Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

Jaspersoft 4.7 Shows Big Data Opportunity and Mobile BI Challenges

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 31, 2012 11:30:20 AM

Jaspersoft Business Intelligence Suite competes in the open source and broader BI market. Its customer base is mostly in the small and midsized business and OEMs and SaaS providers who can embed Jaspersoft code directly into their offerings. Earlier this summer, the company introduced Jaspersoft 4.7, which features advancements in interactive reporting, big data access and mobile business intelligence for Android. The 4.7 release brings interactive features such as segmenting and filtering, though these are not as user-friendly as those found in some of the other tools in the market. As many of our benchmark research reports show, usability is becoming more important in the tools environment as business users become more proactive in the selection and use of these tools. Interactive reporting is quickly becoming table stakes, but we’re still not seeing the advancements that will lead to mass business user adoption, as my colleague Mark Smith  recently noted.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Mobile BI, Jaspersoft, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Information Applications

Gaining Time-to-Value From Big Data

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 30, 2012 12:14:12 PM

I had a refreshing call this morning with a vendor that did not revolve around integration of systems, types of data, and the intricacies of NoSQL approaches. Instead, the discussion was about how its business users analyze an important and complex problem and how the company’s software enables that analysis. The topic of big data never came up, and it was not needed, because the conversation was business-driven and issue-specific.

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Topics: Big Data, Datameer, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Planview, SuccessFactors, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, IBM, Information Management, Operational Intelligence, Workforce Performance, next generation business intelligence, PivotLink

SAS Furthers Cloud Computing for Business

Posted by Richard Snow on Aug 30, 2012 11:56:10 AM

After this summer’s SAS European analyst event, I wrote that I came away less than convinced SAS was truly committed to the cloud, based largely on the fact that most other vendors are blowing their cloud trumpets much louder than SAS. It seemed developments in and around customer intelligence and its other products were higher priority to the company than its cloud strategy. However, after a recent update, I was left with no doubt that the cloud is important to SAS and that the company has a well–thought-through strategy based around two services that Ventana Research touched on earlier this year.

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Topics: SAS, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, 360-degree view of the Customer, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics

What a Bugatti Can Teach Us About Information Management

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 29, 2012 11:37:21 AM

One of the community groups to which I donate my time is an organization that puts on a Concours d’Élegance – a vintage car show. Such Concours date back to seventeenth-century France, when wealthy aristocrats gathered to see who had the best carriages and most beaudacious horses. Our Concours serves as the centerpiece to a broader mission of raising money for several charities. There a many such events in the United States and elsewhere, but this one, which has been held every year since 1956, has the distinction of being the longest continuously running Concours in the United States.

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Topics: Big Data, GRC, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, CIO, Financial Performance, Information Management, Operational Intelligence, CFO, finance, Talent Management, FPM

IBM Making Billion-Dollar Bet on Kenexa for Social Business and Talent Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 29, 2012 11:00:36 AM

IBM has announced its intention to acquire Kenexa as part of IBM Smarter Workforce initiative and social business software division. It’s a billion-dollar-plus investment to bolster IBM’s social business and give the company more depth in the human capital management software market that comprises human resources, talent management and workforce management. A lot of surface-level analysis I’ve seen on this announcement is not worth reading, but the deeper review below may help Kenexa and IBM customers, along with the market at large, and understand the implications of this announcement.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Human Capital Management, Kenexa, Recruiting, Operational Performance, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), IBM, Workforce Performance, Talent Management

Good Data Stewardship Is Critical for Business Analytics

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 24, 2012 12:28:56 PM

Our research consistently finds that defects in data are the root cause of a wide range of problems encountered by modern corporations. The magnitude of the problem correlates with the size of the company: Big companies have bigger headaches than midsize ones. Data issues diminish productivity in every part of a business as people struggle to correct errors or find workarounds. Issues with data are a man-made phenomenon, yet companies seem to treat bad data as some sort of force of nature like a tornado or earthquake – something that’s beyond their control to fix. At best they look for one-off workarounds and Band-Aids without tackling the root causes or recognizing the need to keep data issues in check. Data stewardship can and should be a part of a disciplined approach to management in the same way organizations implement quality control, cash management and legal compliance.

