Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

The Challenge of Making ERP Systems More Configurable

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 31, 2014 9:42:14 AM

In the wake of the past year’s usual crop of failed ERP implementations, I’ve read a couple of blogs that bemoan the fact that ERP systems are not nearly as user-friendly or intuitive as the mobile apps that everyone loves. I’ve complained about this aspect of ERP, and our research confirms that ERP systems are viewed as cumbersome: Just one in five companies (21%) said it is easy to make changes to ERP systems while one-third (33%) said making changes is difficult or very difficult. Yet as with many such technology topics, addressing the difficulty in working with ERP systems is not as straightforward as one might hope. ERP software vendors must make it easier, less expensive and less risky for customers to adapt the systems they buy to their changing business needs. To do this, vendors must design products to be more configurable. The goal should be that organizations can make changes and add new capabilities to their ERP system in far less time than it takes today and without having to engage outside consultants.

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Topics: Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, business process, CFO, Cloud Computing, ERP, Financial Performance, FPM, Infor, Intacct, Mobile, Oracle, SAP, Social, Workday

The Future of Customer Engagement Is Complicated

Posted by Richard Snow on Jan 31, 2014 9:00:21 AM

In my benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement three-quarters (77%) of participating companies said it is necessary to improve the way they engage with customers. The main drivers for doing that are to improve the customer experience (74%) and improve customer service (70%). However, neither is an easy task because companies now have to support more channels of communication, and more customer interactions are handled by multiple business units within the organization. The combined impact of this complexity can be inconsistent responses that depend largely on which channel the customer uses and which person handles the interaction. This is situation is likely to get worse as customers continue to use existing channels but increasingly add new means of engagement such as mobile apps, voice-activated applications and social media posts.

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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

The Challenge for Sales in 2014: Stepping Beyond Conventional Wisdom

Posted by Mark Smith on Jan 31, 2014 8:45:34 AM

It should be no surprise for those who work in sales that increasing outcomes collectively is not always easy. Sales teams and individuals work under pressure to perform at high levels, selling more than they did in the previous period or more than the person who previously had responsibility for a territory. Today’s economic and competitive environments demand that everyone work not just faster but smarter in their sales efforts. To excel in this environment requires not just wise use of time but prioritization of the activities and tasks that contribute to achieving the quota and forecast. In the past, sales organizations often resisted adopting new technology, but it’s time for them to realize that tools are available to facilitate better sales performance. As I outlined in the overview of our business and technology research agenda for this year, the sales department has a ripe opportunity to get smarter in how it operates. This is the essential point of our research practice in sales applications and technology: Our methodical benchmark research examines applications and technology best practices and benefits for sales organizations, and we assess the vendors and products in this market through our Value Index ratings. We will start 2014 with the latest release of our Value Index on Sales Performance Management, which will help sales management evaluate products to assist in improving performance of the organization.

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Topics: Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Compensation, Customer & Contact Center, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Operational Performance, Sales, Sales Performance, Sales Performance Management, SFA, Social Media, Big Data

Envision Takes Workforce Optimization to the Cloud

Posted by Richard Snow on Jan 28, 2014 11:40:17 PM

Envision has carved out a slice of the workforce optimization market by offering its suite of products as cloud-based services. In addition to core products such as interaction recording, quality assurance, workforce management, training, coaching and agent analytics, it offers speech and desktop analytics and customer feedback management through surveys and our part of my research agenda. Our last Value Index shows that this is a highly competitive market, and my benchmark research on next-generation workforce optimization reveals that various segments of the market such as call recording and quality management have high levels of penetration. I was therefore keen to understand where Envision’s latest release, Click2Coach Cloud, fits in this market.

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Topics: Call Center, Cloud Computing, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Feedback Management, Customer Service, Desktop Analytics, Operational Performance, Speech Analytics, Text Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Workforce Force Optimization, Customer Experience, Analytics

Paxata Give Analysts Valuable Time Back for Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 28, 2014 11:18:01 PM

Paxata, a new data and analytics software provider says it wants to address one of the most pressing challenges facing today’s analyst performing analytics: simplifying data preparation. This trend toward simplification is well aligned with the market’s desire for improving usability, which our benchmark research into Next-Generation Business Intelligence shows is a primary buying consideration in two-thirds (64%) of companies. This trend is driving significant adoption of business-friendly-front-end visual and data discovery tools and is part of my research agenda for 2014.

