Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives

The Revolution in Revenue in 2023: Ventana Research Market Agenda

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Jan 13, 2023 3:00:00 AM

Ventana Research recently announced its 2023 research agenda for the Office of Revenue, continuing the guidance we’ve offered for nearly two decades to help organizations realize their optimal value from applying technology to improve business outcomes. Chief Sales and Revenue Officers face an imperative to manage their sales and revenue organizations, but they don’t always have the guidance they need to embrace technology to achieve the best possible outcomes. As we look forward to 2023, we are focusing on the entire selling and buying journey, and in addition focusing on those activities that ensure renewal and expansion as well as newer digital engagement and selling channels. We are looking at applications that simplify processes and tasks across the customer experience, from beginning to end.

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Topics: Sales, Analytics, Internet of Things, Data, Sales Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, mobile computing, Subscription Management, extended reality, intelligent sales, partner management, Sales Engagement

Value Index for Revenue Performance Management Rates Vendors

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Mar 31, 2022 4:00:00 AM

Ventana Research is happy to share insights gleaned from the latest Value Index research, an assessment of how well vendors’ offerings meet buyers’ requirements. The 2022 Revenue Performance Management (RPM) Value Index is the distillation of a year of market and product research. Drawing on our Benchmark Research, we apply a structured methodology built on evaluation categories that reflect the real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal to vendors supporting the spectrum of revenue performance management. Using this methodology, we evaluated vendor submissions in seven categories: five relevant to the Product Experience ﹘ Adaptability, Capability, Manageability, Reliability and Usability ﹘ and two related to the Customer Experience ﹘ Total Cost of Ownership or Return on Investment and Vendor Validation.

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Price and Revenue Management, sales enablement, Revenue Performance Management

Why Your ERP and CRM Won’t Transform Your Business

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Mar 18, 2022 3:00:00 AM

Digital Transformation. The Subscription Economy. Omni-Channel Selling. Customer Centric. These are all terms used to label trends and events that are changing the way business is being conducted, a change that has accelerated due to recent events. Regardless of the terminology, there is no doubt that the way vendors and buyers are interacting, whether B2C or B2B, is different today for many organizations than it was even five years ago. But to be fair, no technology on its own can transform your business without changes to the other two key elements: people and processes. In addition, change is unlikely to happen if you are also relying on your existing ERP or CRM systems.

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Topics: Sales, Digital Commerce, Subscription Management, partner management, Revenue Management

Why Finance and Legal are Important to Revenue and Sales Operations

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Feb 25, 2022 3:00:00 AM

There is much vendor activity and customer interest in making better use of data, to improve the sales process in the face of increased pressure to achieve organization revenue goals. As detailed in my Analyst Perspective: The Art and Science of Sales from the “Inside Out," enhanced buyer research as well as the inclusion of more people in the buying process, have made selling harder, evidenced by a general trend of declining quota attainment. There is no denying that better use of data can help in prioritizing and helping to advance the sales process more effectively. But this is not the whole story. Whereas generating interest and qualifying opportunity is a key part of the sales team’s role, all this progress can be undone with a cumbersome and clunky configure, price and quoting (CPQ) and contract life cycle management (CLM) process. Automated and digitized systems that handle these elements aid greatly toward a winning/successful close process and will set the right tenor for a continuing and sustained customer relationship. And although CPQ is often thought of as part of the finance department, as contracts are with legal, both of these processes should be seen as adjuncts of the sales process, and both sales and revenue leadership and operations teams need to align with finance and legal. My colleague Robert Kugel covers the finance perspective in more detail in his Analyst Perspective: Configure, Price and Quote Software Supports Profitability Management.

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Topics: Sales, Revenue Management, Sales Engagement, Revenue Performance Management

Improving the State of Analytics in Organizations

Posted by David Menninger on Feb 24, 2022 3:00:00 AM

Despite all the advances organizations have made with respect to analytics, our most recent research shows the majority of the workforce in the majority of organizations are not using analytics and business intelligence (BI). Less than one-quarter (23%) report that one-half or more of their workforce is using analytics and BI. This is a problem. It means organizations are not enabling their workforce to perform at peak efficiency and effectiveness. It means the workforce in many organizations does not have access to the same information by which they are being measured. It means organizations must find other ways to communicate with, and manage, the workforce.

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Topics: Sales, business intelligence, embedded analytics, Analytics, Data, Sales Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, natural language processing, Subscription Management, partner management, Revenue Management, Sales Engagement, Collaborative & Conversational Computing

Xactly Advances Support for Revenue Performance Management

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Feb 15, 2022 3:00:00 AM

Revenue performance management and the role of revenue operations is moving to the forefront of sales organizations, aligning departments around a single view of the business with shared revenue targets and goals. This facilitates the needs of the sales department as well as customer experience, marketing and renewals. The concept of RevOps does not yet have a widely shared common definition within organizations. Because revenue organizations include workers associated with sales operations, there tends to be a bias that RevOps leans towards sales management with the addition of customer success for retention and marketing.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Marketing, Sales Performance Management, partner management, Revenue Management, Sales Engagement, Revenue Performance Management

The 2022 Market Agenda for Office of Revenue: New Performance Priority

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Feb 8, 2022 3:00:00 AM

Ventana Research recently announced its 2022 Market Agenda for the Office of Revenue, continuing the guidance we have offered for nearly two decades to help organizations realize optimal value from applying technology to improve business outcomes. Chief sales and revenue officers and their associated operations teams are experts in their respective fields but may not have the guidance needed to employ technology effectively. As we look to 2022, we are focusing on the entire selling and buying life cycle and the applications that simplify and improve interactions throughout the customer experience.

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Topics: Sales, Analytics, Internet of Things, Data, Sales Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, mobile computing, Subscription Management, extended reality, intelligent sales, partner management, Sales Engagement

The Necessity of Revenue Performance Management

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Jan 27, 2022 3:00:00 AM

Ventana Research was the first market research firm to focus on the emerging area of sales performance management (SPM), which we define as a coordinated set of sales-related activities, processes and systems that enable organization. Over the past decade, SPM has become more science than art. Properly managing a sales organization requires effective planning, which in turn requires key performance and sales indicators built on a foundation of relevant metrics. But this is changing. As more organizations embrace the subscription business model and engage with additional selling channels over and above direct sales, the concept of the primacy of new sales is transforming to a more holistic view of revenue.

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance Management, Revenue Management, Sales Engagement

AI for Sales: Technology is Ready but Are You?

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Dec 28, 2021 3:00:00 AM

The internet is a rich source of information and is used by buyers to research new applications and offerings well before ever engaging a vendor and salesperson. Along with massive growth in offerings, this is a major reason why sales teams are facing increasing challenges to successfully sell and attain targets.

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Topics: Sales, AI and Machine Learning, Revenue Management, Sales Engagement

Why Revenue Planning Should be Continuous and Year Round

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Dec 2, 2021 3:00:00 AM

With the emergence of multiple selling channels and the rise of the subscription model, the need for a unified approach to revenue planning and execution should be a priority for every organization. As I have written about in my analyst perspective Revenue Management: The Opportunity for Innovation and Optimization, this need to unify the approach and focus on alignment across all revenue supporting teams in furtherance of an organization’s objectives and targets is of key importance to ensure that teams handle different aspects of a customer’s journey and experience. And, as I will further discuss, this alignment between groups is rarely a happy accident but rather the result of forward-looking, continuous planning.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Sales Performance Management, AI and Machine Learning, Subscription Management, Revenue Management, Sales Engagement

Revenue and Commercial Operations: The Difference Matters

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Nov 18, 2021 3:00:00 AM

The emergence of the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) has mirrored the adoption of the subscription model and the development of multiple selling and buying channels over and above the traditional direct sales model, referred to as Revenue Management. Supporting the traditional sales team and management was the sales operations team with responsibilities around incentive compensation, territory and quota planning, sales metrics and reporting and sales forecasting as well as sales engagement and enablement tools and applications. Aligned with this functional area under the CRO is another set of roles and functions called revenue operations or RevOps.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Analytics, Sales Performance Management, Digital Commerce, Subscription Management, partner management, Revenue Management, Sales Engagement

Pricefx Optimizes Pricing for Profits

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Nov 12, 2021 3:00:00 AM

Traditionally, price management and optimization have been contained to certain industries, such as large-scale manufacturing and chemicals. Those industries involve potentially tens of thousands of stock-keeping units (SKUs) covering a wide variety of products and price points. For many organizations, pricing systems are “cost plus” or “follow the leader,” not typically designed to invoke optimization but rather just move pricing along. Price management is often seen as a complex, arduous task that yields small returns for the effort it dictates, and not a strategic lever.