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Topics: Big Data, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, GRC, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, CIO, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Information Management, Operational Intelligence, Workforce Performance, CFO, finance, FPM

Midsize Companies Find ERP in the Cloud Increasingly Attractive

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 23, 2012 11:55:18 AM

Midsize businesses “pay” for their use of entry-level accounting systems by not having the essential information they need readily available and by using up valuable time that could be better spent generating business, finding issues or responding to opportunities sooner or simply enhancing the efficiency of the organization. Nevertheless, the transition from an entry-level accounting package such as QuickBooks to an on-premises system can be daunting for companies whose entry-level software no longer addresses their needs. Usually, the shortcomings start off as minor annoyances for companies that have between 100 and 500 employees and grow over time, and usually the pain grows with the number of employees and the volume and complexity of the underlying business. As business volumes expand and complexity grows, entry-level accounting systems are increasingly less able to support the underlying business. Yet finance executives usually don’t want to migrate to a new system until their old software threatens the orderly management of the business or becomes an overwhelming burden on finance operations. I know this firsthand, since not all that long ago I worked at a company where the CFO thought his biggest IT challenge was finding spare parts for the ancient Burroughs mainframe on which our financial system ran.

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Topics: Sales Performance, ERP, end-to-end, finance cloud, process, procure-to-pay, Business Performance, Cloud, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Accounting, Business Process Management, CFO, finance, accounting software, business process execution, financial systems, FPM, order-to-cash

Closing the Analytics Skills Gap

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 23, 2012 11:43:08 AM

A study by the McKinsey Global Institute published earlier this year suggests a coming shortage of more than 140,000 workers with deep analytical skills and a shortage of more than 1.5 million data-literate managers. I’m not sure how the study defined these roles, but I’d guess that those with deep analytic skills are those folks building the complex models, and the data-literate managers are those executives, middle managers and analysts who interpret the results and use the models to help drive business decisions. In other words, businesses are facing two skills gaps – one related to those producing the analytics, the other related to those using them in some type of discovery or review purpose.

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Topics: Big Data, Data Scientist, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Operational Intelligence, Workforce Performance

The Stupidity of KPIs in Business Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 23, 2012 11:26:45 AM

In my last rant, on business analytics and the pathetic state of dashboards, I pointed out significant flaws in business intelligence software created by technology providers and in how it is being deployed by business and IT. Now I want to follow up with some insight on disconnects to a critical asset that is essential to the success of business analytics. I mean key performance indicators (KPIs), a term used in inaccurate ways that have diminished the value of the concept for business.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Sustainability, KPI, IT Performance, Key Performance Indicators, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Applications, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Workforce Performance

Interactive Intelligence Embraces Business Process Management

Posted by Richard Snow on Aug 22, 2012 11:11:39 AM

The product page for Interactive Intelligence highlights what the company is best known for – IP-based business communications. This image is further strengthened by its flagship Customer Interaction Center platform, which offers organizations a fully featured multimedia contact center in the cloud. This offering includes multimedia communications in the cloud along with many of the capabilities that Ventana Research terms agent performance management. However, the company also offers a third set of products, which support business process automation. On first examination these seem somewhat tangential to the other products, but my research into customer relationship maturity shows the product sets are likely to converge more and more as organizations address the challenges of providing customers with excellent experiences.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience Management, Customer Feedback Management, 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, Desktop Analytics, Interactive Intelligence, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Force Optimization

