Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

Qvidian Helps Sales Optimize Execution

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 23, 2014 10:02:05 AM

Few sales organizations realize their full potential, partly because they don’t execute well. We urge organizations to move beyond conventional wisdom in how they think about executing sales processes and have placed methods for making improvement to sales execution at the center of our research on sales in 2014. In our recent research on sales forecasting almost half (44%) of sales organizations said they have impediments that are motivating management to consider further investment in sales technology, and the most common of those is inconsistent execution (for 53%). Many sales organizations don’t use training in a consistent manner and fail to automate processes to gain efficiency.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Qvidian, sales analytics, Sales Coaching, Sales Force Automation, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Salesforce, SFA

Successful Sales Forecasting Requires Dedicated Technology

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 23, 2014 9:44:36 AM

Sales forecasting is an essential process for most businesses. It helps guide the efforts not only of the sales function but also of finance, operations, manufacturing and customer service. Our recently released sales forecasting benchmark research reveals significant insights and best practices that can help companies optimize the effectiveness of this process. I recently wrote that most sales organizations need to make significant changes to the way they do sales forecasting. In that analyst perspective, I examined aspects of technology that can make sales forecasting a much more efficient process than it is in most organizations that use software not designed for sales forecasting.

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Sales Forecasting, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Information Applications, SFA

New Generation of Learning Management Systems

Posted by stephanmillard on Apr 22, 2014 10:07:02 AM

Learning is an integral component of human capital management, and a new generation of learning management systems advances learning in organizations around the world. These systems have evolved over the years from a classroom scheduling tool that facilitated instructor-led and classroom training into an array of enterprise applications that deliver and track various types of training. Recently new technologies, such as business analytics, cloud computing, social collaboration, and mobile technology have become part of the learning management process. To assess the impacts of this ongoing shift, Ventana Research is conducting benchmark research on how organizations are implementing and using this new generation of systems.

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Topics: Mobile, Social Media, HCM, LMS, Learning Management, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Workforce Performance, HR, Training, benchmark research, HR research, mobile learning

Finance Analytics Requires Data Quality

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 22, 2014 9:48:30 AM

Our research consistently finds that data issues are a root cause of many problems encountered by modern corporations. One of the main causes of bad data is a lack of data stewardship – too often, nobody is responsible for taking care of data. Fixing inaccurate data is tedious, but creating IT environments that build quality into data is far from glamorous, so these sorts of projects are rarely demanded and funded. The magnitude of the problem grows with the company: Big companies have more data and bigger issues with it than midsize ones. But companies of all sizes ignore this at their peril: Data quality, which includes accuracy, timeliness, relevance and consistency, has a profound impact on the quality of work done, especially in analytics where the value of even brilliantly conceived models is degraded when the data that drives that model is inaccurate, inconsistent or not timely. That’s a key finding of our finance analytics benchmark research.

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Topics: Big Data, Planning, Predictive Analytics, forecasting, Governance, Budgeting, close, Finance Analytics, Tax, tax data warehouse, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, CIO, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), In-memory, Information Applications, Accounting, CFO, Risk, risk management, CEO, Financial Performance Management, FPM

Big Data Analytics Require Best Practices in Using Technology

Posted by Ventana Research on Apr 18, 2014 8:22:28 AM

Organizations should consider multiple aspects of deploying big data analytics. These include the type of analytics to be deployed, how the analytics will be deployed technologically and who must be involved both internally and externally to enable success. Our recent big data analytics benchmark research assesses each of these areas. How an organization views these deployment considerations may depend on the expected benefits of the big data analytics program and the particular business case to be made, which I discussed recently.

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Topics: Big Data, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, advanced analytics, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Hadoop, Operational Intelligence, Workforce Performance

Requirements for Becoming a Strategic Chief Risk Officer

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 17, 2014 9:54:44 AM

The proliferation of chief “something” officer (CxO) titles over the past decades recognizes that there’s value in having a single individual focused on a specific critical problem. A CxO position can be strategic or it can be the ultimate middle management role, with far more responsibilities than authority. Many of those handed such a title find that it’s the latter. This may be because the organization that created the title is unwilling to invest the necessary powers and portfolio of responsibilities to make it strategic – a case of institutional inertia. Or it may be that the individual given the CxO title doesn’t have the skills or temperament to be a “chief” in a strategic sense.

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Topics: GRC, Bank, Chief Risk Officer, CRO, ERM, OpenPages, regulation, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Data Governance, Financial Performance, IBM, compliance, Data, Risk, risk management, financial services, FPM

Finance Departments Still Lag in Using Advanced Analytics

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 11, 2014 9:54:34 AM

Business computing has undergone a quiet revolution over the past two decades. As a result of having added, one-by-one, applications that automate all sorts of business processes, organizations now collect data from a wider and deeper array of sources than ever before. Advances in the tools for analyzing and reporting the data from such systems have made it possible to assess financial performance, process quality, operational status, risk and even governance and compliance in every aspect of a business. Against this background, however, our recently released benchmark research finds that finance organizations are slow to make use of the broader range of data and apply advanced analytics to it.

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Topics: Big Data, Planning, Predictive Analytics, forecasting, Governance, Budgeting, close, Finance Analytics, Tax, tax data warehouse, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, CIO, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), In-memory, Information Management, Accounting, CFO, Risk, risk management, CEO, Financial Performance Management, FPM

SAP Supercharges Business Intelligence with Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Apr 9, 2014 9:50:37 AM

SAP recently presented its analytics and business intelligence roadmap and new innovations to about 1,700 customers and partners using SAP BusinessObjects at its SAP Insider event (#BI2014). SAP has one of the largest presences in business intelligence due to its installed base of SAP BusinessObjects customers. The company intends to defend its current position in the established business intelligence (BI) market while expanding in the areas of databases, discovery analytics and advanced analytics. As I discussed a year ago, SAP faces an innovator’s dilemma in parts of its portfolio, but it is working aggressively to get ahead of competitors.

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, SAP, advanced analytics, Business Objects, IT Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, KXEN, Operational Intelligence, HANA, Lumira, SAP insider

Equifax Delivers Insightful Analytics for Compliance with Affordable Care Act

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 9, 2014 2:56:14 AM

Pressure to comply with requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a looming challenge for most organizations today. Many go through numerous manual iterations such as running reports and compiling data into spreadsheets from benefits, payroll and HR systems to calculate whether their employees are eligible. As my colleague Stephan Millard explains in “Is Your Organization Technology Ready for the Affordable Care Act?”, the ACA applies to organizations with 50 or more full-time employees who work more than 30 hours a week; individuals not covered by an employer can get insurance through the government. There are a great many details for employers to address in the ACA, and most HR departments lack a smooth process and effective technology to generate the information to determine compliance.

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Topics: Equifax, Human Capital Analytics, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Applications, Information Management, Workforce Performance, ACA, Affordable Care Act

Anaplan Springs Forward with Winter Release

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 4, 2014 8:36:21 AM

Anaplan, a provider of cloud-based business planning software for sales, operations, and finance and administration departments, recently implemented its new Winter ’14 Release for customers. This release builds on my colleagues analysis on their innovation in business modeling and planning in 2013. Anaplan’s primary objective is to give companies a workable alternative to spreadsheets for business planning. It is a field in which opportunity exists. Our benchmark research on this topic finds that a majority of companies continue to use spreadsheets for their planning activities. Almost all (83%) operations departments use spreadsheets for their plans, as do 60 percent of sales and marketing units. Yet the same research shows that satisfaction with spreadsheets as a planning tool is considerably lower than satisfaction with dedicated planning applications. But despite general agreement in companies that the planning process is broken and spreadsheets are a problem, companies seem reluctant to break the bad habit of using spreadsheets. This conclusion suggests that either switching to dedicated software hasn’t been easy enough or that the results of doing it have not been compelling enough to motivate change. Anaplan intends to address both of these issues.

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Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Anaplan, forecasting, Marketing, Operations, Reporting, Budgeting, Controller, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, In-memory, Workforce Performance, CFO, Sales Planning, Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, FPM, Integrated Business Planning, spreadsheet

Kronos Innovates and Leads Workforce Management

Posted by stephanmillard on Apr 4, 2014 2:28:37 AM

In the past year Kronos announced a major release of its Workforce Central suite and more recently, made an announcement regarding a major investment that should help keep the company well capitalized. Kronos is one of the largest vendors of workforce management systems, providing time and attendance, labor scheduling, absence management, HR management, payroll and recruiting applications. In 2013 the company grew to almost US$1 billion in revenue, selling to companies around the globe and having users in more than 100 countries. Kronos offers two product lines based on the sizes of companies. Workforce Ready serves small and some midsize companies, and Workforce Central serves companies from the upper midsize through the very large. A while ago my colleague Mark Smith discussed several major enhancements to Kronos’ products, and there have been notable events since then.

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Topics: Mobile, Social Media, Governance, HCM, Kronos, payroll, Technology Innovation Award, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Workforce Performance, Affordable Care Act, compliance, HR, HRMS, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Value Index, Workforce Management, Social

NICE Delivers Customer Interactions with Next Generation Workforce Optimization

Posted by Richard Snow on Apr 3, 2014 9:17:30 AM

In my research of NICE Systems for several years I have remarked often that its biggest challenge is to integrate all the products that now make up its Customer Interaction Management suite. Through acquisitions, in-house development and partnerships, this suite has grown to include interaction recording, quality management, workforce management, incentive management, interaction analytics, performance management, real-time guidance, customer feedback management, mobile access and Web-based customer service. The company still offers each of these applications separately, but increasingly NICE bundles selected products into what it calls “solution suites” for uses such as workforce optimization. It also configures these suites to meet specific business needs such as voice of the customer and operational efficiency. These bundles require integration, common administration and management capabilities, as well as standardization of the user interface. My latest briefing by NICE executives showed the company moving in these directions but still having more to do to meet the expectations of a new generation of users. Successfully integrating applications to become business-related solutions is critical according to our benchmark research into next-generation workforce optimization, in which nearly half (48%) of participants said that integration is very important; analysis show that they want systems to be easier to use, to provide a better user experience, to be less error-prone and to connect processes such as customer feedback and workforce optimization. Version 6 of NICE Customer Interaction Management moves in this direction, with an integrated portal into performance management, workforce management and contact management, unified administration capabilities and enhancements to the user interface.

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Topics: Customer Analytics, Customer Experience Management, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile apps, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, 360-degree view of the Customer, Agent Performance Management, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Workforce Force Optimization

SAS Innovates the Potential of Business Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Apr 3, 2014 12:57:28 AM

SAS Institute, a long-established provider analytics software, showed off its latest technology innovations and product road maps at its recent analyst conference. In a very competitive market, SAS is not standing still, and executives showed progress on the goals introduced at last year’s conference, which I covered. SAS’s Visual Analytics software, integrated with an in-memory analytics engine called LASR, remains the company’s flagship product in its modernized portfolio. CEO Jim Goodnight demonstrated Visual Analytics’ sophisticated integration with statistical capabilities, which is something the company sees as a differentiator going forward. The product already provides automated charting capabilities, forecasting and scenario analysis, and SAS probably has been doing user-experience testing, since the visual interactivity is better than what I saw last year. SAS has put Visual Analytics on a six-month release cadence, which is a fast pace but necessary to keep up with the industry.

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, advanced analytics, IT Performance, LASR, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloudera, Customer & Contact Center, Hadoop, Hortonworks, IBM, Information Applications, visual analytics, SAS institute

Cloud Computing is More Than Multitenancy

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 2, 2014 9:22:04 AM

There’s a growing realization that the multitenant approach to the cloud isn’t the only option that companies should weigh in deciding between deploying software on-premises and in the cloud. That some people describe the multitenancy approach as “the real cloud” reflects the contentious nature of some technical debates, especially those that occur early in the evolution of a new technology. Multitenancy does have advantages that confer cost savings, and these have been important in the first stages of cloud adoption. However, we predict that single-tenant structures will rapidly gain in importance as corporations mature in their use of cloud computing, especially with respect to how they manage their ERP systems, as I have written. Corporations are increasingly adopting Web-based applications and moving their computing environments to a hybrid model that combines a combination of on-premises and cloud deployment options (private, community and public; single- and multitenant; or managed cloud). The right choice depends on the needs of the company and the ability of vendors to provide services that match their requirements.

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Topics: Microsoft, Mobile, SaaS, Salesforce.com, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Planview, Concur, Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV Dynamics SL, PSA, reseller, Sage Software, Salesforce1, Unit4, Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Accounting, CFO, FinancialForce, HR, Infor, Tagetik, Workday, Plex

Technology Makes a Difference for Location Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 1, 2014 12:48:10 AM

Our latest benchmark research into the market for location analytics software finds significant demand for location-related technology that can improve business outcomes and generate relevant information for various types of users. (Location analytics is an extension of business analytics that can enhance the sophistication of data and processes by adding a geographic context.)  My last analyst perspective on this topic discussed the business value of insights based on geography and what organizations are doing to advance their efforts here. Our research also shows, however, that most still lack satisfaction and confidence in using the technology. Just 12 percent of all participants said they are very satisfied with the location information and analytics available in their organization. Further analysis shows that satisfaction increases with use of a dedicated application for location analytics: 71 percent of those are satisfied or very satisfied, substantially more than those using location analytics within a BI tool (22%); findings are similar for both B2B and B2C use. We find similar levels of confidence in the quality of location information: 15 percent of those using a dedicated application are very confident in their location analytics. Confidence in the reliability of such information is essential to more organizations adopting location analytics.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, geographic information systems (GIS), GIS, Location Analytics, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Information Applications, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Data