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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.
Scribe addresses multipoint integration that cuts across departments and across on-premises and cloud computing environments. Our research into data in the cloud found lack of implementation resources to be the major obstacle in 31 percent of organizations. Scribe’s product Scribe Online operates in the cloud and facilitates the integration of on-premises and cloud-based environments. It provides a replication service that helps get a copy of data from one point to many and ensures that data is available when users need it. This is especially important when you have a multitude of applications in the cloud for marketing, sales and customer services that need to interoperate, and if you need data that is generated in another application or is in a legacy on-premises application.
Scribe’s latest release simplifies the visual integration environment and provides some core functionality to expand its value to business. Its Integration Service enables synchronization processes to update as data is generated and provides methods to transform data to a form used by an organization’s business intelligence or analytics software. Scribe enables these capabilities through integration agents deployed with the applications.
I got a product demonstration that provided insight to the usability of the product, which our data in the cloud benchmark found was the most important evaluation criteria according to 56% of organizations. Scribe has built an approach that is usable by business. It lets users position graphical blocks that comprise integrations, eliminating the need for a DBA, though data-savvy professionals can set up the configuration of the blocks to enable business to access to data at any time in a safe and governed manner. Business analysts can easily adjust parameters to the blocks and change them to meet their needs. I also tried out Scribe’s free trial software, which was easy to activate and use. I do think the software trial could have pre-built demonstrations of integration to make it easier to get started. Its approach is especially nice for those who need to quickly get data into their spreadsheets for analysis. Our latest research into spreadsheets found that combining spreadsheets is time-consuming in more than half (56%) of organizations, mostly due to getting the data into the right shape for combining – a process Scribe Online can assist with.
Scribe provides a range of connectors to applications and systems, and a new Connector Development Kit that can help partners and customers extend the technology to meet a range of custom and specific application needs. Scribe has also announced a marketplace for partners that can be found embedded within the software to make it easy to use these connectors. I would like the company to highlight the marketplace outside of the software and on its website, as it is a significant part of Scribe’s value.
Scribe works well for marketing and sales teams that need to integrate marketing automation and sales force automation systems. Its software integrates with a broad spectrum of applications other data integration providers can’t manage, such as Exact Target, Silverpop, On24 and customer billing systems such as Intuit and FinancialForce. Scribe just announced support for Marketo, one of the fastest-growing marketing automation applications in cloud computing, which supports the demand and revenue generation needs of organizations, and for Xactly, which is used for sales compensation and incentives. It is expanding the number of connectors to applications through partners such as Datix, which resells Epicor.
I was impressed by the way Scribe’s offering makes data integration simpler for business while providing integration into applications for marketing, sales, customer services and accounting systems. Today, when organizations have systems dispersed across online environments that need data shared across applications or integrated into a unified environment for analytics, Scribe Online is a great step forward. Having software that can align business and IT is essential, as less than a fifth (19%) work together well for the information needs of an organization, according to our information management research. Scribe can provide significant value here, empowering business to do its own integration in a secured and governed manner. If it continues to expand its application connectivity to the providers that deliver value to the SMB market, it will have a great growth opportunity.
If you are looking to empower business to access and integrate data, take a look at Scribe Software and its latest Scribe Online release. It is pretty easy, and you should try it for yourself.
CEO & Chief Research Officer
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.
The main advantage of keeping a company’s books using a multidimensional database is the system’s flexibility. In our ERP research only 6 percent of companies said that altering their ERP system to support process changes is easy. Half said doing that is manageable, and somewhat fewer (44%) said it’s difficult. As businesses evolve over time, it’s often easier (and therefore cheaper) to reflect these changes in a multidimensional structure than a relational one. For certain operations, multidimensional databases provide ease of computation, as, for example, to create real-time financial or management reports. And it can be far easier to consolidate and close the books at the end of a period with a multidimensional database, especially for companies in CODA’s target market, which may have simpler corporate structures than bigger ones.
CODA can be especially useful in handling record-keeping tasks in organizations that use a larger vendor’s ERP system as their main accounting and financial application. For example, a major asset management company uses CODA for funds accounting and reporting but another application for its general accounting requirements. In this case, CODA’s multidimensional structure makes it easier to handle the business’s multiple currency requirements. When I first heard this, I scratched my head, since multiple currency capabilities are part of any system’s basic features these days. However, the company’s accounting involves detailed and complex treatment of these transactions, which it can do more easily in CODA Financials. It also can facilitate management of the legal entity aspects of the accounting process, thereby streamlining calculation of taxes owed and limiting the chances of errors in this process.
CODA was acquired in 2008 by Unit4, a Netherlands-based company. In 2009 Unit4 partnered with salesforce.com to offer FinancialForce, a single-ledger financial management software based on CODA that runs in the cloud on Force.com, the salesforce.com platform. Companies can use stand-alone components of the financial software in the cloud to securely manage and collect data around specific sales-related processes such as managing orders; the data is then pushed to their main ERP system, which may be on-premises, or they can have a full financial management suite in the cloud.
Unit4 also offers CODA users easy-to-deploy business analytics. Many midsize companies are challenged in deploying analytics because of their limited IT staffs and budgets. To address this issue, CODA’s business analytic applications are designed to be easy to deploy and affordable. They include common analytical requirements such as tracking budgets, managing resource utilization, profitability and break-even analysis and performance measurement, among others. Affordability stems from their purpose-built design so that they require limited modification (the company offers fixed price installation not to exceed three days) and are priced on a per-user/per-month basis. Unit4 tries to underscore their ease of deployment and affordability by referring to these offerings as “apps” that are available through an online store. Unlike smartphone apps, however, they are not immediately downloadable and require integration with existing enterprise systems.
Midsize companies face different sorts of challenges than larger or smaller ones. They have most of the same requirements as large organizations but not the scale to support complex IT systems. Over the past decade, information technology has been evolving in ways that have benefited midsize companies. As software has become more sophisticated, it has reduced the complexity of deploying and managing enterprise systems in much the same way as more sophisticated engineering has enabled cars to become more reliable and easier to maintain. I recommend that midsize companies and larger organizations with complex transaction processing requirements consider CODA when looking for a new ERP system.
Robert Kugel – SVP Research