Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

Infor Demonstrates Steady Stream of Advances to Customers

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 26, 2013 11:00:13 AM

At this year’s Inforum user group conference, Infor representatives showed the progress the organization has made since last year in transforming itself from a ragbag of mostly small, often obsolete software companies to a competitive vendor of a modern enterprise management software suite. Infor was created by private equity investors employing a “rollup” strategy, aimed at combining smaller companies within an industry to form a single larger company that could achieve economies of scale and greater market presence. Others have tried this in the software industry in the past and encountered difficulty in making it work for two primary reasons. One is the technical challenge of achieving economies of scale in enterprise applications by turning a set of similar but separately developed software pieces into a single offering. Computer Associates achieved economies of scale through acquisition in the 1990s in the IT infrastructure software segment. But it did this largely by forcing customers of the various acquired companies to migrate to its single offering in the specific category. This is not a practical approach for business and finance enterprise applications because customers are willing to go off maintenance and eventually look for another vendor. The second difficulty is that newer or larger competitors can focus on innovation and overtake the rollup company while its attention and resources are focused on stitching the pieces together.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Planning, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, GRC, Budgeting, closing, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Information Management, Workforce Performance, Accounting, CFO, Infor, Risk, FPM, SEC, spreadsheet

Attensity Uses Social Media Technology for Smarter Customer Engagement

Posted by Richard Snow on Apr 23, 2013 10:55:38 AM

When I last wrote about Attensity I classified it as a “pure play” text analytics vendor, but the latest release of its product has lead me to revise my opinion. Its product Respond uses natural language-based analysis to derive insights from any form of text-based data and among other results can produce analyses of customer sentiment, hot issues, trends and key metrics. The product supports what Attensity calls LARA – listen, analyze, relate, act – which is a form of closed-loop performance management. It begins by extracting data from multiple sources of text-based data, (listening), analyzing the content of the data (analyze), linking this data with other sources of customer data, and producing alerts, workflows and reports to encourage action to be taken based on the insights (act).

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

International Integrated Reporting Framework Takes Shape

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 23, 2013 10:45:10 AM

The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) recently published a draft framework outlining how it believes businesses ought to communicate with their stakeholders. In this context the purpose of an “integrated report” is to promote corporate transparency by clearly and concisely presenting how an organization’s strategy, governance, and financial and operational performance will create value for shareholders and other stakeholders in both the short and the long term. Such a report aims to address broader needs than only those of investors’ and therefore must be more than a simple extension of a company’s external financial reports, which are aimed at a specialist audience including analysts, regulators and lawyers.

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Topics: Sustainability, closing, report, XBRL, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Information Applications, Information Management, financial report, FPM, SASB, scorecard, SEC

Investigate User-Friendly Spreadsheet Alternatives

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 18, 2013 10:11:08 AM

I’ve been using spreadsheets for more than 30 years. I consider this technology tool among the five most important advances in business management of the 20th century. Spreadsheets have revolutionized many aspects of running an organization. Yet as enthusiastic as I am about them, I know the limits of desktop spreadsheets and the price we pay if we fail to respect those limits. The essential problem arises when people use desktop spreadsheets for purposes beyond what they were originally designed to do. Desktop spreadsheets were designed to be a personal productivity tool, and they are good for prototyping models and creating analytics used in processes, performing one-off analyses using simple models and storing small amounts of data. They were not designed built to be used to manage or support repetitive, collaborative enterprise-wide processes. As a rule of thumb, when a spreadsheet is used by more than six people six or more times, it’s time to look for an alternative. Otherwise, errors and inconsistencies easily creep in and undermine the accuracy and value of important data.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Reporting, enterprise spreadsheet, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Applications, Information Management, Visualization, Workforce Performance, Risk, benchmark, Financial Performance Management, spreadsheet