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Topics: Analytics, Big Data, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Data Discovery, Data Preparation, Information Applications, Information Management, IT Performance, Paxata

Uptivity Launches Gamification Capabilities for Workforces

Posted by Richard Snow on Jan 27, 2014 9:26:51 AM

I am not comfortable with the term “gamification” used in the context of business applications. It sounds as if employees are officially allowed to play games while working and thus take their attention away from the task at hand, which in a contact center is serving customers. So I was skeptical when Uptivity recently wanted to brief me about gamification capabilities it recently announced for its suite of workforce optimization products. I was doubtful that gamification will help companies in their quest to optimize performance from their contact center agents.

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

Big Data Offers Business Opportunity for Information Optimization in 2014

Posted by Mark Smith on Jan 27, 2014 9:09:29 AM

Businesses are always looking for ways to grow and to streamline their operations. These two goals can come into conflict because as organizations become larger it becomes more complicated to be agile and efficient. To help them understand and modify their processes, businesses can derive insights from analytics applied to their data. Today that data is available not only in the enterprise and cloud computing environments but also from the Internet. To collect, process and analyze it all is a challenge, one that an increasing number of organizations are meeting through the use of big data technologies. The resulting insights can help them make strategic business decisions such as where to focus efforts and how to engage with customers. At Ventana Research we have been working hard to understand the advancing technology that supports big data and its value through information optimization and bring clarity to the industry through our research and analysis of trends and products. There are many opinions about big data and fixation on the attributes of it through the V’s (volume, variety and velocity) and how to use it, often biased toward one technology or vendor; our research and analysis of the entire market cuts through the noise to provide not just facts but insights on best practices and methods to apply this technology to business problems.

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

The Value Index of Workforce Management Software for 2014

Posted by stephanmillard on Jan 23, 2014 9:06:13 AM

Ventana Research recently released our Value Index on Workforce Management for 2014. We define workforce management as the set of processes by which organizations manage their hourly and salaried employees to maximize productivity. It involves not only tracking time worked and providing compensation for it but also aligning that work to the objectives of the organization and to the individual employee’s needs. Our Value Indexes are informed by more than a decade of analysis of how well technology suppliers and their products satisfy specific business and IT needs. For each we perform a detailed evaluation of product functionality and suitability to task in five categories as well as of the effectiveness of vendor support for the buying process and customer assurance. In this case the resulting index gauges the value offered by each vendor and its products in supporting workforce management, which is necessary for running an organization efficiently and effectively.

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Topics: Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Ceridian, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Empower, Infor, Kronos, Mobility, Operational Performance, Oracle, Sales Performance, SAP, Social Media, SumTotal Systems, Value Index, WFM, Workforce Management, Workforce Performance, Workplace, Human Capital Management

Business Analytics in 2014: Trends and Possibilities

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 23, 2014 8:41:23 AM

Our benchmark research shows that analytics is the top business technology innovation priority; 39% of organizations rank it first. This is no surprise as new information sources and new technologies in data processing, storage, networking, databases and analytic software are combining to offer capabilities for using information never before possible. For businesses, the analytic priority is heightened by intense competition on several fronts; they need to know as much as possible about pricing, strategies, customers and competitors. Within the organization, the IT department and the lines of business continue to debate issues around the analytic skills gap, information simplification, information governance and the rise of time-to-value metrics. Given this backdrop, I expect 2014 to be an exciting year for  studying analytic technologies and how they apply to business.

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Topics: Analytics, Big Data, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Data, Financial Performance, Information Applications, Information Management, IT Performance, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence

SuccessFactors Integrates More with SAP for Human Capital Management

Posted by stephanmillard on Jan 16, 2014 9:51:58 AM

Much has happened for SuccessFactors in the past year as it became more a part of SAP, which acquired it in 2012.  One of the most notable changes was the departure of its founder, Lars Delgaard, who set the culture of the company, and the selection of Shawn Price as president. The changes in leadership have come as SuccessFactors shifts away from its position in “business execution” software toward a HR and talent management suite, which aligns it more with what SAP has. (For background, see my colleague Mark Smith’s report shortly after the acquisition.) Since then, SuccessFactors and SAP have worked at strengthening several parts of their human capital management product by connecting it with its new payroll software and more recently its HANA in-memory processing platform. The products, however, remain separate. These advances should be well received by both existing customers and those considering either its new payroll system or SuccessFactors’ HR management and talent management systems.

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Topics: Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, HCM, HR Analytics, HR Management, Kronos, SAP, Social Collaboration, Social Media, SuccessFactors, Workforce Performance

Boardwalktech Addresses Spreadsheet Woes in Business

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 15, 2014 10:17:39 AM

Our benchmark research on enterprise spreadsheets explores the pitfalls that await companies that use desktop spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel in repetitive, collaborative enterprise-wide processes. Because people are so familiar with Excel and therefore are able to quickly transform their finance or business expertise into a workable spreadsheet for modeling, analysis and reporting, desktop spreadsheets became the default choice. Individuals and organizations resist giving up their spreadsheets, so software vendors have come up with adaptations that embrace and extend their use. I’ve long advocated finding user-friendly spreadsheet alternatives.

