Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

Jacada is Back with a Smarter Agent Desktop

Posted by Richard Snow on Jun 29, 2011 9:40:36 AM

Jacada was one of the first vendors to provide a unified desktop for contact centers. It simplified the agent’s desktop by replacing several application views with a single view that better followed customer conversations. It also interfaced between those applications so agents didn’t have to worry about which fields to update, where to find data or how many applications they had to use. The unified desktop also enabled agents to address customer issues more efficiently.  

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Voice of the Customer, Jacada, Operational Performance, Analytics, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM

Yahoo Spins Out Hadoop to Create Hortonworks

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 29, 2011 9:06:36 AM

For months the speculation was rampant, and now the rumors have proven to be true. Yahoo has officially announced that it will become a player in the emerging Hadoop market. Hadoop provides distributed computing capabilities that enable organizations to process very large amounts of data quickly. Backed by Yahoo and Benchmark Capital, a new entity called Hortonworks has formed around a team from Yahoo that consists of more than 20 key architects of and contributors to the Apache Hadoop project. The company will start with some 25 employees and “will be hiring aggressively from our collective networks,” according to Rob Bearden, Hortonworks president and COO.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Strata+Hadoop

PeopleFluent Brings New Face and Mobility to Talent Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 28, 2011 4:10:59 PM

This week the management of Peopleclick Authoria renamed the company PeopleFluent, reoriented its vision and launched a new suite of applications. This effort is intended to hone its focus on the intersecting aspects of talent management and respond to the increasing importance of mobility in this field. This move indicates the dynamic changes that are occurring as the software industry tries to meet the expectations of the next generation of workers and managers. PeopleFluent will rely on not just the rich history of Peopleclick and Authoria in the talent management market but also the recent acquisition of Aquire that brings it workforce analytics; its goal is to further expand its customer base with technology that provides the most usable applications in this market. Company rebranding efforts are always risky, but this one will be worth watching.

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Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, Social Media, Human Capital Management, Metrics, Mobile Applications, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Compensation, Talent Management, Workforce Analytics

Price Optimization and Sales Incentives Deliver Profitability

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jun 24, 2011 2:26:07 PM

Two software applications I follow, price and revenue optimization (PRO) and sales compensation and incentives, can be highly complementary when used together. Unfortunately, since they typically are developed and sold by different kinds of software vendors, scant attention has been paid to the value of using them in tandem. I advise companies that have adopted a PRO strategy to use an incentive management application also to support and reinforce their optimization efforts. It is also part of our research agenda and education on sales  for 2011 and beyond.

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Sales, Sales Performance, Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Price Optimization, Profitability

Business Analysts, Take Control of Your Analytic Destiny

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 24, 2011 11:35:43 AM

The recent buzz around business analytics has generated resurgent conversation about what businesses need from their data to optimize business processes and make better decisions. Our benchmark research on business analytics in more than 2,500 organizations produced unprecedented information about business and IT usage and competency with analytics. It confirmed that effective use of business analytics requires a balance of people and skills, processes, information and technology not just to provide capabilities but also to engage business analysts and users across the organization. The research also identified significant challenges facing organizations in terms of inefficient analytics processes and ineffective technology. 

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Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Sustainability, Business Technology Innovation, IT Performance, IT Research, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Business Performance, CIO, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Applications, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Uncategorized, Workforce Performance, Business Planning, CFO

InetSoft Advances Business Intelligence to Deliver Business Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 24, 2011 10:49:20 AM

InetSoft is a business intelligence vendor that is not well-known but has more than 3,000 customers. Why do you need to know about another BI vendor? As I’ve written in the past, there’s a place in this market for both the megavendors and smaller vendors. InetSoft, one of the latter, has developed a broad set of capabilities over the years that have resonated with its customers. It recently announced and brought to market a significant new release, Style Intelligence 11.  

