to adopt BI; if companies are to move away from using spreadsheets to produce their customer and contact center analyses, in addition to being able to do more the new products will have to be as easy to use as spreadsheets.

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience Management, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, 360-degree view of the Customer, Actuate, Agent Performance Management, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Management

IBM Cognos 10 Does Profitability Management

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 18, 2011 7:55:35 AM

I believe that one of the more important analytical applications that a company can implement is profitability management. IBM Cognos offers Profitability Modeling and Optimization as part of its Cognos 10 offering that my colleague has assessed. As I’ve noted, most people in a corporation are focused on profitability, but not necessarily in a way that optimizes results across the organization in a day-to-day, consistent fashion. Those responsible for each component piece that contributes to profitability (such as departments, product lines or divisions) have objectives, but in pursuing these individual objectives they may make decisions that degrade the overall profitability of the corporation. Moreover, companies rarely seek to maximize short-term profits. They routinely make decisions that diminish their bottom line, such as promotional pricing, warranties or services included at no additional cost, with the aim of achieving strategic objectives. The question they must answer in making these decisions is whether these moves are justified. Similarly, they also must ask what they are including in their offer that they might be able to charge more for, such as shipping or warranties.

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Topics: Performance Management, Sales Performance, Forecast, Modeling, enterprise profitability management, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, IBM, Workforce Performance, Cognos, financial services, optimization, Profitability, profitability optimization, segmentation

Spotfire 4.0 is Socially Collaborative and Interactive

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 17, 2011 7:54:50 AM

Tibco recently introduced Spotfire 4.0, the most recent version of its interactive discovery and business intelligence (BI) tool. Spotfire comes at BI through visualization. It uses in-memory processing and good user interface design to develop highly interactive displays of data. Version 4.0 attempts to enhance Spotfire’s dashboard capabilities and offers integration with enterprise collaboration tools. The former capabilities are necessary to broaden Spotfire’s appeal and applicability for more BI projects, but the latter capabilities are more interesting since they represent a fundamental shift in the way enterprises use business intelligence.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Spotfire, Supply Chain Performance, tibbr, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Chatter, Collaboration, Collaborative BI, Customer & Contact Center, Dashboards, Financial Performance, Tibco, Twitter, Workforce Performance

A Good Example of More Effective Tax Data Management

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 17, 2011 7:29:04 AM

Right after I posted my blog about the dearth of useful content for the line-of-business and finance audience at this year’s Oracle Open World, I attended a truly useful session. (Of course, it had been shunted to the next-to-last time slot on the final day of the event.) It was a case study presented by AT&T’s tax group, discussing its use of Oracle Hyperion Financial Management to manage the corporation’s tax data.

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Topics: Master Data Management, chart of accounts, legal, multinational, Tax, tax compliance, tax department, tax optimization, tax planning, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Financial Performance, CFO

Risk Analytics Has Benefits for Optimizing Performance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 16, 2011 8:22:43 AM

Risk has always been an integral part of business, but dealing effectively with risk is a progression. Indeed, history shows businesses adapting and coping better with risk through innovation. The importance of using information technology to manage risk is growing because today’s systems can automatically measure and analyze a much broader set of risk factors than individuals can, and do so more reliably. But a key challenge companies face in implementing enterprise risk management is developing a process for defining and measuring risk.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Governance, GRC, Reporting, balanced scorecard, enterprise risk management, key risk indicators, KRI, risk and compliance, risk measurement, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Risk

The World of Big Data Gets Even Bigger at Hadoop World

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 16, 2011 8:09:50 AM

Cloudera’s recent Hadoop World 2011 event confirmed that the world of big data is getting even bigger. As I wrote of last year’s event, Hadoop, the open source large-scale data processing technology, has gone mainstream. And while 75% of the audience attended this year for the first time and so may not have realized the breadth of Hadoop’s acceptance, statistics announced in the opening keynote show widespread use of it. Mike Olson, Cloudera CEO, reported that the event was sold out, with 1,400 attendees from 580 organizations and 27 countries. In independent confirmation, our benchmark research shows that 54% of organizations are either using or evaluating Hadoop for their big-data needs.

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Topics: Big Data, Datameer, MapR, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloudera, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Hadoop, Hortonworks, Informatica HParser, Karmasphere, NetApp, Workforce Performance

Kronos Puts Workers and Managers in Touch

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 11, 2011 12:39:32 PM

At its 2011 KronosWorks annual user conference, the workforce management application provider advanced its agenda with the introduction of new applications to further its global presence. From my visit, and from looking back at my analysis of its 2010conference, it seems the company’s focus is to simplify management of an hourly workforce.

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Topics: Human Capital Management, Kronos, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, HRMS, Talent Management, Workforce Analytics, Workforce Management

SumTotal Systems Optimizes The Use of Human Capital

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 11, 2011 12:02:32 PM

I just attended the first-ever analyst summit (Twitter #SumAS11) of SumTotal Systems to learn more about the company’s people and products since my in-depth analysis from earlier in the year. This key player in the business applications market offers a portfolio of applications in HRMS, workforce management and talent management, pieced together over several years with financing from its owner, Vista Equity Partners. This has been a busy year, asSumTotal acquired GeoLearningAccero and CyberShift to gain entry into the expense and workforce management application markets.

