Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

Salesforce.com Continues Move to be Platform Provider

Posted by Richard Snow on Feb 27, 2014 9:50:53 AM

Salesforce.com began with a simple message: On-premises CRM has come to the end of its useful life, and the way forward is cloud-based CRM. I have written several times that the company has won this argument, and my research into contact center in the cloud confirms this: 63 percent of participating organizations said that adopting systems in the cloud is one of the key ways to improve customer engagement. Furthermore, this vendor’s success pressurized  many other companies to move into the cloud, and not just for CRM. Salesforce.com itself expanded from cloud-based CRM to create clouds for sales, marketing and service.. This transition continued in the middle of last year when it surprised the market by announcing it would add a development platform in the cloud to provide tools for creating mobile apps. To further these aims, it recently announced the first release of Salesforce1 Service Cloud, calling it the “Service Platform for the Internet of Customers.” I had several questions about what this really means going into a recent briefing.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience Management, Social CRM, Mobile apps, Self-service, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM

Building a Better Business Case for Buying Software

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 27, 2014 8:59:51 AM

When it comes to making a business case for software investments, many people fail to recognize that the case itself is just one part of what amounts to an internal sales and marketing effort that they must perform well to be successful. Focusing only on the numbers and assumptions in a spreadsheet is not enough. Making a successful business case requires an understanding of the audience’s perspective and motivations. Since the individuals who will review the business case may not be sufficiently aware of the issues that are behind it and their seriousness, it may be necessary to begin an awareness-building program before presenting the business case. And because the benefits of software investments can be difficult to quantify, executive sponsors are useful in achieving acceptance of these calculations. Unfortunately, many business cases founder because proponents do not realize the importance of taking a sales and marketing approach.

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Topics: Planning, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, ERP, Research, budgeting and planning, ROI, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, CFO, CRM, business plan, capital spending, Financial Performance Management, FPM, investment, SCM, Software

The Sales Forecast Requires Commitment not Status Quo

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 27, 2014 8:03:39 AM

In today’s highly competitive sales environment, where success depends on meeting the specific needs of buyers, an accurate and timely sales forecast is a critical tool for optimizing business outcomes. I discussed this as part of our 2014 research agenda for sales, noting that linking the forecast to commissions, quotas and territories is a requirement for success. We recently completed new benchmark research on sales forecasting to ascertain the state of the processes and technology sales organizations use. This research continues to find less than adequate efforts by organizations to improve their sales forecasting process and insufficient information about the full revenue potential from accounts and customers.

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Sales Forecasting, Sales Operations, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Information Applications, Information Management, SFA

Human Capital Analytics Delivers Benefits for Business

Posted by stephanmillard on Feb 26, 2014 10:26:28 AM

The market for human capital analytics is in flux, as companies begin to evaluate and adopt more capable tools and processes for this area of human capital management. A look at the tools organizations are using and plan to use for human capital analytics provides an example of this change. Our recently published benchmark research on human capital analytics shows that nearly nine in 10 (87%) organizations are still using spreadsheets for human capital analytics while fewer than two in five (37%) presently use a dedicated human capital analytics tool. However, it also shows the market’s greatest growth yet, as more than two in five (43%) organizations said they will implement dedicated tools in the future. And organizations are recognizing the imperative of making such an investment: Two-thirds of those in our research consider human capital analytics important or very important.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Predictive Analytics, Social Media, HCM, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Financial Performance, Information Management, Workforce Performance

FinancialForce Broadens Its Reach with ERP and More

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 26, 2014 8:13:32 AM

FinancialForce recently introduced FinancialForce ERP, a family of cloud-based software designed to support a variety of customer-centric businesses such as professional services organizations or companies that specialize in business and industrial distribution. Many of these types of businesses are midsize or small (having 50 to 1,000 employees) and can benefit from the integration of FinancialForce’s accounting, professional services automation, human capital management (HCM) and supply chain management (SCM) software. The company added the last two capabilities at the end of 2013 with the acquisitions of Vana Workforce and Less Software, respectively, which I commented  on. Like FinancialForce’s, their software runs on the Salesforce1 platform, which means that integration of these elements was straightforward. It also enables companies that use or are planning to use salesforce.com for sales and customer service to simplify integration of those with the operational and back-office software, by enabling single sign-on, end-to-end process management and a single data source for reporting and analysis. This integration can significantly reduce or even eliminate the need to re-enter information into systems or to use spreadsheets, documents and email to manage processes. With all of the data available in a single system, creating reports and automating their distribution becomes easier. All of this, in turn, should cut the amount of time and effort spent on administrative and clerical functions and enhance the productivity of the organization.

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Topics: SaaS, Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, Supply Chain Performance, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Consulting, distribution, PSA, Salesforce1, supply chain automation, Unit4, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Accounting, FinancialForce, HR, Professional Services Automation, SCM

Wearable Computing is in Fashion and Ready for Business

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 26, 2014 7:28:40 AM

In the near future, technology will be something we wear or attach comfortably to our bodies. Wearable computers have been evolving for some time, and while that might seem futuristic to the uninformed, in the technology industry it is rapidly becoming real. This trend is important for businesses to note, as our business technology innovation research shows that it is very important to more than half (56%) of organizations to find methods to use technology innovation to support both business processes and their people. Mobile technology is the third-most important innovative technology, after analytics and collaboration, and innovators will use all three together. Many organizations focus on acquiring and retaining the best possible workforce, which after all is their most valuable asset.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, HCM, Human Capital Management, Wearable Computing, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Information Applications, Information Management, Operational Intelligence, Workforce Performance, Talent Management

Oracle Modernizes HR with Mobile and Wearable Computing

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 22, 2014 6:43:00 AM

At Oracle’s first-ever HCM World conference, the technology company demonstrated its commitment to human resources customers, explaining its strategy for Modern HR in the Cloud, which is focused on meeting the needs of employees in a large, dispersed workforce. The conference was insightful both intellectually and practically in its discussions of how workforces are changing. Oracle also showed its commitment by having both President Mark Hurd and CEO Larry Ellison present keynotes. This was the first time both have addressed a conference other than the flagship Oracle OpenWorld. It is worth watching the replays of their talks, which reveal the company’s motivation and investment in human capital management (HCM). In developing its HCM products Oracle has in mind multigenerational workforces that require software that is adaptable to people, competencies and new technologies such as mobile devices and social collaboration and recognizes the imperative to access workforce information and analytics immediately. The rebranded Oracle HCM Cloud Service has gained significant momentum, as my colleague Stephan Millard pointed out in his recent analysis of Oracle’s HCM portfolio. Taking a global approach it supports users in 196 countries, 34 languages and multiple currencies and operates entirely in a cloud environment.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Human Capital Analytics, Human Capital Management, Recruiting, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Information Applications, Oracle, Workforce Performance, HR, Talent Management, Workforce Management

Five Priorities for the Office of Finance in 2014

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 20, 2014 1:35:32 AM

A core objective of my research practice and agenda is to help the Office of Finance improve its performance by better utilizing information technology. As we kick off 2014, I see five initiatives that CFOs and controllers should adopt to improve their execution of core finance functions and free up time to concentrate on increasing their department’s strategic value. Finance organizations – especially those that need to improve performance – usually find it difficult to find the resources to invest in increasing their strategic value. However, any of the first three initiatives mentioned below will enable them to operate more efficiently as well as improve performance. These initiatives have been central to my focus for the past decade. The final two are relatively new and reflect the evolution of technology to enable finance departments to deliver better results. Every finance organization should adopt at least one of these five as a priority this year.

