Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

It’s Getting Easier To Go Beyond Spreadsheets for Modeling

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 27, 2012 11:22:54 AM

One trend in business software that’s still in its early stages but gathering momentum is the availability of modeling tools that fill the gap between desktop spreadsheets and enterprise systems. Granted this “early stage” has been under way for quite some time, but the technology has finally progressed to the point where I expect it to get increasing market traction.

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Topics: Big Data, Database, Planning, Sales Performance, Forecast, Office of Finance, Essbase, Quantrix, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Financial Performance, In-memory, Workforce Performance, finance, analysis, analytical application, business model, business plan, financial model

Ventana Research’s Business Technology Innovation Research Agenda for 2012

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 24, 2012 8:08:19 AM

Now finishing our first decade of providing research and education for business and IT professionals, we at Ventana Research have learned what it takes to improve the value of processes and performance in many industries. This is no easy task; it requires thorough and wide-ranging research on the best (and worst) practices that organizations need to understand as they try to increase their competency and effectiveness – and our firm is committed to that work. For 2012 we are moving forward from the business technology revolution agenda we outlined at this time last year, including business analytics, business collaboration, cloud computing, mobile technology and social media. We have added a focus on big data, a trend that has reinvigorated the dialog about managing large volumes of data and how to use it effectively. Our research framework spans a diverse set of research agendas and practices from the viewpoints of the lines of business, IT and specific industries and knits together the necessary strategies and best practices across the four critical aspects of people, processes, information and technology.

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

Office of Finance Research Agenda for 2012

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 23, 2012 9:44:11 AM

As this year begins, “finance transformation” is a trend gaining favor with strategic consultants. The term is associated with the objective of shifting the focus of CFOs and finance departments from transaction processing toward more strategic and higher-value functions. This objective is hardly new – it has been the purpose of my practice for the past nine years. Our research confirms that most people want their finance department to take a more strategic role in the management of the company. But although some progress has been made, Finance still spends too much time and effort on the mechanics of day-to-day operations.

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Topics: Social Media, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance

Informatica Advances Business with Data Integration for Social Media

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 22, 2012 11:13:40 AM

Even in this recessionary economy Informatica has been defying spending constraints. At its annual analyst summit (Twitter #INFAAnalyst) the company unveiled its growth strategies. Informatica has more than 4,500 customers for data integration and information management and now is turning its attention to the data in social media networks. Our firm has already identified social media as a key technology that businesses must embrace over the next decade to improve competitiveness or just keep up. Informatica already helps IT departments become better data stewards through a variety of methods and supports the executive mission of the CIO. My colleague David Menninger will comment on its vision and direction for its data integration portfolio; I will focus on its decision to use its technology for social media, which is part of a forthcoming product roadmap. Regarding the importance of embracing social media in this area, see David’s research and educational agenda in information management for 2011.

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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, Data Integration, Mobility, CMO

The Customer and Contact Management Research Agenda for 2012

Posted by Richard Snow on Feb 21, 2012 11:03:52 AM

In all the years I have spent building contact centers and tracking this market, from both business and technology perspectives many things have not changed. Center managers are still under pressure to drive down costs, customers generally are not satisfied with the way their interactions are handled (perhaps less so), and organizations still aren’t making the most of customer interactions. However, as noted in my predictions for 2012, I am expecting more rapid change in the next couple of years than ever before with the advent of a collection of technologies that are already impacting business interactions with customer or by their actions.

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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, 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

GAAP and IFRS Harmonize Revenue Recognition Standards

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 21, 2012 10:50:37 AM

The melding of the world’s two main financial accounting standards – United States Generally Accepted Accounting Standards (US-GAAP) and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) – continues apace. Initially, the idea was to converge the two into a single, global standard. Although there was general agreement that the concept was a noble one, there were enough differences to produce practical concerns about implementing these changes, especially in the United States. Then, in December 2010, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which mandates accounting standards for publicly traded companies, indicated that while in principle it favors a single international accounting standard, the Commission was going to take a “condorsement” approach, which I covered in a note last year. The SEC’s move essentially derailed the prior objective of replacing US-GAAP with IFRS by the middle of this decade. Still, the coming together of US-GAAP and IFRS continues to forge ahead even without acceptance of full adoption in the U.S. The two bodies that administer accounting standards, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), which manages US-GAAP, and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), which manages IFRS, are attempting to standardize wherever possible and harmonize as best they can elsewhere. One important area where there’s been significant progress is revenue recognition.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Controller, FASB, IASB, IFRS, XBRL, Financial Performance, CFO, financial statement, GAAP, SEC

A Taleo Tale: Oracle Reaches for Cloud Credibility

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 10, 2012 8:34:18 PM

The acquisition frenzy in the enterprise software market continues. The announced acquisition of Taleo by Oracle will remove the independence of another successful cloud-based software company. Publicly traded Taleo (NASDAQ: TLEO) provides talent management applications on a rental cloud computing basis. Acquiring Taleo, which by all accounts has done a good job of growing the recruiting and applicant sourcing software business in a scalable cloud environment, was too good for Oracle to pass up. SAP’s much costlier acquisition of SuccessFactors, which I assessed clearly placed more pressure on Oracle to do something rather than nothing.

