Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

Enghouse Expands Its Portfolio of Contact Center Vendors

Posted by Richard Snow on Jul 31, 2012 8:48:55 AM

A look at Enghouse Interactive’s Products page shows it is not the easiest of companies to understand. Listed are six products – companies actually – that make up the parent: Arc Solutions, CosmoCom, Datapulse, Synellect, TelRex and Trio. As yet this list doesn’t include the latest acquisition, Zeacom. All the businesses in some way connect to multichannel communications and the contact center, with products that range, respectively, from communication management systems for Cisco, a cloud-based contact center, unified communications applications that improve collaboration between employees within an organization, a premises-based multichannel contact center, IP call recording and workforce management, and telephony systems, with Zeacom adding a cloud-based unified communications system based on Microsoft Lync.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience Management, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Enghouse interactive, 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 Force Optimization

Microstrategy Provides Hadoop and Predictive Analytics with Version 9.3

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 27, 2012 11:37:42 AM

MicroStrategy, announced version 9.3. The announcement came out of Amsterdam this month just in front of MicroStrategy World, the company’s annual conference for the European market. Release 9.3 delivers significant updates in four main areas: big data, advanced analytics, automated administration and visual data discovery.

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Topics: Big Data, MicroStrategy, Mobile BI, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Visual Insight, Apple, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Information Applications, Operational Intelligence, Workforce Performance

WorkForce Software Focuses on Effective and Efficient Workforces

Posted by Mark Smith on Jul 27, 2012 9:20:11 AM

Our research agenda for 2012 in human capital management outlined the importance of workforce management for all organizations. One provider, WorkForce Software, provides systems that support scheduling, time and attendance, leave and absence and fatigue management. As I noted in my last analysis on WorkForce Software, the company’s focus on the fatigue aspect of workforce management, especially in white-collar environments such as transportation, utilities and healthcare, has provided them both recognition and growth. I attended the company’s first technology analyst summit this week to get a deeper view into the company and its products and see how it is shaping up in light of our research on the key applications providers in this market.

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Topics: Sales Performance, SAP, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Sustainability, mobile workforce, SuccessFactors, Business Technology Innovation, IT Performance, IT Research, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Applications, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Workforce Performance, HTML5, Time & Attendance, Workforce Management, workforce software

VPI Optimize Agents for Quality Customer Interactions

Posted by Richard Snow on Jul 26, 2012 12:10:10 PM

VPI, a well established vendor in the workforce optimization (WFO) space, was recently rated as a Hot vendor in the Ventana Research Agent Performance Management 2012 Value Index, which extends the traditional definition of WFO to include multichannel interaction capture, agent-related analytics, and agent compensation management. VPI’s Hot rating is a tribute to the functionality and architecture of its suite, even though it doesn’t include a WFM product (instead, workforce management is supported through integration with a number of the specialist WFM products) or compensation management.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience Management, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, VPI, Knowlagent, Nexxphase, Business Analytics, 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, Pipkins, Workforce Force Optimization

How to Start Integrating Business Planning

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 26, 2012 10:56:59 AM

Usually, just figuring out how to start the process of change is a major barrier to improvement in business. I think that’s especially true when it comes to integrated business planning (IBP). I started using that term six years ago to differentiate that process from financial budgeting and the many other forward-looking activities used in companies. IBP applies to a longstanding objective: bringing together the disparate strands of forward-looking activities across a corporation to foster internal alignment, enhance agility and therefore increase financial returns and improve strategic position. Especially in larger companies, fragmented planning efforts prevent companies from achieving these goals. They miss opportunities to sell more, incorrectly allocate their resources to less productive or less profitable activities and react too slowly to changing market conditions.

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Topics: Planning, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, forecasting, Reporting, Budgeting, driver-based, Operational Performance, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Financial Performance Management, Integrated Business Planning, spreadsheet

Microstrategy’s Mobile Vision Mobilizes Business

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 25, 2012 12:18:06 PM

On the heels of the release of his new book, The Mobile Wave, Microstrategy’s CEO Michael Saylor delivered an interesting keynote at Microstrategy World in Amsterdam this past week. Unlike other keynotes we’ve seen at various supplier conferences, the presentation was not a sales pitch. There was no reference to the fact that the company was simultaneously launching MicroStrategy 9.3, a major new release of its flagship offer. The presentation focused almost entirely on the rise of mobile computing and its ability to change the world. Saylor sees the Apple iPad at the heart of the mobile revolution, and notes that BI capabilities delivered through the device are displacing paper and people within organizations. The iPad’s 10-inch screen, which can display 90 percent of printed pages, is the key for companies to unlock the shackles of the physical office environment. Between the lines, it’s easy to read that Microstrategy is betting a lot on mobile and on the iPad.

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Topics: Microsoft, MicroStrategy, Mobile, Mobile BI, Sales Performance, Google, IT Performance, Apple, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Information Applications, Nexus 7, Surface

Knowlagent Increases Agent Utilization and Customer Satisfaction

Posted by Richard Snow on Jul 25, 2012 11:41:30 AM

Knowlagent has carved out a unique position in the agent performance management market. Everyone involved in running a contact center knows how difficult it is to manage agent time so that agents are available within service level agreement specifications to answer inbound customer calls, have sufficient time to carry out other essential tasks such as breaks, training, coaching and making outbound calls, but not burn themselves out. Our research into agent performance management shows that many companies, especially those with a small number of seats in their contact centers, use spreadsheets or specialized workforce management systems to try to achieve this delicate balance. Because of the limitations of these systems, most centers can only work with 15-minute slots as they attempt to optimize agent utilization. Even with the best planning, the random nature of inbound call patterns means that agents typically have two-minute slots of ideal time, and these can occur at random intervals, according to research sponsored by Knowlagent that we carried out. Knowlagent has therefore developed a product called Knowlagent RightTime that monitors in real time what agents are doing and then seeks to allocate tasks to agents to optimize their time within the parameters set up by the company – a process it calls automated intraday management.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience Management, Voice of the Customer, Knowlagent, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, 360-degree view of the Customer, Agent Performance Management, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Workforce Force Optimization

Kana Acquires Ciboodle

Posted by Richard Snow on Jul 24, 2012 10:16:31 AM

This month Kana announced it had acquired contact center provider Ciboodle. This comes a few years after Ciboodle was acquired by Sword, a marriage that apparently didn’t work out because Sword, a predominantly services company, didn’t make the necessary investment in the Ciboodle products to keep them competitive. Kana, looking to expand its portfolio beyond service experience management, spotted that Ciboodle, with its customer experience management portfolio, provided a good, complimentary set of products – so hopefully this ends up as a happy marriage.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Kana, Business Analytics, 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

Actuate Rides the Big-Data Wave

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 19, 2012 1:58:26 PM

Actuate, the driving force behind the open source Eclipse Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT) project, is positioning itself in the center of the big-data world through multiple partnerships with companies such as Cloudera, Hortonworks, KXEN, Pervasive and a number of OEMs. These agreements, following on its acquisition of Xenos a couple of years ago, help Actuate address some big issues in big data, involving enterprise integration and closed-loop operational systems that provide what my colleague Robert Kugel refers to as action-oriented information technology systems. Today, most initiatives in big data and Hadoop are still in the proof-of-concept stages or being implemented in organizational siloes. Actuate, with its enterprise orientation and federated architecture, is in a position to potentially advance these efforts in a variety of ways.

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Topics: Big Data, Pervasive, Eclipse, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Cloudera, Customer & Contact Center, Hadoop, Information Applications, Information Management, Operational Intelligence, Actuate, BIRT

Sales Performance Management Is Red-Hot with Applications

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 19, 2012 1:23:18 PM

We have just released our 2012 Value Index for Sales Performance Management (SPM), in which we evaluate the competency and maturity of vendors and products. Our firm has beenresearching this software category for many years, and our latest benchmark research in sales performance management found many areas for improvement among sales applications in a field where many sales organizations still use outdated or insufficient applications to manage revenue generation and customer relationships.

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Topics: Microsoft, Sales, Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, SAP, NICE, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Oracle, CallidusCloud, Sales Performance Management, Synygy, Varicent, Xactly

Financial Institutions Need Dynamic Risk Management

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 19, 2012 11:53:22 AM

Planning portfolio risk follows the same basic tenets as other sorts of business planning. It must be done in the context of a time dimension. In business, short-term plans are developed with a lot of givens or constraints. For example, capacities are fixed, because it’s impossible to wave a magic wand and bring a new factory on line, stuff more machine tools into already jammed facilities or source more raw materials in a capacity-limited supply chain. Short-term plans also incorporate assumptions about external forces (such as the economy, competitive moves or regulation) that are fixed or change very little in this period. By contrast, long-range or strategic planning is relatively unconstrained. The countries, markets or products that an organization can offer, for example, are not limited by current conditions. Indeed, that’s an essential point of long-range planning: assessing the impact of significant changes to today’s givens or assessing how to manage the impact of expected future trends.

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Topics: Sales Performance, GRC, Bank, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Management, Business Planning, Risk

Datameer Provides Business Visualization and Discovery for Hadoop

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 17, 2012 2:15:20 PM

As volumes of data grow in organizations, so do the number of deployments of Hadoop, and as Hadoop becomes widespread, more organizations demand data analysis, ease of use and visualization of large data sets. In our benchmark research on Hadoop, 88 percent of organizations said analyzing Hadoop data is important, and in our research on business analytics 89 percent said it is important to make it simpler to provide analytics and metrics to all users who need them. As my colleague Mark Smith has noted, Datameer has an ambitious plan to tackle these issues. It aims to provide a single solution in lieu of the common three-step process involving data integration, data warehouse and BI, giving analysts the ability to apply analytics and visualization to find the dynamic “why” behind data rather than just the static “what.”

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Topics: Big Data, Datameer, MapR, Apache, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloudera, Customer & Contact Center, Hadoop, Hortonworks, IBM, Information Applications, Operational Intelligence, Visualization, Data discovery

Journey Maps Enhance the Customer Experience

Posted by Richard Snow on Jul 17, 2012 10:22:52 AM

My research into customer experience management shows that companies are increasingly aware that the customer experience has a profound impact on business success. In almost equal numbers, participants said it determines the loyalty of customers (21%), the propensity of customers to recommend the company to others (21%), the amount of additional purchases they make (19%) and their general level of satisfaction (19%). Furthermore, companies also realize that good experiences save money, because customers complain less (11%) and contact them less frequently (9%).

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience Management, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, 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, Vendor(s), Workforce Force Optimization

Is Your Vendor Hot in Financial Performance Management Software?

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 17, 2012 10:08:49 AM

We recently issued our 2012 Value Index on Financial Performance Management (FPM). Ventana Research defines FPM as the process of addressing the often overlapping people, process, information and technology issues that affect how well finance organizations operate and support the activities of the rest of their organization. FPM deals with the full cycle of finance department activities, which includes planning and budgeting, analysis, assessment and review, closing and consolidation, internal financial reporting and external financial reporting, as well as the underlying information technology systems that support them. We construct the Index through a detailed evaluation of each product’s suitability to task in five categories, as well as the effectiveness of the vendor’s support for the buying process and customer assurance. The resulting index gauges the value offered by a vendor and its products.

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Topics: Mobile, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Budgeting, closing, Consolidation, contingency planning, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Accounting, CFO, Value Index, Financial Performance Management, spreadsheet

Agents Performance Management is Hot for Successful Customer Interactions

Posted by Richard Snow on Jul 16, 2012 12:23:42 PM

Our benchmark research into agent performance management shows that the majority of companies are not very mature in their use of people, processes, information and technology in handling customer interactions. Companies are most mature is their use of information, but even in this area they are hampered by their failure to use the latest technologies available to support their efforts.

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Analytics, NICE Systems, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, VPI, CallCopy, Enkata, Envision, Genesys, in Contact, KnopahSoft, LiveOps, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Workforce Performance, 360-degree view of the Customer, Agent Performance Management, Call Center, coaching, Compensation Management, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Agent Analytics, Aspect, OnviSource, Training, Verint, Workforce Force Optimization

CODA Financials Has a Flexible Approach to ERP

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 16, 2012 10:43:19 AM

CODA’s Financials has a specific target market, from companies in the upper half of the midsize range to the lower end of the large range (that is, companies with 500 to 2,500 employees) in services (not manufacturing) businesses. CODA, the company, started in the 1990s and differentiated itself by designing ERP and accounting software to run on a multidimensional database rather than the more common relational databases of the day. This has proven to be an elegant approach, because businesses inherently  have multiple perspectives from which to view and describe their operations. Some of the most common dimensions include products, customers, corporate business units, time and currency. Each of these can be defined in a hierarchy: Individual stock-keeping units are part of products, which are part of product families, which may be part of a specific brand. Days are parts of weeks or months, which are part of quarters, which are part of years. If the multidimensional database had been available in the 15th century when Fra Luca Pacioli codified double-entry bookkeeping, I’m certain the friar would have kept his books in this form.

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Topics: Sales Performance, ERP, CODA, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Accounting, CFO, FinancialForce, financials

Make Spreadsheet Competence a Priority

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 13, 2012 11:52:31 AM

I’ve written frequently on issues that confront desktop spreadsheet users, such as business modeling and capital investment, as well as the risk and control issues spreadsheets pose and their contribution to paralysis by analysis. I focus mainly on the technology aspects of organizational challenges, and I usually recommend replacing stand-alone desktop spreadsheets with more appropriate tools. Yet there are many instances where spreadsheets work well, and in other cases people continue to use them when they shouldn’t. For these reasons, executives and managers must pay attention to spreadsheet training. Many people who use spreadsheets have overblown estimations of their own competence, often those who use them all the time and have years of experience. With these and other tools, unless people are tested and trained on a recurring basis, one can never be sure how well they perform. The consequences of poorly trained spreadsheet users can be significant, both in terms of their impact on direct productivity and in relating to the capabilities of the spreadsheet files they construct and the potential for errors in poorly crafted ones.