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Topics: Analytics, benchmark, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, enterprise spreadsheet, Financial Performance, Financial Performance Management, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), GRC, Information Applications, Information Management, Operational Performance, Reporting, Risk, Sales Performance, Workforce Performance, Office of Finance

Customer Engagement in 2014: Agenda for Delivering Best Customer Experience

Posted by Richard Snow on Jan 15, 2014 9:53:46 AM

In 2013 we continued to see change in the contact center, customer service and customer experience markets: Consumers’ communication habits continued to evolve, more business units outside the traditional contact center became involved in handling interactions, software vendors continued to come up with new technologies, and cloud computing, mobility, big data, collaboration, social media and analytics all had a big impact on the ways users access and consume software. Many of these trends surfaced in my benchmark research on next-generation workforce optimization and next-generation customer engagement. Overall my research shows that organizations are slowly maturing in terms of the people, processes, information and technology they use to support customer engagement and related customer-facing activities. However, it also shows that many of the old issues have not gone away and that companies still have work to do to meet customer expectations and achieve their business goals.

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

Opportunity for the Office of Finance in 2014

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 13, 2014 8:23:51 AM

Senior finance executives and finance organizations that want to improve their performance must recognize that technology is a key tool for doing high-quality work. To test this premise, imagine how smoothly your company would operate if all of its finance and administrative software and hardware were 25 years old. In almost all cases the company wouldn’t be able to compete at all or would be at a substantial disadvantage. Having the latest technology isn’t always necessary, but even though software doesn’t wear out in a physical sense, it has a useful life span, at the end of which it needs replacement. As an example, late in 2013 a major U.K. bank experienced two system-wide failures in rapid succession caused by its decades-old mainframe systems; these breakdowns followed a similarly costly failure in 2012. For years the cost and risk of replacing these legacy systems kept management from taking the plunge. What they didn’t consider were the cost and risk associated with keeping the existing systems going. Our new research agenda for the Office of Finance attempts to find a balance between the leading edge and the mainstream that will help businesses find practical solutions.

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Topics: Analytics, Big Data, Budgeting, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, CEO, CFO, CIO, close, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Financial Performance Management, FPM, Governance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), GRC, In-memory, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Risk, Tax, Office of Finance

IBM Bets a Billion to Mobilize Watson Business Unit and Monetize Cognitive Computing

Posted by Mark Smith on Jan 13, 2014 8:04:28 AM

With much fanfare and a rarely seen introduction by CEO Ginni Rometty, IBM launched IBM Watson as a new business unit focused on cognitive computing technology and solutions, now being led by Senior Vice President Mike Rhodin. The announcement is summarized here:. Until now IBM Watson was important but had neither this stature in IBM’s organizational structure nor enough investment to support what the company proclaims is the third phase of computing. As IBM tells it, computing paradigms began with the century-old tabular computing, followed by the age of programmatic computing, in which IBM developed many products and advancements. The third phase is cognitive computing, an area in which the company has invested significantly to advance its technology. IBM has been on this journey for some time, long before the IBM Watson system beat humans on Jeopardy!. Its machine-learning efforts started with the IBM 704 and computer checkers in the 1950s, followed by decades of utilizing the computing power of the IBM 360 mainframe, the IBM AS/400, the IBM RS/6000 and even IBM XT computers in the 1980s. Now IBM Watson is focused on reaching the full potential of cognitive computing.

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

Verint Doubles Down on Customer Engagement with Acquisition of KANA

Posted by Richard Snow on Jan 10, 2014 8:51:51 AM

Verint recently announced a definitive agreement to acquire KANA Software. Its goal, in the words of the press release, is to “transform the way organizations engage with their customers.” Customer engagement and customer experience management have become the topics of many conversations in my research area, so I wanted to understand the substance behind this move.

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

Research Agendas for 2014: Optimizing the Use of Technology for Business

Posted by Mark Smith on Jan 10, 2014 8:37:34 AM

Greetings, everyone, and best wishes for a great start to 2014. In this new year, utilizing best practices and skills learned in 2013 will be critical for optimizing the use of efforts to support both business and IT. In 2013 many organizations made progress in balancing technology decisions across business and IT as the lines of business continued to take leading roles in investment and prioritization. Major investments were made in business applications using software as a service, business analytics and mobile computing applications. In some other areas of innovation, particularly big data and social collaboration, deployments are just beginning to happen and a significant amount of projects are in experimental and proof of concept than enterprise use.

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