Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

Varicent Improves Sales Operations Efficiency

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 31, 2011 9:57:21 AM

Sales organizations strive to maximize the performance of their staffs to meet quotas and revenue targets in an efficient manner. This focus is part of my agenda to help organizations innovate and maximize revenue in sales. To achieve this requires automation of various sales activities including compensation, incentives, quota development, territory optimization, channel management, analytics and planning. Varicent is focused on these aspects of sales, offering software deployable in three ways: rented in the cloud, hosted for easier management or purchased for use inside the organization. My last analysis of the company and its products was part of our 2011 Value Index for Sales Performance Management; in it we rated Varicent a Hot Vendor overall across our seven evaluation categories applied to its application suite. That analysis included our analysis of Varicent SPM version 7 that made significant advances in the use and process of managing compensation and incentives but also the rest of their application portfolio from territory management, sales quota management and channel management. 

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Social Media, Marketing, Revenue Performance, Sales Force Automation, Sales Operations, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, CFO, CMO, CRM, Sales Performance Management, SFA, Varicent

Get the Most from Dreamforce for Your Sales Force

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 30, 2011 12:27:29 PM

Salesforce.com’s 2011 Dreamforce conference is under way. If you’re in sales and you use the company’s application, here’s how to gain the most value from your time at the conference. 

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, Social Media, Marketing, Marketo, Merced Systems, Qvidian, Revenue Performance, Sales Force Automation, Sales Operations, Zilliant, Zyme Solutions, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Callidus Software, Camelon Software, CFO, ChannelInsight, Cloud9, CMO, CRM, Sales Performance Management, SFA, Varicent, Vendavo, Xactly

Xactly What Sales Needs To Improve

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 30, 2011 9:42:31 AM

In addressing the needs of their sales and operations teams to automate and improve performance, many organizations turn to providers of sales applications designed for specific activities. Many of these activities, including sales compensation, incentives, commissions, quotas, territories and others, Xactly has been delivering for years. This company is no newcomer to the market, with significant experience in meeting the needs of small to midsize sales organizations, and more recently addressing the needs of larger ones. 

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Social Media, Marketing, Revenue Performance, Sales Force Automation, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, CFO, CMO, CRM, Sales Performance Management, SFA, Xactly Corporation

Gaining Sales Traction with Merced Systems

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 30, 2011 9:15:59 AM

Looking to make your sales force more effective by automating its operations? Merced Systems can provide the traction your sales team needs. The company has been providing applications for more than a decade to customer service and more recently sales organizations, helping both measure and manage performance. Several years ago Merced Systems made a substantial investment to expand to the sales organization with new applications and now offers analytics and reporting, compensation and incentives, and coaching and talent development.  

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Social Media, Marketing, Merced Systems, Revenue Performance, sales analytics, Sales Compensation, Sales Force Automation, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, CFO, CMO, CRM, Sales Performance Management, SFA

Cloud9 Delivers Sales Forecasting

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 29, 2011 10:41:10 AM

If you want to hit the booking and revenue targets required to operate a business, you have to manage your sales forecast and pipeline. Optimally you should be able to monitor and act upon them any day of the week and make adjustments whenever you need to. Unfortunately, most organizations have to wait until they finish their manual efforts at the end of the month or quarter, or they miss critical changes in deals and behavior because they rely only on reporting from their sales force automation (SFA) software.  

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, Social Media, Marketing, Revenue Performance, Sales Force Automation, Sales Forecasting, Sales Operations, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, CFO, Cloud9 Analytics, CMO, CRM, Sales Performance Management, SFA

Alpineaccess Supports Home Agents and Cloud Communications as Outsourcing Alternative

Posted by Richard Snow on Aug 29, 2011 10:17:30 AM

In the past companies had two basic choices in how to provide call center services: internally or by outsourcing the service, typically to a company based where labor costs are low. Recently some companies have supplemented their in-company resources with home-based agents, and a growing number of providers offer outsourcing services in-country, for example, in North America. From a technology perspective as well, companies had two choices: on-premises or the outsourcer using its own technology. Here also a third option has opened up as technology vendors provide their systems “in the cloud,” housed at the vendor’s premises and accessed by users over the Internet. One of these is Alpineaccess, which offers an alternative to third-party outsourcing through home-based agents and cloud-based technology. 

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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, Operational Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, 360-degree view of the Customer, Agent Performance Management, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Management, [Vendor references]

Here’s What Marketers Should Do at Dreamforce

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 29, 2011 9:54:01 AM

The largest cloud computing conference, Dreamforce 2011, operated by Salesforce.com, is now upon us. This year attendance is estimated to be over 40,000, and there will be more technology- and developer-focused attendees and dialogue than marketing material. Unlike past years, I expect marketing professionals to be a small percentage of attendees, so I thought I would offer them a guide through the circus of activities at the conference.  