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Topics: Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, CIO, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, InetSoft, Information Applications

Pentaho 4 Unites Enterprise Business Intelligence and Data Integration

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 22, 2011 10:17:14 AM

As recently as two years ago, Pentaho was all about open source business intelligence. The company used an open source business model to build a base of more than 1,200 paying customers and establish more than 8,000 production deployments. It still has an open source business model, but the company has created a broad yet integrated product line that deserves to be evaluated on its features, not just its licensing scheme. This week Pentaho announced version 4.0 of its BI suite along with version 4.2 of Pentaho Data Integration (aka Kettle).

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

inContact and Siemens Enterprise Communications Working the Contact Center in the Cloud

Posted by Richard Snow on Jun 22, 2011 9:15:47 AM

While the contact center business is not the most dynamic market, it is undergoing more changes than I have ever seen. One of the biggest changes is coming about because of cloud computing. This trend was led by salesforce.com, and the impact is now being felt in the contact center market as more vendors start to provide a “contact center in the cloud.” I recently wrote about inContact , one of the first vendors to provide a full contact center in the cloud. Recently inContact announced an important partnership – and it’s not an obvious match. 

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, InContact, Operational Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Management, Siemens Enterprise Communications

Cloudera Supports Hadoop with New Distribution and Enterprise Version

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 19, 2011 7:28:19 AM

Cloudera is riding the wave of big data. I first learned about the company while working at Vertica, one of Cloudera’s partners. Customers that managed large amounts of structured relational data also needed to process large amounts of semistructured data such as the type found in web logs and application logs. The emerging channel of social media provided another source of data lacking the structure that would lend itself to analysis in a relational database. Other organizations needed to perform calculations and analyses that were difficult to express in SQL. Seeing this market Cloudera recognized earlier than others an opportunity to leverage the Apache Hadoop project; it has been offering the Cloudera Distribution for Hadoop (CDH) since early 2009

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Topics: Big Data, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, CDH3, Cloudera, Customer & Contact Center, Information Management, Strata+Hadoop

Information Builders Advances Business Intelligence for Smartphones and Tablets

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 17, 2011 3:30:47 PM

At this year’s Information Builders Summit, the company’s annual conference for users and analysts (Twitter: #Summit2011) in Dallas, the long-time supplier of business intelligence and information management software showed how it has been able to sustain double-digit revenue growth thanks to highly accessible and scalable software that operates on a variety of platforms and data sources. Its recent expansion into information management, master data management and integration helps organizations link data to business analytics quickly – something our benchmark research has found to be essential. It also is continuing to advance BI on mobile devices.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Sustainability, Google, Playbook, RIM, Business Technology Innovation, IT Performance, IT Research, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Business Performance, CIO, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Applications, Information Builders, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Mobility, Operational Intelligence, Uncategorized, Workforce Performance, digital technology

IBM Gets Smarter about Predictive Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 17, 2011 12:54:20 PM

I recently attended IBM’s analyst summit on business analytics. Since last year’s event was largely a preview of Cognos 10, which was several years in the making, I wondered what this year’s event would be about. IBM focused much of the attention on predictive analytics, strengthened by its acquisition of SPSS. My colleague Robert Kugel covered another theme from the event in his post on Cognos Planning

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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

Interactive Intelligence Unveils Process Automation for Customer Service

Posted by Richard Snow on Jun 14, 2011 11:43:06 AM

Providing good customer service has never been easy, but today it’s more challenging than ever, because of three factors. First is the growing overlap between marketing, sales and customer service. This is driven by customers’ increased expectations about the quality of customer service, the consistency of responses they receive during interactions and privacy legislation that limits companies’ collection and use of customer information and unsolicited contact. These circumstances put pressure on companies to take maximum advantage of all inbound interactions. Second, technology has changed customers’ communication habits, forcing companies to interact with them through multiple channels (including social media); this gets complicated when internally different lines of business hold responsibility for some of the channels. And third, companies can’t afford poor-quality products, services and customer experiences because customer complaints are likely to be broadcast over social media, potentially with devastating effects. To meet these challenges, companies have to start thinking differently; a good place to start is with the processes associated with customer-facing activities. 