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Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, forecasting, Budgeting, close, dashboard, PRO, Tax, tax data warehouse, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, CIO, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, In-memory, Accounting, CFO, pricing, Supply Chain, CEO, demand management, Financial Performance Management, FPM, price and profitability optimization, scorecard, S&OP

MicroStrategy Reveals New Generation of Analytics for Cloud and Mobile Computing

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 18, 2014 8:19:04 AM

At its recent MicroStrategy World 2014 conference, the enterprise software company introduced a portfolio of products to make it easier to perform analytics and make them easier to access through the cloud and mobile forms of computing. These announcements accelerate MicroStrategy’s transition to approaching corporate business users of analytics from its past focus on business intelligence, which typically is purchased by IT. This is a subtle but strategic shift that recognizes where growth opportunities lie and that analytics must be available on any device at any time. MicroStrategy made it clear that advances in the cloud, mobility and big data were integral to its product releases last year and is continuing in this direction in 2014 with the products in its MicroStrategy 9.4 suite.

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Topics: MicroStrategy, Mobile, Social Media, Customer Engagement, Smartphone, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Information Applications, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Tablet

Economic Recovery Spurs Growth in Recruiting Software

Posted by stephanmillard on Feb 18, 2014 5:07:02 AM

One strong sign of the economic recovery as manifested in the human capital management market is the recent spate of announcements of new recruiting applications from software companies that are not always considered for recruiting. Here are some of them. Ultimate Software announced the launch of UltiPro Recruiting. Saba Recently announced the release of Recruiting@Work. Workday announced the upcoming release of Workday Recruiting. And Ceridian announced release a recruiting application on its Dayforce platform scheduled for the first quarter of this year, which I covered. These recent investments by vendors in recruiting applications, as well as others I discussed after the most recent HR Technology Conference, demonstrate the increased emphasis on recruiting to support talent and workforce management processes in human capital management (HCM).

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Topics: Mobile, Social Media, HCM, Recruiting, Operational Performance, Ultimate, Business Collaboration, Collaboration, Workforce Performance, Ceridian, Saba, Workday

Mobile Business Intelligence – Who is Hot in 2014

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 17, 2014 10:27:39 AM

Ventana Research recently completed the most comprehensive evaluation of mobile business intelligence products and vendors available anywhere today. The evaluation includes 16 technology vendors’ offerings on smartphones and tablets and use across Apple, Google Android, Microsoft Surface and RIM BlackBerry that were assessed in seven key categories: usability, manageability, reliability, capability, adaptability, vendor validation and TCO and ROI. The result is our Value Index for Mobile Business Intelligence in 2014. The analysis shows that the top supplier is MicroStrategy, which qualifies as a Hot vendor and is followed by 10 other Hot vendors: IBM, SAP, QlikTech, Information Builders, Yellowfin, Tableau Software, Roambi, SAS, Oracle and arcplan.

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Topics: MicroStrategy, Mobile BI, Mobile Business Intelligence, Pentaho, Sales Performance, SAP, SAS, Tableau, Jaspersoft, mobile analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, IBM, Information Builders, Oracle, Workforce Performance, Yellowfin, Actuate, BIRST, Roambi, Value Index, arcplan, Logi Analytics, Qlik

The Business Technology Challenge of 2014: Information Optimization

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 11, 2014 10:05:05 AM

Our recently released benchmark research on information optimization shows that 97 percent of organizations find it important or very important to make information available to the business and customers, yet only 25 percent are satisfied with the technology they use to provide that access. This wide gap between importance and satisfaction reflects the complexity of preparing and presenting information in a world where users need to access many forms of data that exist across distributed systems.

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Topics: Big Data, IT Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Data Preparation, Information Applications, Information Management, Data discovery, Datawatch, Information Optimization

The Human Capital Management Technology Revolution in 2014

Posted by stephanmillard on Feb 5, 2014 8:37:43 AM

Human capital will continue to be an organization’s largest investment in 2014 and if productive will be one of its most valuable assets and differentiators. It also continues to rank as top priority by CEOs across the industry. We anticipate that businesses that take advantage of the innovative technology now available for human capital management (HCM) will gain a competitive advantage. Ventana Research will track these technological advances and how they are put to use by organizations that deploy them.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Governance, HCM, Human Capital Management, human resources, Recruiting, CHRO, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Compensation, HR, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Talent Management