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance Management, Subscription Management, Revenue Management, Sales Engagement

Vindicia Showcases Bundling and Subscription Intelligence

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Oct 20, 2021 3:00:00 AM

The subscription business model has seen much growth in all aspects of the market in recent years. Now considered the standard for the digital age, the model’s implementation travels parallel to rising technology, leading to the demand for newer functionality and tools. As more and more vendors create their own versions, and as the subscription model is increasingly adopted, technology solutions are also advancing to support a broader range of products and services, as well as industries.

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Topics: Sales, Subscription Billing, Subscription Management, partner management

BillingPlatform Bolsters the Rise of Subscription Services

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Sep 22, 2021 3:00:00 AM

Subscription management and billing services help organizations offer unique benefits and enhance delivery to customers. By making services more personalized, organizations can acquire – and retain – more customers.

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Topics: Sales, Office of Finance, Continuous Planning, embedded analytics, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Planning, Product Information Management, Digital Commerce, Operations & Supply Chain, Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting, natural language processing, AI and Machine Learning, revenue and lease accounting, continuous supply chain, Subscription Management, partner management, digital finance, Process Mining, Streaming Analytics, supplier relationship management

Zuora Earns Office of Finance Digital Innovation Award for 2021

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 19, 2021 3:00:00 AM

The annual Ventana Research Digital Innovation Awards showcase advances in the productivity and potential of business applications, as well as technology that contributes significantly to the improved processes and performance of an organization. Our goal is to recognize technology and vendors that have introduced noteworthy digital innovations to advance business and IT.

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Topics: Sales, Office of Finance, Digital Commerce, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Subscription Management

CommerceIQ Earns Office of Sales Digital Innovation Award for 2021

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Aug 17, 2021 3:00:00 AM

The annual Ventana Research Digital Innovation Awards showcase advances in the productivity and potential of business applications, as well as technology that contributes significantly to the improved processes and performance of an organization. Our goal is to recognize technology and vendors that have introduced noteworthy digital innovations to advance business and IT.

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Topics: Sales, Analytics, Product Information Management, Digital Commerce, AI and Machine Learning

Varicent Advances SPM and New Revenue Intelligence

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Jul 21, 2021 3:00:00 AM

As mentioned in my Analyst Perspective, Revenue Performance Management: Leadership and Operations for Optimal Outcomes, there is continuing pressure on sales leaders to deliver against sales targets in increasingly competitive markets. Among the various levers that sales leadership can use to support these efforts, are applications and processes that best position sales teams to achieve targets, such as planning and allocating territories, establishing quotas and devising incentive compensation plans supportive of organizational revenue goals. Once in place, continuous monitoring of lead-to-opportunity progress and pipeline health can aid in identifying areas for improvement as well as solidifying sales forecasts to better indicate gap-to-target issues and necessary adjustments to territories and compensation incentives.

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Topics: Sales, Analytics, Sales Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, AI and Machine Learning, sales enablement

Sales Forecasting: Have the Process and Technology for a True Revenue Forecast?

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Jun 22, 2021 3:00:00 AM

There has been a lot of market activity around vendors offering sales-forecasting products (or functionality to address sales forecasting) as part of a wider technology offering for sales and revenue management. As I have discussed in my Analyst Perspective: The Art and Science of Sales from the Inside Out, the pandemic accelerated the prior trends that are now forcing sales leaders and sales teams to reexamine traditional notions of how B2B sales are conducted. In addition, with the rise of the subscription business model and digital e-commerce, a more holistic approach to identify where revenue is coming from and how to manage and optimize a predictable revenue stream is becoming a pressing need. I cover the basic premise of this management of revenue streams in my Analyst Perspective: Revenue Management: The Opportunity for Innovation and Optimization.

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Topics: Sales, Office of Finance, Analytics, Business Planning, Sales Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, AI and Machine Learning

The 2021 Product Information Management Value Index: 16 Vendors to Assess and Select

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 17, 2021 3:00:00 AM

I am happy to share insights gleaned from our latest Value Index research, an assessment of how well vendors’ offerings meet buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index: Product Information Management 2021 is the distillation of a year of market and product research by Ventana Research. Drawing on our Benchmark Research, we apply a structured methodology built on evaluation categories that reflect the real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal to product information management software vendors supporting the spectrum of business intelligence. Using this methodology, we evaluated vendor submissions in seven categories: five relevant to the Product Experience ﹘ Adaptability, Capability, Manageability, Reliability and Usability ﹘ and two related to the Customer Experience ﹘ Total Cost of Ownership/Return on Investment and Vendor Validation.

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Topics: Sales, Marketing, Product Information Management, Price and Revenue Management, Digital Commerce, Operations & Supply Chain, Enterprise Resource Planning

Revenue Performance Management: Leadership and Operations for Optimal Outcomes

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Jun 14, 2021 3:00:00 AM

As laid out in my recent Analyst Perspective, Revenue Management: The Opportunity for Innovation and Optimization, revenue management is a new way look at generating and managing the top line. It unifies multiple sources: the traditional focus on new customers to existing customers as well as all types of revenue from new, additional channels. This could include customer retention, upsell and cross sell, in addition to other selling channels such as through partners or digital sales channels like e-commerce and subscriptions.

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Topics: Sales, Analytics, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Price and Revenue Management, Digital Commerce, AI and Machine Learning, Subscription Management

Subscription Pricing Changing for Sustained Customer Growth

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on May 20, 2021 3:00:00 AM

Subscription pricing models are no longer new. Many companies have experience with this pricing model even if there has not been complete adoption across their entire product and service offerings. Companies that use this model, or have spent time looking at the approach, understand the approach of a recurring revenue stream based on a repeating flat fee.

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Topics: Performance Management, Sales, Customer Experience, Marketing, Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Digital Commerce, Predictive Planning, Subscription Management

The Science of Sales Professional Effectiveness

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on May 10, 2021 3:00:00 AM

Observed both here and elsewhere, average sales quota attainments appear to be in an exorable decline. As I discussed in my recent Analyst Perspective, "The Art and Science of Sales from the 'Inside Out'," vendors of sales technology have reacted to this by adding a slew of new functionality including the potential for artificial intelligence (AI) to be a game changer for sales. One can argue that this use of AI is still relatively immature having been generally available only since 2014, but that is still over five years of market availability.

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Topics: Sales, Human Capital Management, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Sales Performance Management, candidate engagement, AI and Machine Learning, sales enablement

SugarCRM Brings the Sweetness in AI Driven Sales

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on May 4, 2021 3:00:00 AM

As I have discussed in my Analyst Perspective, The Art of Sales, from the Inside Out, the challenges facing direct sales leaders are not going away. Declining quota attainment, lack of visibility into deal health and difficulty in forecasting quarterly sales remain a challenge for sales leaders, resulting in a continuing reduction in duration of tenure.

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Topics: Sales, Analytics, Sales Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, AI and Machine Learning, sales enablement

The Experience of Digital Commerce

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Apr 9, 2021 3:00:00 AM

Digital commerce affects almost everyone’s lives. It is hard to remember a time when one could not sign on to a website like Amazon, order a product, pay for it and have it delivered to your front door within days, not weeks. Although catalogues have been around for a century or so, the digital-commerce revolution has changed the way we think about shopping for many of our everyday and special occasion products. Extend this to digital services, such as streaming videos or online games, and there is barely a sector that has not been touched by digital commerce. And, for organizations, it is an essential component of their revenue-management efforts that enables the digital transformation and monetization of goods and services.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Product Information Management, Price and Revenue Management, Digital Commerce, AI and Machine Learning

Salesforce Service Cloud: Contact Center with Workforce Engagement

Posted by Keith Dawson on Mar 24, 2021 3:00:00 AM

The modern contact center relies heavily on software that enables agents to perform multiple complex tasks while simultaneously managing the customer-facing side of interactions. This has allowed CRM vendors to build tools, such as agent desktop interfaces, that control virtually all aspects of the service environment.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Voice of the Customer, Contact Center, Sales Performance Management, Workforce Management, agent management, sales enablement

Salesforce Sales Cloud: Evolving to Meet the 360 Needs of Sales

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Mar 18, 2021 3:00:00 AM

There is no doubt that the pandemic has accelerated the existing need for new technology that can help sales professionals do their jobs well in this quickly evolving market. In addition, market trends are driving the need for functionality that is aimed at the front-line sales professional and the manager, highlighting the demand for tools that can help arrest the decline in quota attainment, as well as helping salespeople supplement their traditional focus on sales quotas with activities such as prospecting.