The Pathetic State of Dashboards

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 22, 2012 8:59:44 AM

Over the last several months, my colleague VP and Research Director Tony Cosentino and I have been assessing vendors and products in the business intelligence market as part of our upcoming Value Index. Tony recently wrote about the swirling world of business analytics, covering many of the dynamics of this industry. He and I have been reviewing the breadth and depth of over 15 of these vendors using our Value Index methodology, which examines the products closely in terms of usability, adaptability, reliability, capability and manageability. As we have gone through this analysis, we see the dashboard as the most common tool for displaying business intelligence. The early forms of dashboards appeared in the 1980s, but in my honest evaluation, today’s dashboards have not gotten much more intelligent in all those years. The graphics have gotten better, and we can interact with charts in what is commonly called visual discovery so you can drill into and page through data to change its presentation. So some progress has been made, but the basic presentation of a number of charts on the screen has not improved significantly and worse yet neither has the usefulness of the charts. Let’s face it: It’s a big mistake to place several bar and pie charts on a screen side by side and assume that business viewers will know what they mean and what is important in them. We cannot assume that individuals in an audience have the ability to interpret charts and draw the right conclusions from them; just being pretty or interactive will not communicate the desired message.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, CIO, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Dashboards, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Management, Location Intelligence, Workforce Performance, Expert Systems

Tibco Bets on Event-Driven Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 20, 2012 11:29:44 AM

Over the years Tibco has provided infrastructure for enterprise data integration and has built a substantial installed base. Now the company positions itself as supplying next-generation analytics for big data through service-oriented architecture (SOA). SOA has been around for a while; Ventana Research has been tracking it since 2006 and conducted benchmark research on SOA. But it remains a vaguely understood technology. Our research shows that SOA is not clearly defined in the market and that interpretations vary across the software industry. The basic function of an SOA is to provide common components and a common implementation that enable programmers to plug in and share applications through open application programming interfaces (APIs). In recent years, SOA has morphed into more of a general approach than a fixed set of standards. SOA architectures (though not always called SOA) are at the heart of modern platforms such as salesforce.com, Facebook and Amazon Web Services. In SOA Tibco competes with IBM and Oracle, among others.

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Topics: Big Data, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, SOA, Spotfire, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Service oriented architecture, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Complex Event Processing, Customer & Contact Center, Information Management, Operational Intelligence, Tibco, CEP

Making Better Use of Ratios in Analytics

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 17, 2012 12:01:52 PM

For the past several years Ventana Research has focused more on analytics and their importance to improving business performance. We’ve done extensive benchmark research in business analytics, detailing how they are used generally in business and in major functional areas of companies as well as their application in specific industries. We adopted this focus  because technology advances are changing the landscape of analytics. Its use in business management, for example, is getting new scrutiny these days because of three important changes in information technology.

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Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, Planning, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Modeling, performance indicators, Budgeting, driver-based, ratio analysis, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, In-memory, Workforce Performance, Applications, best pracices, business value, cash flow, challenge, financial planning, spreadsheet

Predictive Analytics Move Toward Center Stage

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 17, 2012 11:50:17 AM

In this second in a blog series on business analytics I focus on the increasingly important area of predictive analytics. Our benchmark research into predictive analytics shows that while the vast majority of companies see this technology as important or very important for the future of their organizations, most are not taking full advantage of it. This finding suggests that there is an opportunity for companies to gain competitive advantage by implementing predictive analytics in the near term.

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

The Collaborative Enterprise to Support Customer Interactions

Posted by Richard Snow on Aug 16, 2012 10:05:24 AM

I’ve challenged a lot of the hype about the social enterprise, because I feel “social” gives the wrong impression. For most people, social media is predominately about socializing. While everyone likes to feel that going to work is partly about interacting with friends, when it comes down to it running a business is about winning customers, selling them your products and services, and providing customer service when needed. In today’s competitive markets, none of these are easy tasks. As I look across four of our benchmark research areas: customer information management, customer experience management, customer feedback management and customer relationship maturity, I have come to several conclusions:

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

Put a Smile in Your Last Mile of Finance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 15, 2012 12:08:02 PM