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Operational Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Voice of the Customer Interactive Intelligence

Attensity Makes Text Analytics Smarter

Posted by Richard Snow on Jun 14, 2011 10:52:59 AM

My research into customer analytics shows three important things: Text analytics are at the early adopter stage; companies still use spreadsheets as their main tool for analysis; and to move companies away from spreadsheets vendors must offer tools that are as easy to use as spreadsheets. That’s no easy task, given the huge volume and varied types of text data companies are generating and the complexity of analyzing unstructured text. However, the research also indicates that this challenge will be met, and a new software release from text analytics vendor Attensity is the type of product that can help companies overcome these challenges.  

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics

Pitney Bowes Committed to Customer Communications and Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 13, 2011 11:00:04 AM

The Pitney Bowes Business Insight (PBBI) analyst summit and conference this week provided an opportunity to hear about the $5 billion technology provider’s strategy to become “the leader in customer communications.” This term makes sense when applied to a division of the company that brought the efficiency of the postal meter to mailrooms around the world. Of course a lot has changed for the company and for business since then. Today parent company Pitney Bowes envisions success in a future with limited or no print and mail business. 

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Communications, Customer Interaction Technology, Pitney Bowes, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Location Intelligence, Unified Communications

Predictive Analytics Support Human Judgment

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jun 10, 2011 12:17:59 PM

Predictive analytics can be valuable tools for performance management. When the term is applied to planning or forecasting, many people take it to mean the ability to automate plans or forecasts. It’s true that using predictive analytics correctly is likely to enhance their accuracy, but these techniques do not eliminate the need for judgment; in practice, many organizations may realize more value from applying predictive analytics  to assess results than to forecast outcomes. Moreover, as regards performance management the usefulness of predictive analytics extends beyond planning and forecasting. They also can serve to set benchmarks that can be used to assess performance or generate alerts to accelerate necessary action. Although I advise companies to be more aggressive in adopting predictive analytics, I doubt that they will adopt them as fast as they should because of perceptions that the tools are too hard to use and the data too hard to get at.    

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Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Budgeting, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Information Management, Workforce Performance, Financial Performance Management, Integrated Business Planning

Budgeting Is So Unimportant

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jun 8, 2011 1:02:14 PM

I think one of best epigrams attributed to Mark Twain is, “Everyone talks about the weather but nobody ever does something about it.” This also has relevance to the situation with corporate planning and budgeting. Bemoaning its lack of value and calling for some sort of change goes back a long way, but few companies have matured their process. In the 1970s something called “zero-based budgeting” was all the rage in business and accounting periodicals. It was energetically advocated by President Carter to counteract the incremental budgeting that made it so difficult for the U.S. Congress to cut spending. (Of course, nothing changed.) Efforts to reform budgeting gathered steam in the 1990s as software vendors began offering dedicated applications designed for planning and budgeting. Even if one doesn’t fully embrace the idea of going budgetless, the book Beyond Budgeting is full of sensible management approaches (such as using league tables for internal benchmarking or using relative rather than fixed measures of performance). Of course, unlike the weather, people can change company practices. Yet when it comes to budgeting and planning, the same old stuff persists even as people like me continue to point out how using the right software can help transform the process into a valuable business tool. I’ve discussed why it’s important to adopt integrated business planning from my research, in which the budget is an automatically generated end product of the process, not the objective itself. And I’ve explained why driver-based planning produces better results. If it were just me advocating change, I might take its absence personally, but there have been scores of people, libraries of books and years of webinars focused on this topic for decades. Why has so little changed? 

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Topics: Planning, Predictive Analytics, Sales, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Office of Finance, Budgeting, contingency planning, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Financial Performance, CFO, finance, Financial Performance Management, Integrated Business Planning

Informatica Joins Big Data Market with New Release

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 8, 2011 12:57:56 PM

Informatica has announced version 9.1 for Big Data.  I wrote previously about Informatica 9.1,the latest iteration of the company’s data integration platform, following its industry analyst summit. At that event in February, the company officials alluded to future plans regarding Hadoop and other big-data sources yet to be finalized. This announcement reveals those plans. Informatica will support three types of “big data”: big transaction data from relational databases and data warehouse system, big interaction data from social media, customer interaction systems and other systems, and big data processing, which means Hadoop, the open source software framework. Let’s look at each of these types.