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Topics: Sales, embedded analytics, Analytics, Internet of Things, Sales Performance Management, natural language processing, AI and Machine Learning, sales enablement

Revenue Management: The Opportunity for Innovation and Optimization

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Mar 15, 2021 3:00:00 AM

With modern enterprises adopting and expanding their digital business with subscription and usage business, organizations need to think beyond the primacy of sales as their source of business success. A sustained customer experience is key, representing an organizational and cultural shift from the traditional emphasis on new sales to an equally important focus on customer retention and upsell/cross-sell opportunities. This mindset is also important to organizations involved in digital commerce where the cost of customer acquisition and narrow margins means retaining customers for repeat purchases, which is vital to a sustainable business.

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Topics: Sales, Marketing, Analytics, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Digital Commerce, Subscription Management

Oracle Sales has Priority on Engagement and AI

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Mar 3, 2021 3:00:00 AM

The current pandemic has disrupted many of the traditional sales methods used by field-sales organizations to engage, and sell to, buyers. In an effort to provide help, many vendors have recently announced new features that focus less on the management of sales organizations and more on tools to help salespeople sell. This has been coupled with a renewed interest in using data to help with the science, alongside the art, of selling, as referenced in my AP: The Art and Science of Sales from the “Inside Out". Oracle has called this new emphasis “Responsive Selling,” with an aim to harness data and machine learning (ML) to aid sellers in this new, challenging environment.

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Topics: Sales, Analytics, Data, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Digital Technology, AI and Machine Learning, sales enablement, Sales Engagement

The 2021 Market Agenda for Office of Sales: The Revolution for Revenue

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Feb 25, 2021 12:30:00 AM

Ventana Research recently announced its 2021 research agenda for the Office of Sales, continuing the guidance we’ve offered for nearly two decades to help organizations realize optimal value from applying technology to improve business outcomes. Chief sales and revenue officers are experts in their respective fields but may not have the guidance needed to employ technology effectively. As we look to 2021, we are focusing on the entire selling and buying journey and the applications that simplify interactions throughout the customer experience.

Read More

Topics: Sales, Analytics, Financial Performance, Internet of Things, Data, Sales Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, AI and Machine Learning, mobile computing, Subscription Management, extended reality, intelligent sales, partner management, Office of Sales, Machine Conversational Computing, Sales Engagement

The 2021 Market Agenda for Customer Experience: Achieving Excellence in Engagement

Posted by Keith Dawson on Feb 24, 2021 3:30:00 AM

Ventana Research recently announced its 2021 market agenda in the expertise area of Customer Experience. Most organizations have some degree of focus on managing how they interact with their customers, but it is often a disjointed and constrained process. Developing an effective customer experience has become an investment priority in recent years as organizations increasingly recognize the importance of good experiences to profitability, customer longevity and advocacy on behalf of brands.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Marketing, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Customer Service, Contact Center, Workforce Management, Digital Marketing, Digital Commerce, AI and Machine Learning, agent management, Customer Experience Management, Field Service

How to Take Advantage of AI/ML Today

Posted by David Menninger on Feb 8, 2021 3:00:00 AM

The industry is making huge strides with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). There is more data available to analyze. Analytics vendors have made it easier to build and deploy models, and AI/ML is being embedded into many types of applications. Organizations are realizing the value that AI/ML provides and there are now millions of professionals with AI or ML in their title or job description. AI/ML is even being used to make many aspects of itself easier. Organizations that want to build and deploy their own AI/ML models need to be realistic about the capabilities that are available today. As a practical matter, organizations should anticipate that a robust AI/ML deployment in the current environment requires a set of specialized skills and operational processes, including data operations (dataops) and ML operations (MLops). Collaboration across these disciplines and processes is also required.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Marketing, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Data Preparation, Digital Technology, AI and Machine Learning

The Opportunity for CX is Beyond Your Contact Center

Posted by Keith Dawson on Jan 26, 2021 3:00:00 AM

The contact center has long represented the starting point for customer experience initiatives. Now, however, most organizations are finding that they need to invest beyond this singular point of engagement. When organizations look at customer experience holistically, they see the need to incorporate the perspectives of people in other departments and channels of customer engagement. These diverse new points of view come with an interest in deploying CX technology that also meets their needs. As a result, organizations are looking at not just vendors traditionally in the contact center space but those that operate across the entire customer journey, and shifting some of the existing contact center budgets to tools that fill multiple roles.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Marketing, Contact Center

The Necessity of Sales Performance Management

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Jan 6, 2021 4:00:00 AM

True leadership is the ability to motivate sales organizations to perform at their best. But the demand to do so requires the support of an orchestrated process and tools designed to help sales teams work in a directed manner that can help attain quotas through compensation plans. To manage quotas and resources and optimize sales compensation, everyone in the sales organization, from managers to selling professionals, needs unified and planful sales leadership and operations.

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance Management, intelligent sales, sales enablement

PTC Brings Innovation to Product Experiences

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 21, 2020 3:00:00 AM

Augmented reality (AR) is a critical component of digital technology. The role of AR is to virtualize the visualization and engagement of assets and products with information that can enhance the value of it for many purposes including manufacturing, marketing, sales and service. Consider how manufacturing and field service organizations are starting to use AR technology for hands-free call-up of service manuals using glasses so technicians can verify progress without looking away from their work.

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Topics: Sales, Business Continuity, Internet of Things, Business Planning, Digital Technology, Operations & Supply Chain, Digital transformation, mobile computing, extended reality

The Art and Science of Sales from the “Inside Out"

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Nov 25, 2020 3:00:00 AM

Although historically there has been a hard divide between what are colloquially called “Inside and Field Sales,” changes over the last 10 years have narrowed the distinction. The pandemic has only accelerated the path to unifying sales activities commonly performed to engage buyers and customers. Characterized by a very disciplined and controlled endeavor, inside sales teams have been heavier users of technology. This has enabled more productive engagement including emails and calls, as well as provided techniques such as gamification to set competitive internal dynamics that help motivate sales professionals.

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Topics: Sales, embedded analytics, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Collaboration, Internet of Things, Sales Performance Management (SPM), natural language processing, AI and Machine Learning, intelligent sales, sales enablement

Varicent: Symon.AI earns our 13th Digital Innovation Award for Office of Sales

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 15, 2020 3:00:00 AM

The annual Ventana Research Digital Innovation Awards showcases advances in the productivity and potential of business applications, as well as technology that contributes significantly to improved efficiency and productivity in the processes and the performance of an organization. Our goal is to recognize technology and vendors that have introduced noteworthy digital innovations that advance business and IT.

Read More

Topics: Sales, Marketing, embedded analytics, Analytics, Sales Performance Management, Digital Technology, AI and Machine Learning, intelligent marketing, sales enablement

Zuora and Subscription Management: Suite and Platform to Address Digital Business

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Sep 28, 2020 3:00:00 AM

The last decade has seen exponential growth amongst subscription-based business models. Pioneered in the B2C market with cloud-based SaaS offerings, the last decade has seen exponential growth in the share of the economy that is now subscription based. Increasingly, this modern business model is permeating throughout more traditional style industries and companies. But regardless of whether a company is natively subscription based, or is transitioning, maintaining this growth requires organizations to foster long-term relationships with customers and deliver products and services that get better over time.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Voice of the Customer, embedded analytics, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Collaboration, Internet of Things, Contact Center, Product Information Management, Price and Revenue Management, Digital Commerce, Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting, natural language processing, robotic finance, AI and Machine Learning, revenue and lease accounting, Subscription Management, agent management, intelligent sales, sales enablement

Subscription and Usage Management Technology Needs for the Modern Economy

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Sep 11, 2020 3:00:00 AM

Subscription-based business models have seen exponential growth over the last decade. The growth of this recurring revenue business model, where a subscriber commits to repeatedly pay for a good or device for a fixed or indefinite timeline, has been caused by the shift from the one-time selling of physical products to selling digital services on a subscription basis. The first phase of this transformation was led by “digitally native” organizations, typically B2C, that have only ever offered services via subscription. Although a large market in its own right, it is still dwarfed by businesses selling physical products. But this market is also changing, as more and more traditional organizations transition some or all of their revenue to the subscription economy. Ventana Research asserts that through 2023, fewer than half of organizations will have the correct technology in place to support such a transition. This Analyst Perspective looks at some of the key implications of this transition and what it means for technology choices as companies move toward a subscription management approach to overseeing the subscribers and usage of their products and services.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Voice of the Customer, embedded analytics, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Collaboration, Internet of Things, Contact Center, Product Information Management, Price and Revenue Management, Digital Commerce, Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting, natural language processing, robotic finance, AI and Machine Learning, revenue and lease accounting, Subscription Management, agent management, intelligent sales, sales enablement

Why I Joined Ventana Research to Lead Office of Sales

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Aug 21, 2020 3:00:00 AM

I’m very excited to announce to my network as well as the ever-expanding Ventana Research community that I’m now directing Ventana Research’s Office of Sales practice. The focus is to guide and educate sales and business professionals on the selling applications and technology including digital commerce, price and revenue management, product information management, sales enablement, sales performance management and subscription management. While these are the main topics of our Office of Sales practice, my decades of experience in analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and planning are part of what I bring to the firm to help advance the science of selling.

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Topics: Sales, embedded analytics, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Collaboration, Data, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Digital Technology, Work and Resource Management, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, mobile computing, intelligent sales, sales enablement

The Business Continuity Imperative: Price and Revenue Management for Resilience in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 2, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Economic dynamics and market pressures during a black-swan event can wreak havoc on efforts to effectively manage revenue operations and pricing for business continuity. For many organizations, environmental changes disrupt the methods by which these essential business processes are managed can be disrupted, damaging the revenue streams that create profitability. The array of pricing strategies and related promotional tactics across channels for configure, price and quote (CPQ), digital commerce and subscription management can challenge the best of organizations. Leadership must examine the agility of pricing management to determine if they have ability to make and manage changes to determine the effectiveness of decisions. This requires visibility into revenue operations and selling channels, which in turn requires programs, processes and technology designed to meet the needs of what is called price and revenue management (PRM).  

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Human Capital Management, Marketing, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Collaboration, Internet of Things, Data, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, Workforce Management, Workforce Planning, Price and Revenue Management, Total Compensation Management, Conversational Computing

The Business Continuity Imperative: Experience Management across Business for Organizational Effectiveness in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Mark Smith on Jul 26, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Over the past several months, I have discussed a wide range of topics that organizations must consider and appropriately prioritize to maintain business continuity during periods of upheaval. But sometimes it’s important to take a step back and reflect on a critical and recurring theme: experiences. The array of experiences across the workforce and business processes both inside and outside of the organization are an essential part of an organization’s success. Leadership must give these experiences the attention they deserve, and this requires visibility into operations and the tools to measure effectiveness, especially during black-swan events. Fulfilling this objective requires the programs, processes and technology designed to meet the needs of what is called experience management (XM).

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Human Capital Management, Marketing, Office of Finance, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Collaboration, Internet of Things, Data, Sales Performance Management, Workforce Management, Workforce Planning, Operations & Supply Chain, Total Compensation Management, Conversational Computing

The Business Continuity Imperative: The Continuous Planning Experience and Organizational Agility in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Mark Smith on Jul 19, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Business planning is an essential part of an organization’s focus on its future performance and overall potential because it ensures continuous operations, even in black-swan events. Planning across the entire organization needs to be a critical priority and leadership should give it the attention it deserves. In challenging times, a focus on execution tends to take hold — this is not unreasonable but in focusing on satisfying immediate customer and workforce needs and putting out fires, business leaders too often forget that forward-looking continuous planning is essential to achieving desired outcomes. Fulfilling this objective requires technology designed to meet these needs for every business process in the organization.  

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Topics: Sales, Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, Continuous Planning, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Collaboration, Internet of Things, Data, Sales Performance Management, Workforce Management, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Operations & Supply Chain, Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Total Compensation Management, Predictive Planning, Conversational Computing

The Business Continuity Imperative: The Workforce Experience and Human Capital Management in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Mark Smith on Jul 12, 2020 6:00:00 AM

The workforce is an essential part of an organization’s overall business potential because it ensures continuous operations, even in black-swan events. The workforce is the core of the organization and should get the attention it deserves. In challenging times, a “customer-first” mentality tends to take hold — this is not unreasonable but in focusing on satisfying customers and opportunities, business leaders too often forget that the workforce experience is essential to achieving desired results. Fulfilling this objective requires technology designed to meet these human capital management (HCM) objectives. An organization’s agility and ability to invest adequate time and resources into the workforce experience is essential to an organization’s sustainability and operational effectiveness.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, Voice of the Customer, Continuous Planning, Business Continuity, Analytics, Business Planning, Workforce Analytics, Workforce Management, Digital Technology, Operations & Supply Chain, Robotic Process Automation, employee experience, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, mobile computing, agent management, People Analytics

The Business Continuity Imperative: The Digital Experience in Marketing for 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 28, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Marketing is inextricably linked to business success, and digital technology is essential to an organization’s overall marketing potential because it generates interest and brand awareness. In a black-swan event, the marketing department often is overwhelmed by short-term demands, so in these situations it’s of the essence that digital transformation gets the attention it deserves. In challenging times, a “putting-out-fires” mentality tends to take hold — this is not unreasonable but in focusing on satisfying the interest of the moment, business leaders too often forget that a consistent digital experience is essential to engaging consumers, the public and customers in a way that contributes to long-term success. Fulfilling this objective requires technology designed to deliver for marketing to meet this essential imperative. An organization’s agility and ability to invest adequate time and resources into marketing technology that enables a superior digital experience is essential for its sustainability and operational effectiveness.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Marketing, Office of Finance, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Data, Product Information Management, Digital Technology, Operations & Supply Chain, Conversational Computing

Modernizing PIM for Product Experience Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 25, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Today’s businesses must manage a continually expanding array of data, content and digital assets as well as satisfy the demands of consumers for comprehensive product information. Addressing these challenges requires unified processes and automated systems and, most importantly, the ability to augment and enrich product information. Our earlier PIM research found that more than half (52%) of organizations have incompatible tools and almost half (48%) must cope with disparate forms of data. These are situations that lead to wasted time and inefficiency in checking for errors and reconciling data across systems.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Marketing, PIM, Digital Technology, Operations & Supply Chain, Intelligent CX, product experience management, PXM

The Business Continuity Imperative: The Agent and Customer with Contact Centers in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 21, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Contact centers play a substantial role in an organization’s success. The customer journey is engaged here, at each moment of interaction. Agents, whether human or machine-driven, are intrinsic to the customer experience and the value of the contact center. Customers are essential to an organizations’ overall business potential because they generate revenue. In a black-swan event, demand for customer service may spike or dip, so in these situations it’s of the essence that agents get the attention they deserve. In challenging times, a “customer-first” mentality tends to take hold — this is natural, but in focusing on satisfying customers, business leaders too often forget that the agent experience is essential to effective customer engagement. Fulfilling this objective requires contact center technology designed for this purpose. An organization’s agility and ability to invest adequate time and resources into agents is essential for its sustainability and contact center effectiveness.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Marketing, Office of Finance, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Data, Product Information Management, Digital Technology, Operations & Supply Chain, Conversational Computing

The Business Continuity Imperative: The Subscriber Experience and Subscription Management in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 14, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Subscriptions are the future of business. Subscribers are essential to an organization’s overall business potential because they generate recurring revenue. In a black-swan event, demand for a subscription may spike or dip, so in these situations it’s of the essence that subscriptions get the attention they deserve. In challenging times, a “subscriber-first” mentality tends to take hold — this is not unreasonable but in focusing on satisfying subscribers, business leaders too often forget that the subscription experience is essential to retaining them. Fulfilling this objective requires technology designed for subscriptions. An organization’s agility and ability to invest adequate time and resources into subscriptions is essential for its sustainability and operational effectiveness.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Marketing, Office of Finance, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Data, Product Information Management, Digital Technology, Operations & Supply Chain, Subscription Billing, Conversational Computing, Subscription Management, Subscriber Experience

The Business Continuity Imperative: The Partner Experience and Channel Performance Agenda

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 10, 2020 5:50:52 PM

Partners play a key role in the revenue and growth of every organization. Whether channel selling is in assistance to internal sales or independent, what happens in partnering has ramifications that are simply too important to underestimate. The imperative to maintain business continuity with channel partners becomes painfully clear in a global pandemic, and that imperative demands that organizations cultivate partner excellence and channel performance. This effort should start with partner leadership and operations, with the objective of building channel relationships that can survive the test of time. Effective sales channel partnerships are built on mutual trust and a shared belief in the market opportunity, and recruiting and managing partners must be supported by effective processes and technology. The health of these relationships and the resulting revenue from the channel hinges on an effective partner experience, and this requires technology investments that enable leaders to not just manage channel performance, but help inspire it every single day.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Human Capital Management, Marketing, Office of Finance, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Internet of Things, Data, Digital Technology, Operations & Supply Chain, Conversational Computing, partner management, Partner Experience

