Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile: Hands-On Review Finds Shortfalls

Posted by Mark Smith on Jan 31, 2012 8:09:08 AM

The stakes have never been higher for suppliers of interactive business intelligence. Our benchmark research on business analytics finds that businesses overwhelmingly (89% of participants) want simpler analytics and metrics, and usability (57%) and functionality (47%) are the two most important evaluation criteria according to our Value Index vendor and product assessment methodology. In addition our business analytics research, 38 percent said that accessing analytics and metrics via mobile technology is important or very important. 

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile BI, Sales Performance, Social Media, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Business Technology, Chief Information Officer, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Mobility, Oracle

The Big, Cloudy, Mobile and Social World of MicroStrategy

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 31, 2012 7:38:31 AM

MicroStrategy, one of the largest independent vendors of business intelligence (BI) software, recently held its annual user conference, which I attended with some of my colleagues and more than 2,000 other attendees. At this year’s event, the company emphasized four key themes: mobility, cloud computing, big data and social media. In this post, I’ll assess what MicroStrategy is doing in each of the first three areas. My colleague, Mark Smith, covered MicroStrategy’s social intelligence efforts in his blog. I’ll also share some opinions on what might be missing from the company’s vision.

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Topics: Big Data, MicroStrategy, Mobile, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud, Customer & Contact Center, Hadoop, Workforce Performance

Confirmit Provides Customer Insights through Surveys

Posted by Richard Snow on Jan 30, 2012 11:08:56 AM

Ventana Research believes that to provide excellent customer experiences it is necessary to understand what customers want and their likely behaviors, and one direct way to achieve this is by collecting and analyzing customer feedback. The challenge for organizations in this regard is that most customers are reluctant to complete surveys unless they are provided at an appropriate time, in an easy-to-use format and through the channel of their choice. Confirmit’s Horizons products support collection and analysis of feedback from marketing campaigns, employees and customers. The core survey engine enables design and authoring of surveys, and add-on modules handle collecting data, panel management (of a panel of customers, employees or market segments to help focus business activities) and analysis and reporting. It was built on the Microsoft .Net platform, but the most recent release, version 16, extends support to other environments and browsers. This release also enhances security, scalability and availability so Confirmit can collect hundreds of millions of surveys for customers around the world. The product is available for deployment on-premises or as software as a service (SaaS).

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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, 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, Confirmit

MicroStrategy Infuses Social Media Intelligence into Marketing

Posted by Mark Smith on Jan 27, 2012 1:59:37 PM

I attended the annual MicroStrategy World in Miami to check on the progress this company known for business intelligence (BI) software has made in expanding into a mobile platform and tools company that also announced a new version of its products. While MicroStrategy’s efforts in mobile BI and cloud computing are ahead of its competitors in the BI industry, they’re not its only expansion points for enterprise software.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Market Research, Social Media Intelligence, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Business Technology, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Mobility, Chief Marketing Officer

Big Data Is More than Hadoop

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 25, 2012 10:45:10 AM

We recently published the results of our benchmark research on Big Data to complement the previously published benchmark research on Hadoop and Information Management.
Ventana Research undertook this research to acquire real-world information about levels of maturity, trends and best practices in organizations’ use of large-scale data management systems now commonly called Big Data. The results are illuminating.

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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, In-memory, Workforce Performance

Feedback Management Can Improve the Customer Experience

Posted by Richard Snow on Jan 25, 2012 10:22:04 AM

There is a lot of talk today in customer service circles about the “voice of the customer” (VOC). For some people it means speech analytics (literally the voice of the customer), some others use it as an equivalent to the “360-degree view” of the customer, and for others it is about customer feedback. At Ventana Research we take a broader view and define VOC as reports and analysis that include as much customer information as possible. It should draw data from all available customer sources and use various forms of analytics to extract, report and analyze it as fully as possible. I am also an avid supporter of customer experience management (CEM) and urge companies to focus on the experiences customers receive at every touch point. This is where I see VOC and customer feedback come together.

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience Management, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, 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, Workforce Management

Some Ways To Get More Bang for Your IT Buck

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 25, 2012 10:09:18 AM

One of the major issues IT executives face is how to charge their departmental costs back to each part of the business according to their usage. It’s a touchy issue that can be the source of end-user disenchantment with the performance and contribution of the IT organization. Ultimately, charge-back friction can hobble IT’s ability to make necessary investments in new capabilities and become the primary cause of misallocated IT spending. The two risks are related: Unless an IT department can calculate the real costs of the services it provides to specific parts of the business and charge for them accordingly, it is almost impossible for line-of-business department managers to assign priorities to the “keep the lights on” part of the budget, so even low-priority maintenance or upgrade efforts can crowd out all but the most pressing needs. The issue of allocating IT department costs spills over to Finance, which typically handles the allocations in budgeting and profit calculations. As a first step toward establishing an effective means of funding the IT function, I believe the finance department must establish better methods of allocating IT costs. Eventually the proper allocation of IT costs also becomes an issue for senior corporate executives as well because it has a direct impact on how effectively a company uses information technology.

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Topics: Performance Management, ABC, Budgeting, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, CIO, Enterprise Software, Financial Performance, CFO, Activity Based Costing, Allocations, CEO

Vertex’s Tax Data Warehouse Matures

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 20, 2012 10:23:39 AM

I recently had a briefing from Vertex on its tax data warehouse (TDW), a key component of its tax technology platform Vertex Enterprise. The TDW concept has been around for decades, but the earliest versions were custom-built and hampered by the technology limitations of their day. This made them expensive to deploy and maintain and constrained their ability to adapt to changing corporate requirements. The basic idea behind a TDW is straightforward: a data store that makes all tax data readily available and can be used to plan and provision a company’s taxes. But the complexity of tax-related data overwhelmed the ability of information technology to deliver on the concept. With today’s technological advances the basic idea is finally realizable in a practical sense.