CIOs and the Business Intelligence Dilemma

Posted by Ventana Research on Apr 18, 2013 9:59:09 AM

Just about all the CIOs I speak with are at an inflection point in their careers. Some are just biding time before retirement, but many are emerging CIOs who are driven more by a business imperative than a technological one. Today, market and cultural pressures are forcing CIOs to move quickly and be flexible. In many ways, this is antithetical to the posture of IT, which can often be described as slow and methodical. This posture however is no longer sustainable in the era of the six forces of business technology innovation that Ventana Research tracks in our BTI benchmark research.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, cio callenges, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Technology Innovation, visual discovery

Kana Paints a New Picture of Unifying Customer Service

Posted by Richard Snow on Apr 18, 2013 9:45:20 AM

Back in July I wrote about Kana’s acquisition of Ciboodle and its previous acquisition of Overtone and what seemed to be its ambitious plans to release an integrated version of the products. I went so far as to say Kana would have “something unique to offer” if it pulled off this effort. Now, almost nine months to the day, it has launched a new version of Kana Enterprise, and from what I saw in a prelaunch briefing it does seem to be something unique. Billed as “the first omni-channel customer service suite,” the new product brings together the original Kana customer self-service and knowledge management products, the Ciboodle desktop and several new developments.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience Management, Social CRM, Voice of the Customer, Kana, Mobile apps, Self-service, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, 360-degree view of the Customer, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Equifax Anticipates Need for Better Technology in Healthcare Compliance

Posted by stephanmillard on Apr 17, 2013 9:55:43 AM

As most employers are aware, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA or Affordable Care Act) goes into effect in January 2014 which I recently assessed the need to be technology ready. The new law was signed into law on March 23rd 2010 and with the Supreme Court decision in June of 2012 which upheld the law and the re-election of President Obama in November, the law complex regulatory requirements that businesses need to understand before then. Those that don’t prepare may incur substantial expenses, such as fines known as Employer Shared Responsibility – payments of roughly $2,000 for every employee after the first 30. Many companies already worry about such issues. Our benchmark research on governance, risk and compliance found that the top two reasons organizations fail to deal with issues of governance, risk and compliance are high costs and lack of resources. In the case of the Affordable Care Act, the costs of inaction are likely to be greater than the cost of planning ahead.

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Topics: Equifax, eThority, HCM, Business Intelligenece, Obamacare, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Management, Workforce Performance, Affordable Care Act, TALX, Healthcare Reform

Companies Need Smarter Agent Performance Management

Posted by Richard Snow on Apr 17, 2013 9:04:41 AM

I read a lot these days about how companies should pay more attention to contact center agent or customer service representative satisfaction, as it can have an impact on customer experience and meeting key customer-related metrics. This is a far cry from the “good old days” when agents were often locked away in a dark, dismal place and told to answer as many calls as possible. My research into the agent desktop shows that many companies have indeed latched onto these new priorities, and the two top first ranked goals (19%) with respect to agents is to increase agent retention and thus keep the skills they have to handle customer interactions, and to improve agent satisfaction, which in itself helps ensure more agents stick with their roles longer.

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Topics: Customer Experience Management, Social CRM, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Agent Performance Management, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Workforce Force Optimization

Adaptive Planning “Suitens” Its Offering

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 17, 2013 8:49:59 AM

For four years Adaptive Planning has been building out its cloud-based financial software. Starting with budgeting, planning and forecasting, it added analytics, data visualization, dashboards and alerting as well as flexible reporting and collaboration tools. It recently announced the general availability of consolidation functionality in its cloud-based suite. This addition eliminates a notable gap in the company’s functionality, giving it a more complete financial performance management suite. The addition of the consolidation capability should increase its appeal to larger companies and broaden usage within its existing customer base. According to Adaptive Planning, already about one-fourth of its customers are organizations or parts of organizations that have annual revenue in excess of US$500 million.

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Topics: close, Consolidation, Controller, process management, report, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Accounting, CFO, Data, Adaptive Planning, Financial Performance Management

The Importance of Managing Details in Long-Range Planning

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 15, 2013 11:02:18 AM

Ventana Research recently completed an in-depth benchmark research project on long-range planning. As I define it, long-range planning is the formal quantification of the more conceptual strategic plan. It makes specific assumptions and expresses in numbers how a company expects its strategy will play out over time. Almost all (95%) of those participating in the research see a need to make improvements to their long-range planning process. The research shows that one useful improvement is integrating long-range planning with the budgeting process. Today, many corporations confine their long-range planning to a high-level, less detailed extension of their current budget. Our research shows that companies that incorporate individual capital projects and major business initiatives as discrete elements of the long-range plan get better results. Marrying the high-level business outlook with the more significant bottom-up investment details produces better results.