The Business Continuity Imperative: The Product Experience for Buyer and Customer Delight in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Mark Smith on May 31, 2020 3:00:00 AM

Products and services are the foundation of every organization, regardless of its industry or size. Products are essential to an organization’s overall business health because they generate revenue and engage buyers and customers. In a black-swan event, demand for a product may spike or dip, so in these situations it’s of the essence that products get the attention they deserve as they are marketed, sold, serviced and enhanced with innovations. In challenging times, a “customer-first” mentality tends to take hold — this is not unreasonable but in a rush to satisfy customers, business leaders too often forget that the product experience is essential to fulfilling on the customer experience and satisfying customers and buyers. An organization’s agility and ability to invest adequate time and resources into products is essential for its sustainability and operational effectiveness.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Marketing, Office of Finance, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Data, Product Information Management, Digital Technology, Operations & Supply Chain, Conversational Computing, product experience management

The Business Continuity Imperative: The Work Experience and Workforce Engagement Agenda

Posted by Mark Smith on May 24, 2020 3:00:00 AM

The workforce is the center of any organization, no matter if the workforce consists of employees, contractors or what we call gig workers. It stands to reason that a black-swan event has an immediate impact on a workforce and thus an organization’s overall business health. In challenging times, a “family-first” mentality tends to take hold — a reality that, far too often, business leaders and HR organizations underestimate. But organizational readiness is essential for sustainability and operational effectiveness.

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Topics: Sales, Human Capital Management, Learning, Office of Finance, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Digital Technology, Digital Marketing, Operations & Supply Chain, Workforce Optimization, AI and Machine Learning

The Business Continuity Imperative: The Selling Experience and Sales Performance Agenda

Posted by Mark Smith on May 17, 2020 3:00:00 AM

Sales plays a lead role in the revenue and growth of every organization. Whether the selling is direct or indirect, what happens in the sales department has ramifications that are perilous to underestimate. The imperative to maintain business continuity becomes painfully clear in a global pandemic, and that imperative demands that organizations cultivate sales excellence. This effort should start with leadership and engage sales operations, management and professionals with the objective of building customer relationships that can survive the test of time. The health of a sales organization hinges on an effective selling experience, and this requires technology investments that enable leaders to not just manage sales performance but help inspire it every single day.

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Sales Operations, Business Continuity, CFO, Sales Performance Management, sales enablement

The Business Continuity Imperative: The Supplier Relationship and Experience

Posted by Mark Smith on May 10, 2020 6:30:00 AM

Suppliers play a critical role in supporting the operations and processes of every organization. Whether direct or indirect, an organization’s relationship with its suppliers has ramifications that are perilous to underestimate. The imperative to maintain business continuity becomes painfully clear in a global pandemic, and that imperative demands that organizations cultivate excellent supplier relationships.  

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Human Capital Management, Marketing, Office of Finance, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Internet of Things, Data, Digital Technology, Operations & Supply Chain, Conversational Computing

The Business Continuity Imperative: The Voice and Mission of Your Customer Experience

Posted by Mark Smith on May 3, 2020 3:00:00 AM

Supercharging the customer experience (CX) is more than just an opportunity. It’s essential for every organization that looks to optimize engagement at every moment of the customer journey. In times such as these, when business continuity is a top priority, organizations must address the customer experience, especially if it has not been a focal point of the executive team.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Human Capital Management, Marketing, Office of Finance, Voice of the Customer, Analytics, Collaboration, Data Governance, Data Preparation, Information Management, Internet of Things, Contact Center, Data, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Operations & Supply Chain, Intelligent CX, Conversational Computing

The Business Continuity Imperative: Digital Innovation for Optimal Experiences in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 19, 2020 3:00:00 AM

At Ventana Research we’re familiar with the need for digital transformation as we have been researching and providing education on this topic for almost two decades. And recent global challenges make even clearer the sea change at hand: digital innovation is essential for not only success, but survival. Business continuity during a pandemic, natural disaster, cyber event or geopolitical situation requires business and risk mitigation processes, but unfortunately very few organizations had been doing so. We are seeing how quickly organizations are going into survival mode, in how they operate and communicate to meet the expectations of the workforce, customers, stakeholders and potentially shareholders.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, HCM, Marketing, Office of Finance, Business Continuity, Analytics, Digital Technology

Embrace Your Customers and Buyers with Digital Value

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 2, 2020 3:11:58 PM

I would like to share some of my thoughts on COVID-19 and the challenges organizations are facing as they strive for business continuity and digital engagement with customers and buyers. As the global and US numbers get worse by the day, the pandemic is impacting life as we knew it and also leaves people (many in new forms of isolation) yearning for a bit of normalcy during these strange times.

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Topics: Sales, Marketing, Digital Technology, Digital Marketing, Digital Commerce

The Revolution in Sales in 2020: Ventana Research Agenda

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 25, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Ventana Research recently announced its 2020 research agenda for sales, continuing the guidance we’ve offered for nearly two decades to help organizations derive optimal value from business technology and improve outcomes. Chief sales and revenue officers face an imperative to manage the sales organization but they don’t always have the guidance they need to embrace technology and gain the best possible outcomes. As we look forward to 2020 we’re focusing on the selling experience and the applications that simplify processes and tasks across the sales organization.

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Topics: Sales, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, Digital Commerce

Blockchains Pose Problems of Persistence and Trust

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 15, 2020 6:00:00 AM

I’ve written before about blockchain’s significant potential. A lot of the current discussion on the topic centers on cryptocurrencies and financial trading platforms, both of which are already in operation. However, my focus is on its applicability to business generally, especially in B2B commerce, where I believe there is significant potential for it to serve as a universal data connector. There’s also a great deal of potential for blockchain to provide individuals with greater power in managing their identity and greasing the wheels of trade. That noted, those designing and planning to implement commerce-related blockchains must address fundamental issues if blockchain technology is to achieve its potential.

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Topics: Sales, Human Capital Management, business intelligence, Collaboration, Internet of Things, Data, Product Information Management, Digital Commerce, Enterprise Resource Planning, blockchain, candidate engagement, collaborative computing, continuous supply chain

Incentive Solutions Shows Potential in Sales Performance Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 20, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Here are some insights on Incentive Solutions drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic assessment of how well vendor offerings address buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index on Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We evaluated Incentive Solutions and eight other vendors in seven categories, five product-related adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two concerning the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each of the seven categories to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on data derived from our benchmark research on sales performance management.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Analytics, Contact Center, Data, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Predictive Planning, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, mobile computing, Subscription Management, agent management, intelligent sales

NICE is a Leader in Reliability for Sales Performance Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 18, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Here are some insights on NICE drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic assessment of how well vendor offerings address buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index on Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We evaluated NICE and eight other vendors in seven categories, five product-related adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two concerning the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each of the seven categories to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on data derived from our benchmark research on sales performance management.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Mobile Technology, Office of Finance, Analytics, Contact Center, Data, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Predictive Planning, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, Subscription Management, agent management, intelligent sales

beqom is a Value Index Leader for Manageability in Sales Performance Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 16, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Here are some insights on beqom drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic assessment of how well vendor offerings address buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index on Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We evaluated beqom and eight other vendors in seven categories, five product-related adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two concerning the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each of the seven categories to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on data derived from our benchmark research on sales performance management.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Analytics, Contact Center, Data, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Digital Technology, Predictive Planning, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, mobile computing, Subscription Management, agent management, intelligent sales

SAP Provides Mature and Balanced Sales Performance Management Offering

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 13, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Here are some insights on SAP drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic assessment of how well vendor offerings address buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index on Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We evaluated SAP and eight other vendors in seven categories, five product-related adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two concerning the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each of the seven categories to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on data derived from our benchmark research on sales performance management.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Analytics, Contact Center, Data, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Predictive Planning, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, mobile computing, Subscription Management, agent management, intelligent sales

Optymyze Provides Robust Platform and Sales Performance Management Suite

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 11, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Here are some insights on Optymyze drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic assessment of how well vendor offerings address buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index on Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We evaluated Optymyze and eight other vendors in seven categories, five product-related adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two concerning the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each of the seven categories to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on data derived from our benchmark research on sales performance management.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Analytics, Contact Center, Data, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Predictive Planning, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, mobile computing, Subscription Management, agent management, intelligent sales

Anaplan is a Value Index Leader for Validation in Sales Performance Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 9, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Here are some insights on Anaplan drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic assessment of how well vendor offerings address buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index on Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We evaluated Anaplan and eight other vendors in seven categories, five product-related adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two concerning the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each of the seven categories to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on data derived from our benchmark research on sales performance management.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Analytics, Contact Center, Data, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Predictive Planning, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, mobile computing, Subscription Management, agent management, intelligent sales

Varicent is a Value Index Leader in Sales Performance Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 6, 2019 7:00:00 AM

With the backing of Great Hill Partners and Spectrum Equity, the company Varicent Software launched on Jan. 1st, purchasing IBM’s Sales Performance Management (SPM) assets and hiring employees from IBM’s SPM group. They will join a new team that includes Varicent’s original founders and key leadership.

