FinancialForce.com, a provider of cloud-based financial applications, recently announced two pending acquisitions. One is Vana Workforce, which makes a human capital management (HCM) application aimed at small to midsize companies. The other is LessSoftware, a supplier of Web-based supply chain management (SCM) applications. The acquisitions are part of FinancialForce’s strategy to build a broad suite of applications that run on salesforce.com’s Force.com platform. The three companies already have joint customers, so they build on established use cases and relationships. FinancialForce.com itself is jointly owned by salesforce.com and Netherlands-based Unit 4.
Topics: Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Operational Performance, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Workforce Performance
Host Analytics has introduced AirliftXL, a new feature of its cloud-based financial performance management (FPM) suite that enables its software to translate users’ spreadsheets into the Host Analytics format. I find it significant in three respects. First, it can substantially reduce the time and resources it takes for a company to go live in adopting the Host Analytics suite, lowering the cost of implementation and accelerating time to value. Second, it enables Host Analytics users who have the appropriate permissions to create and modify models and templates that they use in planning, budgeting, consolidation and reporting. This can enhance the value of the system by making it easier to maintain. Third, it can make it far easier to routinely collect and connect planning and analytical models used by all departments and business users as it has outlined in its planning cloud offering. Although it has limitations in its initial release, AirliftXL gives corporations a workable alternative to stand-alone spreadsheets and has the potential to substantially increase productivity and effectiveness of an organization in the full range of budgeting, planning, consolidation and reporting functions.
Topics: Business Analytics, Business Performance, CFO, closing, Cloud Computing, Consolidation, Controller, Financial Performance, Financial Performance Management, FPM, Host Analytics, Modeling, Operational Performance, Reporting, Workforce Performance, Office of Finance, Analytics
At its Teradata Partners conference in Dallas, a broader vision for big data and analytics was articulated clearly. Their pitch centered on three areas – data warehousing, big data analytics and integrated marketing – that to some degree reflect Teradata’s core market and acquisitions in the last few years of companies like Aprimo who provides integrated marketing technology and Aster in big data analytics. The keynote showcased the company’s leadership position in the increasingly complex world of open source database software, cloud computing and business analytics.
I recently wrote how the recent U.K.-based Call Centre Expo showed that companies have shifted priorities for deployment systems from on-premises infrastructures to cloud-based systems and that as a consequence vendors had shifted focus from workforce optimization to cloud-based multichannel interaction management. Confirming this trend, as salesforce.com Dreamforce event at least 10 such vendors will be showing their products. A few of them I saw at Call Centre Expo: Genesys, Interactive Intelligence, LiveOps, NewVoiceMedia and Vocalcom. But as an illustration of how rapidly this market has grown, Dreamforce also will host 8x8, Corvisa Cloud, Five9, inContact and ShoreTel. Between the two events there are 18 vendors offering such products, and many others will not promote and demonstrate products at the event.
Topics: Analytics, Big Data, Business Collaboration, Call Center, Cloud Computing, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Analytics, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Social Media, Speech Analytics, Text Analytics, Customer Experience
Today companies handle an increasing number of customer interactions and they do this through a greater number and variety of communication channels, and by using more employees that are dispersed throughout the organization. Managing the pool of agents in a contact center has always proved a complex task and this is made more complex as interactions are now handled by most lines of business (marketing, sales, customer service, finance, HR, home workers and mobile workers). To do this many companies have deployed what collectively is called workforce optimization (WFO) systems: interaction recording, quality monitoring, workforce management, training and coaching, compensation management and reporting/analytics. My benchmark research into Next Generation WFO set out to discover what people, process, information and systems companies are using, the benefits they have gained, future plans to change and what barriers are holding back those changes.