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Topics: Performance Management, Planning, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, forecasting, Reporting, long-range planning, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, CFO, CEO, Financial Performance Management, FPM

Is Your Organization Technology Ready for the Affordable Care Act?

Posted by stephanmillard on Apr 15, 2013 10:49:04 AM

To comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA or Affordable Care Act), which survived a Supreme Court test and a presidential election, all employers with more than 50 full-time employees must be ready by January 2014 to deal with the lion’s share of the law’s employer mandate requirements. Our recent benchmark research on governance, risk and compliance indicates that many of those employers have significant concerns about compliance issues: 53 percent of participants said they are concerned about them, and 42 percent said they are very concerned. Indeed, the Affordable Care Act is today the most pressing governance and compliance issue for most businesses.

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Topics: HCM, Obamacare, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Information Applications, Information Management, Affordable Care Act, compliance, risk management, Spreadsheets, HR Management

Salesforce.com Prepares Marketing for the Future

Posted by Richard Snow on Apr 10, 2013 12:12:18 PM

At the beginning of the year I wrote analyst perspective outlining why I think Salesforce.com is a vendor to watch during 2013. I followed this up with a post noting that Salesforce has shifted its headline messaging from becoming the “collaborative company” to becoming the “customer company” – a message that resonates better with me. During a recent analyst event, the theme of becoming a customer company remained the main message, but this time the emphasis moved to marketing, as the presenters dug deeper into Marketing Cloud which the company is moving further away from traditional marketing systems than Sales Cloud and Service Cloud are from sales and service.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience Management, Social CRM, Voice of the Customer, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, 360-degree view of the Customer, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM

IBM’s Five Lenses for Big Data Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Apr 10, 2013 12:00:54 PM

Last week, IBM brought industry analysts to its famed Almaden Research Center, where the company outlined its big data analytics strategy and introduced a number of new innovations. Big data is no new topic to IBM, which has for decades helped organizations store and use data. But technology has changed over those decades, and IBM is working hard to ensure it is part of the future and not just the past. Our latest business technology innovation research into big data technology finds that retaining and analyzing more data is the first-ranked priority in 29 percent of organizations. From both an IT and a business perspective, big data is critical to IBM’s future success.

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Topics: Big Data, BigInsights, SAP, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), IBM, Information Applications, Operational Intelligence, Oracle, BLU, inforsphere

ClickFox Maps the Customer Journey

Posted by Richard Snow on Apr 8, 2013 11:28:56 AM

The last time I reviewed ClickFox it was primarily focused on capturing how callers transverse IVR menus. It produced visual maps of what options callers used and thus how they navigate what can be quite complex menus, allowing users to identify the most common paths and thereby optimize these to meet common customer requirements and business needs. Since that time the market has changed considerably, and ClickFox’s current products now support companies as they try to identify how customers use different communication channels and how they hop across different channels to resolve their issues.

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

Astute Solutions Supports Integrated Approach to CRM

Posted by Richard Snow on Apr 5, 2013 11:53:52 AM

Like all analysts, I have a series of classifications to help group together vendors with similar capabilities. My challenge is to create categories that align with most users’ expectations so I don’t confuse readers when I define which category a vendor falls into. My “big five” are WFO or agent performance management (quality monitoring, workforce management, training and coaching, remuneration, and agent-related analytics); contact center infrastructure, including cloud-based systems (multichannel interaction management, routing, CTI, and rerecording); CRM (marketing, sales and customer service); customer experience management (agent desktop, self-service, customer feedback management, knowledge management); and contact center and customer analytics (transactional, speech, text, event, process, multichannel, predictive and big data). Occasionally a vendor comes along that defies these classifications. Astute Solutions is one such. It describes itself as providing “best-of-breed CRM Customer Service, Social CRM, Contact Center, IP Communications, Knowledge Management, Mobile, and Self-Service solutions specifically designed for enabling customer-centric business strategies” – quite a mouthful.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience Management, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Voice of the Customer, Mobile apps, Self-service, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, 360-degree view of the Customer, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Interactive Intelligence, Unified Communications, Astute