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Topics: Master Data Management, Performance Management, finance transformation, legal, multinational, Tax, tax compliance, tax data warehouse, tax department, tax optimization, tax planning, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Financial Performance, CFO

Reorganized Epicor Has Strategy for Competing

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 19, 2012 7:43:29 AM

I recently received an update from ERP software vendor Epicor, my first since it was acquired in May 2011 by Apax Partners, a private equity company, and simultaneously merged with Activant, an ERP and point-of-sale software company serving midsize retailers and distributors. In my view, taking the company private is a good idea since it will have to make ongoing investments that would not have been treated kindly by the stock market. Bringing Epicor and Activant together (and perhaps adding other companies to the portfolio) could allow the entity to spread some development costs over a broader base of revenues, but software combinations are difficult to execute well.

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Topics: Microsoft, Mobile, SAP, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, ERP, Dynamics, Epicor, Sage, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Oracle, Workforce Performance, CRM, Infor, Social, Activant, Apax, Financial Performance Management, integration

Infor’s Management Outlines Corporate and Software Strategy

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 16, 2012 10:58:32 AM

I recently met with Infor’s management team, led by CEO Charles Phillips. Phillips joined Infor in October 2010 after leaving Oracle, taking several other executives with him, including Duncan Angove, now president of Infor, and Pam Murphy, now the COO. In addition to the changes in the executive suite, Soma Somasundaram, who had been at Infor and its predecessor companies since 1995, became EVP in charge of R&D. A private company, Infor had been keeping a low profile for the past several years, probably because results were nothing to brag about, and I suspect Phillips wanted to wait until there were substantive improvements to point to before fully engaging with analysts. Subsequent to his arrival, Golden Gate Capital, the private equity firm that assembled Infor from dozens of once-independent software companies, acquired ERP vendor Lawson Software in July 2011. Lawson itself had merged with Intentia, a Swedish ERP company in 2005. I estimate pro-forma 2011 revenues for Infor plus Lawson for a full year at $2.7 billion (the company has not published this number). This is only a fraction of 2011 revenues for SAP (about $14.5 billion) and Oracle’s applications ($6.8 billion). Infor reported that organic growth in license revenues was 17 percent, roughly in line with comparable companies, and executives indicated in the meeting that maintenance renewals have improved.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, ERP, Human Capital Management, Marketing, Epiphany, expense management, Lawson Software, supply chain management, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, finance, Infor, Financial Performance Management

Clarabridge Advances Customer Experience Management

Posted by Richard Snow on Jan 13, 2012 8:36:58 AM

Clarabridge is an established vendor of text analytics products, which it sells both directly to the market and indirectly through an extensive set of partnerships with companies such as MicroStrategyIBM Cognos and Verint. Recently it has been marketing its applications under the category of customer experience management (CEM). To me, CEM is about personalizing and influencing the customer experience while an interaction is in progress. Organizations cannot do this without the right information about the customer, and text analytics is one of the primary tools that allows organizations to derive that information; in this way Clarabridge fits in CEM.

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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, Clarabridge, 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

Action-Oriented Analytics Can Help Manage Risk

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 12, 2012 9:37:32 AM

Risk has always been an integral part of business, but as I’ve noted, companies deal with risk with varying degrees of effectiveness. A complex, ongoing process, operational risk management identifies risks to support successful operations of an organization, estimates the monetary and other measurable impacts if a risk event occurs, establishes methods for mitigating the severity of impacts should they occur, continuously measures the probability of a risk occurring within a relevant period of time, periodically reports on the risk environment to appropriate decision-makers and alerts executives and managers when risk thresholds are crossed. These important activities should make operational risk management of greater interest to executives in today’s volatile business environment.

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Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, Sales Performance, Governance, GRC, Reporting, balanced scorecard, enterprise risk management, key risk indicators, KRI, risk and compliance, risk measurement, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, In-memory, Risk, operational risk management

Tidemark Reaches the Starting Gate

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 3, 2012 11:50:33 AM

My colleague Mark Smith and I recently chatted with executives of Tidemark, a company in the early stages of providing business analytics for decision-makers. It has a roster of experienced executive talent and solid financial backing. There’s a strategic link with Workday that reflects a common background at the operational and investor levels. As it gets rolling, Tidemark is targeting large and very companies as customers for its cloud-based system for analyzing data. It can automate alerts and enhance operating visibility, collaboratively assess the potential impacts of decisions and support the process of implementing those decisions.

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Topics: Big Data, Data Warehousing, Performance Management, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, GRC, Budgeting, Master Data, Risk Analytics, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Data Governance, Data Integration, Financial Performance, Hadoop, In-Memory Computing, Information Management, Mobility, Workforce Performance, Risk, Workday, Financial Performance Management, Integrated Business Planning

Customer and Contact Center Management in 2012

Posted by Richard Snow on Jan 3, 2012 11:35:26 AM

After reviewing the benchmark research I carried out during 2011 into customer and contact center analytics, the use of technology in contact centers and the adoption of cloud-based contact centers and systems, I have come up with a list of critical investments that I predict will distinguish customer and contact center management in 2012.

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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, Workforce Performance, 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