Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

Anaplan Innovates Business Modeling and Planning

Posted by Mark Smith on May 29, 2013 11:05:03 AM

Anaplan’s software is designed to help organizations across finance, sales and operations improve accuracy, timeliness and collaboration in their business analytics and planning. I recently attended the company’s first user conference, Hub 2013, in San Francisco, which featured customer success stories and latest on product information. Anaplan has built its business on the subtleties of modeling and planning that are shared between sales, operations and finance departments, and it enables them to apply analytics to projections in revenue, sales, forecasting, territory planning, commissions, quotas and profitability – areas that are intertwined through many business processes. Anaplan’s team has more than decades of experience in the analytics and planning software markets that has led to its devised cloud-based, in-memory computing software.

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Topics: Big Data, Planning, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, FP&A, Modeling, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, CFO, finance, Sales Planning

Xactly Makes Objectives the Incentive for Improvement

Posted by Mark Smith on May 25, 2013 11:41:03 PM

Sales organizations and individuals strive to reach their quotas and get paid the maximum commissions for their performance. In support of these goals, software vendor Xactly offers a suite of applications for sales performance management that operates in the cloud computing environment. An example of its success is receiving our recent 2013 Leadership Award in sales excellence for work by its customer Zuora. This achievement builds on its 2012 Leadership Award with customer GlobalEnglish. My last analysis of Xactly discussed its applications running on mobile technology including the Apple iPad, which answers the needs of sales people who prefer to use mobile technology. Xactly signed its 500th customer in late 2012, a milestone demonstrating its adoption by companies looking to improve sales.

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Compensation, Sales Performance Management

IBM Watson Engagement Advisor for Smarter Customer Service

Posted by Richard Snow on May 25, 2013 10:56:40 PM

Recently my colleague Mark Smith wrote about the IBM Watson platform. Mark is our expert on technically complex subjects like IBM Watson and‎ cognitive computing and the value it can provide to organizations and wrote an educational white paper on the topic. In fact IBM Watson was awarded the 2012 Ventana Research Technology Innovation Award. I focus on the customer and the customer experience, but I became engaged with the launch of the IBM Watson Engagement Advisor, which uncannily brings the two together.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, IBM, Call Center, Cognitive Computing, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, IBM Watson, Text Analytics

Workday 19 Expands Mobility and Strengthens HCM Platform

Posted by stephanmillard on May 24, 2013 11:42:41 AM

In April Workday released version 19 of its suite of applications for human capital management (HCM), financial management and other areas. Workday’s strategy is to differentiate itself in the ERP market, specifically in competing with Oracle and SAP, by being a pure-play cloud vendor. The strategy touts specific value propositions in the system’s cost effectiveness, flexibility, and ease of use and management through its cloud computing and HR to accounting software approach. Much of the job of executing on these promises is realized in the content of the quarterly releases, which is becoming a more common release model among both ERP vendors and cloud-only vendors such as Workday.

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Topics: Human Capital Management, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Workforce Performance, HR, Talent Management

Five Principles for Optimizing Business Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on May 23, 2013 3:05:19 AM

Organizations today must manage and understand a flood of information that continues to increase in volume and turn it into competitive advantage through better decision making. To do that organizations need new tools, but more importantly, the analytical process knowledge to use them well. Our benchmark research into big data and business analytics found that skills and training are substantial obstacles to using big data (for 79%) and analytics (77%) in organizations.

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Topics: data science, Predictive Analytics, R, SAP, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, IBM, Information Applications, Operational Intelligence, Oracle

SoCoCare Enables Social Customer Service

Posted by Richard Snow on May 23, 2013 2:44:45 AM

Much is being written about the impact of social media on customer service, although my research into the agent desktop shows it hasn’t reached the fever pitch that many commentators would have us believe. It is true that the number of consumers using social media and as a consequence the volume of posts are astronomical. But I wonder how many of these posts actually have to do with customer service and how organizations filter out the relevant ones to help them decide on customer service policies and the appropriate action to take.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Unified Communications, Social Media Analytics, SoCoCare