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Topics: SAP, Human Capital Management, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Oracle, Workforce Performance, HRMS, Infor, SumTotal Systems, Talent Management, Workday, Workforce Analytics, Workforce Management

Crystal Ball Is Cloudy for ERP Market

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 11, 2011 5:49:37 AM

As Workday continues to expand and the likelihood of its IPO becomes a more frequent topic of discussion, so does the movement of ERP systems to the cloud. Thus far, only a minority of companies have chosen to put their ERP and accounting systems in the cloud, but the numbers are growing and there’s evidence of success. NetSuite, for example, reported a 26 percent increase in its revenues to $145 million in the nine months up to Sept. 30, 2011. To be sure, this is not close to Salesforce.com’s size and growth rate over the past decade, but it does indicate a growing acceptance of the cloud for this software category, which I have commented on. Moreover, I expect that as more companies adopt cloud-based systems successfully, we’ll see accelerating adoption by more cautious buyers in the classic diffusion of innovation pattern described by Everett Rogers (and later reworked by Geoffrey Moore).

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Topics: Microsoft, Supply Chain Performance, ERP, NetSuite, Dynamics, Epicor, Lawson, on-premises, QAD, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Cloud, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, IBM, Oracle, Workforce Performance, Accounting, Infor, financial software, Intacct, midmarket, PeopleSoft, Software

Contact Centers Should Align Objectives and Metrics

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 10, 2011 9:58:18 AM

It never ceases to amaze me, when you ask people what their business objectives are and how they are measured, how often the two have little in common. This has been the case consistently in the research I have carried out over the last eight years into customer service and contact center performance. The main objective for contact centers is to improve customer satisfaction, but the key performance metric is average call-handling time. Despite hours of contemplation and discussions with colleagues, I still can’t see how one relates to the other.

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience Management, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, 360-degree view of the Customer, Agent Performance Management, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Management

Zeacom Simplifies Multichannel Interaction Management

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 8, 2011 11:27:11 PM

For years building a call center was technically challenging as it typically involved integrating proprietary products from multiple vendors. Although more vendors now offer integrated solutions, even these can difficult to administer and use because of variable user interfaces and gaps in the integration. These challenges become harder as companies expand their contact centers to support multiple communication channels and agents of several kinds dispersed over multiple locations.

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, 360-degree view of the Customer, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Zeacom

Managing Mountains of Cash Is Harder than It Sounds

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 7, 2011 6:56:37 AM

At first thought, it seems as if having a mountain of cash to manage is a problem most companies would like to have, but it’s a real problem nevertheless. To be sure, the large majority of companies are able to deal with their cash and short-term and longer-term monetary investments because the amounts are small enough to be manageable. Indeed, many companies, especially smaller ones, face the opposite problem and spend more time focused on their uncertain funding requirements. Still, over the past decade highly profitable companies have been generating more cash than they need to fund expanding operations and capital spending requirements (Apple and Oracle are two examples), and now they have to manage it. Larger companies may have portfolios in the tens of millions to billions of dollars in multiple currencies in multiple jurisdictions, so there’s a lot at stake.

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Topics: Performance Management, credit, maturities, Tax, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Risk, cash management, GAAP, investment, treasury

IBM Gets Big and Personal with Business Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 4, 2011 12:21:46 PM

IBM’s Information on Demand (IOD) event showcased its products for both information management and business intelligence. I’ve covered the information management aspects of IOD in a separate post. In this post I’ll look at the business intelligence aspects. Earlier this year IBM made predictive analytics a major focus of its Business Analytics analyst summit, an event that often foreshadows the IOD messages. In addition to predictive analytics, IBM emphasized both large-scale “big” data and a concept it calls “personal analytics” at the summit. Both of these received more attention at IOD.

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance

IBM Intensifies Information Management Again at IOD

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 4, 2011 11:54:02 AM

IBM made more than two dozen announcements in conjunction with its recent Information on Demand (IOD) event. In this post I’ll address the impact of IOD from an information management perspective and in a separate post shortly from an analytics perspective. Trying to organize the mass of information IBM brought forth at IOD 2011, I group the announcements into three general categories of enhancements and extensions to InfoSphere, big data (which is technically part of InfoSphere) and databases.

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance

Host Analytics Decision Hub Offers Central Financial Repository

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 4, 2011 11:26:34 AM

Host Analytics is taking advantage of one of the inherent advantages that vendors of software as a service (SaaS) have compared to on-premises ones: It’s easier for them to offer their customers data services and shared data repositories. The company’s  Decision Hub has been available since last summer. Although it doesn’t break new ground, it is a solid offering of this type and its value should be considered in any evaluation of Host’s offering.

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Topics: Planning, Sales Performance, Reporting, Budgeting, closing, Consolidation, Host Analytics, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Data, benchmark, Decision Hub, Financial Performance Management, SEC

Informatica Parses the World of Hadoop

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 2, 2011 9:04:26 AM

Informatica recently introduced HParser, an expansion of its capabilities for working with Hadoop data sources. Beginning with Version 9.1, introduced earlier this year, Informatica’s flagship product has been able to access data stored in HDFS as either a source or a target for information management processes. However, it could not manipulate or transform the data within the Hadoop environment. With this announcement, Informatica starts to bring its data transformation capabilities to Hadoop.

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Topics: Big Data, MapReduce, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Data Integration, Financial Performance, Hadoop, Information Management, Workforce Performance

Despite Recession, Acquisitions Continue in Contact Center Market

Posted by Richard Snow on Nov 2, 2011 12:42:36 AM

It has been a busy year for relationships among vendors in the contact center market and despite tough economic times, it doesn’t look like things are slowing down. For example, early this year Salesforce.com acquired Radian6 to strengthen its position as a supplier for what it calls “the social enterprise.” This is not a term I particularly like, but there is no doubt CEOs are interested in understanding what customers are saying about them on social media, and so this looks like a smart move. Just how many companies fully understand social media and the implications for their business is another question, but social media is not going to go away so I expect more companies to develop plans for it in 2012.

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience Management, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Workforce Performance, 360-degree view of the Customer, Agent Performance Management, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Management, [Vendor references]