This set of insights is drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic assessment of how well vendor offerings address buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index on Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We evaluated IBM, now Varicent, and eight other vendors in seven categories, five product-related adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two concerning the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each of the seven categories to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on data derived from our benchmark research on sales performance management.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Analytics, Contact Center, Data, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Predictive Planning, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, mobile computing, Subscription Management, agent management, intelligent sales

Xactly Demonstrates Strong Performance in SPM Value Index

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 4, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Here are some insights on Xactly drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic assessment of how well vendor offerings address buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index on Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We evaluated Xactly and eight other vendors in seven categories, five product-related adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two concerning the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each of the seven categories to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on data derived from our benchmark research on sales performance management.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Analytics, Contact Center, Data, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Predictive Planning, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, mobile computing, Subscription Management, agent management, intelligent sales

Oracle Leads Sales Performance Management Value Index

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 2, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Here are some insights on Oracle drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic assessment of how well vendor offerings address buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index on Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We evaluated Oracle and eight other vendors in seven categories, five product-related adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two concerning the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each of the seven categories to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on data derived from our benchmark research on sales performance management.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Contact Center, Data, Sales Performance Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Predictive Planning, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, mobile computing, Subscription Management, agent management, intelligent sales

Identifying the Leaders in Sales Performance Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 31, 2019 7:00:00 AM

I am happy to share some insights from our latest Value Index research, which rates how well vendors’ offerings meet buyers’ requirements in seven categories, five relevant to the product (adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two related to the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). The Ventana Research Value Index: Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. Drawing on our benchmark research and expertise, this research-based index is the first such evaluation to assess the full business value of sales performance management software. You can learn more about our Value Index as an effective vendor selection and RFI/RFP tool here and participating vendors can learn more about how to use the Value Index here.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Analytics, Contact Center, Data, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Predictive Planning, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, mobile computing, Subscription Management, agent management, intelligent sales

The Science of Sales Performance Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 24, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Ensuring that the sales organization contributes as fully as possible to the success of the organization — to revenue, growth, prof itability and the overall customer experience — requires not only dedication but effective strategy and planning. A well-developed strategy and plan to utilize current and future sales talent is essential for the best possible sales performance. To carry out this mission, organizations need a set of coordinated sales-related activities, processes and systems that enable the sales organization, from leadership and operations to the manager and sellers, to operate in a coordinated and collaborative manner. We call this sales performance management.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Analytics, Contact Center, Data, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Predictive Planning, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, mobile computing, Subscription Management, agent management, intelligent sales

Gaining Dynamic Insights on Sales Planning

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 15, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Managing sales processes and resources without careful planning is a recipe for failure. Effectiveness in sales starts with planning that involves the full range of stakeholders. This planning should involve a systematic process, incorporate all relevant information and be supported by capable software designed for this purpose. Furthermore, everyone who participates in sales-related activities, including those dealing with quotas, territories and resources, should be providing input for the planning. Without broad participation the likelihood of less-than-optimal planning increases and anyone who is excluded may not fully buy into the plan and its execution.

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Topics: Sales, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, Digital Commerce, Subscription Management, intelligent sales

Straight-Through Processing for Business and Commerce

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 31, 2019 6:00:00 AM

“Straight-through processing” (STP) is a business process and data architecture methodology. Technology advances have made STP increasingly feasible for any business process, allowing companies to design and execute them from inception to completion in a more automated fashion, minimizing or eliminating human intervention in the process. The associated data also progresses automatically end-to-end through the process, preserving its integrity. Because there is no human intervention, data is more accurate and less prone to manipulation.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Recurring Revenue, Data Governance, Financial Performance Management, Digital Commerce, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Billing and Recurring Revenue

FinancialForce Serves the Modern Service Business

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 10, 2018 6:00:00 AM

FinancialForce offers cloud-based ERP and professional services automation (PSA) software. The company targets midsize and larger services companies, especially those that provide professional services (such as consultants or field service organizations), subscription-based or recurring revenue services. FinancialForce’s key point of differentiation is that it is built natively on the Salesforce platform. Thus, CRM data is already located on the same platform as accounting and back-office data so organizations can orchestrate end-to-end front-office to back-office processes without having to integrate different systems.

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Topics: Sales, Office of Finance, Recurring Revenue, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Billing and Recurring Revenue, revenue recognition

PROS Enables Modern Commerce with Dynamic CPQ

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 16, 2018 11:29:51 PM

PROS Holdings is a software vendor with two distinct but related sets of products. The company began in 1985 offering revenue management software to airlines, hospitality and rental car companies. More recently it added price and revenue management software focusing on B2B services, chemicals and energy, consumer goods manufacturers, food and beverage, healthcare, insurance and technology. This note focuses on the B2B portion of the business.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Customer Experience, Marketing, Office of Finance, Analytics, Data Preparation, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Digital Marketing, Digital Commerce, Pricing and Promotion Management, Sales Enablement and Execution

GDPR: Business or Technology Vendors Ready or Not?

Posted by Mark Smith on May 11, 2018 8:37:05 AM

We are have arrived at the May 25, 2018 date when the European Union’s General Data Privacy Regulations (GDPR) become enforceable, following what has been a two-year transition period. Companies were given this time to put in place reasonable measures and the systems necessary to support the legislation’s wide-ranging personal data privacy requirements, which apply to any organization with more than 250 employees that serves EU citizens. While this regulation will apply in the EU, it has implications for any organization in the world that provides services involving the personal data of any EU citizen.

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Topics: Big Data, Data Science, Mobile, Sales, Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Marketing, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Data Governance, Data Integration, Data Preparation, Internet of Things, Contact Center, Digital Technology, Digital Marketing, Digital Commerce, Cybersecurity, Billing and Recurring Revenue, collaboration for business, mobile marketing

Beyond Digital Transformation: Effective Technology Innovation in 2018

Posted by Mark Smith on May 7, 2018 12:56:06 AM

Advancing the potential of any business requires continuous improvement in the processes and technology that support it. Many companies have embraced attempts at a digital transformation, and it’s become a goal to which organizational resources and budgets have been dedicated around the globe.

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Topics: Big Data, Data Science, Mobile, Sales, Customer Analytics, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, Human Capital Management, Machine Learning, Marketing, Marketing Performance Management, Mobile Technology, Office of Finance, Wearable Computing, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer Service, Data Governance, Data Integration, Data Preparation, Internet of Things, Contact Center, Information Optimization, Product Information Management, Digital Technology, Digital Marketing, Digital Commerce, Operations & Supply Chain, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Pricing and Promotion Management, Cybersecurity, Billing and Recurring Revenue, Workforce Optimization, collaboration for business, mobile marketing

Salesforce Fails Again in Customer Experience

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 14, 2017 2:02:59 AM

More than a year ago I wrote from personal experience about the challenges our firm encountered with Salesforce’s cloud computing systems and customer service and if we can trust them for business in the cloud. That perspective covered a range of issues that the behemoth cloud computing applications and platform company is facing regarding its service and technology. While Salesforce has shifted its customers like us and others to a different cloud computing environment, as it did in moving us off its #NA14 cloud computing instance, core challenges of its customer experience and billing processes persist. After the last customer experience incident, I contacted its executives about the need for operational improvement; it was clear in the dialogue that they saw some but not all of our experience as issues important to improving its customer processes. It was good to get some immediate attention, but my hope was to speak for all SMB companies in pointing out the importance of effective communications and escalating notifications and interactions when those customer moments go sour, so the customer isn’t forced to turn to social media to be heard. This was an area where Salesforce had significant room for improvement in customer engagement, reflecting a pattern we see in our benchmark research, which finds the most common challenges in almost half of organizations are integration of channels of engagement and managing activities as silos.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Office of Finance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, Digital Commerce, Sales and Operations Planning, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Sales Enablement and Execution, Machine Learning Digital Technology, Sales Planning and Analytics