People used to use the phrase “the last mile” solely to refer to a condemned prisoner’s path to execution. Then the telecommunications industry picked it up to describe that part of a circuit between a major trunk line and a subscriber. Later still a defunct software company, Movaris (now part of Trintech), used the phrase in an analogy to refer to the set of activities that take place between when a company closes its books and the point where it finishes its external reporting activities, such as disclosing periodic earnings and financial conditions to investors or filing financial statements with regulators or lenders. It was an attempt to focus attention on the need to automate and better coordinate the multiple, disparate but interconnected threads that have to be orchestrated to complete the external reporting tasks accurately and on time. Personally, I’ve never cared for the phrase being used in this context; there are really multiple “last miles,” with multiple and sometimes overlapping destinations. I prefer “the close–to-report cycle” because it’s more precise in its description, and because rather than pointing to finality, “cycle” defines it for what it is – a repetitive periodic activity. And because it is periodic and repetitive, it benefits from process optimization and automation, which can substantially reduce the effort required to complete a cycle and alleviate the stress certain departments often feel as deadlines loom.

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Topics: Governance, GRC, Reporting, audit, close, Consolidation, Controller, process, process management, report, XBRL, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Accounting, CFO, compliance, FPM, SEC

Stibo Is Red Hot for Product Information Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 13, 2012 10:17:57 AM

When it comes to managing product information, organizations know they have room for improvement; only 27 percent trust their efforts completely, and less than a fifth (19%) are very satisfied with them. Almost half (48%) say they have too many incompatible tools, while 41 percent do not have a centralized information repository and 45 percent use a manual process to create a single complete, consistent and reliable product record. All of these facts and more from our product information management (PIM) benchmark indicate that businesses need a set of integrated processes and applications to meet their responsibilities. The benchmark found that adaptability, functionality and usability top technology and vendor considerations among the core components of our Value Index methodology.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, MDM, PIM, Operational Performance, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Information Managemnt, Product Information Management

Anaplan is on a Mission for Planning Driven Performance Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 10, 2012 11:31:17 AM

When it comes to the task of managing performance, many organizations still find themselves fixated on the past rather than planning for improvement in the future. When performance management processes operate efficiently, technology to support activities such as modeling and analytics can optimize outcomes and help align them to targeted goals and objectives. This might seem trivial or easily done, but the reality is that most organizations lack a unified platform that anyone in the enterprise can easily engage and leverage.

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Topics: Performance Management, Planning, Sales, Sales Performance, Anaplan, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC)

Make IT Spending Transparent

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 9, 2012 10:17:46 AM

What does it cost to run an IT department? That’s an easy question to answer, but for most companies, why it costs that amount is not. IT departments often complain that most of their budget is devoted to funding daily operations and basic maintenance (“keeping the lights on”), but often, one big overlooked problem is the chargeback process that most companies use to assign IT department operating costs.

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Topics: ABC, Budgeting, chargebacks, Operational Performance, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Activity Based Costing, innovation, IT cost

Making Sense of the Swirling World of Business Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 9, 2012 10:08:08 AM

Our benchmark research on business analytics suggests that it is counterproductive to take a general approach to the topic. A better approach is to focus on particular use cases and lines of business (LOB). For this reason, in a series of upcoming articles, I will look at our business analytics research in the context of different industries and different functional areas of an organization, and illustrate how analytics are being applied to solve real business problems.

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Topics: Big Data, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Applications, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Workforce Performance

CIOs Need to Make Information Management a Real Priority

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 8, 2012 12:10:03 PM

Our recent benchmark research on information management uncovered some startling facts about the level of technology adoption necessary for efficient information-centric organizations. Chief information officers (CIO) are responsible for the availability of information to their businesses in a consistent and timely basis, but in most organizations, information management is seen as just a delegated set of tasks and is not the CIO’s top priority. This unfortunate outlook can have a lasting impact on the efficiency and profitability of a business.