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Topics: Big Data, MapReduce, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Data Integration, Informatica, Strata+Hadoop

IBM Cognos Gets Ready for the Revolution in Analytical Processes

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jun 8, 2011 12:19:17 PM

Over the past six years big technology corporations have been acquiring all sorts of software companies, accelerating a general consolidation of the software industry since the dot-com boom ended in 2001. The consolidation has been driven in part by the deceleration of technology innovation in the business software market. Technology evolution, however, has been steady and progressed far enough now that I think we’re about to witness a revolution in how companies use analytics in business processes. I don’t used that overworked term lightly: I expect this to be as revolutionary as the impact that client/server computing had on transaction processing and related systems such as ERP and CRM. These analytical processes address performance management processes of all kinds, including planning, budgeting and reviews.     

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Planning, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Budgeting, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, IBM, In-memory, Workforce Performance, Cognos, acquisition

InContact Enhances Contact Center in the Cloud

Posted by Richard Snow on Jun 8, 2011 11:39:22 AM

I have been writing quite a lot lately about the contact center in the cloud. Now it seems that more vendors are moving in this direction. One of them, inContact has evolved from a telecommunications carrier into a software vendor and now has a suite of products for a contact center in the cloud. It includes many of the necessary communications management capabilities (such as ACD, IVR, CTI and autodial) as well as key workforce optimization applications such as interaction recording, quality monitoring, workforce management and e-learning. Recently inContact announced three new features that add even more capabilities. 

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

The Innovation Gap in HR Technology

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 3, 2011 10:09:55 AM

Gadgets be gone: That was one of my lighter tweetable sentiments from last week’s HRO Today Forum analyst summit, and you’ll see why below. At this gathering we industry analysts discussed the difference in perspectives on innovation, or the lack thereof, held by HR technology suppliers and the HR practitioners who buy and use their products, many of whom attended the HRO Today Forum.

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Topics: Performance Management, Human Capital Management, business innovation, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Workforce Performance, Talent Management, Workforce Planning, HR technology

Workday Will Help Business Manage Payroll Efficiently

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 2, 2011 11:13:27 AM
Last week I attended the HRO Today Forum an annual event that brings HR and recruiting professionals together with business executives to discuss and define the future of HR services and technology. Also last week Workday announced an expanded set of payroll applications. In addition to its core human capital management products, Workday also offers financial management and payroll. During lunchtime of the second day of the forum, HRO Today Magazine announced the winners of the 2011 Tektonic Awards for innovation in HR software and technology. Workday won the “overall” category, for good reason based my recent briefings with this global provider of innovative SaaS-based human capital management and business management software.

Most HR vendors have focused on cloud-based, end-to-end integrated talent management suites that include recruiting, onboarding, performance, succession, learning, planning and analytics, and employee and manager self-service. But Workday and some others are expanding their products and services to process payroll directly for organizations as well as deliver payroll management (providing third-party payroll integrations between the core HRMS and other payroll providers) and business process outsourcing (managing multiple financial, payroll and benefits-related processes on behalf of customers).

Human capital management suppliers are rolling out multiple, scalable products and services to convince customers that working with fewer companies can drive workforce management efficiencies, increase return on investment and lower overall total cost of ownership in talent management. Toward this end they offer financial and payroll management products and services that go beyond straight integrations with third-party payroll providers and the basic core HRMS offerings of payroll and benefits, time and attendance and scheduling. This includes direct payroll processing on behalf of the organization. And while many enterprises are still comfortable with traditional HRMS and talent management on-premises software, significant costs and resources are necessary for businesses to install, upgrade and maintain those applications. This burden has influenced HR departments in recent years to shift their focus and investment to applications that can be rented and readily deployed across organizations.