Datawatch Enables a New Generation of Information Optimization

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 5, 2013 11:43:27 AM

When organizations need to optimize their business processes and improve operations and decisions, the often speak of having the right information at the right time, but don’t always make that a priority. This information optimization is often thought to be expensive and time-consuming, especially with advent of big data and disparate data sources across cloud and on-premises environments, as I have articulated. Datawatch can help business get to information of any variety or volume at any time through its access and integration tools. When I published my last analysis of Datawatch, it had made significant advancements in its platform, with enterprise-class reliability and support for business analytics through its data discovery and virtualization processes. Over the last year Datawatch continued to grow its business worldwide, and through investments into its marketing, sales and product efforts is finding more potential from existing and new customers. The company’s energized product efforts earned it our 2012 Technology Innovation Award for Information Applications for its Information Optimization Suite.

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Topics: Big Data, MapR, QlikView, Cloud Computing, Information Management, Uncategorized, Datawatch, Information Optimization

Businesses Can Turn to Scribe for Integration in the Cloud Anytime

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 5, 2013 11:07:46 AM

Businesses continue to try to increase productivity and simplify tasks in order to use their time smarter. Our recent business technology innovation research found that, when it comes to analytics, 44 percent of organizations spend the most time on data-related tasks. With lack of resources being the largest issue impeding the adoption of technology, IT must operate efficiently while getting business the data it needs on a timely basis. Scribe Solutions has a business-centric data integration solution that operates in the cloud. Over the last 15 years Scribe has accumulated more than 12,000 customers worldwide that span from Fortune 500 to midsize to small organizations. Scribe enables business to access marketing and sales data (part of CRM) like that in Microsoft Dynamics. It has built a strong presence indirectly and through Microsoft partners; it claims to have more than 1,000 partners, and has been expanding efforts to broaden its position by supporting a range of data sources, including Salesforce.com.  Scribe focuses on what I call information optimization, providing value from information management investments, as I outlined in our research agenda.

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Topics: Microsoft, Sales Performance, Marketo, On24, SilverPop, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Data Integration, Information Applications, Information Management, FinancialForce, Information Optimization, Intuit Quicken, Scribe Software, Xactly

How New Information Technology Will Transform Auditing

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 4, 2013 11:04:54 AM

A recent news release by Robert Half, a staffing company that specializes in accounting and finance personnel, covered what it sees as the most important attributes required for auditors in the 21st century. “7 Attributes of Highly Effective Internal Auditors” covers the people dimension of the profession and focuses on the non-technical requirements of the role, including relationship-building, teamwork, and diversity. No doubt these skills are a must for just about anybody working in a modern (Western) corporation. For me, though, the most important quality on the list is at the bottom: continuous learning. That’s because the role of internal and external auditors will be transformed radically by big data, in-memory processing and other advances in information technology that will make enterprise automated fraud discovery and mitigation a reality before the end of this decade.

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Topics: Fraud, Governance, GRC, audit, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Accounting, compliance, Infor, Risk, HANA, Oversight Systems

SAP’s New Fraud Management Analytical Application

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 2, 2013 11:20:48 AM

SAP recently announced its new Fraud Management analytic applications. Currently in “controlled” (limited) release, it’s a promising start for the product and a good example of the type of business process revolution that’s possible when companies can execute complex analytics on big data sets using in-memory and other advanced processing techniques. Over the next several years a wide swath of basic corporate processes will be transformed by the shift to in-memory processing and big data technology, two key foundational elements of my office of finance research agenda. HANA has been a consistent element of SAP’s product strategy and underlies many recent new releases, such as Business Suite on HANA.

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Topics: SAP, Fraud, Governance, GRC, audit, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Accounting, compliance, Risk, HANA, insurance