Topics: Analytics, Big Data, Business Collaboration, Call Center, Cloud Computing, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Analytics, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Feedback Management, Customer Service, Operational Performance, Self-service, Speech Analytics, Text Analytics, Customer Experience
All the hubbub around big data and analytics has many senior finance executives wondering what the big deal is and what they should do about it. It can be especially confusing because much of what’s covered and discussed on this topic is geared toward technologists and others working outside of Finance, in areas such as sales, marketing and risk management. But finance executives need to position their organization to harness this technology to support the strategic goals of their company. To do so, they must have clarity as to what big data can do, what they want it to do, and what skills and tools they need to meet their objectives.
Topics: Analytics, audit, Big Data, Business Analytics, Business Performance, CFO, Cloud Computing, compliance, Controller, finance, Financial Performance, Financial Performance Management, financial risk management, Fraud, Governance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), GRC, Information Management, Operational Intelligence, Performance Management, Predictive Analytics, Risk, Office of Finance, Customer Experience
One of the potential benefits of cloud computing to access business applications and data is its potential to improve the situational awareness of executives and managers. By this I mean their understanding of what’s going on outside their company in addition to what’s happening within it. Today people have access to a trove of information about their own company, which is the result of decades of investment in an expanding range of enterprise transaction systems (ERP, CRM and supply chain management, for example) and convenient data stores that make accessing data easier than ever. But although people have access to internal information, most have big gaps in their knowledge about what’s going on in the outside world. Take, for example, market trends, information about a competitor’s, supplier’s or customer’s financials or industry-specific demand forecasts. Our benchmark research shows that while two-thirds of companies are satisfied with their ability to integrate information from standard internal sources, only 39 percent feel that way about reference or competitive data from external sources and 36 percent about text data from social media.
Topics: Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Data, Data Integration, Data Management, finance, Financial Performance, FPM, Information Management, Operational Performance, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Workforce Performance
2013 was a big year for the annual HR Technology conference, as its well-known co-founder and leader for the past 16 years, Bill Kutik, stepped down, passing leadership of the event to Steve Boese, another familiar name in the community. Beyond the change in leadership, at this year’s show were a large number of vendors that have invested in new technology to advance human capital management (HCM). Overall I noted several interesting trends, some that were similar to those I written about earlier in the year and others that reflect the evolution of innovations seen at last year’s show, specifically expanding the use of mobile access within applications and further extending business collaboration into HCM platforms. In addition, there were other advances driven by market factors such as growth in new recruiting technologies.
Topics: Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Cornerstone OnDemand, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, HR technology, Hunite, Infor, Jibe, Location Intelligence, Mobile, Operational Performance, Oracle, Peoplefluent, Recruiting, Sales Performance, SAP, Social Collaboration, Social Media, SuccessFactors, SumTotal, Supply Chain Performance, Talemetry, Ultimate Software, Workday, Workforce Performance, Zao, TribeHR
PROS Holdings, a provider of price and revenue optimization software, has an agreement in principle to acquire Cameleon Software, which offers configure, price and quote (CPQ) applications. The combined company is likely to benefit from a broader geographic presence (PROS is based in Houston while Cameleon is in Toulouse, France) for their sales and marketing efforts. However, the longer-term strategic value of the merger lies in the combination of the related categories of price optimization and CPQ to improve sales effectiveness and financial performance.
Topics: Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, CEO, CFO, CPQ, Financial Performance, FP&A, FPM, Operational Performance, Price Optimization, PRO, Profitability, PROS, Sales, Sales Performance
While covering providers of business analytics software, it is also interesting for me to look at some that focus on the people, process and implementation aspects in big data and analytics. One such company is Nuevora, which uses a flexible platform to provide customized analytic solutions. I recently met the company’s founder, Phani Nagarjuna, when we appeared on a panel at the Predictive Analytics World conference in San Diego.