Labor is most companies’ biggest capital expenditure, and the increased complexity of global payroll and benefits administration for a large, worldwide contingent and virtual workforce can be challenging due, for example, to the variety of in-country tax codes alone. The U.S. in particular presents a diverse range of workplace cultures and regulatory environments. As a result, many customers are looking for more help from their HCM suppliers. Just as HR strives to become an integral business partner in the enterprise, HR providers striving to become strategic business partners for the next generation of human capital management. Another vendor I recently reviewed, ADP who has been the major player in payroll outsourcing has new HCM software products while enhancing and integrating its existing products with those acquired like Workscape. Conversely, Workday is expanding to become an all-encompassing HCM global business software and services organization.

Increasingly, providing comprehensive and integrated payroll products and services is critical to HR management. During a recent briefing, Workday executives walked me through the entire expanded set of payroll offerings they claim will simplify the historically burdensome task of paying workers around the world. Today, Workday Payroll is structured to help companies manage their payroll for all U.S. workers, and it is slated to be offered in Canada with a release later in 2011. (The company currently supports Canada with Cloud Connect for third-party payroll services, which includes packaged integration and Workday’s payroll connector.) Workday Payroll provides employee self-service access to online pay slips, year-end tax statements (U.S. W-2 and Canadian T4), tax elections and payment elections, all delivered via software as a service (SaaS). The software also automates state and federal tax updates, which are critical to managing payroll complexity. For those responsible for keeping up with the tax codes, this decreases the need for regular upgrades and patches that on-premises payroll systems demand.

Workday also plans to release a bidirectional payroll connector adjunct to its Workday Integration Cloud. That enables customers and partners to integrate with the Workday Cloud without the need for on-premises middleware. The bidirectional payroll connector service will allow companies to import data from a third-party payroll provider back into an HCM solution, thus gaining a broader view of payroll data across the global workforce. End users can garner more insights into processes such as cash forecasting, comparing actuals to budget, optimizing pay ranges, managing allowance and overtime policies, and the true costs of workforces around the world.

In addition to an expanded Workday Payroll for Canada release, Workday also recently announced payroll partnerships with OneSource VHR, Patersons and SafeGuard World International . OneSource VHR provides payroll “co-sourcing” services, including payroll settlement, tax administration and garnishments administration. (Workday says it coined the term “co-sourcing,” which just means outsourcing partnership as far as I can tell.) The idea is to give customers visibility into and control of their data along with the flexibility to “insource” or bring their payroll in-house in the future. Companies that prefer to partner with payroll vendors in their local markets can then have packaged integration with SafeGuard World International or Patersons to provide support for payroll processing in almost 100 countries.

I expect these expanded payroll solutions will help Workday grow its payroll market share, which the company claims to be more than half of its core HCM customers.  However, customers and prospects have to wait until November for Workday 15 (Workday 13 was released in April). HCM SaaS vendors often have two or three major releases a year in addition to updated features every month or two.) Workday’s multitenant architecture allows its customers to receive new updates regularly at no additional cost as part of their subscription fees, as opposed to waiting months or even years for on-premises software upgrades. The speed at which multitenant, cloud-based software solutions are updated is a key marketing advantage over on-premises competitors. And the fact that many of the on-premises software vendors that my colleague has assessed like Oracle and SAP, are beginning to get cloud-based software to market is telling. Our own research confirms a shift of interest from on-premises to SaaS deployments.

Most major SaaS HCM players offer various levels of payroll integration. Workday-like offerings are available from NuView Systems, SuccessFactors and Ultimate Software with larger suppliers like ADP who have dominated payroll. However, Workday is aggressively aiming to take the lead in global HR and financial management and meet the next generation of applications in human capital management.

