Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

Using Maturity Assessments to Improve Performance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 30, 2012 11:04:04 AM

The idea of devising and using maturity assessments to improve business performance has been a staple of management, functional and strategic consultants for decades. It’s based on two unassailable principles. One is the general assertion that companies differ in their ability to do anything along a range from nonexistent to advanced. The second is that at any time it’s possible for a knowledgeable individual to construct a scale of competence for some business function from least to most mature based on the important characteristics about how an organization designs and executes that function. Using maturity scales is a handy way for executives and managers to size up where they lie on a continuum of capabilities and an easy way to define the steps necessary for improvement. Maturity assessments have the advantage of being straightforward, but there’s the danger that they can be overly simplistic.

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

IBM Cognos Insight Focuses on Discovery and Exploratory Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 30, 2012 10:53:45 AM

IBM’s Information on Demand conference last week took over the fifth-largest conference venue in the country at the Mandalay Bay and Resort Convention Center in Las Vegas. During the keynote at the end of day one, IBM demonstrated its Cognos portfolio, a family of products that helped IBM earn a ranking of Hot in our 2012 Business Intelligence Value Index.

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Topics: Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cognos, cognos enterprise, cognos express, cognos insight, discovery tools, Financial Performance, Operational Intelligence, Operational Performance, exploratory analytics

The Big Data in Teradata

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 29, 2012 11:11:14 AM

At the recent Teradata’s annual Partners user conference, the company outlined its expanding role as a provider distributed information architecture technology. My colleague Tony Cosentino assessed Teradata’s business analytics and big data strategy, but there is more under the covers in regards to the company’s expanding role for big data and enterprise architectures. Over the last several decades Teradata has been known for providing enterprise data warehouse appliances, such as its unveiling of its new Teradata 2700 data warehouse appliance, which uses the latest multicore Intel processors. Now, as organizations continue to invest in distributed approaches in which they store and utilize data on a range of appliances and through Hadoop-based big data technology, Teradata has begun to provide integration with Hadoop, including a direct connector to it and commercialized versions of it in partnership with Cloudera and Hortonworks.  Earlier this year, for instance, Teradata formed a partnership with Hortonworks that provides a commercialized edition of the open source Hadoop that now is further integrated.

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Topics: alteryx, Big Data, Business Analytics, Hortonworks, Information Management, IT Performance, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, QlikView, SAS, Strata+Hadoop

IBM Makes Big Deal of Big Data

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 28, 2012 12:41:09 AM

At its annual IBM Information on Demand 2012  (IOD) and Business Analytics Forum, IBM unleashed a broad range of news concerning big data and analytics. It showcased its recently announced IBM PureData System appliance, which provides an engineering system for analytics and transactions and is part of what IBM calls IBM PureSystems. Appliances are one of the most desired technologies planned for big data according to our benchmark research. With this announcement, IBM highlights its branding and provides more market presence as a way to compete with vendors such as Oracle and Teradata who have already announced appliance offerings.

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Topics: Big Data, Business Analytics, IBM DB2, Information Applications, Information Management

The Red Hot Business Intelligence Vendors for 2012 Revealed in Value Index

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 25, 2012 12:27:53 PM

Ventana Research has just released the 2012 Value Index for Business Intelligence, in which we evaluate the competency and maturity of vendors and products. Our firm has been researching this software category for almost a decade. Our latest benchmark research in business intelligence found that new technology advancements in business intelligence are critical to its future; more than two-thirds of organizations will use BI on mobile technology in the next year, and more than a fifth will do so with collaboration technology. Our benchmark research on organizations using this software not only uncovers best practices and trends, but also highlights what business expects from business intelligence and where IT can support business needs more effectively across a range of roles and processes. Moving beyond the model where IT delivers BI to business, this Value Index assesses what those in business need from business intelligence, from executives and management to analysts and managers.

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Topics: Analytics, arcplan, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), IBM, InetSoft, Information Applications, Information Builders, Information Management, IT Performance, Jaspersoft, Location Intelligence, LogiXML, Microsoft, MicroStrategy, Operational Intelligence, Operational Performance, Oracle, Pentaho, QlikView, Sales Performance, SAP, SAS, Social Media, Spago Solutions, Supply Chain Performance, Tibco, Workforce Performance Positions as Cloud Platform Leader

Posted by Richard Snow on Oct 24, 2012 12:52:40 PM launched more than 12 years ago as the founding CRM vendor in the cloud. Today it has grown to be the kitchen-sink vendor in the cloud. It seems every month it announces some new cloud service, and its services now cover almost the entire enterprise: sales, marketing, service, HR, finance and a list of supporting services that make it hard to determine just what the company now has to offer. Two things remain clear, however: has established cloud computing as a credible way to source software applications, and all applications need to be socially enabled to keep up with new user and consumer preferences.

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Topics: Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Call Center, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Contact Center, CRM, Customer Analytics, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Mobile Apps, Social CRM, Social Media, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Voice of the Customer, Customer Experience, Analytics, Sales

Teradata’s Big Data and Analytics Strategy Unveiled

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 24, 2012 12:33:39 PM

Unlike other recent conferences that seem to focus almost exclusively on cloud computing, this week’s Teradata Partners Conference emphasized big data and analytics. The vision that Teradata lays out is one in which new technologies such as Apache Hadoop live side by side with more traditional enterprise data warehouses (EDW) and companies have the flexibility to define their own approaches to BI tools. This approach, at least in the near and medium terms, makes a lot of sense, and is backed by our own research into big data, which shows relational databases are still the predominant tool for delivering big data analytics and solutions to the enterprise. Companies have spent a lot of money on their current infrastructures, and not many have the stomach for a rip-and-replace strategy. Nor do most organizations have the tools and the skillsets yet to take full advantage of all of the newer approaches coming into the market around big data analytics.

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Topics: Analytics, Big Data, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Information Applications, Information Management, IT Performance, Operational Intelligence, Operational Performance, Teradata Aster

SAP Takes Business and Finance Mobile Using SAP HANA

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 22, 2012 10:48:32 AM

SAP has inaugurated a new series of business applications it calls Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) OnDemand as a cloud-based subscription service. The applications are part of SAP’s EPM version 10 suite, which it introduced last year. It’s a first step in what is likely to be a portfolio of general-purpose, lightweight and relatively low-cost apps designed to be used on mobile devices. Using HANA on the back end, the applications can deliver high performance in accessing masses of business data and deliver actionable information to executives and managers. The three on-demand apps in EPM are for expense management, profit-and-loss (P&L) analysis and capital project management. They also just released its SAP Business Planning and Consolidation that has a mobile version on the Apple iPad that is part of its recently announced EPM UnWired. The move is another indication of SAP’s emphasis on cloud computing, which my colleague Mark Smith covered earlier this year.

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Topics: Analytics, Big Data, Business Analytics, Business Applications, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, expense, Financial Performance, FPM, HANA, Operational Performance, Performance Management, Sales Performance, SAP, Supply Chain Performance, Workforce Performance, Office of Finance

Justifying Analytics for Agents and Better Customer Service

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 18, 2012 11:50:03 AM

Our new world of multifaceted customer communications is driven by moments of interaction with the brand, often called moments of truth. Today’s call center analytics put companies in a position to manage these moments. Analytics that are specific to the call center include desktop analytics, event stream analytics, speech analytics, text analytics, cross-channel analytics and predictive modeling. These analytics, in turn, drive areas such as agent training and coaching, time and capacity optimization, customer satisfaction and loyalty, and cross-sell and upsell opportunities.

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Topics: Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, call center analytics, capacity utilization, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Engagement, NPS, Operational Performance, Workforce Analytics, Workforce Performance, Customer Experience, Call Center, customer life cycle

SAP Provides Facts over Fiction on SAP HANA and Launches NetWeaver in the Cloud

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 17, 2012 11:56:22 AM

At the SAP TechEd conference in Las Vegas this week, the global software giant unveiled the latest versions of its technology, platforms and applications across the cloud, mobile and on premises. SAP executive Vishal Sikka followed up in person to his written response to the statements Oracle CEO and Chairman Larry Ellison made at Oracle OpenWorld on the limited nature of SAP’s HANA in-memory computing technology. Sikka presented a SAP HANA server with 100 terabytes of DRAM processing 1 petabyte of raw data to counter Ellison’s commentary, and Oracle has yet to release its comparable Exadata X3 appliance. SAP also announced that SAP HANA Cloud is available in Amazon Web Services (AWS) to provide anyone the opportunity to use the technology, though the AWS version will be limited in the size of data it can process in its in-memory environment. Amazon’s Andy Jassy, the senior vice president of AWS, spoke about the company’s work with SAP to advance cloud computing’s utility for developers.

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Topics: Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, CIO, Cloud Computing, Information Management, Operational Performance, SAP, SAP HANA, SAP NetWeaver

Oracle Fusion Financials: Boring is Cool

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 16, 2012 12:03:43 PM

There weren’t any headlines (or even many tweets) about Oracle Fusion Financials emanating from this year’s Oracle OpenWorld (#OOW12) conference. Maybe that’s by design, because it’s not in Oracle’s best interest to kick up a lot of dust about ERP migration. The financial applications software market is mature, and market share leaders such as Oracle have less interest in getting customers to upgrade than they did a decade ago. For a software vendor with a large installed base, cashing rich maintenance checks is more profitable than selling new software, and arguably is as dependable a source of revenue as software-as-a-service (SaaS) contracts. Companies, and especially CFOs and controllers, see replacing ERP systems akin to a root canal procedure: expensive and painful and best put off as long as possible. In North America (and to a much more limited extent in Europe) a major upgrade of a company’s current ERP software usually means it’s time to evaluate alternatives. For the incumbent, any time there’s a major upgrade there’s the potential to lose a customer.

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Topics: Business Performance, Cloud Computing, ERP, financial, Financial Performance, JD Edwards, Oracle, PeopleSoft, Performance Management, Workday, Office of Finance

PivotLink Analyzes Shoppers with Retail Analytics in the Cloud

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 16, 2012 11:49:39 AM

I had the opportunity last week to visit PivotLink in the Bellevue, Washington, office that houses the company’s development team and marketing leadership to see its software. After taking the helm a little more than a year ago and putting a new team in place, CEO Bruce Armstrong has positioned the company above the fray of the crowded business intelligence software set. The company has smartly moved into the retail space with user-friendly tools that should appeal to mid-tier retailers and where its historical success had been in the market. Building on my earlier analysis on PivotLink and its advancement into analytics and cloud computing but I will assess its software and efforts to help the retail industry.

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Topics: Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Location Intelligence, Operational Performance, Retail Analytics, Sales Performance, Analytics

SumTotal Systems HCM Portfolio Advances in a Mobile and Social World

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 12, 2012 12:29:50 PM

During its annual industry analyst summit this week, human capital management software vendor SumTotal Systems introduced new heads of finance, marketing and sales, and talked about expanding operations in Europe and Asia-Pacific – all part of a business growth strategy that I am sure the company’s private equity owner is expecting. While I wrote about the company earlier this year, SumTotal now says it has signed up 85 new customers so far in 2012 for its human capital management suite, and its 3,500 customers include brand names such as McAfee, American Express, US Airways and EastWest Bank. Customers United Airlines, POET and McCain Foods made presentations at the summit that illustrated why SumTotal is a relevant and strategic HCM provider.

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Topics: Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Human Capital Management, Mobile Technology, Recruiting, Social Collaboration, Social Media, Talent Management, Workforce Management, Workforce Performance

Shifts in Retail Demand New Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 12, 2012 12:08:39 PM

Our benchmark research into retail analytics suggests that only 34 percent of retail companies are satisfied with the process they currently use to create analytics. That’s 10 percent fewer businesses satisfied than we found for all industries combined. The dissatisfaction is being driven by underperforming technology that cannot keep up with the dramatic changes that are occurring in the retail industry. Retail analytics lag those in the broader business world, with 71 percent still using spreadsheets as their primary analysis tool; again, significantly higher than the average in other industries.

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Topics: Big Data, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Operational Intelligence, Operational Performance, Retail Analytics, SaaS, Sales Performance, Social Media

In HR Technology, Social and Mobile Are Hot and Becoming Business Necessity

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 10, 2012 12:23:01 PM

This week I’m at the 2012 HR Technology Conference (Twitter: #HRTechConf) where the scene is more than cool – it is hip. In the past several years technology for human resources – now more often called human capital management – has transformed from administrative software to applications anyone in the workforce can use to access information about their company, job, goals, performance, pay, benefits and even what they can do to advance in the organization. HR technology is embracing the six most important current technology trends, namely big data, business analytics, business collaboration, cloud computing, mobile technology and social media. At this year’s conference, the focus on business collaboration called social collaboration and mobile was front and center.

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Topics: Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, HR, Human Capital Management, Mobile Technology, Operational Performance, Sales Performance, Social Collaboration, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Talent Management, Workforce Performance

Putting XBRL to Work in the Mortgage Market

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 9, 2012 11:33:42 AM

Unless you have some combination of a very strong credit rating, a high income-to-debt payment ratio and a relatively low loan-to-value ratio, it’s not especially easy to refinance a mortgage these days. That’s a shame, because there are plenty of people who have stayed current in meeting their credit obligations and whose mortgages are comfortably below current market value who could benefit from today’s record low interest rates. One major reason they can’t refinance is the collapse of non-agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS) – that is, those not backed by government agencies such Federal National Mortgage Association, or Fannie Mae – in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The crisis, in turn, was caused largely by the collapse in value of mortgage-backed securities. To be sure, a significant portion of the drop in the issuance of non-agency paper is the lack of demand these days for the risky and even fraudulent sub-prime mortgages that were a root cause of the financial collapse. Yet there would be a bigger market for MBSes (and therefore more money available for refinancing) and less need for U.S. government guarantees if there were greater transparency in the quality of the underlying assets of mortgage-backed securities. Technology exists today that would address the transparency issue relatively easily and inexpensively. In particular, eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) can provide an efficient and relatively inexpensive means of collecting needed information from a large number of disparate parties without requiring them to standardize or modify their systems.

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Topics: Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, capital markets, finance, Financial Performance, XBRL, Office of Finance

Industry Analyst Art or Fiction: Questionable Technology Predictions

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 8, 2012 11:17:53 AM

I recently wrote about how technology vendors attempt to skew analysts’ and influencers’ research from the edit and review cycles controlled in financial contracts to payment for placed blogs as independent analysis published on the Internet. It is unfortunate that we have to deal with this level of bias. Clearly it is critical for business and IT to identify trusted sources of research and insight that can help determine technology direction. Businesses need not just data but insights from experienced advisors who can provide information with depth and meaning. Unfortunately, a recent pronouncement or prediction from one analyst firm throws a bad light on technology analysts in general.

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Topics: CIO, Customer & Contact Center, Gartner, Research, Sales Performance, Technology Spending, CMO

Oracle’s Exalytics Appliance Delivers Business Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 8, 2012 10:58:55 AM

At Oracle OpenWorld this week I focused on what the company is doing in business analytics, and in particular on what it is doing with its Exalytics In-Memory Machine. The Exalytics appliance is an impressive in-memory hardware approach to putting right-time analytics in the hands of end users by providing a full range of integrated analytic and visualization capabilities. Exalytics fits into the broader analytics portfolio by providing support for Oracle BI Foundational Suite including OBIEE, Oracle’s formidable portfolio of business analytics and business performance applications, as well interactive visualizations and discovery capabilities.

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Topics: Analytics, Big Data, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, exadata, Exalytics, IBM, Oracle, SAP

Industry Exposé: Technology Vendors Skew Analysts and Influencers

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 5, 2012 12:05:58 PM

In my more than a decade of writing on the trends and direction of the technology industry, occasionally I have talked about the dark side of technology industry analysts. In that vein, I wrote about the diminishing science of research in technology analyst firms, which has impacted the quality of the analysis and advice given by analysts. It built on my previous post on Why Bad Research Could Jeopardize Your Business. Unfortunately, the ethics and morals in the technology analyst industry have not gotten a lot better since I wrote those pieces, especially when it comes to the objectivity and independence of the research. Now it is time to provide shed light on the financial bias of written research and blogs by industry analysts and the firms they represent and publish under in coverage and rating of technology vendors.

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

Cloud Computing Challenges On-Premises for Software Preference

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 5, 2012 11:50:37 AM’s recent Dreamforce user conference got me wondering about how far the market for cloud-based software has come. To answer that question, I looked to our own research. For the past several years Ventana Research has routinely asked participants in its benchmark research what preference, if any, they have for deploying software they use to support the activity we are benchmarking. The choices we offer are on-premises, software as a service (SaaS – that is, in the cloud), hosted on a vendor’s servers) or no preference. I examined the responses from 1,110 participants in five benchmark research undetakings that cut across lines of business and IT areas to determine what, if any, patterns I could find in the responses.

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

Call Centre Expo 2012 Reveals Some Surprising Trends

Posted by Richard Snow on Oct 4, 2012 12:26:15 PM

Call Centre & Customer Management Expo has been running for several years now. The event provides an opportunity for contact center and customer service managers in Europe to catch up with all the latest and greatest going on in the market. At this year’s event earlier this week, as usual, I found the normal mix of presentations, vendor exhibition stands and other side events. The vendor show included a mix of core contact center vendors (interaction management, CRM, WFO, customer experience management, customer and contact center analytics), supporting vendors such as headphone suppliers and post code software, contact center media players and associated professional bodies. My primary interest is in the core multi-channel contact center market and vendors, and having attended for more years than I can remember, I look for emerging trends on what vendors are present and what they have to offer.

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Topics: Call Center, Cloud Computing, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Analytics, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Data Management, Customer Feedback Management, Customer Service, Desktop Analytics, Operational Performance, Sales Performance, Social CRM, Social Media, Speech Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Vendor(s), Voice of the Customer, Workforce Force Optimization, Customer Experience, Analytics

Oracle Fusion for CRM and HCM Ready with a Mobile Tap

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 4, 2012 12:10:17 PM

I attended Oracle’s annual OpenWorld conference this week. The company claims it holds the world’s largest technology conference, with 50,000 attendees and a million people viewing sessions online. It was a great opportunity to get close to the Oracle Fusion Applications, which the company presented as proven and ready, with customers using them on-premises and in private and public cloud computing usage methods. In keynotes from executives Larry Ellison, Mark Hurd and Thomas Kurian and application-focused sessions with executives Steve Miranda and Chris Leone, Oracle repeated the message that Fusion Applications are not just for cloud computing and web services but are also accessible through mobile technology called Oracle Fusion Tap that operates natively on the Apple iPad. The company left no confusion about its applications’ readiness for cloud and mobile computing, and provided insight into future advancements.

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Topics: Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, CRM, Customer & Contact Center, Information Management, Mobile Technology, Operational Performance, Oracle, Sales, Sales Performance, SAP, SFA, Social Collaboration, Social Media, Workday, Workforce Analytics, Workforce Performance,

Encountering New Bottlenecks with Oracle’s Breakthrough Technology

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 3, 2012 11:43:23 AM

Two key themes that emerged from Larry Ellison’s Sunday night keynote at this year’s Oracle OpenWorld were faster processing speed and cheaper storage. An underlying purpose to these themes was to assert the importance of Oracle’s strategic vertical integration of hardware and software with the acquisitions of Sun. I try to view technology keynotes like this from the perspective of a practical business user. Advancements such of these are important because enhancing the performance and cost-effectiveness of IT infrastructure can drive substantially improved business capabilities. As I’ve noted in the past, the ability to rapidly process large amounts of data provides business users with significant new capabilities in areas such as complex event processing, social media analytics and the ability to analyze unstructured or semi-structured data. In planning, it has the potential to change how companies perform a wide range of analytics-driven processes, especially in areas such as planning, budgeting and forecasting. It makes it feasible to more fully explore the impact of different courses of action, because rather than having to wait hours or days for answers to questions that start with “What happens if we…” the answers come back in seconds. Review and planning sessions can focus more on what’s next rather than rehashing history.

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Topics: Big Data, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Business Process Management, Data, Data Management, executive, Financial Performance, FPM, In-Memory Computing, Information Management, IT Performance, Customer Experience

Informatica Goes Heiler for PIM and Product Information Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 2, 2012 11:02:58 AM

Informatica is a Hot vendor when it comes to our Value Index for Data Integration. When it comes to meeting the business need for consistent and high-quality product information, Informatica just raised its prospects with its announced takeover of Heiler Software. Until now, Informatica has lacked a product information management (PIM) offering. Germany-based Heiler Software, whose presence has continued to grow in Europe and North America, was recently ranked as a Hot Vendor in our Value Index for Product Information Management, as you can read in our no-cost executive report. Informatica’s purchase brings complementary products together from one supplier and will help organizations provide a higher quality and volume of product information throughout business processes, and help place business, rather than IT, in the role of creating, using and sharing information.

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Topics: Business Performance, CIO, Customer & Contact Center, Data Governance, Financial Performance, Information Management, MDM, Operational Performance, PIM, Product Information Management, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance

IBM’s SPSS Shows Chops in Predictive Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 1, 2012 11:57:57 AM

IBM acquired SPSS in late 2009 and has been investing steadily in the business as a key component of its overall business analytics portfolio. Today, SPSS provides an integrated approach to predictive analytics through four software packages: SPSS Data Collection, SPSS Statistics, SPSS Modeler and SPSS Decision Management. SPSS is also integrated with Cognos Insight, IBM’s entry into the visual discovery arena.

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Topics: Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, IBM, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Predictive Analytics, Social Media, SPSS, Workforce Performance