Supercharge Sales Analytics with Digital Technologies

Posted by Mark Smith on May 12, 2017 8:44:07 AM

Our firm regularly explores the impacts of new technologies on business. Analytics is foremost among recently emerging technologies, which our benchmark research consistently confirms. In our research on next-generation sales analytics, fourth-fifths (82%) of participating organizations cited analytics as the most important technology trend for sales; however, several other technologies also are adding power and flexibility to the use of sales analytics.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Mobile Technology, Office of Finance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, Digital Commerce, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Sales Enablement and Execution, Machine Learning Digital Technology, Sales Planning and Analytics

Vendavo Brings Intelligence to Pricing and Profitability

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 9, 2017 9:54:20 AM

Vendavo recently held its annual Profit Summit, a combination of a user group conference and a forum for covering evolving trends and techniques in business-to-business (B2B) pricing. Especially in emerging categories like pricing and revenue management, this sort of event provides an opportunity to assess the state of the market and the maturity of the applications. As I’ve noted, adoption of price and revenue management software has been slow in the B2B segment of commerce due to multiple obstacles. The challenges include change management, as well as data and process issues.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Office of Finance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Sales Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Digital Commerce, Pricing and Promotion Management, Sales Enablement and Execution, Sales Planning and Analytics

Prepare and Wrangle Data for Sales Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on May 5, 2017 8:28:34 AM

The importance of analytics for sales organizations is clear and, as I pointed out in my recent analyst perspective on the next generation of sales analytics, these capabilities optimize revenue potential. However, utilizing sales analytics requires a set of data skills that most organizations still find challenging and are thus not fully prepared to support. The efficient access and preparation of data underlies any analytics processes, which must meet demanding needs that are not always automated. Our research into next generation sales analytics has found many impediments that must be addressed and is a critical part of our expertise agenda for sales organizations.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Machine Learning, Office of Finance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Sales and Operations Planning, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Sales Enablement and Execution, Sales Planning and Analytics

New Generation of Sales Analytics Can Optimize Revenue Potential

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 27, 2017 11:22:52 AM

I have been following advances in sales analytics since the 1990s. Over the last five years, however, I have seen evolution, not innovation. In most cases the information that analytics provides is too complicated and not contextualized enough for sales people who are not analytics experts to understand, let alone take action on. As I pointed out in my 2017 research agenda on sales, analytics is essential for planning that improves the impacts of sales efforts and meets the goals of the organization.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Mobile Technology, Office of Finance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, Digital Commerce, Sales and Operations Planning, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Sales Enablement and Execution, Machine Learning Digital Technology, Sales Planning and Analytics

Optimizing the Business of Selling in 2017

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 20, 2017 9:22:16 AM

I am happy to provide my personal perspective on the potential of sales organizations, processes and technology to supercharge business activity in 2017. The sales processes of organizations – whether they involve digital commerce or direct or indirect physical selling – should be part of continuous optimization efforts to reach maximum results. To do this, the people leading and running sales processes must be able to use technology that supports their responsibilities and analyzes the crucial information coming into the business. For almost 15 years, we have advocated for sales applications and tools that are necessary to optimize sales effectiveness and improve the outcomes of their sales efforts. The available portfolio is much larger than sales force automation (SFA) and involves more than the continued use of CRM, which has clear limits in its ability to manage customer relationships. The applications on offer include many facets of sales:  coaching, compensation management, contract management, configure price quote (CPQ), forecasting, quota and territory management, planning and optimization, pricing and revenue optimization, and target or market intelligence. New applications designed for sales also enable digital effectiveness that can transform organizations. Let me provide my perspective on six topics that are shaping the way sales can and should operate in 2017, and which are part of our sales research agenda for the year.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Machine Learning, Mobile Technology, Office of Finance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, Digital Technology, Digital Commerce, Operations & Supply Chain, Sales and Operations Planning, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Sales Enablement and Execution, Sales Planning and Analytics

B2B Pricing Management Can Strengthen Bottom Line

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 20, 2017 8:45:22 AM

More businesses are using software to implement and support a strategic pricing strategy designed to optimize revenue and margins in business-to-business (B2B) transactions because it can help improve results at the bottom line. “Optimize” in this instance means managing the trade-off that usually exists between revenue and profitability objectives in order to support a company’s strategy and capabilities in a given market. Business-to-business pricing management is Ventana Research’s term for such processes and applications. Software built for this purpose centralizes control and enforces consistency in pricing while assisting sales agents in negotiating prices that achieve desired business objectives. It enables agents to use techniques that can increase the revenue from a transaction, the margin on the sale or the probability of closing the sale.

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Topics: Big Data, Data Science, Sales, Office of Finance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Pricing and Promotion Management, Sales Enablement and Execution, ERP and Continuous Accounting

B2B Price and Revenue Optimization Goes Mainstream

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 24, 2017 12:16:47 AM

Price and revenue optimization (PRO) is a business discipline used to produce demand-based pricing; it applies market segmentation techniques to achieve strategic objectives such as increased profitability or greater market share. In essence, PRO enables companies to surf the demand curve using dynamic rather than fixed pricing to achieve the most desirable trade-offs between revenue volume and profit margins. The trade-off is defined by strategic factors such as the company’s market position, product and service portfolio, and marketing strategy.

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Topics: Big Data, Data Science, Sales, Office of Finance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management

Oracle Plus NetSuite Equals More

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 16, 2016 11:17:22 PM

Oracle and NetSuite have completed their merger. The combination is likely to be positive for customers because NetSuite will have access to “more,” a word repeated many times over the course of Oracle’s post-acquisition webcast. Existing NetSuite customers will benefit from increased investment as well as economies of scale that Oracle can bring to R&D and sales and marketing. Oracle has stated that there’s little overlap between its target customer base and NetSuite’s. However, there is substantial overlap with NetSuite’s application partner network because of Oracle’s own broad application portfolio. As such, many of these partners are likely to shift their attention to NetSuite’s cloud-only competitors (for example, FinancialForce and Intacct), which will benefit those rivals’ sales and marketing efforts.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Human Capital Management, Marketing, Office of Finance, Continuous Planning, Customer Service, HRMS, Price and Revenue Management, Work and Resource Management, Digital Commerce, Operations & Supply Chain, Enterprise Resource Planning, Sales and Operations Planning

Big Vendors Deserve Some Respect

Posted by David Menninger on Nov 26, 2016 8:33:51 AM

Fall is a busy time for software industry analysts. It’s a season filled with vendors’ user conferences and some industry conferences. Throughout the course of attending these events I’ve come to the realization that big vendors are often considered the Rodney Dangerfield of the software industry: They get no respect. What I mean by no respect is revealed in snarky social media comments, less enthusiastic coverage by tech media than smaller vendors get and a general sense that big vendors don’t do anything new with their development efforts. However, I suggest this is a shortsighted view of the software world. Smaller vendors serve a valuable function as a source of innovation for the industry, but they get a disproportionate share of attention. I suggest the big vendors deserve businesses’ attention, too, when they consider new software purchases.

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Topics: Sales, Software

Intacct Advances Subscription Billing and Reporting

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 9, 2016 7:32:11 AM

Intacct, a cloud-based ERP vendor focused on midsize companies, recently held its annual user group meeting. Two of its products that were covered in the keynote are worth noting. One, already available, enables companies to manage their order-to-cash process in a continuous fashion, from the time a salesperson begins to engage with a prospect to the time funds are collected. The other is a custom report writer, to be available in the first quarter of 2017, that will provide business users with the ability to create even complex reports from any data that resides within Intacct in a straightforward, interactive fashion that is similar to building reports in a desktop spreadsheet. The company also presented modules that will facilitate compliance with the new revenue recognition standards.

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Topics: SaaS, Sales, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, ERP, Human Capital Management, Marketing, NetSuite, Office of Finance, customer life cycle, Customer Service, billing software, asc 606

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

Accounting for Sales Compensation Faces Challenges under ASC 606 and IFRS 15

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 13, 2016 9:43:37 AM

New standards governing accounting for contracts will go into effect for most companies in 2018. The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), which administers Generally Accepted Accounting Principles in the U.S. (US-GAAP), has issued ASC 606, and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), which administers International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) used in most other countries, has issued IFRS 15. The two are very similar, and both will enforce fundamental changes in this area of accounting. Under the new approach to accounting for contracts, revenue (and some corresponding expense) is recognized only when customers are satisfied. In contrast, until now revenue was recognized when internally measurable events occurred, such as on delivery to the customer, the completion of milestones or the passage of time. In addition to dealing with an impact on accounting and planning, which I have discussed, companies may need to examine how the rules will affect how they account for commissions and other contract acquisition expenses.