SAP HANA is Technology Platform of Choice for SAP

Posted by Mark Smith on May 21, 2013 10:05:29 AM

At this year’s annual SAP user conference, SAPPHIRE, the technology giant showed advances in its cloud and in-memory computing efforts. It has completed the migration of its conventional application suite and portfolio of tools to operate on SAP HANA, its in-memory computing platform, and made improvements in its cloud computing environment, SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud. The last time I analyzed SAP HANA was when it won our firm’s 2012 Overall IT Technology Innovation Award. Now HANA has been transitioned from just a database technology into a broad platform. SAP wisely consolidated its efforts previously known as SAP NetWeaver into SAP HANA. This resolves some confusion regarding HANA and NetWeaver in the cloud, which I assessed. The recently announced SAP HANA Platform now provides the enterprise class of HANA implementation in the cloud. It comes with a trial edition of the data and visual discovery technology now called SAP Lumira, whose price has been reduced to encourage adoption (and which I discuss more below). The use of in-memory databases for big data is accelerating: According to our technology innovation research, 22 percent of organizations are planning to use this technology over the next two years, and through 2015 it will have a higher growth rate than other approaches.

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Topics: Big Data, Predictive Analytics, SAP, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Teradata, Mobile Technology, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, CIO, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), HP, Information Applications, Information Management, Workforce Performance, CFO, CMO, SAP EPM, SAP HANA, SAP Lumira, SAPPHIRE, Tagetik

SumTotal’s elixHR Platform Can Ease HR’s Pain

Posted by stephanmillard on May 20, 2013 11:06:51 AM

One of the most important ongoing challenges in human capital management is to do master data management (MDM) of core human resources information more effectively. This challenge is often most complex for large organizations that have operations spread around the globe and HR management systems in each country or each operating division. To address this issue, SumTotal Systems recently announced the release of elixHR Platform at its TotalConnection user conference. This is the latest evolution of SumTotal’s core HR management system and is targeting this challenge of MDM for HR data. ElixHR system is one of SumTotal’s larger offering of human capital management products; others include talent management, workforce management and payroll management as well. SumTotal also has mobile and social products for HCM, which my colleague Mark Smith assessed on their release last October.

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Topics: Master Data Management, Social Media, HCM, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Information Management, Workforce Performance, Workforce Analytics, HR Management(HRMS), SumTotal

Interactive Intelligence Reveals Ambitious Plans for Customer Service

Posted by Richard Snow on May 20, 2013 10:08:58 AM

At its recent user conference, Interactions 2013, Interactive Intelligence (Nasdqaq: ININ) showcased its extensive product portfolio and its ambitious plans to improve the products both technically and functionally. I have written more than once about the complexities of building a contact center, which is getting even more complex as companies begin to support more channels of interaction as inbound ones are distributed around the organization including sales (59%), marketing (46%) and CRM team (41%) and distribute to many different contact center sites according to our customer relationship maturity research. To keep up with developments, I divide contact center systems and applications into five groups:

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Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Interactive Intelligence, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Force Optimization

Microsoft: Big Data Analytics and Mobile Challenges

Posted by Ventana Research on May 12, 2013 10:06:59 PM

Microsoft has been steadily pouring money into big data and business intelligence. The company of course owns the most widely used analytical tool in the world, Microsoft Excel, which our benchmark research into Spreadsheets in the Enterprise shows is not going away soon. User resistance (cited by 56% of participants) and lack of a business case (50%) are the most common reasons that spreadsheets are not being replaced in the enterprise.  The challenge is ensuring the spreadsheets are not just personally used but connected and secured into the enterprise for a range of consistency and potential errors that all add up to more work and maintenance as my colleague has pointed out recently.

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Topics: Big Data, Microsoft, Tableau, IT Performance, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Powerpoint, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, CIO, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Hortonworks, Information Applications, Location Intelligence, Microsoft Excel, azure, HDinsights

IBM Making Customer Analytics Smarter

Posted by Richard Snow on May 10, 2013 11:33:15 AM

When it comes to today’s customers, companies have to be smart if they are going to anticipate and meet new customer expectations. These days IBM talks about doing most things in “smart” ways. Recently I was briefed on IBM’s Smart Customer Analytics, but it took me quite a while to find information about it on the company’s not-so-smart website. Surprisingly since business analytics is so important to IBM current and ongoing investments and is the top ranked technology innovation priority in 39 percent of organizations according to our benchmark research.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, IBM, Information Applications, Information Management, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Social Collaboration Is in Finance’s Future

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 10, 2013 11:00:37 AM

Finance departments don’t immediately come to mind in conversations about social collaboration technology. Most of the software used for social collaboration that I’ve seen demonstrated focuses on the sales process or for broader employee engagement. The Facebook-style interface may cause finance department managers and executives to roll their eyes, especially if they’re over 40 years old. Yet business and social collaboration is an important set of capabilities that has been taking hold in business. Our benchmark research shows it ranking second behind analytics as a technology innovation priority. It will gain adoption over the next several years as software transitions from the rigid constructs established in the client/server days, which force users to adapt to the limitations of the software, to fluid and dynamic designs that mold themselves around the needs of the user. Perhaps because most of the attention so far on the benefits of collaboration has focused on front-office roles, there’s less awareness of the potential in back-office and administrative functions. Indeed, the same research reveals that those in front-office roles five times more often than those in accounting and finance roles (21% vs. a mere 4%) said that business and social collaboration are very important to their organization. However, I assert it’s just a matter of time before the finance group understands that social collaboration has substantial potential to improve its performance.

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Topics: Customer Experience, ERP, communications, Operational Performance, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, CRM, Social, FPM

Teradata Brings In-Memory Computing and Data Discovery to Big Data

Posted by Mark Smith on May 8, 2013 11:20:05 PM

Teradata recently gave me a technology update and a peek into the future of its portfolio for big data, information management and business analytics at its annual technology influencer summit. The company continues to innovate and build upon its Teradata 14 releases and its new processing technology. Since my last analysis of Teradata’s big data strategy, it has embraced technologies like Hadoop with its Teradata Aster Appliance, which won our 2012 Technology Innovation Award in Big Data. Teradata is steadily extending beyond providing just big data technology to offer a range of analytic options and appliances through advances in Teradata Aster and its overall data and analytic architectures. One example is its data warehouse appliance business, which according to our benchmark research is one of the key technological approaches to big data; as well Teradata has advanced support with its own technology offering for in-memory databases, specialized databases and Hadoop in one integrated architecture. It is taking an enterprise management approach to these technologies through Teradata Viewpoint, which helps monitor and manage systems and support a more distributed computing architecture.

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Topics: Big Data, MicroStrategy, SAS, Tableau, Teradata, Customer Excellence, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, CIO, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, In-Memory Computing, Information Applications, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, CMO, Discovery, Intelligent Memory, Teradata Aster, Strata+Hadoop

Software Aims To Prevent Foreign Corrupt Practices

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 8, 2013 10:51:16 PM

In some parts of the world, bribing government officials is still considered a normal cost of doing business. Elsewhere there has been a growing trend over the past 40 years to make it illegal for a corporation to pay bribes. In the United States, Congress passed the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in 1977 in the wake of a succession of revelations of companies paying off government officials to secure arms deals or favorable tax treatment. More recently other governments have implemented anticorruption statutes. The U.K., for instance, enacted the strict Bribery Act in 2010 to replace increasingly ineffective statutes dating back to 1879. The purpose of these actions is to enable ethical and law-abiding companies to compete on a level playing field with those that are neither. A cynic might wonder about the real, functional difference between, say, Wal-Mart’s recent payments to officials in Mexico to accelerate approval of building permits and the practice in New York City of having to engage expediters to ensure timely sign-offs on construction approval documents. No matter – the latter is legal (it’s a domestic issue, after all) while the former is not.

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Topics: SAP, ERP, Governance, GRC, bribery, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), IBM, Operational Intelligence, Oracle, CFO, compliance, FPM, Oversight Systems

Nomis Advances Price Optimization in Financial Services

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 7, 2013 10:14:38 AM

At this year’s Global Pricing Forum, host Nomis Solutions announced the availability of its Discretion Manager software, which supports dynamic price negotiations. The annual event brings together thought leaders and practitioners interested in pricing. Nomis currently has 17 of the largest 100 banks as customers. With more customers, this year’s event had larger attendance than last year’s.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Sales Performance, Office of Finance, credit, financial analytics, Nomis Solutions, PRO, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, banking, financial services

Four Types of Discovery Technology For Using Big Data Intelligently

Posted by Mark Smith on May 7, 2013 9:41:19 AM

Information technology for business is changing rapidly as organizations demand innovation to help them discover insights and facts. Our research into business technology innovation found analytics to be the top priority in 39 percent of organizations. Businesses feel pressure to be better, faster and smarter in operating processes, and understanding their various types of information is a key to success. Businesses are looking to capture value from all types of information both within the enterprise and on the Internet. In this context technology providers are now using the term “discovery” to capture potential buyers’ attention; it became an area for technology spending in 2012 and likely will be for years to come. In fact my colleague Tony Cosentino has identified discovery as one of the four pillars of big data analytics.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Event discovery, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, CIO, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Information Applications, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Visualization, Workforce Performance, Data, Data Discovery, Information Discovery

Ceridian Launches HCM Portfolio for Managing Workforces Effectively

Posted by stephanmillard on May 6, 2013 10:30:57 AM

I attended the 2013 Ceridian’s analyst day in Chicago to hear about and evaluate the progress the company has made over the last year and see the latest updates to its products since our firm last commented on them. Last September my colleague Mark Smith assessed Ceridian’s workforce management product Dayforce. As well we selected Ceridian’s customer Guitar Center for the 2013 Ventana Research Leadership Award for Overall Business Leadership.

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Topics: Social Media, HCM, Office of Finance, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Ceridian, HR, HRMS, Talent Management, Workforce Management

Teradata Addresses the Foundation of Big Data Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on May 5, 2013 1:07:56 AM

Our benchmark research found in business technology innovation that analytics is the most important new technology for improving their organization’s performance; they ranked big data only fifth out of six choices. This and other findings indicate that the best way for big data to contribute value to today’s organizations is to be paired with analytics. Recently, I wrote about what I call the four pillars of big data analytics on which the technology must be built. These areas are the foundation of big data and information optimization, predictive analytics, right-time analytics and the discovery and visualization of analytics. These components gave me a framework for looking at Teradata’s approach to big data analytics during the company’s analyst conference last week in La Jolla, Calif.

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Topics: Big Data, MicroStrategy, Tableau, Teradata, alteryx, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), IBM, Information Applications, Information Management, Operational Intelligence, Oracle

Oracle Aims To Simplify IT and Innovate Your Business

Posted by Mark Smith on May 2, 2013 10:21:23 AM

I was recently at Oracle Analyst World which is the vendor’s annual gathering of technology industry analysts. Its executives and others in the products organization deliver the latest news on where the titan is focusing efforts to expand its technology and markets. This year, against the background of the consumer and business markets embracing mobile and cloud computing, Oracle is working to sound like a more friendly supplier that can help remove legacy issues and inefficiencies that plague CIOs and data centers. Oracle also used this forum to attract IT departments to the technology advances it has made across its deep and broad portfolio of products. Oracle has more than 3,900 software products and more than 3,000 software patents that indicate its significant investment in R&D. Now the company is beginning to release improved products more frequently, which most customers now expect from technology vendors.

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

NICE Systems Leading Change at Interactions 2013

Posted by Richard Snow on May 1, 2013 11:33:58 AM

I recently attended NICE Systems’ annual user conference, this year called Interactions 2013. In discussions of its different products and latest releases and testimonials from selected clients, I was surprised by how the messages were packaged. NICE has a long history of acquiring companies, and it has let many of them continue to operate as autonomous lines of business. Often there was minimal integration with other NICE products, a variety of user interfaces, no common software administration tools. In my opinion this policy prevented it from taking advantage of having a suite of products focused on handling customer interactions. At the conference, Zeevi Bregman, CEO and President, positioned NICE as supporting three lines of business: interaction management, fraud and compliance, and security. He explained at length how the three are inextricably linked, tying fraud and compliance and security to interaction management and customer service. Fraud and compliance is linked to customer service because market segments such as banking have to ensure that the customer service they provide conforms to legislative requirements, and security is an increasing part of knowing customers and ensuring the safety of their information. Other executives also stressed these themes.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, NICE Systems, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Force Optimization

Oracle Brings Enhancements to Business Intelligence

Posted by Ventana Research on May 1, 2013 8:58:59 AM

Responding to the trend that businesses now ask less sophisticated users to perform analysis and rely on software to help them, Oracle recently announced a new release  of its flagship Oracle BI Foundational Suite (OBIFS 11.1.1.7) as well as updates to Endeca, the discovery platform that Oracle bought in 2011. Endeca is part of a new class of tools that bring new capabilities in information discovery, self-service access and interactivity. Such approaches represent an important part of the evolution of business intelligence to business analytics as I have noted in my agenda for 2013.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, endeca, IT Performance, OBIEE, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Exalytics, Financial Performance, Information Applications, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Oracle, Workforce Performance