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Topics: SAP, Human Capital Management, LMS, Oracle Fusion HCM, Peoplefluent, Recruiting, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Mobility, Oracle, Workforce Performance, Compensation, HRMS, SumTotal Systems, Talent Management, Taleo, Workday, Workforce Analytics

Zeacom Announces Full Support for Microsoft Lync

Posted by Richard Snow on Feb 10, 2012 2:02:37 PM

A few months ago, evaluated Zeacom CommunicationsCenter (ZCC), which provides a multichannel contact center that is integrated closely with business process automation. This allows organizations to build a contact center tied to their interaction-handling processes and deliver any form of interaction to the person most qualified to handle it. At the time of my review, the product ran alongside products from the likes of Avaya, Cisco and NEC, and was resold and supported by the partner networks of these suppliers. There was also a beta test under way that supported integration with Microsoft Lync, which provides an alternative to using PBX products from these vendors.

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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, Unified Communications, Zeacom

Workday’s Financials: Maturing

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 10, 2012 1:37:33 AM

I recently got an update from Workday that focused mostly on its Financials software. This part of the company’s business management suite has received less development attention than the HR aspects since the company’s founding in 2005. The bulk of Workday’s development investment has aimed at making its human capital management applications an industry leader and adding related capabilities such as payroll. It’s hard to argue against this strategy, if only because Workday is the spiritual offshoot of PeopleSoft; founded the company after Oracle’s hostile takeover of PeopleSoft, which he also founded. This pedigree gave the new company an advantage with workforce management software buyers. Moreover, adoption of cloud-based ERP has lagged far behind that of other cloud-based applications such as sales or workforce management, especially in the larger companies that have been Workday’s target market.

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Topics: ERP, Office of Finance, expense management, financial, PSA, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Oracle, Workforce Performance, Infor, Tidemark, Workday, Professional Services, Project Management

Enkata Expands Customer Analytics for a Better Customer Experience

Posted by Richard Snow on Feb 2, 2012 10:25:54 AM

The products of Enkata have generally been designed for what Ventana Research terms performance management for customer service and call centers, including applications connected to agent performance management (quality monitoring, coaching, training and related analytics) and operational performance analytics based on transactional, structured data. Recently Enkata has taken a new direction with its branding (“changing the customer experience”) and has been filling out its portfolio of products to include analytics for unstructured data, so it now includes speech (courtesy of a partnership with Callminer), desktop, cross-channel and text analytics; the last supports  the analysis of customer surveys and social media posts.

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Callminer, Enkata, Operational Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Workforce Performance, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Workforce Management, OpenSpan

Actuate Establishes Performance Analytics for Business Excellence

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 2, 2012 9:56:57 AM

Business analytics and big data are common topics of conversation in the business and information technology markets, but these technologies are only building blocks to help businesses manage performance. Entering the conversation is Actuate, which for years has had a performance management division that provides software for managing progress toward objectives through a variety of analytic and action-focused techniques. The company has announced release of a promising new generation of its enterprise software, Actuate BIRT Performance Analytics.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Performance Analytics, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Information Management, Workforce Performance

Revolution Analytics Hosts Contest on Business Predicting the Future

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 1, 2012 8:55:19 AM

Revolution Analytics recently announced the winners of its “Applications of R in Business” contest. Revolution Analytics has built a business around supporting R, an open source statistical software package, and extending it with features it licenses to customers. I served as a judge in the contest. Since I was in the midst of analyzing the data for our predictive analytics benchmark research, I was interested to see how the contestants applied predictive analytics techniques to specific business problems.

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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

Technology Terminology: What’s in a Name?

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 1, 2012 8:39:50 AM

When it comes to technology, debates about whether a particular name suits its category are rampant. Here is a link to one such argument about the term “big data” from Curt Monash, an analyst whom I respect a great deal. This debate rages in the Twittersphere also, as in this comment from Neil Raden, another analyst I respect, suggesting that “big data is a marketing term … imprecise by design.”  Another term I’ve encountered resistance to recently is “predictive analytics.” See: (“Revolution Analytics Hosts Contest on Business Predicting the Future“).

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance