Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

Why Maturity is Important for More Effective Planning and Budgeting

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 28, 2012 9:10:02 AM

Ventana Research does benchmark research that assesses the maturity of organizations across four dimensions: people, process, information and technology. We examine business issues along those dimensions because we recognize the interconnected relationships among them. Especially in larger companies, data issues such as accuracy and accessibility are often a root cause of poor performance of a core function. It may be a factor in such areas as poor customer service, sales execution or operations planning, to name just three.  Addressing only the people-related issues of some challenge a company faces (such as communications, training or management style) may produce positive results in the short run, but these gains are likely to fall short of their potential or prove to be transitory unless companies tackle related process, technology and information problems at the same time. Our comprehensive approach is the foundation for our research, and what makes our benchmark research different and relevant to executives and managers.

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Topics: Planning, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, forecasting, Reporting, Budgeting, driver-based, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Financial Performance Management, Integrated Business Planning, spreadsheet

What Every CEO Should Know About Software for Finance and Sales

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 26, 2012 7:11:48 AM

This is the third in a series of blog posts on what CEOs (and for that matter, all senior corporate executives) need to know about IT and its impact on running a business. The first covered the high-level issues. As I noted, it’s not necessary for a CEO to be able to write Java code or master the intricacies of an ERP or sales compensation application. However, CEOs must grasp the basics of IT just as they must understand basic corporate finance, the production process and – at least at a high level – the technologies that support that process. My second post was about four supporting technologies that will drive change in business computing over the next five years. It relates examples of how applications can help every part of a business operate more effectively, not just efficiently. Now let’s turn our attention to finance and sales – and as I’ve noted in the previous posts, what follows is an “elevator pitch” treatment of what could be a much longer discussion.

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Topics: Planning, Predictive Analytics, Sales, Sales Performance, Customer, Budgeting, close, closing, plan, PRO, sales management, strategy, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Information Management, Accounting, CFO, pricing, CEO, FPM, Profitability, SPM

Interactions’ Virtual Assistant Provides Self-Service Innovation

Posted by Richard Snow on Dec 22, 2012 6:55:17 AM

Organizations have been struggling for years to find effective systems to support customer self-service. One of the most popular techniques has been to deploy an IVR system, but my research into customer experience management shows that nearly two-thirds (61%) of customers using IVR end up taking the option to speak to an agent, and the old saying “customers hate IVR” still prevails. The same research shows that web-based self-service is achieving similar low levels of success.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Experience Management, Social CRM, Interactions, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, CRM

Quantrix Unveils Release 5

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 21, 2012 11:18:25 AM

Quantrix recently unveiled Quantrix 5, an updated version of its financial modeling software designed to fill the gap between spreadsheets and business intelligence (BI) systems. Quantrix provides users with many of the capabilities of an enterprise system and addresses shortcomings of desktop spreadsheet software without requiring extensive training.

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Topics: Planning, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, forecasting, FP&A, Reporting, Budgeting, multidimensional, plan, Quantrix, report, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud, Cloud Computing, Information Management, Workforce Performance, BI, FPM, spreadsheet

Saving Microseconds with Informatica’s Ultra Messaging

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 20, 2012 11:23:03 AM

Increasingly, global financial markets compete on speed, so much so that high-speed trading capabilities have become a performance differentiator for the largest financial services firms and some investment funds. Transmitting messages with quotes, prices and trade data is a core capability for currency dealers. Informatica recently introduced Ultra Messaging, which is designed to offer global currency traders an efficient, high-throughput, lower-latency (that is, faster) and more secure method of linking their worldwide operations.

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Topics: GRC, credit, currency, LAN, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Informatica, finance, trading, WAN

The Dynamic Culture and Swedish History Behind QlikView

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 20, 2012 10:57:07 AM

I recently returned from Sweden, where QlikTech International hosted its annual analyst “unsummit.” Much of the information I was exposed to was under NDA, so I cannot talk about it here. What I can discuss, and what in many ways may be more interesting and more important, is the company’s focus on culture and philosophy.

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Topics: Big Data, Data Visualization, QlikView, Tableau, Google, discovery analytics, exploratory analytics, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Information Applications, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Workforce Performance, Impala, big query, next generation business intelligence, Qliktech

Adaptive Planning Helps the University of Central Florida Plan Faster and More Accurately

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 18, 2012 11:25:39 AM

When they were first introduced three decades ago, electronic spreadsheets provided a major advance in corporate planning compared to the paper spreadsheet-and-adding-machine systems they replaced. However, time passes and, as our research shows, desktop spreadsheets often hamper productivity because they were designed for personal productivity, not for managing repetitive, collaborative, enterprise-wide processes such as financial planning. The finance organization at the University of Central Florida’s College of Medicine was grappling with this reality.

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Topics: Planning, forecasting, Reporting, Budgeting, driver-based, leadership awards, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Financial Performance Management, Integrated Business Planning, spreadsheet

Making Back Office Apps Fun

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 17, 2012 11:14:11 AM

Business software is beginning to undergo a design revolution comparable to the seismic shift from the green screen to the graphical user interface (GUI) that began in the mid-1980s. Three forces are at work. One is the retirement of large numbers of members of the baby-boom generation and the rise of a generation that grew up with computers and computer games from a young age. Also, software and technology vendors have been recognizing the need to “consumerize” business applications as mobile device interactions, gestures and other newer user interface (UI) conventions, and are incorporating these innovations in their stodgy products. I commented on this in my assessment of Tidemark early this year. A third factor, “gamification” is all the rage in business consulting circles. The idea is to engage younger employees more completely by transforming dull, routine chores into more entertaining pursuits. I join with those skeptical of just how fun one can make clerical tasks. But software can – and should – be made less tedious (and therefore more productive), especially for a new generation of users.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, Supply Chain Performance, OpenWorld, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Cloud, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Oracle, Workforce Performance, Dreamforce, finance, Tidemark, Business, Applications, design, development, GUI

Equifax Workforce Solutions for Human Capital Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 14, 2012 11:59:58 AM

Businesses need to simplify HR and compliance processes to save time and reduce risk. Talx, which helps employers address concerns in hiring, pay and compliance, has now assumed the name of its parent company and become Equifax Workforce Solutions [PDF]. HR and finance professionals should recognize the parent company’s brand from its work in the consumer credit industry. The company hopes these professionals will see that Equifax Workforce Solutions offers a better approach to governance, risk and compliance. According to our research, 79 percent of organizations want a better method to identify and manage risks faster.

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Topics: Equifax, eThority, GRC, I9, payroll, Operational Performance, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Workforce Performance, CFO, Compensation, compliance, finance, Hiring, HR, TALX, Workforce Solutions

Longview Helps 3M Shape Its Future in Business Planning

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 14, 2012 11:47:16 AM

Effective planning has always been a challenge for companies, and it’s all the more so today. Even when companies deploy dedicated planning applications, they often do not or cannot use them to full advantage. I had a chance to learn more about 3M Corp. use of business planning in our recent 2012 Leadership Awards, who is the diversified global manufacturer of consumer and industrial products, several years ago acquired a dedicated planning application, but because the system could not scale to handle all of its planning contributors, it was forced to collect data from its worldwide business units using Excel templates. Desktop spreadsheets impose severe constraints in the planning process and do not readily handle the complexities of a large multinational firm, such as intracompany allocations, multiple currencies and changes in organizational structure. Modeling both product and financial elements is difficult and, for a company of 3M’s size, the processes do not scale well. The planning process was therefore prolonged, complex and could not readily adapt to change.

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Topics: Planning, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, forecasting, Reporting, Budgeting, driver-based, leadership awards, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Financial Performance Management, Integrated Business Planning, spreadsheet

The Conundrum of Changes in Market Research and Predictive Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 13, 2012 10:11:56 AM

As a market research practitioner and a technology industry analyst covering big data and business analytics, I enjoyed listening to other analysts discuss the market research industry in a webinar.  My own research augments and sometimes contrasts with that of the webinar participants.

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Topics: Market Research, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Operational Intelligence, greenbook blog, market insights, next generation market research

The Brave New World of Business Intelligence

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 12, 2012 11:24:48 AM

We recently completed our benchmark research on next-generation business intelligence. Ventana Research looks as next-generation BI as a function of traditional BI that is converging with new technologies such as mobility, collaboration and cloud computing. Just a few years ago business intelligence might have been considered a mature category with incremental growth, but now it’s growing in new directions and it’s difficult today to call business intelligence mature.

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Topics: Mobile BI, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Operational Performance, trends in BI, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Collaborative BI, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Operational Intelligence, Workforce Performance, next generation business intelligence

IBM Watson Advances a New Category of Cognitive Computing

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 11, 2012 10:42:31 AM

IBM Watson blends existing and innovative technology into a new approach called cognitive computing. At the simplest operational level it is technology for asking natural language-based questions, getting answers and support appropriate action to be taken or provide information to make more informed decisions. The technology relies on massive processing power to yield probabilistic responses to user questions using sophisticated analytical algorithms. A cognitive system like Watson accesses structured and unstructured information within an associated knowledge base to return responses that are not simply data but contextualized information that can inform users’ actions and guide their decisions. This is a gigantic leap beyond human decision-making using experience based on random sources from the industry and internal sets of reports and data.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Machine Learning, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, IBM, Information Management, Workforce Performance, Cognitive Computing, Expert System, IBM Watson

Take Time Now to Get Mobile Customer Service Right

Posted by Richard Snow on Dec 7, 2012 11:21:33 AM

Recently I read that each person has an average of 1.8 devices connected to the Internet, and this number is likely to grow as people continue to buy smartphones and tablets. In parallel, the number of apps available in the various app stores is growing exponentially, with the iPhone store alone having more than 700,000 active apps. The big question for me is how much of this is about business and how much is purely social. Recently Genesys, Interactive Intelligence, Jacada, mplsystems and NICE Systems made announcements showing they are banking on a greater portion being about business, as they all released tools that allow organizations to build what they call mobile customer service apps.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience Management, NICE Systems, Social CRM, for example Genesys, Interactive Intelligence Jacada, Mobile apps, mplsystems, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, CRM

Using the Close as a Finance Department Diagnostic

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 7, 2012 11:12:57 AM

Earlier this year we published our Trends in Developing the Fast, Clean Close benchmark research findings. The most significant was that, on average, it takes longer for companies to close their books today than it did five years ago. In 2007, nearly half (47%) we closing their quarters within five or six days, but now only 38 percent can do it as quickly.

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Topics: close, closing, Consolidation, Controller, effectiveness, process management, report, XBRL, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Accounting, CFO, Data, Document Management, Financial Performance Management, FPM

Altitude Software Supports Contact Center in the Cloud

Posted by Richard Snow on Dec 6, 2012 10:55:41 AM

Recently I completed a benchmark research project into the adoption of a contact center in the cloud, which I defined as the combination of contact center-related communications, applications and analytics in the cloud. Furthermore I defined communications in the cloud as the systems to manage interactions, inbound and outbound, through different communication channels: telephony, email, post, web-based chat, mobile chat, web-based messages, video, mobile apps and social media. The research shows that organizations are increasingly adopting cloud-based systems to support customer expectations to interact through the channels of their choice. At the recent Ventana Research Innovation Summit I outlined why I think the only practical and affordable way for organizations to meet these objectives is to adopt integrated, cloud-based communication systems and services from one of the increasing number of vendors coming to market with such solutions.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience Management, Social CRM, Mobile apps, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Agent Performance Management, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Altitude Software

GoodData Rides BI in the Cloud for Business Value

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 5, 2012 11:10:28 AM

GoodData has been around since 2007, but it has seen especially explosive growth in the last year due to the fast adoption of cloud Business Intelligence. In a recent meeting, Roman Stanek, the company’s CEO, told me GoodData has more than 6,000 customers, and that many of these are household names. Given that he publicly stated a customer base of around 2,500 last year, it appears that the company’s growth is on an exponential curve. This momentum is attracting significant investment in the company, with funding of $25 million of capital for a Series C round in July of this year. The cumulative total is now more than $55 million invested in the business.

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

The Big Deal in Big Data is a Big Opportunity

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 5, 2012 10:42:20 AM

Big data was big news in 2012 and probably in 2013 too. The Harvard Business Review talks about it as The Management Revolution. The Wall Street Journal says Meet the New Boss: Big Data, and Big Data is on the Rise, Bringing Big Questions. Given big data’s popularity in the press, you might think that the technology market is only about big data and how companies use the vast and growing amount of data now available to organizations. While this technology can provide a significant opportunity, the reality is that just having big data does not provide an organization with the intelligence to be more efficient or grow market share. It can provide the foundation on which organizations can assemble technologies and applications that can help realize these opportunities, but organizations need to focus on the big picture, which encompasses additional layers of technology that work together with big data. Our recent benchmark research on business technology innovation found that big data is not the top priority for business or IT; analytics, collaboration, mobile and cloud computing are all more important. Organizations do believe that big data is very important (25%), but if they were pushed to prioritize technologies, it would not top the list.

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Topics: Big Data, Data Warehouse, Predictive Analytics, Social Media, Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, CIO, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Hadoop, Information Management, Technology Innovation

The Reality of Social Customer Service

Posted by Richard Snow on Dec 4, 2012 11:39:44 AM

Much is written these days about how consumers have changed their buying and communication habits, and how more are turning to social media to search for product and service information, complain, exchange news and opinions, and, well, to be social. This has led to predictions such as the demise of the contact center, marketing becoming the prime leader of customer experience, and social media becoming the dominant channel for customer service.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience Management, Social CRM, Voice of the Customer, Mobile apps, Operational Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, 360-degree view of the Customer, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM

Product Information Management is for Business

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 4, 2012 11:23:39 AM

To maximize the potential of their investments, businesses must manage product information, yet for many businesses product information is scattered and duplicated in many systems, which leads to duplication of effort, incorrect information about product descriptions and prices and improper tracking of products, all of which increase costs and waste time. At the same time, for marketing products and streamlining their distribution through sales channels, making product information accessible to consumers through smartphones and tablets is essential.

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Topics: Master Data Management, Sales, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Operational Performance, Business Performance, CIO, Customer & Contact Center, Information Management, Commerce, Product Information Management