Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

2021 Analytics and Data Value Index: Market Observations and Perspective

Posted by David Menninger on Apr 2, 2021 3:00:00 AM

Having just completed the 2021 Ventana Research Value Index for Analytics and Data, I want to share some of my observations about how the market has advanced since our assessment two years ago. The analytics software market is quite mature and products from any of the vendors we assess can be used to effectively deliver information to help your organization improve its operations. However, it’s also interesting to see how much the market continues to advance and how much investment vendors continue to make.

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Topics: Big Data, Key Performance Indictors, embedded analytics, exadata, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Collaboration, Data Preparation, Digital Technology, natural language processing, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, mobile computing

Continuous Planning Promotes Action, Accuracy and Agility

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 12, 2017 8:11:34 AM

Continuous planning is a term Ventana Research uses for a high participation, collaborative, action-oriented approach to planning built on frequent, short planning sprints. This enables organizations to enhance the accuracy of their plans because refinements are made at shorter intervals. Short planning cycles enable companies to achieve greater agility in responding to market or competitive changes. “Continuous” also means continuous across the entire organization – planning as an ongoing collaborative dialogue that brings together finance, line-of-business managers and executives. And because it’s high-participation planning and not silo-based, companies can plan with greater accountability and coordination in their operations. This ongoing dialog tracks current conditions as well as changes in objectives and priorities that are driven by markets and the business climate. Continuous planning promotes a forward-looking mindset in planning and reviewing that’s focused on performance improvement.

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Topics: Human Capital, Business Collaboration, finance, Business

ERP Can Help Transform Finance

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 25, 2016 1:04:04 AM

Like many other industry observers I’ve heard overblown claims for information technology for decades. However, I’ve also observed that – eventually – reality catches up with vision. Finance and accounting departments are particularly resistant to change, yet because almost no corporations use adding machines or typewriters any more, it’s clear that transformative change can happen. Nonetheless, because users of business computing systems are inundated with “it’s better than ever” promotions by vendors, journalists and industry analysts, may have grown jaded and disbelieving. In the case of ERP systems that help run many organizations, that is too bad because we are finally at the point of a fundamental change in this business-critical software category.

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Topics: Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Human Capital, Mobile Technology, Office of Finance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance

Xactly Inspires Sales Performance with Coaching and Insights

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 2, 2016 10:05:22 AM

Imagine how the third Monday in next January looks to leaders in the sales department. That’s the first day of the annual sales kickoff and the excitement level won’t get any higher. New products and services are in the works, lucrative customer contracts are up for renewal, alliance partners are in the house, and qualified opportunities are already flowing through your pipeline. The executive team is expecting big things from sales in the new year and has approved hiring additional people to address opportunities that otherwise would be neglected. But despite all this activity, the organization faces two big problems in hiring and integrating new sales staff.

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Human Capital, Human Capital Management, Mobile Technology, CRO, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Operational Intelligence

Hive9 Helps Tame the Chaos of B2B Marketing

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 18, 2016 10:25:50 AM

It often seems to business-to-business (B2B) marketers as if the only people who understand them are other B2B marketers. They feel that salespeople don’t get what they do day-to-day, that friends and family don’t understand what they do for a living, and most of all that the executives to whom they report have no interest in what they do – that is, until the last day of the quarter. Then they require that B2B marketers deliver positive, lead-generating and revenue-producing results in reports that detail how their efforts supported sales in the previous 90 days. And they expect those results to be reported in a format understandable to all.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Operational Intelligence, Hive9 Marketing Performance Management

Salesforce Assimilates Demandware, But Will it Help Them?

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 9, 2016 8:48:54 AM

In July Salesforce officially closed on its purchase of digital commerce platform provider Demandware for US$2.8 billion. Salesforce’s executives were interested in acquiring a digital commerce platform, and they claim that Demandware was routinely mentioned in their due diligence of the market. So out came Marc Benioff’s and Salesforce checkbook, and they paid. Handsomely. For that sizeable investment, Salesforce will add Demandware’s SaaS-delivered digital commerce capabilities to its Customer Success Platform, while Demandware customers will have access to the Salesforce suite of cloud-based sales, marketing, customer service and analytics tools. But savvy business and IT customers are not getting distracted by the details of this transaction or the acquisition’s market impact. Knowledgeable executives expected a significant deal like this for Salesforce, and they were already thinking ahead of laggards who are just now assessing the implications of this transaction.

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Topics: Social Media, Mobile Technology, Office of Finance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Operational Intelligence, Uncategorized, Omnichannel, Commerce, Digital kDigital

Evolution of Digital Commerce Challenged by Technology Barriers

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 28, 2016 3:23:02 AM

Businesses and customers are ready for a new generation of digital commerce technology, but implementing it is challenged by significant barriers in two basic categories: technology commoditization and the lack of an IT and business framework for delivering great customer experiences.  Regarding the first, for some companies making large IT purchases, the way an enterprise employs CAPEX and OPEX accounting practices to categorize spending on technology may be a deal-breaker when coupled with the time and resources needed to implement and maintain a product. But these subjects are increasingly relegated to the 55-minute mark of conference calls that weigh the pros and cons of available technology. Because while few organizations make a platform purchase based solely on the cheapest price, astute IT buyers now discuss and invest in analytical, data-driven tools for sales, marketing and service, deployed across Web and mobile environments, that help produce differentiated customer experiences and strengthen personalized, real-time digital commerce offerings. That leads to the second key consideration: Improving the customer experience is the top driver for almost three-quarters (74%) of organizations participating in our next-generation customer engagement benchmark research.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Mobile Technology, Wearable Computing, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Operational Intelligence, Uncategorized, Mobile Marketing Digital Commerce

Rescuing Retail’s Mobile Customer Experience Requires New Technology

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 13, 2016 10:05:55 AM

One aspect of living in downtown Chicago is that there’s always something going on. But as distasteful as the subject matter of certain local events can be, some proceedings can inspire perspectives on a number of topics. One that occurs to me is how the retail industry can apply the new generation of mobile and location-based technologies not only to shape the customer experience but even rescue it from challenging situations. On Nov. 30, 2015, the Chicago Tribune reported that the Black Friday protests on the city’s Magnificent Mile cost local businesses 25 to 50 percent of their expected sales. While protestors have a constitutional right to free speech, business operators also had an opportunity and a responsibility – to proactively engage customers before, during and after the tumultuous Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

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Topics: Social Media, Mobile Technology, Wearable Computing, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Operational Intelligence, Uncategorized, Mobile, Marketing Location Communication

Qlik Makes a Qonnection with Qlik Sense 3.0

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 2, 2016 9:25:21 AM

Qlik helped pioneer the visual discovery market with its QlikView product. In some respects, Qlik and its competitors also spawned the self-service trend rippling through the analytics market today. Their aim was to enable business users to perform analytics for themselves rather than building a product with the perfect set of features for IT. After establishing success with end users the company began to address more of the concerns of IT, eventually creating a robust enterprise-grade analytics platform. This approach has worked for Qlik, driving growth that led to an initial
 public offering in 2010. The company now generates more than half a billion dollars in revenue annually, making it one of the largest independent analytics vendors. Of which based on their company and products was rated a Hot Vendor in our 2015 Value Index on Analytics and Business Intelligence and one of the highest ranked in usability.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile Technology, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Information Management, Uncategorized, Qlik, Analytics, Qlik Sense, Qlik, Business intell

Workiva Automates Composite Documents with Wdesk

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 1, 2016 11:35:40 AM

Workiva offers Wdesk, a cloud-based productivity application for handling composite documents. I use the term “composite document” to refer to those in which text is created and edited collaboratively by multiple contributors and which incorporates tabular and numerical data from multiple sources in a controlled process. Composite documents often have formats defined by law, regulation or contract and must be created at periodic intervals. To comply with the requirement by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that companies “tag” their financial filings using eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL), many companies acquired software to automate the creation and tagging of these composite documents.

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Topics: Mobile Technology, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Uncategorized, Composite Software

Industry Veteran Brings Leadership on Sales and Marketing

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 2, 2016 9:26:49 AM

If you’re a sales or marketing executive or manager, your window of business opportunity is closing rapidly. In fact it started closing the day you began your job. Time is not on your side – and your career may well hang in the balance. I want to help you shift that balance to your advantage.

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Topics: Big Data, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Social Media, Mobile Technology, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Uncategorized, Sales, Marketing, Sales Performance Management, Ma

Can We Trust Salesforce for Business in the Cloud?

Posted by Ventana Research on May 16, 2016 7:44:58 AM

I have been meaning to write about Salesforce since its Dreamforce 2015 conference. Salesforce provides a platform, tools and applications for business and IT who claims to be the ‘no software’ company which as you will read is exactly what happened on May 10th. Heck, Salesforce is making a lot of advances on its platform, its applications and even with Analytics and the Internet of Things. These changes are at the center of what at our analyst firm calls digital business innovation. Much of what it’s doing is very good, but now I am questioning whether the company’s foundation of business processes and technology platform has reached a point at which it can’t grow any further without impacting its own customers’ operations and success. That may be a harsh statement, but I think my reasoning will become clear as you read this perspective.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, NA14, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Uncategorized

Digital Business Innovation and Enterprise Messaging Work Well Together

Posted by Ventana Research on May 11, 2016 8:30:46 AM

Organizations are facing a digital transformation, as I have written, that is rapidly changing the applications and services that businesses use to operate and deliver information. This new digital generation addresses the expectations of consumers and business partners for information and service in real time. One example of it is enterprise messaging. Recently I wrote about the shift to this technology and the challenges it poses for organizations that lack sufficient skills. However, new messaging appliances and virtualized messaging can carry some of this burden. By interconnecting them, organizations can be more confident in their ability to support the range of information and applications that operate in real time, not only for people but on devices and machines.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Enterprise messaging, Internet of Things, IoT, mid, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Management, Uncategorized

Docebo Innovates Learning Management Systems for Employees and Customers

Posted by Ventana Research on Apr 14, 2016 8:29:10 AM

The learning management system (LMS) offers opportunity for organizations to progressively enhance the effectiveness of their workforce. An advanced LMS can be more than a digital version of an organization’s training programs for specific jobs or to achieve compliance with policies and regulations. It can provide dynamic yet informal learning that business units can create, deploy and sustain through their own efforts. Last year I outlined the benefits of this new generation of learning management systems.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Human Capital, LMS, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Uncategorized

Mastering Marketing Mayhem in a Meaningful, Meticulous Manner

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 31, 2016 8:57:03 AM

I hope this title captures your attention; I’m trying to make a point about the chaos going on in managing and operating marketing. What marketing needs in 2016 is to manage and optimize its efforts in a more unified manner. This perspective kicks off a new series on the challenges for marketing to automate or execute tasks and manage toward maximum performance. We all know that the craft of marketing is in need of significant transformation, from the CMO throughout the entire marketing organization and all the way out to the experience of consumers and customers. But this may be a fanciful mission, as applications and technology does not really automate marketing let alone manage it. Most marketing automation products are specialized applications that are not used by marketing management, let alone front-line marketing managers; they are for specialized needs in demand generation or digital marketing that personalizes inbound and outbound interactions with contacts for the purpose of advancing dialogue and creating relationships. Marketing automation, like its cousin sales force automation, has been a placeholder category that describes only a narrow slice of marketing, and the term has been co-opted by the industry for its own purposes. Though some observers predict that CMOs will outspend CIOs and other leaders of the business in technology investments, I have debunked this ludicrous idea; even if it were true, that would not make marketing departments much more efficient in their management and operations. To counterbalance the silliness of the marketing automation dialogue, I plan to bring you a series on key areas for investment to start the conversation. Evaluating them should help Marketing demonstrate its commitment to promoting effectively its organization and its products and services. Here is an overview of the many issues in the landscape.