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Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Apprimo, ExactTarget, HubSpot, Manticore Technology, Marketing, Marketing Automation, Marketo, Pardot, Revenue Performance, Sales Force Automation, Operational Performance, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, IBM, ActOn Software, CFO, CMO, CRM, Demand Generation, Eloqua, iContact, Salesforce, SFA, Unica

Qvidian: A New Player in Sales Efficiency and Effectiveness

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 26, 2011 9:01:30 AM

Qvidian entered the market for applications in sales performance management in 2011. The company, formed from the merger of The Sant Corp. and Kadient, has introduced a new suite of applications for proposals and playbooks that sales departments should examine if they’re looking to improve their efficiency and effectiveness. These applications are part of what we at Ventana Research call a sales performance management blueprint that helps optimize sales related activities and processes. 

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Social Media, Marketing, Revenue Performance, Sales Force Automation, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, CFO, CMO, CRM, Sales Performance Management, SFA

ADP’s Provides Tools to Simplify Workforce Mobility

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 25, 2011 9:28:31 AM

I recently got an update on mobile applications and strategy for smartphones from ADP, the $9 billion provider of applications and services in human resources, payroll and benefits. By acquiring and partnering with organizations, ADP has become the largest provider in this segment while focusing on providing added value and new offerings to its customers. For some companies, being such a large business  human capital management and talent management software could inhibit its agility, but ADP has quickly made progress in bringing its first generation of applications to the Apple iOS platform for iPhone.  

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Topics: Performance Management, Human Capital Management, human resources, Mobile Applications, mobile strategy, mobile workforce, Operational Performance, Apple, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, iPhone, productivity, talent acquisition, Talent Management, talent management metrics, Workforce Analytics

The Consumerization of Collaborative BI Has Arrived

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 24, 2011 9:39:41 AM

We cite collaboration as one of five key technology influences on the business intelligence (BI) market, and I get many questions about collaboration and BI from end users and vendors alike. The rise of social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter has raised awareness of collaborative platforms and created a critical mass of participants, which is a necessary ingredient for successful collaboration. However, I have to point out that consumer-oriented social media tools do not provide all the necessary components for collaborative BI.

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

Opera Solutions Adds Science to Predictive Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 23, 2011 9:28:40 AM

In preparation for conducting a benchmark research study on predictive analytics, I’ve been speaking with vendors in this market segment to gather background. One of them is Opera Solutions, which I was not familiar with despite having worked in predictive analytics for more than 10 years. I was surprised to learn the company claims to be generating $100 million in revenue annually. Founded in 2004, Opera provides predictive analytics as a service, employing a staff of approximately 150 data scientists along with hundreds of other employees. It claims this is the largest private group of scientists outside IBM. (I’ve written previously about IBM’s significant efforts in the predictive analytics market.)

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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

Can We Trust Hewlett- Packard?

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 20, 2011 9:10:55 AM

Just when it seemed that Hewlett-Packard’s new management team led by CEO Leo Apotheker had a growing and solidifying technology agenda that included mobile computing, yesterday it all changed.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Sustainability, Android, Google, Business Technology Innovation, IT Performance, IT Research, Operational Performance, Analytics, Apple, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Chief Information Officer, CIO, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Enterprise Software, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), HP, Information Applications, Information Management, Information Technology, Location Intelligence, Mobility, Operational Intelligence, Workforce Performance, HP Touchpad

Teradata Previews Version 14 to Expand Analytics and Appliances

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 19, 2011 10:22:43 AM

I recently attended Teradata’s Third-Party Influencers Meeting (Twitter Hashtag #TD3PI) in Las Vegas where the company updated industry analysts and consultants on upcoming product plans and the status of two product lines it added via acquisition in the past year. Randy Lea, Teradata’s VP of product management and marketing, provided a company overview recapping highlights and defining the corporate strategy building on its work in 2010 that my colleague assessed. Teradata focuses on three markets: its core business of data warehousing, which it identified as a $27 billion market, the $15 billion business applications market represented by its Aprimo acquisition, and the big-data analytics market, a $2 billion market addressed in part by its Aster Data acquisition. I mention Teradata’s estimates of market size as they may indicate the emphasis and investment the company will make in each segment. Lea referred to Teradata’s independence from NCR, for almost four years, as a good thing. Independence, he said, has allowed Teradata to focus, to release products more frequently and to acquire companies that enhance their market position. Judging by the performance of its stock (NYSE: TDC), the financial markets seem to agree independence has been good – even with the recent market downturn its stock is up 75% in the last year. 