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Topics: GRC, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), CFO, finance, Training, spreadsheet

Companies Need Unified Approach to GRC for IT

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 12, 2012 11:55:18 AM

One of the most important trends in business over the past 20 years has been the broadening use of information technology to manage and support activities. In the early decades of business computing, companies developed islands of automation for largely numeric functions such as billing, inventory management and accounting. Each ran on a proprietary system and engaged the time of a relative handful of employees. Today, just about everyone works with an IT system for at least some of their operational or administrative tasks. They rely on these systems to support many of their daily routines, from recording transactions to using analytics to provide alerts, insights and decision support.

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Topics: Performance Management, Predictive Analytics, Governance, GRC, Management, process, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), compliance, finance, Risk, financial risk management, IT risk management, operational risk

Get Serious about Managing Customer Profitability

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 12, 2012 9:38:38 AM

It’s clear that certain customers generate more profits than others, just as some products offer greater economic returns than others, as I’ve noted before. For this reason, efforts to improve customer profitability are not a new trend. Good managers have always looked for ways to achieve the highest sustainable margins. However, at some point, almost all businesses realize that increasing sustainable profitability can’t be achieved simply through increasing revenue or cutting costs. Those straightforward approaches are fine for tactical, one-off decisions, but they’re too simplistic for designing and implementing business strategies.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Information Applications, CRM, pricing, Financial Performance Management, profit, Profitability

Callminer Expands Into Text and Social Analytics

Posted by Richard Snow on Jul 12, 2012 9:10:42 AM

Callminer is best known as a vendor of speech analytics software. Along with its own suite, its products also are embedded in those of several other vendors to provide speech analysis. During a recent briefing, I learned that the company has not only expanded into text and social analytics but also that its latest release includes more features and a friendlier user interface, two requirements that my research shows are essential in persuading companies to more widely adopt analytics for customer-facing processes.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Callminer, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, 360-degree view of the Customer, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Kognitio Brings Big Data Experience to Business Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on Jul 6, 2012 11:55:49 AM

Kognitio has been serving the analytics and data needs of organizations for more than 20 years with an in-memory analytics platform that meets many of the big-data needs of today’s organizations. Kognitio Analytical Platform provides a unique massively parallel processing (MPP) in-memory database that can rapidly load data and calculate analytics; it is available both in an analytical software appliance and via cloud computing.

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Topics: Big Data, Data Warehouse, Social Media, alteryx, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Hadoop, Hortonworks, Information Management, Kognitio, AVS

Roambi Provides Digital Platform for Mobile Business

Posted by Mark Smith on Jul 6, 2012 9:15:59 AM

The demand for business information on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets continues to increase, while the technology to support it has not. In our benchmark research on information applications, only 11 percent of organizations said they are very satisfied with their ability to provide such information, and their top two complaints with existing technologies are that they are too slow and not adaptable or flexible. The unique aspects of mobile technology, from the small screen size to the use of gestures for interaction, make for a complex technological problem.

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Topics: Mobile, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Analysts, Mobile Business, Operational Performance, Analytics, Apple, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, CIO, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Applications, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Workforce Performance, Digital Publishing, iPad, iPhone, Roambi

Hold-Free Networks’ Can Enhance Customer Experience

Posted by Richard Snow on Jul 2, 2012 11:26:57 AM

Many companies have legacy systems in their contact centers, especially systems to manage telephony. My research into the use of technology in centers shows they can create headaches for center managers whose budgets don’t allow them to invest in new systems to match emerging business requirements and changes in consumer behaviors. My research into customer relationship maturity shows that consumers now want to interact with companies through multiple communication channels, with social media and smartphones rapidly emerging as the two channels of choice, which legacy systems cannot accommodate.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Experience Management, Social CRM, hold-free networks, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, CRM

The Financial Close Measures CFO Effectiveness

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 2, 2012 11:07:21 AM

What’s a fast, free and reasonably reliable way of gauging the effectiveness of a finance department’s management? It’s the number of days it takes it to close the books. Companies that take six days or fewer after the end of the period to close their monthly, quarterly or semiannual accounts demonstrate a basic level of effectiveness that those that take longer do not. In my judgment, finance executives should regard a slow close as a negative key performance indicator pointing to less-than-effective management on their part. I draw this conclusion from our recent benchmark research, which  followed up similar research we completed in 2007.

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Topics: Sales Performance, close, Consolidation, Controller, process management, report, XBRL, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Accounting, CFO, Data, Document Management, Financial Performance Management