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Topics: Big Data, Predictive Analytics, Social Media, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Information Applications, Operational Intelligence, Uncategorized, CMO, Information Optimization, Sales Performance Management (SPM)

Supercharging Sales and Commerce in 2016

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 29, 2016 9:54:34 AM

For several years I have been advocating that sales organizations adapt their processes and applications to optimize both sales performance and the customer experience. For details see my research agenda for last year. However, it appears that not many sales organizations have responded to this challenge; many can barely maintain their quarterly sales forecasts and monthly pipeline, track progress toward quotas and ensure that sales commissions are processed promptly and paid accurately. A great many are still using spreadsheets for these critical activities. Yet our benchmark research finds that more than half (61%) who use them for commissions said this makes the effort more difficult. Elsewhere, I have seen B2B sales organizations continue down the old path of annoying prospects with direct cold calling and email instead of nurturing real relationships. For B2C sales, the digital age of search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) has begun to haunt prospects by inserting ads in our personal social media channels. My research suggests that these practices are not due to bad intentions but to force of habit and lack of desire, time and resources to develop a modern strategy and plan. Most are just managing the basics of their sales processes and relying on sales force automation (SFA) systems, reporting and dashboards, which will only produce more of the same, less than optimal results.

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Mobile Technology, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Uncategorized, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales, SFA, SPM, Sales Performance Management, Sal

Verint Gains Innovative Products through Acquisition of Contact Solutions

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 18, 2016 8:23:35 AM

Verint is an established vendor of workforce optimization, advanced analytics and self-service products for customer experience management. Recently it announced its acquisition of Contact Solutions, whose products complement Verint’s. The acquisition adds analytics capabilities and fraud detection software, both of Verint will incorporate into its existing products. Contact Solutions also brings to the merger IVR and My:Time, two innovative products that add to Verint’s portfolio for customer self-service.

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Topics: Mobile Technology, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Uncategorized, Call Center

FinancialForce Springs Forward with Latest Release

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 18, 2016 8:12:05 AM

The evolutionary pace of technologies that shape the design of ERP systems has been accelerating over the last couple of years. In addition to cloud computing there is the increasing availability of analytics and reporting integrated into transaction processing systems, which I have noted; support for mobile users; in-context collaboration; and more intuitive user interface (UI) design. Each of these features enhances productivity and the usefulness of ERP software in managing a business. The latest release of FinancialForce, a cloud-based ERP system, offers significant enhancements to its user interface and collaboration capabilities.

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Topics: Human Capital Management, Mobile Technology, Customer Performance, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Uncategorized

Unifying Human Capital Management in 2016

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 18, 2016 7:09:39 AM

Businesses and their human resource organizations feel pressure to maximize the value of their human capital in today’s intensely competitive world. Many have made or considered investments in new applications that better exploit information to efficiently recruit, engage and retain the best talent. Advanced applications not only advance these processes but also help management assess the performance of the workforce and compensate individuals fairly so that they advance their careers and find the level of employee satisfaction in the organization. A year ago I outlined the priorities in human capital management (HCM). During the past year our research found a significant number of companies lacking a unified HCM strategy that includes processes and the applications to support it. As others advance, HR organizations that are not equipped with such skills, resources and tools risk falling behind in human capital management as it contributes to business success.

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Topics: Big Data, Predictive Analytics, Governance, HCM, HR, HRMS, Workforce Management, Learning Mana, Human Capital, Mobile Technology, Wearable Computing, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Management, Uncategorized, Financial Performance Management (FPM)

SAS Analytics Juggernaut Keeps on Truckin’

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 11, 2016 6:59:34 AM

I recently attended the SAS Analyst Summit in Steamboat Springs, Colo. (Twitter Hashtag #SASSB) The event offers an occasion for the company to discuss its direction and to assess its strengths and potential weaknesses. SAS is privately held, so customers and prospects cannot subject its performance to the same level of scrutiny as public companies, and thus events like this one provide a valuable source of additional information.

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Topics: Big Data, Predictive Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Information Applications, Information Management, Uncategorized

Digital Technology Agenda for Business in 2016

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 10, 2016 9:57:10 AM

Technology innovation is accelerating faster than companies can keep up with. Many feel pressure to adopt new strategies that technology makes possible and find the resources required for necessary investments. In 2015 our research and analysis revealed many organizations upgrading key business applications to operate in the cloud and some enabling access to information for employees through mobile devices. Despite these steps, we find significant levels of digital disruption impacting every line of business. In our series of research agendas for 2016 we outline the areas of technology that organizations need to understand if they hope to optimize their business processes and empower their employees to handle tasks and make decisions effectively. Every industry, line of business and IT department will need to be aware of how new technology can provide opportunities to get ahead of, or at least keep up with, their competitors and focus on achieving the most effective outcomes.

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Topics: Big Data, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Governance, Mobile Technology, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Applications, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Uncategorized, Workforce Performance, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Optimization, Sales Performance Management (SPM)

The Office of Finance in 2016

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 14, 2016 11:24:47 AM

The imperative to transform the finance department to function in a more strategic, forward-looking and action-oriented fashion has been a consistent theme of practitioners, consultants and business journalists for two decades. In all that time, however, most finance and accounting departments have not changed much. In our benchmark research on the Office of Finance, nine out of 10 participants said that it’s important or very important for finance departments to take a strategic role in running their company. The research also shows a significant gap between this objective and how well most departments perform. A large majority (83%) said they perform the core finance functions of accounting, fiscal control, transaction management, financial reporting and internal auditing, but only 41 percent said they play an active role in their company’s management. Even fewer (25%) have implemented a high degree of automation in their core finance functions and actively promote process and analytical excellence.

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Topics: Big Data, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Social Media, Governance, GRC, Human Capital, Mobile Technology, Office of Finance, Budgeting, close, Continuous Accounting, Continuous Planning, end-to-end, Tax, Tax-Datawarehouse, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, CIO, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, In-memory, Uncategorized, CFO, CPQ, Risk, CEO, Financial Performance Management, FPM

Research Agenda: Using Business Analytics to Make the Most of Data in 2016

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 7, 2016 9:59:39 PM

Throughout the course of our research in 2016, we’ll be exploring ways in which organizations can maximize the value of their data. Ventana Research believes that analytics is the engine and data is the fuel to power better business decisions. Several themes emerged from our benchmark research on incorporating data and analytics into organizational processes, and we will follow them in our 2016 Business Analytics Research Agenda:

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Topics: Big Data, Predictive Analytics, Mobile Technology, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Information Management, Operational Intelligence, Information Optimization

Domo Delivers on Managing Business Performance

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 18, 2015 12:00:35 AM

Over the last four years Domo, a new brand in cloud-based data and analytics software, has worked to enable its customers to understand, collaborate and act on data to achieve business results. Led by its founder and CEO, Josh James, the company has worked to deliver software that provides both a good user experience and business value. Recently, at its 2015 customer conference Domopalooza, the company presented itself and its products to the general public. I had a chance to meet with company executives, employees and customers and view its products at this high-energy event and entertainment that I have not seen in years.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Human Capital, Mobile Technology, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Domo, Risk & Compliance (GRC), SAB Miller

Steelwedge Enables Actionable and Continuous Planning

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 16, 2015 10:19:32 PM

Supply and demand chain planning and execution have grown in importance over the past decade as companies have recognized that software can meaningfully enhance their competitiveness and improve their financial performance. Sales and operations planning (S&OP) is an integrated business management process first developed in the 1980s aimed at achieving better alignment and synchronization between the supply chain, production and sales functions. A properly implemented S&OP process routinely reviews customer demand and supply resources and “replans” quantitatively across an agreed rolling horizon. The replanning process focuses on changes from the previously agreed sales and operations plan; while it helps the management team understand how the company achieved its current level of performance, its primary focus is on future actions and anticipated results. Adoption of S&OP has increased as software to support the process has become more powerful and affordable and as a growing list of companies demonstrated its value in producing meaningfully improved business results. Even without adopting a full-scale S&OP management approach, companies can benefit from better coordination and collaboration between their supply and demand functions. Software plays an important role here, too, in facilitating this coordination and collaboration.

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Topics: Planning, SaaS, Sales, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Forecast, Human Capital, Mobile Technology, Supply Chain Planning, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Sales Planning, Supply Chain, Demand Chain, Integrated Business Planning, SCM Demand Planning, S&OP

Workforce Management for Human Capital Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 29, 2015 2:14:56 PM

Historically workforce management has been centered on tracking time and attendance, absences and leaves. Organizations view the time and attendance system as the top priority to integrate with the payroll system; in our payroll management benchmark research half (51%) of organizations called it very important. However, only one in five have integrated the two to streamline processes. So limited an administrative and operational focus does not contribute to improving worker productivity or manager efficiency. Moreover, such an approach can foster employee turnover and undermine worker satisfaction and loyalty. Our research analysis underscores that paying insufficient attention to the worker experience can degrade employees’ sense of accomplishment and in some situations also degrade the customer experience.

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Topics: Human Capital, Human Capital Management, Mobile Technology, Wearable Computing, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, HR, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Workforce Management

Evolving to the Next Generation of ERP Systems

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 29, 2015 1:12:02 PM

The enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is a pillar of nearly every company’s record-keeping and management of business processes. It is essential to the smooth functioning of the accounting and finance functions. In manufacturing and distribution, ERP also can help plan and manage inventory and logistics. Some companies use it to handle human resources functions such as tracking employees, payroll and related costs. Yet despite their ubiquity, ERP systems have evolved little since their introduction a quarter of a century ago. The technologies shaping their design, functions and features had been largely unchanged. As a measure of this stability, our Office of Finance benchmark research found that in 2014 companies on average were keeping their ERP systems one year longer than they had in 2005.

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Topics: Big Data, Microsoft, SAP, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, ERP, FP&A, Human Capital, Mobile Technology, NetSuite, Office of Finance, Reporting, close, closing, Controller, dashboard, Reconciliation, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Financial Performance, IBM, Oracle, Uncategorized, CFO, Data, finance, Financial Performance Management, FPM, Intacct

Three Tools to Boost Omnichannel Customer Experience

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 17, 2015 9:34:52 PM

Much is written about omnichannel customer experience, and various software vendors now claim to focus on the customer experience. With various degrees of credibility they range from providers of communication channel management to workforce optimization, voice of the customer, self-service, analytics and even CRM. This bandwagon raisesthe question of what  omnichannel customer experience really is and how companies can achieve it. Our benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement shows that consumers now engage with companies through as many as 17 channels of engagement though companies on average support six. The research also shows that every business group, with the exception of IT, engages with prospects and customers at different times during the customer life cycle. Customers today, we know, are more demanding than ever. They want to choose the channel and time of engagement. They want the process to be easy, and they want to be recognized so responses can be personal to them. They expect consistent responses regardless of channel and not to have to repeat actions if they change channels. They want agents empowered to resolve an issue at the first try. Finally, at the end of the interaction they want to feel good about how it went and the outcome.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Operational Intelligence, Uncategorized, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Text Analytics

New Generation of Human Resources Management Systems

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 9, 2015 9:47:18 PM

Ventana Research defines a human resources management system (HRMS) as the set of applications and associated processes that store and manage the employee information used by an organization’s human resources department. New technologies make it possible for the HRMS to perform better and be easier to use by HR professionals and members of the workforce. The range of evolving technologies impacting the development of the HRMS include business analytics, big data, cloud computing, mobile technology, business collaboration, social media and wearable computing. These advances enable organizations to streamline the processes that the HRMS supports and more efficiently take advantage of competencies that already exist in the workforce. The changes are so substantive for organizations and their HR departments that we have undertaken new research calledNext-Generation Human Resources Management Systems.