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Topics: Big Data, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Performance, CIO, Customer & Contact Center, Data Management, Financial Performance, Information Applications, Information Management, Data, IT

Meeting the XBRL Challenge Takes Inventiveness

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 8, 2012 11:22:02 AM

For several years the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has mandated that filers apply eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) tags to their financial statements. XBRL was developed to make it easier for investors to use a company’s financial information. Now XBRL US has kicked off its second annual XBRL Challenge, a contest designed to encourage development of open source analytical tools that can use XBRL-formatted corporate financial data from the SEC’s EDGAR database. Sponsoring the effort are the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the CFA Institute (of which I am a member) and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. XBRL US hopes to raise awareness of the wealth of available XBRL data and provide incentives for application developers to create open source software that enables broader and more frequent use of the standard. The contest will award $20,000 grand prizes to the two teams, and judging will be based on how well each submission improves access to corporate data and provides analytic capabilities in an original, user-friendly way. This competition is a terrific idea because it addresses the least well developed element in the drive to improve the communication of corporate data to investors. Earlier this year I reviewed some of the submissions to the first XBRL Challenge. Although the first round of software offered a good start, much more needs to be done to encourage use of XBRL.

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Topics: Reporting, closing, XBRL, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Information Management, Accounting, finance, Financial Performance Management, SEC

Calabrio Provides Integrated Workforce Optimization

Posted by Richard Snow on Aug 8, 2012 11:04:11 AM

Calabrio offers a suite of workforce optimization (WFO) products used in call centers that includes call recording, quality recording, workforce management and performance management, and it also offers a purpose-built speech analytics product. From a briefing and demonstration, I confirmed that the core WFO products support the capabilities that our research shows companies expect of these products. Ventana Research defines agent performance management (APM) as WFO plus capture of all forms of customer interaction, agent training and coaching and agent compensation management, as well as all forms of contact center-related analytics such as text, voice and desktop. The recent Ventana Research APM Value Index shows that this market is highly competitive, as all the top five vendors scored within one percentage point of each other.

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Topics: Customer Experience Management, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Calabrio, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, 360-degree view of the Customer, Agent Performance Management, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Workforce Force Optimization

Karmasphere Addresses Big-Data Skills Gap with Collaboration and Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 4, 2012 8:59:04 AM

Karmasphere has an interesting story to tell. Much like Datameer, which I recently blogged about, Karmasphere sits on top of the Hadoop distributed platform where companies such as ClouderaHortonworks and MapR compete. Karmasphere provides a collaborative environment and an analytical workbench that help companies write applications and workflows that run on top of Hadoop. The company’s business model looks to leverage legacy skill sets, such as SQL, which are already resident in most organizations, in order to ingest, analyze and act on big data.

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Topics: Big Data, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Hadoop, Information Applications, Information Management, Karmasphere

Product Information Management Is Hot for Business

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 2, 2012 11:21:49 AM

Ventana Research has just released our 2012 Value Index for Product Information Management (PIM), in which we evaluate the competency and maturity of vendors and products. Our firm has been researching this software category for many years, and our latest benchmark research in product information management, coming out shortly, finds PIM software providing substantive benefits in new channels of interaction with suppliers and customers.

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Topics: Master Data Management, Sales Performance, SAP, Supply Chain Performance, Agility, Enterworks, Hybris, Stibo Systems, Webon, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Data Governance, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), IBM, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Oracle, Heiler, Product Information Management, Riversand

Salesforce.com Advances Customer Interaction

Posted by Richard Snow on Aug 2, 2012 10:53:03 AM

Since it was founded in 1999, salesforce.com has been driving other vendors and end-user organizations to rethink how they supply and purchase software. The company has grown from being a supplier of CRM in the cloud to a vendor with diverse offerings that include a development platform, an app exchange, platforms that support marketing, sales and customer service, knowledge management, desktop technology, collaboration, website development, social media support and analytics. Along the way it has also become a powerful marketing machine – which sometimes gets in the way of understanding just what its products do and don’t do, and where they all fit. This obfuscation also extends to its extensive range of partners, where again it is sometimes hard to know who it deals with and how.

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Topics: Salesforce.com, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, LiveOps, NewVoicemedia, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, 360-degree view of the Customer, Call Center, Cisco, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Interactive Intelligence, Text Analytics, Vocalcom