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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

Echopass Enables Contact Center in the Cloud

Posted by Richard Snow on Aug 19, 2011 9:44:06 AM

In the past year various vendors have begun to offer some or all of the systems required to build and run a contact center through a cloud-based service. I recently came across another one, Echopass, which has a different operating model than I am used to. Its core services are provided by products from two vendors that as yet don’t provide their products in the cloud: Genesys, which supplies call routing, intelligent front-door and intelligent back-office workflow, and Verint for workforce optimization (WFO). Echopass supplements these with other vendors’ products, such as Voxify’s speech platform, speech engines from IBM and Nuance and Microsoft .Net and SQL services. Along with a number of in-house developments this array enables Echopass to offer what is in effect a best-of-breed suite that is integrated to create a unified offering. 

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

eThority 5 Brings Analytics to Life

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 17, 2011 11:42:41 AM

It is evident that business analytics is now a core business process in most organizations, but as our benchmark research on the topic shows, many have a lot of room to improve in how they use it. A dedicated provider of analytics tools, eThority continues to advance its technology to supply flexibility for the needs of a range of professionals from business management to analysts. 

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Topics: Performance Management, Social Media, Human Capital Management, human resources, Metrics, Mobile Applications, mobile strategy, mobile workforce, performance indicators, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Compensation, productivity, talent acquisition, Talent Management, talent management metrics, Workforce Analytics

Envision Closes Quality Monitoring Loop

Posted by Richard Snow on Aug 17, 2011 8:27:01 AM

Envision is an established provider of workforce optimization (WFO) products and last year was rated a “Hot” vendor in the Ventana Research Value Index for Agent Performance Management (APM). Its suite of products includes recording, quality monitoring, workforce management, coaching, e-learning, performance management and speech analytics. The WFO market is now quite competitive, and along with other vendors, Envision recently announced some product improvements. As well as a number of technical improvements – such as support for more Microsoft products, performance and scalability – the main improvements center on quality monitoring and training of contact center agents. 

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

OpenConnect Enables Process Improvement

Posted by Richard Snow on Aug 11, 2011 11:24:20 AM

It has taken me a long time to recognize that companies function through a series of processes, mostly executed by people (employees) and supported by information and systems. I was familiar with process maps that show activities happening in sequence and branches caused by certain conditions, but these were mainly paper exercises; my working assumption was that people “just get on with things.” But looking closely reveals that getting on with things happens in processes. To help make this clear, OpenConnect provides a product designed to create process visibility of activities, variances and metrics, with the goal of improving performance.  

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

Vitria’s Operational Intelligence Enables Proactive Customer Service

Posted by Richard Snow on Aug 8, 2011 9:36:38 AM

Vitria is one of a small group of vendors offering a type of analytics called operational intelligence. The term is not widely known, although Ventana Research has defined and tracked this market for many years and researched. We define operational intelligence (OI) as “a set of event-centered information and analytics processes operating across the network that enable people to take effective actions and make better decisions.” For its part Vitria defines OI as “a new type of real-time, dynamic analytics that delivers visibility into business operations.” Marry the two and you begin to see what differentiates OI from other forms of analytics. 

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

Salesforce.com Customers Demonstrate Tactical Success

Posted by Richard Snow on Aug 5, 2011 9:14:39 AM

Salesforce.com (SFDC) brought five customers to a recent U.K. analyst event to talk about how they used different SFDC services to solve what turned out to be down-to-earth business issues. SFDC of course would have us believe that moving to the cloud is the only way to purchase IT systems (in its parlance, services) and that it has all the services to solve any issue concerning CRM, sales management, customer service, contact center, social media or software development. Only individual users can judge how successful these services are in their organizations, but the five chosen customers all seemed happy. I want to share with you some observations I gleaned from listening to them. 

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Salesforce.com, 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, Workforce Management

KANA’s SEM Resembles CEM

Posted by Richard Snow on Aug 3, 2011 9:39:49 AM

I’m no great fan of three-letter acronyms, so I wondered what KANA Software means by positioning itself as the leader in service experience management (SEM), which is a term I had not heard. I have thought of KANA as a CRM vendor, but through a program of internal development and two acquisitions, it has transformed itself into something quite different. The acquisition of Lagan in 2010 added additional CRM functionality, enterprise case management and a track record of providing solutions to public-sector authorities. In April of this year Kana announced the acquisition of Overtone, which added text analytics capabilities, with a particular focus on analyzing content extracted from social media. 

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