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Topics: Social Media, Human Capital, Human Capital Management, Mobile Technology, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), HR, HRMS

Oracle Must Pivot to Business Applications

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 5, 2015 10:18:30 PM

Whatever Oracle’s cloud strategy had been the past, this year’s OpenWorld conference and trade show made it clear that the company is now all in. In his keynote address, co-CEO Mark Hurd presented predictions for the world of information technology in 2025, when the cloud will be central to companies’ IT environments. While his forecast that two (unnamed) companies will account for 80 percent of the cloud software market 10 years from now is highly improbable, it’s likely that there will be relentless consolidation, marginalization and extinction within the IT industry sector driven by cloud disruptions and the maturing of the software business. In practice, though, we expect the transition to the cloud to be slow and uneven.

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Topics: Microsoft, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, SAP, Supply Chain Performance, ERP, Human Capital, Mobile Technology, NetSuite, Office of Finance, Reporting, close, closing, Controller, dashboard, Tax, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, IBM, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Data, finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Financial Performance Management, FPM, Intacct

Cloud-Based Analytics Requires Hybrid Data Access and Integration

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 8, 2015 11:08:21 PM

As I discussed in the state of data and analytics in the cloud recently, usability is a top evaluation criterion for organizations in selecting cloud-based analytics software. Data access of cloud and on-premises systems are essential antecedents of usability. They can help business people perform analytic tasks themselves without having to rely on IT. Some tools allow data integration by business users on an ad hoc basis, but to provide an enterprise integration process and a governed information platform, IT involvement is often necessary. Once that is done, though, using cloud-based data for analytics can help, empowering business users and improving communication and process .

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Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, Software as a Service, Mobile Technology, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Information Management, Operational Intelligence, Data

NICE Delivers Customer Journey Maps for Customer Engagement

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 3, 2015 8:56:09 AM

Through a continuing program of acquisitions and internal development, NICE Systems has transitioned from being a vendor of workforce optimization systems to one focused on aspects of the customer experience, notably voice of the customer (VOC), customer engagement analytics and customer journey mapping. It is also moving to cloud-based services from products installed on customers’ premises and is taking a business-solution approach (providing previously integrated and configured products that address specific business issues) rather than general-purpose products. All of these changes are evident in its latest services, which link VOC, real-time journey mapping and predictive analytics to address common customer service and engagement issues. The foundation for these packages are products I have previously covered – Fizzback for multichannel customer surveying and feedback analysis and Causata for a big data analytics platform that includes predictive analytics capabilities – along with its own customer engagement analytics platform, which can link customer data from disparate sources. The result, for example, is that journey maps can show all interactions on all channels a customer uses to try to resolve issues, including the customer sentiment at each touch point and the outcome of the journey.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Feedback Management, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Call Center

Pitney Bowes Doubles Down on Customer Engagement

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 20, 2015 7:55:43 AM

From its history of managing postal mail, Pitney Bowes has expanded into products for data management, analytics and location intelligence, as my colleague Mark Smith noted. Continuing this expansion through internal development and acquisitions of vendors such as Portrait Software and RTC, it has added to its portfolio products that include customer information management and customer engagement.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Call Center

Data and Analytics in the Cloud is a Reality Today

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 20, 2015 7:13:46 AM

Our recently completed benchmark research on data and analytics in the cloud shows that analytics deployed in cloud-based systems is gaining widespread adoption. Almost half (48%) of participating organizations are using cloud-based analytics, another 19 percent said they plan to begin using it within 12 months, and 31 percent said they will begin to use cloud-based analytics but do not know when. Participants in various areas of the organization said they use cloud-based analytics, but front-office functions such as marketing and sales rated it important more often than did finance, accounting and human resources. This front-office focus is underscored by the finding that the categories of information for which cloud-based analytics is most often deemed important are forecasting (mentioned by 51%) and customer-related (47%) and sales-related (33%) information.

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Topics: Big Data, Software as a Service, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Customer & Contact Center, Operational Intelligence, Business Performance Management (BPM), Data, Information Optimization

Tagetik’s Solid Financial Performance Management Suite

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 20, 2015 6:47:36 AM

Tagetik is a long-established vendor of financial performance management (FPM) software. Its full-featured suite includes planning, budgeting, consolidation, close management, disclosure management, analysis, dashboards and reporting. The software can be deployed on premises or in the cloud as multitenant software as a service or in a private cloud. Tagetik also offers pre-built integration with SAP and SAP HANA, Microsoft SharePoint and Qlik to best support a range of financial management needs.

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Topics: Big Data, Governance, Human Capital, Office of Finance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Dashboards, Financial Performance

Is NPS the Best Measure of Customer Experience?

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 29, 2015 8:24:09 AM

Recently my colleague Tony Cosentino wrote an analyst perspective asserting that big data analytics will displace net promoter score (NPS) for more effectively measuring the entire customer experience. This prompted a response from Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian, asserting that big data and NPS aren’t the only ways to measure customer experience success. The main point of Tony’s piece, as I interpret it, is that NPS is just a number, but big data analytics can reveal much more about customer behavior and intentions, and it can link these to business outcomes. On the other hand Maxie argues that whether or not companies use NPS, when it comes to measuring the customer experience, they rely too much on surveys and no one metric does the entire job. While to a large extent I agree with both arguments, from a business perspective I don’t think either addresses three very important questions. The first is what actually is the customer experience? Second, how should it be measured? And third, what is the best use of big data in relation to customer experience?

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Call Center

Host Analytics Modeling Cloud Simplifies Planning and Reporting

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 10, 2015 6:04:28 AM

Our benchmark research on next-generation business planning finds that a large majority of companies rely on spreadsheets to manage planning processes. For example, four out of five use them for supply chain planning, and about two-thirds for budgeting and sales forecasting. Spreadsheets are the default choice for modeling and planning because they are flexible. They adapt to the needs of different parts of any type of business. Unfortunately, they have inherent defects that make them problematic when used in collaborative, repetitive enterprise processes such as planning and budgeting. While it’s easy to create a model, it can quickly become a barrier to more integrated planning across the business units in an enterprise. As I’ve noted before, software vendors and IT departments have been trying – mainly in vain – to get users to switch from spreadsheets to a variety of dedicated applications. They’ve failed to make much of a dent because although these applications have substantial advantages over spreadsheets when used in repetitive, collaborative enterprise tasks, these advantages are mainly realized after the model, process or report is put to use in the “production” phase (to borrow an IT term).

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Topics: Planning, Predictive Analytics, Marketing Planning, Reporting, Sales Forecasting, Budgeting, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Business Planning, Demand Planning, Integrated Business Planning

Companies Need Disruptive Customer Experience Technologies

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 10, 2015 5:41:25 AM

Our benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement finds that the top priorities in customer service for companies are to improve the customer experience (said 74%) and their customer service performance (70%). To do this, the technological steps most companies expect to improve customer engagement are to deploy collaboration systems, redesign the customer portal, deploy internal mobile applications, deploy mobile customer service apps and use social media for customer service. All of these we regard as potentially innovative and required digital technologies. Deeper analysis of the results finds key primary drivers for these priorities. Employees across the organization are handling customer interactions, but customers expect consistent responses no matter who they engage with. Customers are using more electronic channels of engagement, but here, too, they expect consistent responses. People on both sides are engaging more while they are on the move, so mobile support for employees and customers has become essential. Let’s consider how each of these five technologies can help companies meet these challenges and improve customer engagement.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Call Center

Unit4 Defines Strategy to Disrupt ERP Market

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 29, 2015 8:18:31 AM

Unit4 is a global business software vendor focused on business and professional services, the public sector and higher education. Recently company executives met with industry analysts to provide an update of its strategic roadmap and to recap its accomplishments since being acquired by a private equity firm in 2014. Unit4 is the result of successive mergers of ERP and business software companies, notably CODA and Agresso. The company is also a part-owner (with salesforce.com and others) of independently run FinancialForce, which sells a cloud-based ERP system built on the Force.com platform.

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Human Capital, Office of Finance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance

Corvisa Brings New Generation of Contact Center Communications in the Cloud

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 12, 2015 2:32:22 AM

Contact centers in the cloud are increasingly popular alternatives to managing them on a company’s own premises. Running many business applications on hardware owned and managed by a third party is relatively straightforward and requires less support internally. Also the payment model changes from a license to a recurring fee, and typically the vendor provides updates as part of the fee. The challenge with placing a contact center in the cloud is that it is not a single system or even a collection of similar systems. The center includes infrastructure systems to manage communication channels, a network to support telephone extensions and access points to business applications, specialist systems such as routing and IVR, business applications (such as ERP, CRM and workforce management) and performance management and analytics systems; increasingly the contact center has to support mobile and social media as well. Moving all these to the cloud in an integrated manner is a complex task.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Feedback Management, Customer Performance, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Call Center

Salesforce Helps Companies Innovate in Customer Management

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 4, 2015 8:19:38 PM

In recent years I have tracked Salesforce, its product development and its announcements. Despite having grown into a giant corporation, it continues to introduce innovations. At a recent analyst day in the U.K., I followed up on the company’s overall direction, some key product developments and a new service to help drive adoption of innovative customer-related processes. Salesforce’s primary aim is to help organizations market and sell to, service, engage with and know their customers through innovative processes and cloud-based systems. To support these efforts, it has made significant updates to its marketing, service community and analytics clouds. For example, it has added Marketing Cloud Predictive Decisions to its Marketing Cloud. The new module enables marketers to apply analytics to a range of customer-related data to gain a more complete picture of their customers and from it build more personalized marketing messages and campaigns. Business users can set up their own analytics, determine next best actions and deliver marketing messages and dialogues through multiple communication channels. Predictive Decisions helps transform marketing’s approach from general one-off marketing campaigns to one-to-one, personalized dialogues through channels that individuals prefer. On another front, the company has enhanced its Service Cloud with Service Cloud Intelligence Engine. This product also runs across multiple channels. It dynamically pushes work to the right employee, based on the skill set required to handle the task and the history of the request, and at the same time it distributes and manages the workload across employees who handle customer interactions. Analytics here provides an enhanced view of customers so that dialogues concerning a case can be viewed and preserved across all channels. In other developments Community Cloud has been enhanced to expand the range of expert groups to engage, deliver customer self-service as part of a community, and do this on smart mobile devices. Analytics Cloud now can ingest larger volumes and types of customer-related data, including interaction data. It enables both business users and analysts to use a wider range of data sources to find answers to specific questions, also on mobile devices. It also includes capabilities for developers to build specific analytic apps for targeted business uses. My colleague has assessed the product in Salesforce Analytics Cloud Delivers Wave of Elegant Dashboards. All of these developments and existing capabilities have been brought together on what Salesforce calls the Customer Success Platform. It is built on the company’s cloud infrastructure, and as well as its own cloud-based apps, it includes all the partner apps available on the Salesforce app store. A “scalable metadata platform” glues everything together. It includes data and objects, a mobile user interface, collaboration tools, analytics, workflow and identity management. Enhancements  enable developers to build mobile apps for both customers and employees more easily. In the pipeline are capabilities to use wearable technology to collect and display data. Salesforce’s efforts to help companies “do business in a new way” reflect challenges that many companies encounter in trying to serve customers more effectively. Our research into next-generation customer engagement shows that the three most common challenges are integrating systems (49%), managing communication challenges in a unified way and not as silos (47%) and inconsistent responses and information in customer interactions (33%).  My research and customer case studies lead me to conclude that changing processes is the biggest challenge. To meet this challenge Salesforce has introduced a consulting program called Ignite. This collaborative consulting service aims to help organizations design their customer management vision and execution roadmap. It is comprised of four steps: discovery, inspiration and design, prototyping and iteration and doing it. Discovery uses joint workshops and interviews with key stakeholders to introduce the program and its objectives, gain buy-in and discover the current state. Inspiration and design is another series of joint workshops to develop ideas and envision the desired state. Prototyping and iteration uses the new ideas to develop prototypes of how the new vision can be delivered. The “do” step presents and demonstrates the prototypes to stakeholders and develops a value statement and an implementation plan so the business can decide the way forward. Overall this seems to be a fairly typical consulting service that focuses on customer engagement and associated processes, systems and metrics, but it is deliberately collaborative and tailored around Salesforce applications and tools. The main innovation I see is that it is designed to uncover new ways of working that organizations may not have considered. Business, especially around customer engagement, is changing more rapidly than ever, and it is hard for organizations to keep up with technology developments and learn how to gain maximum benefit from them. Ignite should help Salesforce customers identify how they can improve customer management and introduce new approaches to keep ahead of the competition. The Salesforce Customer Success Platform is a comprehensive package of systems that focus on customer management processes, underpinned by improved integration, analytics and collaborative capabilities. Our research consistently finds that most companies are still relatively immature in the use of people, processes, information and systems for customer management. I therefore recommend companies seeking to survive and prosper in today’s highly competitive markets assess how the Salesforce products and service can help. Regards, Richard J. Snow VP & Research Director

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Feedback Management, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Call Center

Infor Makes User Experience A Reason for New Business Applications

Posted by Ventana Research on May 8, 2015 9:45:17 AM

Recently, Infor held its second innovation conference with industry analysts at its New York City headquarters. Infor’s products include the major categories of ERP, human capital management and financial performance management applications. Behind the marketing aspects of its use of “innovation” is a business strategy for retaining existing customers, migrating a sizable percentage of those customers to the cloud and gaining new customers. (Because of the relative size of the installed base, renewals and migrating customers to the cloud are likely to be more important to Infor’s future revenues than adding new customers.) I think it’s useful to assess the content of the event in the context of the company’s business strategy.

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Topics: Human Capital, Office of Finance, UX, Customer Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance

Adaptive Insights Highlights Importance of Strategic Finance

Posted by Ventana Research on Apr 30, 2015 10:24:16 AM

Adaptive Insights held its annual user group meeting recently. A theme sounded in several keynote sessions was the importance of finance departments playing a more strategic role in their companies. Some participating customers described how they have evolved their planning process from being designed mainly to meet the needs of the finance department into a useful tool for managing the entire business. Their path took them from doing basic financial budgeting to planning focused on improving the company’s performance. This is one of the more important ways in which finance organizations can play a more strategic role in corporate management, an objective that more finance organizations are pursuing. Half of the companies participating in our Office of Finance benchmark research said that their finance organization has undertaken initiatives to enhance its strategic value to the company within the last 18 months.

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Topics: Planning, Predictive Analytics, Human Capital, Marketing, Reporting, Sales Forecasting, Budgeting, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Business Planning, Supply Chain, Demand Planning, Integrated Business Planning, Project Planning

How to Get Business Users to Switch from Spreadsheets

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 26, 2015 3:27:06 AM

In our benchmark research at least half of participants that use spreadsheets to support a business process routinely say that these tools make it difficult for them to do their job. Yet spreadsheets continue to dominate in a range of business functions and processes. For example, our recent next-generation business planning research finds that this is the most common software used for performing 11 of the most common types of planning. At the heart of the problem is a disconnect between what spreadsheets were originally designed to do and how they are actually used today in corporations. Desktop spreadsheets were intended to be a personal productivity tool used, for example, for prototyping models, creating ad hoc reports and performing one-off analyses using simple models and storing small amounts of data. They were not built for collaborative, repetitive enterprise-wide tasks, and this is the root cause of most of the issues that organizations encounter when they use them in such business processes.

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Topics: Planning, Sales Performance, ERP, Forecast, GRC, Office of Finance, Reporting, closing, dashboard, enterprise spreadsheet, Excel, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Information Management, Data, Risk, application, benchmark, Financial Performance Management

A New Generation of Analytics Offers Help for Sales

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 24, 2015 8:31:17 PM

All lines of business are under pressure to meet targets and deliver expected results, but none is under more pressure than Sales. Like other organizations it must use information to derive insights about progress and problems and to decide what changes to make. Today businesses collect and analyze data from more data sources in more forms than ever before. To understand it they need effective analytics, and again none need it more than Sales.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Sales Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Information Applications, Sales Performance Management, SFA

The Establishment of Data Preparation

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 21, 2015 12:44:18 AM

Data is an essential ingredient for every aspect of business, and those that use it well are likely to gain advantages over competitors that do not. Our benchmark research on information optimization reveals a variety of drivers for deploying information, most commonly analytics, information access, decision-making, process improvements and customer experience and satisfaction. To accomplish any of these purposes requires that data be prepared through a sequence of steps: accessing, searching, aggregating, enriching, transforming and cleaning data from different sources to cre­ate a single uniform data set. To prepare data properly, businesses need flex­ible tools that enable them to en­rich the context of data drawn from multiple sources, collaborate on its preparation to serve business needs and govern the process of preparation to ensure security and consistency. Users of these tools range from analysts to operations professionals in the lines of business.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Data Preparation, Financial Performance, Information Applications, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Workforce Performance, Information Optimization

MicroStrategy Powers Up Security for Analytics and BI

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 17, 2015 11:43:49 PM

At its annual MicroStrategy World conference, this provider of analytics and business intelligence systems for business and IT introduced a new version of its flagship product, MicroStrategy 9s. Among many advances it adds enterprise grade security with MicroStrategy Usher as part of the maintenance update to its 9.4.1 release. Security is increasingly critical for analytics and BI. Technologies that work intensively with data, including reporting, business intelligence, analytics and data preparation, have access to a range of applications and databases and could leave gaps in access controls and security of essential business data. Already in 2015 the data breach at Anthem put more than 80 million medical records at risk. Our benchmark research in big data analytics finds that integration into security and user access frameworks is a very important capability to 37 percent of organizations.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Sales Performance, Governance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Information Applications, Information Management, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Security

Sales Agenda for Applications and Technology in 2015

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 17, 2015 8:36:06 PM

Most people in business management admit that sales is more an art than a science. Organizations have long struggled to find the right mix to improve its effectiveness, and few get the most out of available technology. For many the default is still to use sales force automation (SFA) and spreadsheets to manage processes and try to increase the productivity of sales staff. In our view they should take a holistic approach to sales processes from contact to close and support everything from sales forecasting to pipeline management to compensation with applications designed for these purposes. Those in sales operations need to apply analytics to understand and fine-tune sales activities. Those in sales management need applications that can help recruit, engage and retain the best talent. Even more than elsewhere in business, in sales people matter, and the organizations that most empower their teams are likely to get the best results. Optimizing people and processes requires a balance of information and technology to support the various needs of the sales organization.

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Topics: Sales, Recurring Revenue, Sales Compensation, Sales Forecasting, Customer Performance, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, CRM, SFA

Oracle Advances Analytics and Business Intelligence for Big Data and Cloud Computing

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 17, 2015 7:22:33 PM

Oracle is one of the world's largest business intelligence and analytics software companies. Its products range from middleware, back-end databases and ETL tools to business intelligence applications and cloud platforms, and it is well established in many corporate and government accounts. A key to Oracle's ongoing success is in transitioning its business intelligence and analytics portfolio to self-service, big data and cloud deployments. To that end, three areas in which the company has innovated are fast, scalable access for transaction data; exploratory data access for less structured data; and cloud-based business intelligence.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Performance, endeca, OBIEE, OBIFS, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Oracle

Cisco Provides a Portfolio of Contact Center Products

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 17, 2015 7:12:59 PM

I recently attended a Cisco Collaboration analyst day in the U.K. and was impressed by what I heard and saw. Cisco  of course is known as a supplier of network equipment and software, and it has long provided these through a global network of partners. But Cisco also has been in the contact center market for several years and has had success with its small and enterprise contact center systems, having more than 20,000 on-premises customers and revenue in excess of US $1.5 billion. Cisco markets the contact center systems as Customer Collaboration , but the portfolio is still based on its two longstanding contact center products: Unified Contact Center Enterprise  and  Unified Contact Center Express , designed for larger and smaller centers, respectively. Two other options are  CiscoPackaged Contact Center Enterprise  and  Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution for Contact Center (HCS-CC) . These both use the Enterprise products, but the first comes packaged and so has less options, and the second is based on cloud computing; both are easier to deploy and more affordable for a wider market than the other options.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Text Analytics

Making Business Planning More Accurate, Effective and Useful

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 5, 2015 8:09:52 PM

Business planning includes all of the forward-looking activities in which companies routinely engage. Companies do a great deal of planning. They plan sales and determine what and how they will produce products or deliver services. They plan the head count they’ll need and how to organize distribution and their supply chain. They also produce a budget, which is a financial plan. The purpose of planning is to be successful. Planning is defined as the process of creating a detailed formulation of a program of action to achieve some overall objective. But it’s more than that. The process of planning involves discussions about objectives and the resources and tactics that people need to achieve them. When it’s done right, planning is the best way to get everyone onto the same page to ensure that the company is well organized in executing strategy. Setting and to a greater degree changing the company’s course require coordination. Being well coordinated in this case means being able to understanding the impact of the policies and actions in your part of the company on the rest of the company.

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Topics: Big Data, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Human Capital, Marketing, Office of Finance, Reporting, Sales Forecasting, Budgeting, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Business Planning, Supply Chain, Demand Planning, Integrated Business Planning, Project Planning, S&OP

Research Agenda: Technology Innovation for Business in 2015

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 2, 2015 7:09:32 AM

This year presents much opportunity for organizations to use a new generation of technology to compete better, be more efficient in their business operations and engage their workforces to their full potential. We have identified and begun to track the following next-generation technologies: analytics, big data, collaboration, cloud computing, mobile technology and social media, and in 2014 we added wearable computing to the list. In 2015 we will intensify our focus on all of them specifically in our research agenda and as part of our line of business research agendas.

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

Research Agenda: Business Analytics Trends and Possibilities in 2015

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 29, 2015 9:21:59 PM

Our benchmark research into business technology innovation shows that analytics ranks first or second as a business technology innovation priority in 59 percent of organizations. Businesses are moving budgets and responsibilities for analytics closer to the sales operations, often in the form of so-called shadow IT organizations that report into decentralized and autonomous business units rather than a central IT organization. New technologies such as in-memory systems (50%), Hadoop (42%) and data warehouse appliances (33%) are top back-end technologies being used to acquire a new generation of analytic capabilities. They are enabling new possibilities including self-service analytics, mobile access, more collaborative interaction and real-time analytics. In 2014, Ventana Research helped lead the discussion around topics such as information optimization, data preparation, big data analytics and mobile business intelligence. In 2015, we will continue to cover these topics while adding new areas of innovation as they emerge.

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Topics: Big Data, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Data Preparation, Information Applications, Information Management, Operational Intelligence, analytical application, analytics in the cloud

Make Automating the Office of Finance and Accounting a Priority

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 27, 2015 7:49:48 AM

Our recent Office of Finance benchmark research demonstrates the importance of using automation to execute finance department functions. Information technology systems do at least two things very well that make better use of people’s time, and both of them can substantially improve organizational performance. First, they eliminate the need for people to do repetitive tasks, which frees them to spend time on more valuable work that requires judgment and skill. IT systems also can be programmed to focus only on relevant information while eliminating the need to get immersed in detail. The latter capability supports a “management by exception” approach, which enables executives and managers to better allocate how and where they spend their time.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Planning, ERP, FP&A, Office of Finance, Reporting, Self-service, Budgeting, close, closing, computing, Controller, dashboard, Tax, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Financial Performance, CFO, Data, finance, Financial Performance Management, FPM, Microsoft Excel, Spreadsheets

Research Agenda: Customer Technology for 2015

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 23, 2015 9:48:29 AM

I recently wrote about customer experience lessons I learned during 2014 and the technologies required to deliver EPIC experiences. Both of these analyses focus on the people, processes, information and technologies required to improve the customer experience at every touch point, and these themes will also be at the heart of our customer technology research agenda for 2015.

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Topics: Big Data, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Workforce Optimization Software Vendor Ratings in Perspective

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 14, 2015 9:47:34 AM

As with many other research topics, Ventana Research investigates workforce optimization in two ways. Our benchmark research into next-generation workforce optimization assesses how companies use workforce optimization systems now and intend to in the future, while our Workforce Optimization Value Index evaluates how well workforce optimization products and vendors match buyers’ needs.  In our newly released 2015 Workforce Optimization Value Index the top vendors are Verint and VPI, both rated Hot, followed by five other Hot vendors: NICE Systems, OnviSource, Aspect, Calabrio and Envision. The overall scores place all seven Hot vendors within four percentage points of each other, and only a further three percentage points separate the three Warm vendors – Genesys, KnoahSoft and Interactive Intelligence. The closeness of the scoring suggests that this is a mature market and in most respects vendors support much the same features.

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Topics: Big Data, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

ManyWho Brings New Approach to Workflow and Business Efficiency

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 12, 2015 9:51:37 AM

ManyWho was launched in May 2013 by two former Salesforce.com executives, Dave Norris and Steve Wood. They branded it the Cloud Workflow Company, It offers an innovative approach that allows organizations to create workflows, automatically convert them into business applications and run the apps on multiple types of devices. The key to its success lies in the second and third steps, which differentiate ManyWho from most other business process optimization vendors; the process maps that users produce are not static representations of how business processes should work but instead become apps that monitor what is happening and enable the next step in completing the process.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Self-service, Operational Performance, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, CRM

Salesforce Innovates in Customer Engagement

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 8, 2015 6:41:15 AM

When Salesforce.com began in 1999 its stated intent was “to reinvent CRM in the cloud.” In 15 years, the company has achieved much more than that, having a major impact on the way IT systems are delivered: Large numbers of vendors have followed its example to provide cloud-based systems. It added a platform as a cloud – a software development environment in the cloud – to its portfolio, introduced an apps store where many vendors sell their products and services, moved into social and mobile computing, and expanded CRM in the cloud to marketing, sales and service clouds. And it continues to innovate in the fast-changing business software market.

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Topics: Big Data, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Self-service, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Interactive Intelligence Innovates in the Cloud for Contact Centers

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 26, 2014 7:31:32 AM

Interactive Intelligence is a well-established supplier of contact center systems and just celebrated its 20th anniversary. Customer Interaction Center (CIC) is its on-premises product, which provides integrated management of multiple communication channels and supports a high degree of customization. Communications as a Service (CaaS) is a virtual private cloud (for single tenants) version of CIC and as such offers less potential for customization. Recently Interactive Intelligence released PureCloud, an innovative cloud-based service that is available through Amazon Web Services.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Self-service, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Intacct Improves Cloud of Collaboration, Payments and Reporting

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 18, 2014 8:25:20 AM

Financial management software provider Intacct recently held its seventh annual user conference. In addition to a long list of enhancements in current and upcoming product releases, the company used the occasion to announce Intacct Collaborate, a capability built into its software that enables finance and accounting organizations to work together to answer questions or resolve issues while performing a process. Our benchmark research shows that collaboration ranks second in importance behind analytics as a technology innovation priority. Collaborative capabilities in software will multiply over the next several years as software transitions from the rigid constructs established in the client/server days, which force users to adapt to the limitations of the software, to fluid and dynamic designs that mold themselves around the needs of the user. A while back, I noted that finance and accounting organizations need collaborative capabilities although they might not realize it. At the same time, finance departments have their own requirements for these systems that reflect the character and constraints of the work they do. This means narrowcast, not broadcast, feeds (Finance doesn’t want a Facebook or Twitter experience because it considers much of what it does to be confidential) and in-context collaborative capabilities to simplify the working environment.

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Topics: Performance Management, Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, ERP, Human Capital Management, NetSuite, Office of Finance, Reporting, cloud ERP, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Chatter, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Dashboards, Financial Performance, FinancialForce, Intacct

New Technology to Recruit, Engage and Retain Employees

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 4, 2014 8:12:30 AM

Most HR technology practitioners and vendors attend the annual HR Technology Conference and Exposition. One of the largest industry gatherings, it provides an indicator of their levels of investment and the hottest trends. This year’s event revealed new technologies and approaches to two key human resources processes – recruitment and retention. They included predictive analytics and big data as well mobile delivery to allow employees easier access to applications. Regarding the first two, these technologies can help managers make better informed and more intelligent decisions from their masses of HR data. It seems that investment in recruiting applications has increased with the growth of the economy. Earlier this year I described how many vendors are investing in recruiting applications. At HR Tech I saw this trend continuing, hearing from vendors that are focused on evolving their recruiting software. Among the new products in recruiting is HireVue Insights, which uses predictive logic and big data to analyze the desirability of candidates. HireVue recently won our 2014 Ventana Research Technology Innovation award for this offering. In addition, talent management vendor Cornerstone OnDemand announced an agreement to acquire Evolv, whose primary product also uses big data and predictive models to match candidates to positions. Our benchmark research on human capital analytics shows that many organizations are considering investments in big data for human capital analytics in almost half of organizations, so these and other products appear to be in step with market demand.

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Topics: Social Media, Kronos, Peoplefluent, Recruiting, Wearable Computing, Fuel50, Operational Performance, Smart Watches, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, IBM, Oracle, Workforce Performance, Ceridian, HireVue, Saba, HR Tech, HR Technology Conference, Qualtrics, Tanner Labs

Technology Can Enhance Performance in Finance Departments

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 29, 2014 9:39:31 AM

Finance transformation” refers to a longstanding objective: shifting the focus of CFOs and finance departments from transaction processing to more strategic, higher-value functions. Our upcoming Office of Finance benchmark research confirms that most of organizations want their finance department to take a more strategic role in management of the company: nine in 10 participants said that it’s important or very important. (We are using “finance” in its broadest sense, including, for example, accounting, corporate finance, financial planning and analysis, treasury and tax functions.) Finance departments have the ability and at least an implicit mandate to improve business performance and enable a corporation to execute strategy more effectively. Yet the research shows that becoming strategic is a work in progress. Most departments handle the basics well, but half fall short in areas that can contribute significantly to the performance of their company. More than three-fourths of participants said they perform accounting, external financial reporting, financial analysis, budgeting and management accounting well or very well. But only half said that about their ability to do product and customer profitability management, strategic and long-range planning and business development.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Performance Management, Predictive Analytics, Social Media, ERP, FP&A, Office of Finance, Reporting, Management, close, closing, computing, Controller, Tax, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Financial Performance, CFO, finance, Tagetik, FPM

Oracle’s Larry Ellison Challenges Human Capital Management Market

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 9, 2014 1:04:54 AM

This year Oracle OpenWorld conference opened with a fiery speech by Larry Ellison, who has stepped down from his role as CEO to become Executive Chairman and CTO. Filling his rhetoric with claims of market leadership and attacks on competitors SAP and Workday, Ellison set an aggressive tone for those who followed him. In a talk relevant to my research practice, Chris Leone, senior vice president of applications development, asserted that Oracle is making progress in human capital management (HCM) as it enters the fourth year of offering the Human Capital Management Cloud. Leone asserted that Oracle now has 13,500 overall HCM customers, roughly half those being global customers, which is significant as Oracle touts its global capabilities as a differentiator. He provided statistics on growth of the cloud products; one was that over the past year Oracle has gained over 1,000 new talent management customers for its Cloud HCM business.

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Topics: Mobile, Social Media, HCM, Human Capital Analytics, Human Capital Management, Core HR, Employee Engagement, Platform as a service, TM, Wellness, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Mobility, Oracle, HRMS, Talent Management, Social, PaaS

Infor Advances Business Computing

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 29, 2014 6:14:26 AM

Infor recently held its annual Inforum user group meeting, along with a series of sessions with analysts. The $2 billion business software company has products in the major categories of ERP (including enterprise financial management), human capital management, customer relationship management and performance management among others.

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Topics: Microsoft, Mobile, SaaS, Sales, Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, Supply Chain Performance, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Office of Finance, Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV Dynamics SL, Kenandy, PSA, Sage Software, Unit4, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, CFO, FinancialForce, HR, Infor, Workday, HANA, Plex, Professional Services Automation

ADP Bets Future on HCM

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 29, 2014 5:28:03 AM

ADP recently held its annual analyst day in the company’s new innovation center in the Chelsea district of Manhattan. The location emphasized what ADP wanted to get across to the analyst community at the event: that it intends to become a significant vendor of human capital management (HCM) software based in the cloud. ADP hopes to broaden its business from being largely an outsourcing vendor of payroll and related services (such as for auto dealers) to one that provides software for a range of HCM activities.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Social Media, HCM, Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, Predictive, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Mobility, Workforce Performance, compliance, HR, HRMS, Healthcare Compliance

What’s Next?: The Interplay of Software and Hardware with Business and Consumers

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 11, 2014 9:49:04 AM

“What’s next?” is the perennially insistent question in information technology. One common observation about the industry holds that cycles of innovation alternate between hardware and software. New types and forms of hardware enable innovations in software that utilize the power of that hardware. These innovations create new markets, alter consumer behavior and change how work is performed. This, in turn, sets the stage for new types and forms of hardware that complement these emerging product and service markets as well as the new ways of performing work, creating products and fashioning services that they engender. For example, the emerging collection of wearable computing devices seems likely to generate a new wave of software/hardware innovation, as my colleague Mark Smith has noted. This said, I think that the idea of alternating cycles no longer applies. It would be convenient if we could assign discrete time periods to hardware dominance and software dominance, but like echoes as they fade, the reverberations are no longer as neatly synchronized as they once were. Moreover, adoption and adaptation of technology by consumers reflected in the design of work, products and services always lags – and lags in different ways, further blurring the timing of cycles.

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Topics: Mobile, Performance Management, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, ERP, Office of Finance, Reporting, Wearable Computing, Management, close, closing, computing, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, finance, FPM

Next Generation of Human Resources Technologies Elevates Potential of Employees

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 3, 2014 8:44:02 PM

The human resources management system (HRMS) have been a central part of human resources departments for decades. Though useful to HR, these systems have also been static. Speaking generally, their functionality has not advanced greatly while other technologies have made great strides, and the information in them has been restricted to mostly use by HR professionals. However, along with growth in distinct and integrated talent management systems and in workforce management systems, this has begun to change as the HRMS is being integrated with these newer systems. The changes make it possible for HRMSs to become more strategic as HR professionals use them in new ways. To that end, Ventana Research will conduct a benchmark research project to evaluate the evolution of these systems and processes to determine where they are becoming more strategic applications for HR.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Social Media, HCM, TM, WFM, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Information Applications, Workforce Performance, HRMS, Talent Management, Workforce Management, HR Management, HRIS

Ventana Research Rates Total Compensation Management Software in 2014 Value Index

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 22, 2014 9:14:20 AM

Now available from Ventana Research is our Value Index on Total Compensation Management for 2014.  Total compensation management directly addresses one of an organization’s largest investments – employee pay. As such it is a critical activity for supporting other human capital management and talent management processes.

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Topics: SAP, Human Capital Management, Kenexa, Peoplefluent, SuccessFactors, Decusoft, Towers Watson, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, IBM, Mobility, Oracle, Workforce Performance, Compensation, SumTotal Systems, TCM, Value Index, beqom, Pay for Performance

Workday Bolsters Human Capital Management

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 14, 2014 8:46:39 AM

In the past year Workday has been making efforts to improve its human capital management (HCM) suite focused directly on the core human resources management systems and talent management software. In my previous analyst perspective about Workday I looked at its mobile capabilities for HCM. These additions, in concert with the enhancements discussed here, offer useful improvements. I have also noticed changes in the HCM market that impact all large competitors in it, including Workday. Before discussing these changes, it might help to summarize the company’s past three major releases.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Social Media, HCM, Recruiting, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Workforce Performance, Workday, HR/Payroll

The Next Generation of Predictive Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 3, 2014 8:52:46 AM

Our benchmark research consistently shows that business analytics is the most significant technology trend in business today and acquiring effective predictive analytics is organizations’ top priority for analytics. It enables them to look forward rather than backward and, participate organizations reported, leads to competitive advantage and operational efficiencies.

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Topics: Big Data, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Statistics, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Data Integration, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Applications, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Workforce Performance

NetSuite Rides Wave of Cloud ERP Adoption

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 3, 2014 8:19:04 AM

Like other vendors of cloud-based ERP software, NetSuite offers the key benefits of software as a service (SaaS): a smaller upfront investment, faster time to value and potentially lower operating costs. Beyond that NetSuite’s essential point of competitive differentiation from is broad functionality beyond financial management, including capabilities for customer relationship management (CRM), professional services automation (PSA) and human capital management (HCM). These components make it easier for businesses to manage processes from end to end (such as quote- or order-to-cash) as well as to have transactions and business data available in a single system in consistent forms and synchronized. This in turn facilitates real-time reporting, dashboards and the use of analytics that integrate a wider set of functional data. Midsize companies are most likely to benefit from this integration because typically they have smaller, less sophisticated IT staffs than larger ones. A side benefit of having a single, integrated data source is improvement of situational awareness and visibility for executives and managers. It also enables organizations to reduce their use of spreadsheets for stitching together processes, doing routine analyses and reporting. These sorts of activities waste valuable time and reduce an organization’s agility.

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Topics: Microsoft, Mobile, SaaS, Sales, Social Media, Customer Experience, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Office of Finance, communications, Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV Dynamics SL, PSA, Sage Software, UI, Unit4, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, CFO, CRM, FinancialForce, HR, Infor, Social, Financial Performance Management, FPM, Plex, Professional Services Automation, Workday Collaboration

IBM Advances Business Experience in Using Advanced Analytics

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 3, 2014 9:13:31 PM

The developed world has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to information technology. Individuals walk around with far more computing power and data storage in their pockets than was required to send men to the moon. People routinely hold on their laps what would have been considered a supercomputer a generation ago. There is a wealth of information available on the Web. And the costs of these information assets are a tiny fraction of what they were decades ago. Consumer products have been at the forefront in utilizing information technology capabilities. The list of innovations is staggering. The “smart” phone is positively brilliant. Games are now a far bigger business than motion pictures.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Predictive Analytics, Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Experience, Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, IBM, finance, Sales Performance Management, Social, Financial Performance Management, SPSS

Cornerstone Improves Employee Engagement through Talent Management

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 2, 2014 10:09:30 AM

Cornerstone OnDemand is a large pure-play vendor of talent management software, with more than 1,700 clients, more than 14.5 million users and more than 60 percent growth in revenue over the past 12 months. At the company’s annual customer conference this year, CEO Adam Miller talked about a trend in the market of talent management applications going beyond automating a series of processes to help engage employees within organizations. I agree with this analysis and would extend the trend to cover the full range of human capital management (HCM) applications.

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Topics: Social Media, Human Capital Analytics, Human Capital Management, LMS, Employee Engagement, Employee Onboarding, Usability, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Workforce Performance, Cornerstone OnDemand

SAP Sets Course for Simple ERP

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jun 9, 2014 10:35:29 AM

The keynote theme at this year’s Sapphire conference in Orlando was Simple. Top executives from SAP, a software company associated with complexity, stated and restated that its future direction is to simplify all aspects of its products and the ways customers interact with them and the company itself. SAP’s longstanding and commendable aspiration to thoroughness in its software will be giving way to an emphasis on elegance in its engineering. This objective is more than admirable – SAP’s future competitiveness depends on it. Changing the fundamental architecture of SAP’s offerings – already well under way with HANA – is absolutely necessary. The design underpinnings in SAP’s ERP applications, for example, have been shaped by technology limitations that have disappeared, as Dr. Hasso Plattner, one of the company’s founders, pointed out in his keynote. However, the relevant issue facing SAP and the software market is how far the company can progress toward this goal  and how fast.

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Topics: Microsoft, Mobile, SaaS, Sales, Salesforce.com, Supply Chain Performance, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Office of Finance, Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV Dynamics SL, Kenandy, PSA, Sage Software, Unit4, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Financial Performance, CFO, FinancialForce, HR, Infor, Workday, HANA, Plex, Professional Services Automation

InContact Advances Workforce Optimization for Contact Centers

Posted by Ventana Research on May 29, 2014 10:11:02 AM

InContact has cloud-based products that cover multichannel communications infrastructure (sometimes referred to as a “contact center in the cloud”) and workforce optimization. The channel management products were developed by inContact and through a partnership with Verint. InContact has been working to make Verint’s workforce optimization products available in the cloud while integrating the two sets of products. I met Kristyn Emenecker, inContact’s VP of workforce optimization, at the recent ICMI Contact Center Expo to find out how the recent announcement that it has acquired Uptivity, which also provides workforce optimization products in the cloud, will impact that partnership and the future direction for the products.

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

Ultimate Software Modernizes and Expands Human Capital Management Suite

Posted by Ventana Research on May 28, 2014 9:48:54 AM

Ultimate Software is one of the larger players in the market for human capital management (HCM) software, with roots in providing human resources and payroll management products. Recently I attended its annual Connections conference. Last year the company focused attention on expansion of its global capabilities, which I analyzed, while this year it highlighted broadening and modernizing of the product suite.

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Topics: Mobile, HCM, Office of Finance, Recruiting, Ultimate Software, Business Collaboration, Workforce Performance, Compensation, HRMS, Talent Management, HR Management

Saba Advances Talent Management with Recruiting and Intelligence

Posted by Ventana Research on May 15, 2014 9:54:30 AM

At Saba’s recent global customer conference executives discussed the company’s latest product enhancements, progress made during the past year and plans for the future. Saba provides a talent management suite that includes all capabilities except compensation management and is a leading vendor of corporate learning management systems. The majority of its 2,200 customers and 31 million users in 195 countries use the learning system, Learning@Work.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Social Media, HCM, Human Capital Management, Predictive, Recruiting, Learning Management, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Saba, Talent Management

Infor at the End of the Beginning

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 3, 2014 10:54:52 PM

From my perspective, Infor’s strategy to accelerate revenue growth is to offer companies more innovation and a lower and more predictable cost of ownership than its rivals in the business software market; its products include the major categories of ERP, human resources and financial performance management. It aims to innovate by focusing on improving the user experience and to lower costs by redesigning its software architecture. The innovation stems from a fresh approach to designing interactions between users and business software: simplifying it and providing a more modern user experience that people have grown accustomed to in their personal software. The better cost-effectiveness rests on designing its software to reduce the expense of integrating and customizing it. One element of this is creating richer functionality for narrowly segmented micro-verticals. Another is offering cloud-based versions built on less expensive open source infrastructure and third-party commodity services. The software markets that Infor serves are mature and offer limited growth. So to be successful the company must increase both its market share and its share of a company’s IT spend (capturing internal IT spending and outlays to third-party consultants and systems integrators). To prove that the company’s strategy is working will require sustained organic growth (excluding new acquisitions) in revenues.

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Topics: Microsoft, Mobile, SaaS, Sales, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Customer Experience, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Office of Finance, Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV Dynamics SL, Sage Software, UI, Unit4, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Information Management, Workforce Performance, CFO, FinancialForce, HR, Infor, Workday, Financial Performance Management, FPM, Plex

New Generation of Learning Management Systems

Posted by Ventana Research 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: Big Data, Mobile, Social Media, HCM, LMS, Learning Management, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Workforce Performance, HR, Training, benchmark, HR research

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, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Operational Intelligence, Workforce Performance, Strata+Hadoop

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, Office of Finance, Chief Risk Officer, CRO, ERM, OpenPages, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Data Governance, Financial Performance, IBM, compliance, Data, Risk, Financial Services, FPM

Kronos Innovates and Leads Workforce Management

Posted by Ventana Research 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, Office of Finance, Technology Innovation Award, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Workforce Performance, compliance, HR, HRMS, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Value Index, Workforce Management, Social

NICE Delivers Customer Interactions with Next Generation Workforce Optimization

Posted by Ventana Research 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, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Workforce Force Optimization

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: Big Data, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, 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

Customer Analytics Research Reveals Required Capabilities for Software

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 29, 2014 9:52:40 AM

Our recently released research into next-generation customer analytics shows that the most participants (52%) use spreadsheets as a customer analytics tool. I recently wrote that while these popular tools are adequate for some tasks, they are not suitable for analyzing large volumes and many types of customer data. So I think it is appropriate that one in four (26%) participants have adopted a dedicated customer analytics tool and a further 29 percent are planning to invest in such a tool in the next 24 months.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Information Applications, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics

Ceridian Expands Workforce Management to Human Capital Management

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 29, 2014 9:33:13 AM

At its recent 2014 analyst day Ceridian showed the progress it has made on its Ceridian and Dayforce human capital management (HCM) platform since last year’s launch of its broader HCM portfolio. Ceridian’s overall HCM business, which the company says had revenue of $950 million in 2013 and now has more than 100,000 customers, consists largely of payroll-related products and services such as tax filing and payroll cards, but also benefits, human resources and workforce management products.

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Topics: Mobile, SaaS, Social Media, HCM, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Workforce Performance, Ceridian, Document Management, HR, Talent Management

Oracle Has Sunny Forecast for Cloud Computing

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 20, 2014 9:35:10 AM

At Oracle’s recent cloud computing analyst summit in sunny Palm Springs, the company’s executive team insisted that it sees clear skies for its efforts in cloud computing. The summit was led by senior executive Thomas Kurian, who runs the entire product organization and reports directly to CEO Larry Ellison. He affirmed that Oracle intends to offer the full range of cloud computing – public, private and hybrid models – to its customers and partners. As one of the world’s largest software suppliers Oracle has much at stake to make its database and all tools and applications available in these cloud environments, including managed cloud services. Our business technology innovation research shows this is a smart bet. Cloud computing is important or very important to 57 percent of organizations, and more than half (55%) of cloud users have been using it for more than a year. I noted in 2013 that simplifying IT and innovating in business are key to its software strategy, and Oracle’s efforts since then have executed on this outline.

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Topics: Big Data, Database, Microsoft, SaaS, Sales Performance, Social Media, Software as a Service, Supply Chain Performance, Middleware, Oracle Cloud, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, IBM, Information Applications, Information Management, Oracle, Workforce Performance, Database as a Service, Verizon

IBM Delivers New Talent Management Suite

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 13, 2014 1:11:02 AM

At its recent Connect 2014 event IBM announced IBM Kenexa Talent Suite, an integrated talent management suite. The release strengthens its Smarter Workforce initiative by combining IBM and Kenexa products and services in one human capital management (HCM) offering. IBM Kenexa Talent Suite also addresses increasing efforts by human resources organizations to optimize their activities through more effective use of technology, a topic covered in our 2014 HCM research agenda. Specifically, the release integrates talent management process automation capabilities with collaboration and also can be complemented with its workforce analytics to help organizations be more efficient and productive; our benchmark research shows these are the leading benefits of using human capital analytics systems.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, SAP, Social Media, HCM, Kenexa, Recruiting, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, IBM, Oracle, Workforce Performance, Cognitive Computing, HR, IBM Watson, Social

Salesforce.com Continues Move to be Platform Provider

Posted by Ventana Research 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, Social CRM, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM

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 Ventana Research 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

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, Office of Finance, Budgeting, close, dashboard, PRO, Tax, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, CIO, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, In-memory, CFO, Supply Chain, CEO, demand management, Financial Performance Management, FPM, 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, Smart Phones, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Information Applications, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Tablets

Economic Recovery Spurs Growth in Recruiting Software

Posted by Ventana Research 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: Big Data, MicroStrategy, Mobile, Mobile Business Intelligence, Pentaho, Sales Performance, SAP, SAS, Tableau, Jaspersoft, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, IBM, Information Builders, Oracle, Workforce Performance, Yellowfin, 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 Ventana Research 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, 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

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

The Future of Customer Engagement Is Complicated

Posted by Ventana Research 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: Big Data, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

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

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

The Value Index of Workforce Management Software for 2014

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

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

Customer Engagement in 2014: Agenda for Delivering Best Customer Experience

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

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

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

Verint Doubles Down on Customer Engagement with Acquisition of KANA

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

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

IBM Integrates Risk Management for Financial Services

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 18, 2013 9:47:52 AM

Integrated risk management (IRM) was a major theme at IBM’s recent Smarter Risk Management analyst summit in London. In the market context, IBM sees this topic as a means to differentiate its product and messaging from those of its competitors. IRM includes cloud-based offerings in operational risk analytics, IT risk analytics and financial crimes management designed for financial institutions and draws on component elements of software that IBM acquired over the past five years, notably from Algorithmics for risk-aware business decisions, Open Pages for compliance management, SPSS for sophisticated analytics, Cognos for reports, dashboards and scorecards, and Tivoli for managing all of this in a Web environment. Putting its software in the cloud enables IBM to streamline integration and maintenance, offer more flexible deployment and consumption options and potentially lower the total cost of ownership.

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Topics: Supply Chain Performance, GRC, Office of Finance, Chief Risk Officer, CRO, ERM, OpenPages, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Data Governance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), IBM, Information Applications, Information Management, Operational Intelligence, compliance, Data, Risk, Financial Services, FPM

Companies Struggle to Engage with Customers Digitally

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 11, 2013 8:45:11 AM

If you stop to compare communication preferences of the past to those of today, you can’t fail to notice some major changes, especially in younger generations. Talking on the phone – fixed or mobile – is in decline, as many people now prefer text messaging, chat and social media. We rely on the Internet to search for websites, run mobile apps and use social media. We watch less TV in real time, preferring to watch what we want, when we want to watch it and to skip advertisements. The same applies to newspapers, with many people preferring to have the news they want to see downloaded to their smart devices. Today, any email from someone we don’t know goes straight to the junk mail folder, and writing seems to be becoming a lost art. This is the world of the digital customer. Companies have to support digital customers while continuing to support others who still make phone calls, send email and even write letters. According to my research into next-generation customer engagement, most companies are not yet prepared to meet the expectations of digital customers.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Failure in Agent Workforce Optimization Adoption Plagues Customer Interaction

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 5, 2013 7:40:20 AM

Ventana Research defines workforce optimization as a set of processes and technology for customer agents that include interaction (call) recording, quality monitoring, workforce management, training and coaching, compensation management and analytics. My benchmark research into next-generation workforce optimization set out to discover the people, processes, information and systems companies are using to get more from their customer service agents, the benefits they have gained, their plans to change and the barriers holding back those changes. Our research projects apply the Ventana Research Maturity Model™ to evaluate the maturity of organizations in a given market or with respect to a business or IT process. In this case our analysis shows that based on current practices nearly half of companies are at the lowest Tactical level of maturity and only 13 percent have reached the highest Innovative level. Closer examination of the results shows that companies are least mature in their use of technology for workforce optimization, with half at the Tactical level. Much has changed in the way companies handle customer interactions. Two of the biggest changes I have seen in various research are that companies now support more channels of communication and more employees around the organization are involved in handling interactions, meaning companies need to review their workforce optimization systems and begin to take advantage of these advances. Yet the research shows that most of them aren’t yet doing that.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Experience, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Financial Performance, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics

FinancialForce.com Expands into Human Capital and Supply Chain Management

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 28, 2013 6:39:14 AM

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.

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Topics: Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Operational Performance, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance

No Need to Dream of Customer Engagement at Dreamforce

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 19, 2013 7:32:49 AM

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.

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Topics: Big Data, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Companies Need to Reconcile Customer Interaction Priorities

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 16, 2013 8:50:10 AM

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.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Self-service, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

PROS Will Acquire Cameleon to Enhance Sales Effectiveness

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 6, 2013 8:51:03 AM

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.

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, FP&A, PRO, PROS, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Financial Performance, CFO, CPQ, CEO, FPM, Price Optimization, Profitability

Infor Aims to Reinvent Business Applications

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 6, 2013 8:18:55 AM

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.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Natural Analytics Transforming QlikView

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 28, 2013 6:05:49 AM

QlikTech executives unveiled the future of what I cover in business analytics at its recent industry analyst summit in what they framed as natural analytics and how it underlies the company’s next major release in 2014, and with what they call QlikView.Next which they have outlined publicly. Anthony Deighton, SVP Products and Donald Farmer, VP of Product Management, did most of the talking, but it is clear that the idea unifies the business and technology strategy for its future.

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Topics: QlikView, discovery tools, IT Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Information Applications, Qlik

IBM Social Business Bets on Key Application and Technologies

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 24, 2013 8:25:24 AM

I recently attended an IBM event about its new social business products and services. I was skeptical at first: I have seen another vendor’s “social enterprise” come and go, and although companies need to address customer use of social media, I don’t think “social” is the path businesses should take; it is more to do with collaboration. However, I quickly learned that IBM sees things rather differently. Its starting point is the need for companies to make their workforces smarter – something I agree with. Employees are the heart of a company; for example, according to my research into customer service and the agent desktop, not only do happy, empowered employees twice as often deliver superior customer experiences, but they also meet customer-related targets more often, and deliver or retain more satisfied and more loyal customers who spend more.

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Topics: Big Data, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Self-service, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

CEOs and Executives Need Business Planning Software

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 22, 2013 10:19:24 AM

Business planning is a new software category. These applications enable senior executives to integrate all the plans of business units into a single, integrated view, which helps them have more accurate plans, do more insightful what-if planning, achieve greater agility in reacting to changing business and economic conditions, and execute plans in a more coordinated fashion than was possible. Business planning software is intended for CEOs and COOs, who are not well served by current capabilities. Business planning software enables executives and managers to understand both the operational and the financial consequences of their actions, but it emphasizes the things that the various parts of the business focus on: units sold, sales calls made, the number and types of employees required, customers serviced and so on. Lines of business already do this but in a fragmented fashion using desktop spreadsheets circulated within silos via email. Business planning software provides a platform to support modeling in individual business units, individual planning processes and visualization of the impacts of changes in what-if scenarios. It offers a central data repository for all plans; our benchmark research shows the advantage of this approach: Companies that directly link individual business unit data to an integrated plan get more accurate results. To be specific, 22 percent of those with such links have very accurate budgets compared to just a handful with less direct links and none that employ summarized data.

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Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Office of Finance, Reporting, Budgeting, Controller, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, In-memory, Workforce Performance, CFO, Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, FPM, Integrated Business Planning

Oracle Demonstrates Innovation in Human Capital Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 15, 2013 6:24:27 AM

The 2013 Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco was unique in several ways. Against the background of the America’s Cup yacht races on the bay, which Team Oracle won in an amazing comeback, this was the first year in which OpenWorld dedicated a separate track to the full aspects of human capital management (HCM). This emphasis helped to demonstrate Oracle’s increased commitment to HCM. That and several important innovations in the company’s Oracle HCM Cloud product suite led us to select Oracle as winner of this year’s Ventana Research Technology Innovation Award for HCM. (For some background, see my colleague Mark Smith’s assessment of Oracle at its analyst day last spring.)

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Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Gamifiacation, HCM, OpenWorld, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Oracle, Workforce Performance

Key Insights from Call Centre Expo 2013

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 11, 2013 1:04:58 PM

Two years ago I wrote about communications in the cloud taking over the annual U.K. contact center event Call Centre Expo. Now that dominance is almost complete. At one point at this year’s event I was standing at the center of the show floor and without taking a step I spotted 11 vendors all offering some form of communications in the cloud. This term includes all the systems that manage the various communication channels companies now support for managing customer interactions: telephone, email, fax, postal mail, corporate websites, chat, mobile text messaging, video and social media. Not long ago these channels would have been bundled into the contact center infrastructure and typically managed by disparate, on-premises, often proprietary systems. Now, as these systems reach the ends of their lives, companies are looking for more cost-effective and integrated ways to support multiple communication channels and increasingly are moving to cloud-based systems, which my last benchmark research on the contact center in the cloud identified as the third-most common response to the challenges of interaction-handling.

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Topics: Big Data, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Speech Analytics, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Text Analytics

Find Out Which Is the Hottest Financial Performance Management Software

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 9, 2013 8:55:51 AM

We recently issued our 2013 Value Index on Financial Performance Management. Ventana Research defines financial performance management (FPM) as the process of addressing the often overlapping people, process, information and technology issues that affect how well finance organizations operate and support the activities of the rest of their organization. FPM deals with the full cycle of finance department activities, which includes planning and budgeting, analysis, assessment and review, closing and consolidation, and internal and external financial reporting, as well as the underlying IT systems that support them. Our Value Index is informed by more than a decade of analysis of how well technology suppliers and their products satisfy specific business and IT needs. 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. Our resulting index gauges the value offered by each individual vendor and its products in supporting FPM, which is necessary for running an organization efficiently and effectively.

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Topics: Mobile, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Office of Finance, Budgeting, closing, Consolidation, contingency planning, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, CFO, Value Index, Financial Performance Management

Next-Generation ERP Must Take a Giant Leap

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 25, 2013 12:07:27 AM

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems emerged in the 1990s. Even though they don’t do much in the way of planning, the systems provide companies a means of centralizing and consolidating transaction data collection (such as purchase orders, inventory movements and depreciation), automating the management of processes, and handling the bookkeeping and financial record keeping for these transactions and related processes. ERP systems are an indispensable piece of IT infrastructure in today’s enterprises. Alas, they also are inherently flawed. But perhaps not for much longer.

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Topics: Mobile, SAP, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, ERP, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Oracle, CFO, Infor, Workday, Social, FPM, Intacct

Ventana Research Technology Innovation Awards Are More Than Cool

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 31, 2013 1:34:18 AM

In the realm of technology that matters for business and IT, our firm as part of our responsibility continually assesses the latest technology and how it can impact organizations’ efficiency and effectiveness. Our benchmark research in technology innovation found that 87% of participants indicated the importance of increasing the organization’s value through technology innovation. Every year we take our knowledge from research and technology briefings to focus on our Technology Innovation Awards and determine the vendors and products that have the potential to drive change in the market, the competitiveness of an organization’s business and sometimes just how efficiently a company operates. Our firm believes that Innovation can come from any size technology vendor from the smallest to the largest that are measured on a spectrum of attributes that contribute to the specific impact of the technology.

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Topics: Big Data, Datameer, Mobile, Sales, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Sustainability, Customer, ESRI, Globoforce, GRC, HCM, Kronos, Kyriba, Location Analytics, Marketing, NetBase, Office of Finance, Overall Operational Leadership, Peoplefluent, Planview, SQLstream, VMWare, VPI, IT Analytics & Performance, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Business Performance, CIO, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Hortonworks, IBM, Informatica, Information Applications, Information Builders, Information Management, Information Technology, KXEN, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Oracle, Workforce Performance, Contact Center, Datawatch, Financial Management, Information Optimization, Johnson Controls Panoptix, Roambi, Service & Supply Chain, Upstream Works, Vertex, Xactly

Peoplefluent Innovates with Video and Collaboration and also Unifies Recruiting

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 4, 2013 2:25:10 AM

To strengthen its position in both core talent management and the social form of it, Peoplefluent has purchased a video collaboration platform and enhanced its existing recruiting products. My colleague Mark Smith wrote about Peoplefluent’s evolution toward a social talent management platform with its acquisition of Socialtext. In addition, our firm selected Peoplefluent’s customer Citrix for the 2013 Technology Innovation Award; it provides a practical example of how to use mobile technologies to create a succession planning solution for senior managers who are often traveling and need to work on processes like this wherever they may be. This case also is an instance of customers partnering with their vendors to achieve mutual goals.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Experience, HCM, Peoplefluent, Recruiting, Business Collaboration, Collaboration, Workforce Performance

IBM Improving the Science to Apply Business Analytics for Better Customer Engagement

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 4, 2013 2:08:26 AM

I recently wrote how IBM is making customer analytics smarter. Since then IBM has run events in North America and Europe to demonstrate how it is continuing these efforts and expanding into other areas. Outside of the customer space you can read how my colleagues assess its efforts: Mark Smith discusses HRRobert Kugel sees its impact on business overall, and Tony Cosentino addresses it in IT. Our research My focus remains the customer and I have learned more about what IBM is doing in social media, identity reconciliation, visualization, mobile apps and big data.

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

Big Data Will Make Elephants Dance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jun 23, 2013 12:41:08 AM

IBM’s Big Data and Analytics Analyst Insights conference started me thinking about the longer-term potential impact of big data and related technologies on business management. I covered some of the near-term uses of big data and analytics in an earlier perspective. There are numerous uses of big data that can provide incremental improvements to existing processes and practices. Some of these will have a significant impact on changing business models, enabling new classes of products and services and improving performance. As well, the technology will have more profound, longer lasting effects. The ability to analyze large quantities of business-related data rapidly has the potential to set in motion fundamental changes in how executives and managers run their business. Properly deployed, it will enable a more forward-looking and agile management style even in very large enterprises. It will allow more flexible forms of business organization. None of these changes will be universal, and the old school will be with us for some time. Technology, however, will give executives and their boards of directors a powerful tool for strategic differentiation to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage.

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Topics: Big Data, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Management, Budgeting, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, IBM, Information Management, decision, FPM, Watson

Information Builders Advances Integration and Analytics for Business Intelligence

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 14, 2013 11:50:35 AM

Information Builders  (IBI) was highest ranked vendor in Ventana Research’s Business Intelligence Value Index for 2012. The combination of data integration, business analytics, visual and data discovery and performance management software in a single framework allows the company to address a range of both IT and business user needs and gives it a measure of advantage in an intensely competitive market. At the same time, emerging trends are disrupting the BI category, which seemed mature not long ago. The 2013 IBI user conference in Orlando showed how the company is addressing these industry trends. (For analysis of last year’s event, see my colleague Mark Smith’s comments).

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

SoCoCare Enables Social Customer Service

Posted by Ventana Research on May 23, 2013 2:44:45 AM

Much is being written about the impact of social media on customer service, although my research into the agent desktop shows it hasn’t reached the fever pitch that many commentators would have us believe. It is true that the number of consumers using social media and as a consequence the volume of posts are astronomical. But I wonder how many of these posts actually have to do with customer service and how organizations filter out the relevant ones to help them decide on customer service policies and the appropriate action to take.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, Unified Communications, Social Media Analytics, SoCoCare

SAP HANA is Technology Platform of Choice for SAP

Posted by Mark Smith on May 21, 2013 10:05:29 AM

At this year’s annual SAP user conference, SAPPHIRE, the technology giant showed advances in its cloud and in-memory computing efforts. It has completed the migration of its conventional application suite and portfolio of tools to operate on SAP HANA, its in-memory computing platform, and made improvements in its cloud computing environment, SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud. The last time I analyzed SAP HANA was when it won our firm’s 2012 Overall IT Technology Innovation Award. Now HANA has been transitioned from just a database technology into a broad platform. SAP wisely consolidated its efforts previously known as SAP NetWeaver into SAP HANA. This resolves some confusion regarding HANA and NetWeaver in the cloud, which I assessed. The recently announced SAP HANA Platform now provides the enterprise class of HANA implementation in the cloud. It comes with a trial edition of the data and visual discovery technology now called SAP Lumira, whose price has been reduced to encourage adoption (and which I discuss more below). The use of in-memory databases for big data is accelerating: According to our technology innovation research, 22 percent of organizations are planning to use this technology over the next two years, and through 2015 it will have a higher growth rate than other approaches.

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Topics: Big Data, Predictive Analytics, SAP, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Teradata, Mobile Technology, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, CIO, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), HP, Information Applications, Information Management, Workforce Performance, CFO, CMO, SAP EPM, SAP HANA, SAP Lumira, SAPPHIRE, Tagetik

Interactive Intelligence Reveals Ambitious Plans for Customer Service

Posted by Ventana Research on May 20, 2013 10:08:58 AM

At its recent user conference, Interactions 2013, Interactive Intelligence (Nasdqaq: ININ) showcased its extensive product portfolio and its ambitious plans to improve the products both technically and functionally. I have written more than once about the complexities of building a contact center, which is getting even more complex as companies begin to support more channels of interaction as inbound ones are distributed around the organization including sales (59%), marketing (46%) and CRM team (41%) and distribute to many different contact center sites according to our customer relationship maturity research. To keep up with developments, I divide contact center systems and applications into five groups:

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

Social Collaboration Is in Finance’s Future

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 10, 2013 11:00:37 AM

Finance departments don’t immediately come to mind in conversations about social collaboration technology. Most of the software used for social collaboration that I’ve seen demonstrated focuses on the sales process or for broader employee engagement. The Facebook-style interface may cause finance department managers and executives to roll their eyes, especially if they’re over 40 years old. Yet business and social collaboration is an important set of capabilities that has been taking hold in business. Our benchmark research shows it ranking second behind analytics as a technology innovation priority. It will gain adoption over the next several years as software transitions from the rigid constructs established in the client/server days, which force users to adapt to the limitations of the software, to fluid and dynamic designs that mold themselves around the needs of the user. Perhaps because most of the attention so far on the benefits of collaboration has focused on front-office roles, there’s less awareness of the potential in back-office and administrative functions. Indeed, the same research reveals that those in front-office roles five times more often than those in accounting and finance roles (21% vs. a mere 4%) said that business and social collaboration are very important to their organization. However, I assert it’s just a matter of time before the finance group understands that social collaboration has substantial potential to improve its performance.

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Topics: Customer Experience, ERP, communications, Operational Performance, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, CRM, Social, FPM

Ceridian Launches HCM Portfolio for Managing Workforces Effectively

Posted by Ventana Research on May 6, 2013 10:30:57 AM

I attended the 2013 Ceridian’s analyst day in Chicago to hear about and evaluate the progress the company has made over the last year and see the latest updates to its products since our firm last commented on them. Last September my colleague Mark Smith assessed Ceridian’s workforce management product Dayforce. As well we selected Ceridian’s customer Guitar Center for the 2013 Ventana Research Leadership Award for Overall Business Leadership.

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Topics: Social Media, HCM, Office of Finance, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Ceridian, HR, HRMS, Talent Management, Workforce Management

Oracle Aims To Simplify IT and Innovate Your Business

Posted by Mark Smith on May 2, 2013 10:21:23 AM

I was recently at Oracle Analyst World which is the vendor’s annual gathering of technology industry analysts. Its executives and others in the products organization deliver the latest news on where the titan is focusing efforts to expand its technology and markets. This year, against the background of the consumer and business markets embracing mobile and cloud computing, Oracle is working to sound like a more friendly supplier that can help remove legacy issues and inefficiencies that plague CIOs and data centers. Oracle also used this forum to attract IT departments to the technology advances it has made across its deep and broad portfolio of products. Oracle has more than 3,900 software products and more than 3,000 software patents that indicate its significant investment in R&D. Now the company is beginning to release improved products more frequently, which most customers now expect from technology vendors.

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

Oracle Brings Enhancements to Business Intelligence

Posted by Ventana Research on May 1, 2013 8:58:59 AM

Responding to the trend that businesses now ask less sophisticated users to perform analysis and rely on software to help them, Oracle recently announced a new release  of its flagship Oracle BI Foundational Suite (OBIFS 11.1.1.7) as well as updates to Endeca, the discovery platform that Oracle bought in 2011. Endeca is part of a new class of tools that bring new capabilities in information discovery, self-service access and interactivity. Such approaches represent an important part of the evolution of business intelligence to business analytics as I have noted in my agenda for 2013.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, endeca, IT Performance, OBIEE, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Exalytics, Financial Performance, Information Applications, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Oracle, Workforce Performance

Infor Demonstrates Steady Stream of Advances to Customers

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 26, 2013 11:00:13 AM

At this year’s Inforum user group conference, Infor representatives showed the progress the organization has made since last year in transforming itself from a ragbag of mostly small, often obsolete software companies to a competitive vendor of a modern enterprise management software suite. Infor was created by private equity investors employing a “rollup” strategy, aimed at combining smaller companies within an industry to form a single larger company that could achieve economies of scale and greater market presence. Others have tried this in the software industry in the past and encountered difficulty in making it work for two primary reasons. One is the technical challenge of achieving economies of scale in enterprise applications by turning a set of similar but separately developed software pieces into a single offering. Computer Associates achieved economies of scale through acquisition in the 1990s in the IT infrastructure software segment. But it did this largely by forcing customers of the various acquired companies to migrate to its single offering in the specific category. This is not a practical approach for business and finance enterprise applications because customers are willing to go off maintenance and eventually look for another vendor. The second difficulty is that newer or larger competitors can focus on innovation and overtake the rollup company while its attention and resources are focused on stitching the pieces together.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Planning, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, GRC, Office of Finance, Budgeting, closing, IT Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Information Management, Workforce Performance, CFO, Infor, Risk, FPM, SEC

ClickFox Maps the Customer Journey

Posted by Ventana Research on Apr 8, 2013 11:28:56 AM

The last time I reviewed ClickFox it was primarily focused on capturing how callers transverse IVR menus. It produced visual maps of what options callers used and thus how they navigate what can be quite complex menus, allowing users to identify the most common paths and thereby optimize these to meet common customer requirements and business needs. Since that time the market has changed considerably, and ClickFox’s current products now support companies as they try to identify how customers use different communication channels and how they hop across different channels to resolve their issues.

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Topics: Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Speech Analytics,