Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

Dayforce Engages Workforces for Higher Productivity

Posted by Mark Smith on Sep 30, 2011 2:44:49 AM

Improving worker/manager collaboration becomes a top priority as organizations realize the impact of such collaboration on workforce productivity and profitability. One way to enhance that collaboration is to make tasks such as scheduling, time and attendance and task management accessible through smartphones and tablets. The management team at Dayforce has experience with workforce management applications and now into the next generation of collaboration and mobility. The company uses innovative Web technology to make its workforce management applications easy to use, and is able to demonstrate the value of the monthly and annualized time its approach saves over that of others.

Read More

Topics: Mobile, Performance Management, Social Media, Human Capital Management, Metrics, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Compensation, dayforce, Talent Management, Workforce Analytics, digital technology

Excentive Provides a Simpler Path to Total Compensation Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Sep 30, 2011 2:26:14 AM

Retaining talent and managing financials related to compensation should be a top priority for the HR and finance functions of companies, and many of them realize this. In our recent benchmark research in total compensation management, 72 percent of participants said it’s important or very important to have a compensation system aligned to their processes. One newer provider to the market, Excentive, started in 2002 in Europe and expanded globally in 2009. Its Excentive Compensation Cockpit supplies more than just a managerial view of compensation; it’s a total compensation management application that enables users to design and model compensation across an entire workforce or for the specific needs of the sales and service lines of business.

Read More

Topics: Performance Management, Sales Performance, Human Capital Management, Sales Compensation, Sales Operations, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Compensation, Excentive, Talent Management, Workforce Analytics

Interactive Intelligence Advances Cloud-Based Contact Center

Posted by Richard Snow on Sep 30, 2011 1:43:38 AM

Interactive Intelligence recently released version 4.0 of its Customer Interaction Center (CIC). CIC provides companies with integrated communications and contact center functions that can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud or in a hybrid environment divided between them. 

Read More

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

Verint Will Acquire GMT To Extend Workforce Management

Posted by Richard Snow on Sep 29, 2011 12:58:27 PM

Recently Verint announced its intent to acquire GMT, a provider of workforce management products. My initial reaction was that Verint was primarily interested in acquiring GMT’s customer base to extend its already large share of the workforce management market. In a briefing Verint confirmed this but said there are other reasons behind its move as well.

Read More

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

NICE Acquires Fizzback for Customer Feedback Analytics

Posted by Richard Snow on Sep 29, 2011 12:20:50 PM

NICE Systems has agreed to acquire Fizzback, a specialist vendor of customer feedback management software. On first read this appears to be another acquisition to gain market share, as NICE already provides a customer feedback tool; however,  Fizzback’s customer base is much smaller than NICE’s, so this looks unlikely. Representatives of NICE explained to me that the acquisition is part of its long-term strategy to enhance its customer feedback management capabilities and to build a stronger voice of the customer.

Read More

Topics: Predictive Analytics, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, NICE Systems, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Management

MicroStrategy Takes Cloud Computing Personally

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 29, 2011 11:11:27 AM

This has been the year of the cloud for MicroStrategy. After ignoring early competition from cloud-based business intelligence (BI) providers, the company has jumped on the cloud BI bandwagon. At MicroStrategy Worldearly this year it announced a program called Cloud Intelligence and this summer introduced MicroStrategy Cloud, a complete BI platform with the option of using either IBM Netezza or ParAccel as the database and Informatica as the data integration environment. Now the company has expanded its cloud offerings to include MicroStrategy Cloud Personal, which enables individuals to easily upload spreadsheet data, analyze it and share it with others. (A free version is currently in beta testing.)

Read More

Topics: MicroStrategy, SaaS, Sales Performance, Software as a Service, Supply Chain Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Visualization, Workforce Performance

PivotLink Advances Business Analytics in the Cloud

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 26, 2011 6:22:06 AM

PivotLink introduced version 5 of its Business Intelligence (BI) product, which it delivers in the cloud computing environment and available through software as a service (SaaS) at its user conference. Demonstrating one of the unique benefits of providing it a SaaS approach, PivotLink did not require any of the attendees to request a download, get a new license file or do any type of software upgrade to receive the new version. It had already been done for them. One purpose of the conference was to inform customers of the new features they now had at their disposal. Any enterprise that has had to coordinate a major software upgrade should appreciate the time savings SaaS can provide on normal software maintenance activities. Our recent benchmark research on business data in the cloud indicates that companies are adopting SaaS-based products to varying degrees across all the lines of business.