Regards,

Kevin W. Grossman – VP & Research Director

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Topics: Performance Management, SAP, HCM, Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, SuccessFactors, business process outsourcing, NuView Systems, Patersons, Ultimate Software, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Oracle, Workforce Performance, Compensation, Talent Management, Workday

Clarabridge Expands to Europe and Deepens Text Analytics

Posted by Richard Snow on Jun 1, 2011 11:44:01 AM

In March U.S.-based text analytics vendor Clarabridge opened an office in the U.K. and recently celebrated it at the British Library in London. Sid Banerjee, the company’s founder and CEO, brought over key members of his team along with representatives of three U.S. clients. He explained that the new office would enable the company to support international clients better and allow expansion into European countries. The three clients then gave detailed presentations on how they use the Clarabridge product to understand their customers better and to use the insights gained to improve business performance.

All had similar messages. They felt forced to support more channels of communication with their customers, especially social media. As a result they were generating much greater volumes of text-based data – email, forms, surveys and social media interactions – but weren’t using it to generate insights apart from through some highly manual processes that provided very limited results. They had automated the analysis process using Clarabridge tools, and all three said the insights they gained far exceeded their expectations, especially as they could tie together insights gained from both structured and unstructured data.

All three, to one degree or another, were advocates of net performer scores (NPS) and said that analyzing free-form text from their surveys enabled them not only to produce the NPS scores but understand better what was driving customers to score them in the ways they were, both positive and negative. The customers said they used these insights to drive improvements across the business. In effect this confirmed my conclusion that the real value of analysis and metrics lies in taking action driven by that analysis. These actions should take the form of improvements in products, processes (especially those related to activities that cross business units), and most importantly the performance of people, either to focus training or to motivate individuals.

Alongside all these positive messages, there is one note of caution or perhaps better described as a learning experience. Each company had bought the product for its own reasons and with its own goals in mind. But again they echoed a message I have heard from other users of text analytics (and speech analytics as well), which is that a company won’t really understand the full benefit of this technology until trying it. This is best illustrated by an example I often use. Many users start by “defining” what they consider to be a complaint, which many do by trying to spot words, phrases and sentiments that they believe customers use when complaining. The first few trials might indeed spot some complaints, but many users I have spoken to discover that the language customers use is not quite what they expected. It is therefore important to have tools that allow users to “look at” the content of their initial complaints and further refine their definitions until they are not only picking out true complaints but can drill down into different classes and types of complaints – for example by product, call center agent, channel of communication or IVR script – and also the severity of complaint – minor, major or threatening to desert to the completion. Down at this level, users I have spoken to say, they see how to get the most benefit from their text analytics product.

With this in mind, Clarabridge announced in its version 4.5 “Tower” release can help apply text analytics to your customer and consumer level analytics. One of the new capabilities it calls “word clouds” which come as part of several new analytics capabilities. Word clouds show users in graphic form the content of text, helping them identify words and phrase they should be zeroing in on. Other new capabilities include easy-to-use dashboards, more advanced visualization options and improved sharing of data and insights between users. The explosion in social media has led Clarabridge to include interfaces to more social media sites, so users can extract data directly from them and one of my recent points of emphasis. The new release comes with support for two more languages, French and Portuguese, with more promised to support the expansion into Europe. Alongside these function enhancements are several new administration features that make the product easier to set up, configure and manage. This release builds on my last analysis of Clarabridge that I see as connecting the dots in finding causal factors contributing to good and bad customer experience.

My recent research into customer analytics shows that adoption of text analytics is slightly lagging behind speech analytics. At the same time, there is no doubt that the explosion of social media is influencing companies’ requirements. Most companies I speak with want at least to monitor what people are saying about them on social media and determine their overall sentiment towards them. Text analytics is the right tool for these tasks, and as the three companies speaking at the Clarabridge launch highlighted, once you get the hang of using it, the benefits to be had are many and varied.

Have you invested in text analytics? I have provided you the focus that it is part of the contact center revolution in 2011, and now it is up to you to act upon. If so please tell us the benefits you have found and we can in return provide you some insightful research on customer analytics and role of text in your processes.

Regards

Richard Snow – VP & Research Director

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Clarabridge, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Information Management, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics