There is much vendor activity and customer interest in making better use of data, to improve the sales process in the face of increased pressure to achieve organization revenue goals. As detailed in my Analyst Perspective: The Art and Science of Sales from the “Inside Out," enhanced buyer research as well as the inclusion of more people in the buying process, have made selling harder, evidenced by a general trend of declining quota attainment. There is no denying that better use of data can help in prioritizing and helping to advance the sales process more effectively. But this is not the whole story. Whereas generating interest and qualifying opportunity is a key part of the sales team’s role, all this progress can be undone with a cumbersome and clunky configure, price and quoting (CPQ) and contract life cycle management (CLM) process. Automated and digitized systems that handle these elements aid greatly toward a winning/successful close process and will set the right tenor for a continuing and sustained customer relationship. And although CPQ is often thought of as part of the finance department, as contracts are with legal, both of these processes should be seen as adjuncts of the sales process, and both sales and revenue leadership and operations teams need to align with finance and legal. My colleague Robert Kugel covers the finance perspective in more detail in his Analyst Perspective: Configure, Price and Quote Software Supports Profitability Management.
Reconciling accounts at the end of a period is one of those mundane finance department tasks that are ripe for automation. Reconciliation is the process of comparing account data (at the balance or item level) that exists either in two accounting systems or in an accounting system and somewhere else (such as in a spreadsheet or on paper). The purpose of the reconciling process is to identify things that do not match (as they must in double-entry bookkeeping systems) and then assess the nature and causes of the variances. This is followed by making adjustments or corrections to ensure that the information in an organization’s books is accurate. Most of the time, reconciliation is a matter of good housekeeping that identifies errors and omissions in the accounting process, including invalid journal postings and duplicate accounting entries, so they can be corrected. Reconciliation also is an important line of defense against fraud since inconsistencies may be a sign of such activity.
Despite all the advances organizations have made with respect to analytics, our most recent research shows the majority of the workforce in the majority of organizations are not using analytics and business intelligence (BI). Less than one-quarter (23%) report that one-half or more of their workforce is using analytics and BI. This is a problem. It means organizations are not enabling their workforce to perform at peak efficiency and effectiveness. It means the workforce in many organizations does not have access to the same information by which they are being measured. It means organizations must find other ways to communicate with, and manage, the workforce.
Topics: Sales, business intelligence, embedded analytics, Analytics, Data, Sales Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, natural language processing, subscription management, partner management, Revenue Management, Sales Engagement, Collaborative & Conversational Computing
Contact centers have always been very cost-centric and attuned to the kinds of constraints that they have to operate in, but many organizations were diverted from that kind of focus when the pandemic first hit. In 2020, there was a sudden need for new tools and equipment just to keep centers running, and the costs involved in enabling agents to work from home — equipping them and their supervisors with the tools they needed to collaborate and stay in sync — were unavoidable.
I recently described the emergence of hydroanalytic data platforms, outlining how the processes involved in generating energy from a lake or reservoir were analogous to those required to generate intelligence from a data lake. I explained how structured data processing and analytics acceleration capabilities are the equivalent of turbines, generators and transformers in a hydroelectric power station. While these capabilities are more typically associated with data warehousing, they are now being applied to data lake environments as well. Structured data processing and analytics acceleration capabilities are not the only things required to generate insights from data, however, and the hydroelectric power station analogy further illustrates this. For example, generating hydroelectric power also relies on pipelines to ensure that the water is transported from the lake or reservoir at the appropriate volume to drive the turbines. Ensuring that a hydroelectric power station is operating efficiently also requires the collection, monitoring and analysis of telemetry data to confirm that the turbines, generators, transformers and pipelines are functioning correctly. Similarly, generating intelligence from data relies on data pipelines that ensure the data is integrated and processed in the correct sequence to generate the required intelligence, while the need to monitor the pipelines and processes in data-processing and analytics environments has driven the emergence of a new category of software: data observability.
The use of artificial intelligence (AI) using machine learning (ML) will be the single most important trend in business software this decade because it can multiply the investment value of such applications and provide vendors an important source of differentiation to achieve a competitive advantage in what are today very mature software categories. I assert that by 2025, almost all Office of Finance software vendors will have incorporated some AI capabilities to reduce workloads and improve performance. However, software vendors will be challenged to apply innovations in this area quickly while ensuring that the AI capabilities function well enough in the real world to foster rapid adoption while avoiding user frustration. The failures of the Apple Newton and Microsoft’s Clippy office assistant stand out as examples of too-ambitious-too-soon attempts at infusing intelligent automation.
Many organizations invest in data governance out of concern over misuse of data or potential data breaches. These are important considerations and valid aspects of data governance programs. However, good data governance also has positive impacts on organizations. For example, I have previously written about the valuable connection between the use of data catalogs and satisfaction with an organization’s data lake. Our most recent Analytics and Data Benchmark Research demonstrates some of the beneficial links between data governance and analytics. In this Perspective, I’ll share some of the correlations identified in our research.
A formal Voice of the Customer (VoC) program is a necessity for any organization that wants to grow its customer base and differentiate from its competitors. Unfortunately, many organizations have not updated their notion of “formal” in quite a few years.
Topics: Customer Experience, Marketing, Voice of the Customer, Contact Center, Digital Marketing, agent management, Customer Experience Management, Field Service, Conversational Marketing, customer service and support
As I stated when joining Ventana Research, the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic and its aftereffects have highlighted more than ever the differences between organizations that can turn data into insights and are agile enough to act upon it and those that are incapable of seeing or responding to the need for change. Data-driven organizations stand to gain competitive advantage, responding faster to worker and customer demands for more innovative, data-rich applications and personalized experiences. One of the key methods that accelerates business decision-making is reducing the lag between data collection and data analysis.
Revenue performance management and the role of revenue operations is moving to the forefront of sales organizations, aligning departments around a single view of the business with shared revenue targets and goals. This facilitates the needs of the sales department as well as customer experience, marketing and renewals. The concept of RevOps does not yet have a widely shared common definition within organizations. Because revenue organizations include workers associated with sales operations, there tends to be a bias that RevOps leans towards sales management with the addition of customer success for retention and marketing.
I am happy to share insights gleaned from our latest Value Index research, an assessment of how well vendors’ offerings meet buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index: Business Planning 2022 is the distillation of a year of market and product research. Drawing on our Benchmark Research, we apply a structured methodology built on evaluation categories that reflect real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal to business planning vendors supporting the spectrum of planning. Using this methodology, we evaluated vendor submissions in seven categories: five relevant to the product experience ﹘ Adaptability, Capability, Manageability, Reliability and Usability ﹘ and two related to the customer experience ﹘ Total Cost of Ownership/Return on Investment and Vendor Validation.
I recently described how the data platforms landscape will remain divided between analytic and operational workloads for the foreseeable future. Analytic data platforms are designed to store, manage, process and analyze data, enabling organizations to maximize data to operate with greater efficiency, while operational data platforms are designed to store, manage and process data to support worker-, customer- and partner-facing operational applications. At the same time, however, we see increased demand for intelligent applications infused with the results of analytic processes, such as personalization and artificial intelligence-driven recommendations. The need for real-time interactivity means that these applications cannot be served by traditional processes that rely on the batch extraction, transformation and loading of data from operational data platforms into analytic data platforms for analysis. Instead, they rely on analysis of data in the operational data platform itself via hybrid data processing capabilities to accelerate worker decision-making or improve customer experience.
Having just completed the 2022 Ventana Research Value Index for Business Planning, I want to share some of my observations about the business planning software market and how it has advanced as an important part of our market coverage for almost two decades. Dedicated applications for planning and budgeting have been around since the 1980s and are, therefore, quite mature, with robust features and functionality as well as continual refinements in usability and performance. Outwardly, the specifications for offerings in this category appear very similar, but how the software works is at least as important to buyers’ preferences. Moreover, planning is not a mechanical process, so despite limited differentiation at the surface, an organization can find that one vendor’s offering is a better fit for its individual approach to planning than others.
Organizations of all sizes are dealing with exponentially increasing data volume and data sources, which creates challenges such as siloed information, increased technical complexities across various systems and slow reporting of important business metrics. Migrating to the cloud does not solve the problems associated with performing analytics and business intelligence on data stored in disparate systems. Also, the computing power needed to process large volumes of data consists of clusters of servers with hundreds or thousands of nodes that can be difficult to administer. Our Analytics and Data Benchmark Research shows that organizations have concerns about current analytics and BI technology. Findings include difficulty integrating data with other business processes, systems that are not flexible enough to scale operations and trouble accessing data from various data sources.
Ventana Research recently announced its 2022 Market Agenda for the Office of Finance, continuing the guidance we have offered since 2003 on the practical use of technology for the finance and accounting department. Our insights and best practices aim to enable organizations to operate with agility and resiliency, improving performance and delivering greater value as a strategic partner.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Intelligence, Collaboration, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Revenue, blockchain, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, AI and Machine Learning, lease and tax accounting, profitability management
Ventana Research recently announced its 2022 Market Agenda for the Office of Revenue, continuing the guidance we have offered for nearly two decades to help organizations realize optimal value from applying technology to improve business outcomes. Chief sales and revenue officers and their associated operations teams are experts in their respective fields but may not have the guidance needed to employ technology effectively. As we look to 2022, we are focusing on the entire selling and buying life cycle and the applications that simplify and improve interactions throughout the customer experience.
Topics: Sales, Analytics, Internet of Things, Data, Sales Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, mobile computing, subscription management, extended reality, intelligent sales, partner management, Sales Engagement
I am happy to share insights gleaned from our latest Value Index research, an assessment of how well vendors’ offerings meet buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index: Workforce Management 2022 is the distillation of a year of market and product research by Ventana Research. Drawing on our Benchmark Research, we apply a structured methodology built on evaluation categories that reflect the real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal to workforce management vendors supporting the spectrum of these requirements. Using this methodology, we evaluated vendor submissions in seven categories: five relevant to the product experience ﹘ Adaptability, Capability, Manageability, Reliability and Usability ﹘ and two related to the customer experience ﹘ Total Cost of Ownership/Return on Investment and Vendor Validation.
Ventana Research recently announced its 2022 Market Agenda in the expertise area of Marketing, continuing the guidance we have offered for nearly two decades to help organizations derive optimal value from business technology and improve outcomes.
Workforce management processes and activities, a major focus of investment and optimization efforts for decades, have undergone a huge transformation in recent years. In our view, this is mostly a function of two significant trends: the explosion of technology innovation associated with the use of artificial intelligence, machine learning and embedded analytics in many areas of a business including a range of human capital management processes and operations; and a major reframing of the employer/employee relationship stemming from the now universal emphasis on elevating the worker experience. This was becoming more of a strategic focus across most organizations before the pandemic, but the past two years has made delivering a great employee experience an essential part of operating a business. In the absence of this, employees tend to become disengaged, and many will leave. The same can be true of the customers serviced by those employees.
Ventana Research recently announced its 2022 Market Agenda for Analytics, continuing the guidance we have offered for nearly two decades to help organizations derive optimal value from technology investments in order to improve business outcomes.
Ventana Research recently announced its 2022 research agenda for Operations and Supply Chain, continuing the guidance we’ve offered for nearly two decades to help organizations across industries derive optimal value from business technology and improve outcomes.
Ventana Research recently announced its Market Agenda in the expertise area of Customer Experience. For the past several years, many organizations have found it challenging to provide excellent customer experiences in the face of drastic technology changes and the ongoing pandemic. These challenges have highlighted for many decision-makers how strategic CX can be in differentiating from competitors. But it can also be a complex and disjointed effort that requires continuous investment in people, processes and technologies.
Ventana Research recently announced its 2022 Market Agenda for Human Capital Management, continuing the guidance we’ve offered for two decades to help organizations derive maximum potential from workforce- and people-related technology investments and initiatives. In crafting this Market Agenda, we focused on three critical themes top-of-mind for both HCM vendors and buyers: Organizational readiness, workforce resilience utilizing digital technology to increase retention, and advance worker skills for career development.
Ventana Research recently announced its 2022 Market Agenda for Data, continuing the guidance we have offered for nearly two decades to help organizations derive optimal value and improve business outcomes.