Read More

Topics: Retail Analytics, SaaS, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance

Proposal Software Simplifies Key Aspects of Sales

Posted by Mark Smith on Sep 25, 2011 11:29:30 PM

Sales proposals can determine whether a deal is booked or lost. In most organizations the process of creating and delivering a proposal is manual and one-off, with many potential places for mistakes. This lack of rigor and efficiency impairs many organizations’ ability to leverage their resources. Proposal Software helps sales organizations with an application called PMAPS that addresses sales management and operations. 

Read More

Topics: Mobile, Sales, Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, Social Media, Marketing, Sales Force Automation, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, CMO, CRM, DF11, Sales Performance Management, SFA

Karmasphere Makes Sense of Big Data

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 23, 2011 10:39:52 AM

Recently Karmasphere introduced version 1.5 of its Analyst product which helps organizations analyze “big data” stored in Hadoop, the open source large-scale data processing technology. An independent software vendor focused exclusively on the Hadoop market, Karmasphere made available a community edition of its developer product in September 2009 and launched the company in March 2010. Since then it has been active and visible in Hadoop-related events including Hadoop World, the IBM Big Data Symposium and others.

Read More

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

Salesforce.com Presents the Social Enterprise

Posted by Richard Snow on Sep 23, 2011 10:01:39 AM

As he opened last week’s Cloudforce 2011 conference in London, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff declared that companies “must become social or die.” He reiterated the message in answer to a direct question I put to him during lunch with the media and analysts. I have heard several of his keynotes, and reviewed my colleague analysis from recent Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. and this one had a distinct change of emphasis. Benioff seems to feel that the cloud argument has been won, his big CRM competitors have been overcome and it is time to focus on helping companies grasp the changed business environment they now exist in. Dare I say it, there was even a hint that the answer is software – specifically, software to enable what Salesforce calls the social enterprise.

Read More

Topics: Predictive Analytics, Salesforce.com, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, 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, Unified Communications, Workforce Management

Professional Services Automation Makes Sense in the Cloud

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 22, 2011 9:30:19 AM

Cloud computing has changed the fundamental economics of business software, bringing new capabilities within reach of large numbers of small and midsize companies for the first time. Cloud-based ERP, for example, enables many midsize companies that in the past might have continued to use an entry-level accounting package to have more capable and sophisticated systems. The investment in software and IT capabilities to implement an ERP system on-premises is considerable enough that midsize companies often put up with a less-capable one. As well, midsize companies can now have their own call center operations because cloud-based offerings that support these operations require substantially lower up-front investments and have significantly lower operating costs than their on-premises counterparts. Consequently, a company that once outsourced all of its call center activities now has a greater degree of control of this strategic capability, often at a lower overall cost. The economic aspects of adopting the cloud are compelling, but there are other reasons as well. In some business software categories, even if the company has the IT resources and money to manage it on-premises, it makes better business sense to obtain this capability as a service in the cloud. For example, expense management is not a strategic process, and software users are often operating outside the company firewall.

Read More

Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, ConnectWise, Consulting, NetSuite OpenAi, PlanMill, ProjectHelp, Projector, PSA, Unanet Technologies, Operational Performance, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, FinancialForce, Professional Services, Professional Services Automation, Project Management

WorkForce Software Can Simplify Managers and Workers Lives

Posted by Mark Smith on Sep 22, 2011 9:05:17 AM

A key component of workforce management software is to aid in scheduling and tracking time and attendance, streamlining interactions between managers and employees regarding these aspects of the job and promoting compliance with corporate and regulatory policies. WorkForce Software has been growing rapidly over the last decade while meeting these needs with an application suite that covers issues from leave management to case management. Its product helps businesses deal with overlapping regulations from federal and state governments, union contracts and corporate-level policies, and is being deployed in industries such as education, utilities, banking, the public sector, entertainment and transportation, especially in midsize organizations looking for workforce efficiency. The company is expanding its global reach through its partners and distribution channel.  

Read More

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

Merced Customers Apply Analytics and Metrics To Improve Agent Performance

Posted by Richard Snow on Sep 20, 2011 10:59:12 AM

Ventana Research’s benchmark research into agent performance management shows that most companies recognize the vital role contact center agents play in creating good customer experiences and thus good business outcomes. The research also shows that only the most mature companies have put in place processes and metrics that encourage behaviors that deliver such business outcomes. Furthermore, the research shows that companies are held back from adopting more customer-related metrics because they don’t have performance management tools that can help them create such metrics; instead most rely heavily on spreadsheets. Thus I was encouraged to hear during a recent roundtable discussion sponsored by Merced Systems from two customers that have used the Merced Performance Suite to institute a more rigorous, metrics-driven approach to improving agent performance.  