Infor is a vendor I haven’t covered much in the past, but after attending the recent Infor on the Road day in the U.K. that is about to change. I viewed Infor as basically a CRM vendor, and I don’t believe such systems have much impact on customer engagement and the customer experience. Indeed if you view Infor website’s product page, it features several product categories focused on internal processes: CRM, Asset Management, Financial Management, Resource Planning, Human Capital Management and Product Management. (By the way, my colleague Robert Kugel wrote about some of these after his visit to Inforum.) If like me you are not technically minded, you might skip the technology section, which is where Infor showcases innovation in business applications.
Topics: Analytics, Big Data, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Call Center, Cloud Computing, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer Analytics, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Financial Performance, Operational Performance, Sales Performance, Social Media, Speech Analytics, Supply Chain Performance, Text Analytics, Workforce Performance, Customer Experience
In our benchmark research on business technology innovation, organizations ranked analytics the number-one priority (for 39%) among six technology trends. Big data, perhaps because it is a more technical concept, ranked fifth, with 11 percent of organizations calling it a top innovation priority. But in this time of global business, nonstop communications and fierce competition, more organizations are finding that big data and analytics together can help them cope with constant change. They can help organizations face imperatives such as increasing time-to-value and becoming more agile and adaptive.
Topics: Analytics, Big Data, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Human Capital, Information Applications, IT Research, Predictive Analytics, Talent Management
When I last reviewed contact center vendor Zeacom it was in the process of being acquired by Enghouse Interactive, with its primary goal being a more global presence. At the time Zeacom’s main selling points were support for multiple channels of communication and integration with Lync, Microsoft’s unified communications software. Now the acquisition is complete (although Zeacom still seems to operate on a fairly autonomous basis), and I learned during a recent briefing that the latest release of its Zeacom Communication Center 7.0 product takes advantage of closer integration with Enghouse Interactive products and includes some important new capabilities.
Informatica and Exterro have announced a partnership in the market for discovery of electronic data and documents (known as e-discovery). Exterro has made its reputation in e-discovery workflow and legal holds management while Informatica is a leader in data integration that our Value Index finds as the top and Hot rated provider. The partnership is designed to provide users of Exterro’s Fusion E-Discovery software with a single point of control for organizing and managing legal and preservation holds (that is, preventing electronic data from alteration or deletion) of unstructured and structured data that are held in Informatica’s Data Archive. Informatica specializes in the efficient management of information assets, which our benchmark research shows is not easy for most organizations to do because they have data spread across multiple applications and systems: Two-thirds of organizations said that this makes it difficult to manage information. By consolidating in a single repository the storage of information that is likely to be the subject of discovery, companies can simplify and cut the cost of the search process as well as reduce risk. Orchestrating legal and preservation holds can be complex since multiple people or groups within a company may be legally involved with the same data over an extended period of time. Moreover, it’s important to ensure that once the holds are no longer needed, all data that can be eliminated is eliminated.
Topics: Business Performance, compliance, Data, Data Governance, Data Management, eDiscovery, Exterro, Financial Performance, Informatica, Information, Information Applications, Information Management, Operational Performance, Risk, Sales Performance, Workforce Performance, Office of Finance
Tidemark announced the release of the Fall 2013 version of its eponymous cloud-based application that my colleague assessed earlier in 2013. This new release adds capabilities for labor planning and expense management as well profitability modeling and analysis. These two areas of planning and analysis are common to all businesses. The new release adds features that enhance the software’s ability to do sales forecasting, initiative planning and IT department planning. The company continues to refine its modeling capabilities to make it easier for people engaged in the planning process to translate their expectations and concerns into a quantified view of the future. For example, users now can build models using natural-language modeling. The objective is to eliminate the need for help from business analysts or experts trained in the use of a tool and immersed the details of the IT plumbing, such as the metadata used for specific general ledger accounts or operational data.
Topics: Business Performance, CFO, Cloud Computing, Controller, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, FPM, In-memory, Integrated Business Planning, Operational Performance, Performance Management, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Reporting, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Tidemark, Workforce Performance, Analytics, Office of Finance, Big Data