Read More

Topics: Predictive Analytics, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Merced Systems, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, 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

Mercer Updates Total Compensation Management To Help Retain Talent

Posted by Mark Smith on Sep 19, 2011 12:16:32 PM

To retain talent, organizations must ensure that their workforce’s compensation is comparable to that of their industry peers. As part of this effort, they should integrate compensation reviews with goal and performance reviews to ensure employees are paid their fair market value; otherwise the best talent will become a flight risk. Many organizations understand this; in our performance management for talent management benchmark research, two-thirds said they want to integrate compensation with the review process. But most companies have more to do; they need to establish a continuous process that compares all information on new hires, promotions and market events, at least as part of an annual performance review or preferably every quarter. They should not delay change until employee feedback or exit interviews indicate that being underpaid is a primary reason for people leaving.  

Read More

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

Manage Your Software and Providers or Waste Money Unnecessarily

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 19, 2011 11:48:01 AM

I was reminded by a recent piece in InformationWeek about the need to manage the mounting cost of software more carefully that this issue never seems to become old news. I have read variations of it in IT trade publications for two decades now, reminding me of the quip attributed to Mark Twain: Everyone talks about the weather, but nobody ever seems to do anything about it. (Like many of Twain’s “quotes,” he wasn’t the author of this one either.) I believe that at the heart of this issue is a lack of oversight on software contracts, at the time of signing and especially in subsequent billings. Some companies don’t let these costs get out of hand because they have defined processes and responsibilities for managing them. The careless ones are fodder for the aforementioned articles, while the rest are somewhere in between. 

Read More

Topics: assets, Office of Finance, Portfolio Management, contract management, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Software

Mining Its Business, Alight Partners with Scope Systems

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 14, 2011 9:27:22 AM

Alight has announced that it is partnering with Scope Systems to provide the mining industry with planning and financial reporting systems tailored for extraction companies. Scope creates ERP solutions for companies engaged in mining, drilling and natural resource exploration.

Read More

Topics: Planning, Sales Performance, Office of Finance, driver-based, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Integrated Business Planning, Spreadsheets

Taleo Innovates Talent Management with Social Media and Mobile Computing

Posted by Mark Smith on Sep 14, 2011 9:09:09 AM

At this year’s Taleo World conference in San Francisco, more than 1,600 Taleo customers learned about the company and its suite of talent management applications. A major theme of the conference was the company’s investment in mobility and social media and the intersection of those trends with collaboration tools.

Read More

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, Taleo, Workforce Analytics

Accelerating the Close Makes Business Sense

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 13, 2011 9:03:18 AM

As the third calendar quarter draws to an end, most companies will be preparing their financial close, which is part of the ongoing accounting cycle. Periodic closing is a core finance function. Since companies found they could substantially shorten their closing intervals with computer-based accounting systems in the 1990s, there has be an ongoing focus to keep shortening the time it takes to close, and for good reason. For companies that must file financial statements with investors, closing the books sooner provides more time to devote to preparing and organizing the statements. And as regulations shorten deadlines for these filings, it puts pressure on the accounting department to finish this phase sooner. In our last benchmark research, a majority of companies wanted to accelerate their close, especially if it takes more than five business days, and nearly one-third (31%) of companies wanted to shorten their close to have more time for analysis and auditing before publishing their financial statements. Since this data is usually the most important component of a periodic review, a faster close lets assessments take place sooner and therefore become more actionable. Indeed, more than half (58%) of participants in our research said the major benefit of accelerating the close is getting financial or management information out sooner.

Read More

Topics: Office of Finance, Reporting, closing, Consolidation, Fast close, Business Performance, Financial Performance, benchmark, Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, SEC

Global Tax Optimization Is Worth the Effort

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 9, 2011 9:59:06 AM

The globalization of business is having a profound impact on corporate taxation worldwide, which shouldn’t surprise anyone who covers international tax laws. The impacts on corporations operating in multiple national jurisdictions (which today, especially in Europe, includes a large number of midsize companies) are both positive and negative. Positive in the sense that corporate tax rates, tax benefits, reporting and other aspects of tax regulation are subject to competitive moves by countries as a way of attracting businesses. Ireland, for example, long ago crafted the most aggressively company-friendly tax structure in Europe, but now the U.K. and other countries are reducing rates and providing tax incentives for investment and operations within their borders. Even the United States seems poised to overhaul its corporate tax structure. At the same time, there are negative trends in the sense that increasing government cooperation in areas such as transfer pricing reduces a company’s freedom to optimize its tax incidence by artfully managing revenue recognition.

Read More

Topics: Office of Finance, Tax, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, CFO

Splunk Makes Machine-Generated Big Data Serve Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 9, 2011 9:31:43 AM

Splunk may be one of the biggest software companies you’ve never heard of. I’ve been following the seven-year-old company for over six months now and recently attended its second annual user conference. Splunk focuses on analyzing large volumes of machine-generated data in underlying applications and systems, which includes application and system logs, network traffic, sensor data, click streams and other loosely structured information sources. Many of these “big data” sources are the same sources analyzed with Hadoop, according to our recently published benchmark research. However, Splunk takes a different approach that focuses on performing simple analyses on this data in real time rather than the batch-based advanced analytics we see as the most common use for Hadoop.

Read More

Topics: Big Data, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Machine data, Operational Intelligence, IT Performance Management (ITPM)

For Dovetail CRM Means Customer Service

Posted by Richard Snow on Sep 6, 2011 10:13:44 AM

LinkedIn’s CRM experts group is hosting an active discussion about what are the top three CRM systems. Along with the blatant promotion of certain well-known products, you can’t fail to notice that the term means different things to people, and that systems gathered under this acronym may cover a range of capabilities. A closer examination of the discussion shows that a majority of discussion participants associate CRM with sales force automation, fewer with customer service and the fewest with marketing. Dovetail Software belongs in the second group, positioning itself as specializing in “support and service software.” 

Read More

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

Rolling Forecasts Are a Good First Step toward Smarter Financial Planning

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 6, 2011 9:54:45 AM

I recently participated in a panel discussion about the rise in the use of rolling forecasts in corporate planning. I’m not surprised by this trend; I have encouraged it. Ever since the financial crisis started three years ago, I’ve been writing that companies should rethink how they plan and budget to respond to increasing business volatility. Rolling forecasts are useful because they continually extend the formal planning horizon out more than a year rather than having it stop abruptly at the end of a company’s fiscal year. They can be the right first step in improving the effectiveness of a company’s budgeting process, but ultimately I believe that organizations need to adopt a better approach to planning – what I refer to as integrated business planning. Moreover, companies that want to adopt a rolling forecast approach must first make important changes to their planning and budgeting processes to make them leaner, more focused and faster. 

Read More

Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, Planning, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Office of Finance, Budgeting, IBP, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, CFO, COO, Integrated Business Planning

Salesforce Presents New Social Enterprise with Chatter, Mobility and Data

Posted by Mark Smith on Sep 3, 2011 10:13:06 AM

At the Dreamforce conference, Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) CEO Marc Benioff unveiled the latest evolution of the company’s strategy and supporting technology for cloud computing and mobile technologies. Its aim is to enable businesses to engage with customers and prospects via social media channels – what Salesforce calls the “social enterprise” – and empower employee and customer social networks to operate individually and together. Note I did not mention CRM, which doesn’t have a role in this platform for basic interactions with prospects and customers and is accompanied by a large ecosystem of partners that provide dedicated marketing and contact center applications. As summarized in its announcement, Salesforce’s strategy is clearly different from that of others in the applications market, including Oracle and SAP, which have products for the cloud computing environment and have made strides into integrating collaboration and social media capabilities into their applications.

Read More

Topics: Mobile, Sales, Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, Social Media, Marketing, Sales Cloud, Sales Force Automation, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Chatter, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, CMO, CRM, DF11, Sales Performance Management, Service Cloud, SFA

Algorithmics Acquisition Deepens IBM Software for Financial Services

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 3, 2011 9:55:16 AM

IBM’s announced pending acquisition of Algorithmics is an important addition to the company’s portfolio of business applications aimed at financial services companies, and it is thematically consistent with its other acquisitions in risk management and analytics such as IBM’s OpenPages risk management documentation that I have already assessed. It’s also a good fit for IBM’s professional services organization, which has a significant position in the financial services industry.

Read More

Topics: GRC, Office of Finance, Dodd-Frank, Business Performance, Financial Performance, compliance, capital adequacy, financial regulation, financial services

Salesforce.com and the Big Picture from Dreamforce

Posted by Richard Snow on Sep 3, 2011 9:36:48 AM

Even here in the U.K., we are well aware that Salesforce.com’s annual event Dreamforce is happening this week in San Francisco. Unfortunately I couldn’t be there, but a contingent of the Ventana Research team is there, and from what they are telling me it is quite a show. I have written before that Salesforce has the best marketing machine in the world, let alone the software industry, and it seems to have topped previous events. The company undoubtedly has changed the way many companies think about software, forced many vendors to change their delivery models and is impacting the way consumers think about communicating and running their lives. But let me make a few long-range observations.

Read More

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

Finance Now Lives in the Cloud

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 1, 2011 8:19:34 AM

This year’s Dreamforce is likely include a focus on the value of moving a company’s accounting systems and related record management processes (for instance, invoicing and ordering) to the cloud. Salesforce.com’s annual conference is never short on hyperbole and promotion of everything cloud, which can be off-putting to staid finance department types (like me). And while some departments (notably Sales) have been quick to seize on the advantages of using the cloud, others (notably Finance) have not.

Read More

Topics: Office of Finance, finance cloud, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, finance, accounting software, financial systems