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Uncategorized

Aria Enables Effective Recurring Revenue Management

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 7, 2016 8:29:47 PM

Aria Systems provides companies with software for managing subscription or recurring revenue business models. A recurring revenue business models includes three types of selling and billing structures: a one-time transaction plus a periodic service charge; subscription-based services involving periodic charges; or a contractual relationship that charges periodically for goods and services. Aria’s cloud-based software addresses key requirements of users in the marketing, sales, operations and accounting functions in this type of business.

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Topics: SaaS, Sales, Sales Performance, Customer Engagement, Customer Experience, ERP, Marketing, NetSuite, Office of Finance, Recurring Revenue, customer life cycle, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Financial Performance, Business Performance Management (BPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), billing software

Stibo Systems Continues to Advance PIM for Business and IT

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 20, 2015 6:42:30 PM

Stibo Systems has been providing product information management (PIM) software for decades. Its work has helped many organizations worldwide take control of their product information by developing a master definition that can be published across many channels from Web to digital to print. We recognized its work with customers Delta Faucet and Masco Corp. in our 2015 Ventana Research Leadership Award in Information Management. In 2014 Stibo Systems customer Brady Corp. won a similar award for Information Optimization. I have made it clear  that in our view, when it comes to use all kinds of product content and data in business processes, product information management trumps master data management. Delivering value to business with PIM is much different than managing data infrastructure with MDM. There has been much angst in varying industry analyst views on this market segment. We analyze and rate vendors more rigorously than analyst firms that look at them only through an IT lens. Our methodology and framework put business first and IT second, and that shapes how we score vendors in PIM, MDM and other aspects of the software industry.

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Topics: Master Data Management, Sales, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Customer Experience, MDM, Mobile Technology, PIM, Stibo Systems, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Information Management, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Optimization, Product Information Management

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

SaaS Buyers and Customers Beware: Data Issues are Cloudy

Posted by Ventana Research on Apr 27, 2015 9:12:04 PM

There’s a long history of companies not paying close enough attention to the contractual elements of acquiring software. Today, this extends into the world of cloud computing. Many companies are choosing to acquire software services through cloud-based providers and increasingly rely on access to cloud-based data, as is shown by our forthcoming benchmark research, in which a large majority of participating companies said that having access to data in the cloud is important or very important. As they say, I’m not a lawyer and I don’t play one on television, so what follows is intended to be nothing more than a conversation starter with legal counsel. But I do advise companies on how to use software to improve their business performance and provide guidance on what software they need to achieve their objectives. From that perspective, let me offer this blanket recommendation: Your company should examine the terms and conditions of its contracts carefully to be certain that it has the ability to control, access and retain its data in single or multitenant cloud-based systems. It should be prepared to add terms and conditions to any software-as-a-service (SaaS) contract to preserve ownership of and access to the data as well as other proprietary elements of that business relationship.

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Topics: SaaS, Sales, Customer Experience, Governance, contract, e-discovery, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Business Performance Management (BPM)

Does Pricing and Revenue Optimization Make My Bottom Line Look Fatter?

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 31, 2015 10:00:34 AM

Managing prices has always been an activity of keen interest to businesses, but it has become even more critical to do it well. Over the past decade many companies have found their ability to raise prices has been constrained by intense competition resulting from Internet commerce, global competition and other factors. One tool for dealing with this pressure is price and revenue optimization (PRO), an analytic methodology that calculates how demand varies at different price levels and then uses that algorithm to recommend prices that should optimally balance revenue and profit objectives. Computer-supported PRO began in earnest in the 1980s as the airline and hospitality industries adopted revenue management practices in efforts to maximize returns from less flexible travelers (such as people on business trips) while minimizing the unsold inventory by selling incremental seats on flights or nights in hotel rooms at discounted prices to more discretionary buyers (typically vacationers). Price and revenue optimization algorithms are designed to enable a company to achieve fatter profit margins than are possible with a monolithic pricing strategy. Using PRO, airlines and hotels catering mainly to less price-sensitive business travelers found they could match discounters’ fares and rates to fill available seats and rooms without having to forgo profits from their high-margin customers.

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Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, Sales, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), analytical application, Price Optimization

The Importance of Well-Managed Processes for Planning

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 20, 2015 10:47:55 AM

It’s stating the obvious to say that how well executives manage planning processes has a big impact on how well a business unit or company plans. However, one significant source of the value of our benchmark research is that it establishes hard evidence – the numbers – that transforms mere assertions into proof points. This is particularly important when people within an organization want to improve a process. Change management is facilitated by providing senior executives with facts to back up assertions related to solving a business issue. Our recently completed next-generation business planning research provides insight into the importance of managing the planning process well and identifies some components of good management.

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Topics: Big Data, Predictive Analytics, Sales, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Marketing, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Supply Chain, S&OP

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

Integrated Business Planning Is More Effective

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 24, 2015 8:02:12 PM

Ventana Research recently released the results of our Next-Generation Business Planning benchmark research. Business planning encompasses all of the forward-looking activities in which companies routinely engage. The research examined 11 of the most common types of enterprise planning: capital, demand, marketing, project, sales and operations, strategic, supply chain and workforce planning, as well as sales forecasting and corporate and IT budgeting. We also aggregated the results to draw general conclusions.

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Topics: Big Data, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Sales, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Human Capital Management, Marketing, Office of Finance, Reporting, Budgeting, Controller, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, In-memory, Workforce Performance, CFO, Supply Chain, capital spending, demand management, Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, FPM, Integrated Business Planning, S&OP

Process Trumps Innovation in Business Analytics

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 19, 2015 5:21:17 AM

The idea of not focusing on innovation is heretical in today’s business culture and media. Yet a recent article in The New Yorker suggests that today’s society and organizations focus too much on innovation and technology. The same may be true for technology in business organizations. Our research provides evidence for my claim.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Customer Performance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Information Management

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

Managing Sales Compensation Requires Commitment

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 21, 2015 9:17:18 AM

Sales organizations are under constant pressure to maximize their potential. To accomplish this they need to integrate their people and processes with those of the finance and operations groups and have access to all available information and useful technology. This is particularly true in the area of sales compensation, which when managed properly recognizes accomplishments, rewards success and motivates people. However, we find that few sales organizations take a comprehensive approach to sales compensation management.

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Sales Compensation, Sales Operations, Operational Performance, Financial Performance, commission

Profisee Simplifies Master Data Management

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 8, 2015 8:03:25 AM

Organizations today create and collect data at ever faster rates, and this introduces challenges in ensuring that data is not just managed but used in a consistent manner for a range of operational and analytic tasks. This is made more difficult by new data sources whose definitions vary from standard and widely used formats. Making all information available and consistent is essential to support business processes and decision-making. A key technology tool for this effort is master data management (MDM). Every business area needs MDM, whether it deals with customers, products, employees, finance or others individually or collectively in what is called multidomain MDM. It is an essential tool for data governance across an organization, which has become a focal point for improvement as many organizations spend significant time in data-related tasks. Our benchmark research on information optimization shows that preparing data for analysis (47%) and reviewing data for quality and consistency issues (45%) are the two information tasks that consume the most time. Properly used MDM enables data stewards and other IT professionals to improve the consistency and quality of departmental and enterprise data.

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Topics: Big Data, Data Quality, Master Data Management, Sales, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Golden Records., MDM, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Data Management, Financial Performance, Information Applications, Information Management, Workforce Performance

Salesforce Analytics Cloud Delivers Wave of Elegant Dashboards

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 5, 2014 8:21:57 AM

At this year's Dreamforce more than 140,000 people gathered in San Francisco to share the excitement about the use of technology for business. Salesforce.com’s annual conference has reached megashow status, which is a mixed blessing: Dreamforce remains social in its design, but it has become impersonal due to its size. In any case Salesforce had plenty to show off. The company has continued to enhance its cloud-based business applications for sales and customer service, and in the last year it has added marketing through acquisitions. It also has advanced the attraction of its cloud computing platform; even IT departments see its approach as a simple way to use and build applications, especially mobile ones which the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets have made critical to business. Cloud computing is becoming the defacto approach for new applications and software for business and now IT, and its importance continues to grow: Our benchmark research on business technology innovation shows that it is important or very important to more than half (57%) of organizations. At Dreamforce, Salesforce announced Salesforce1 Lightning (available in 2015), a way to assemble mobile applications that can operate across platforms. Salesforce makes the technical details of the mobile platform transparent and facilitates assembly of mobile applications.

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center

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

Oracle Financials is in the Cloud

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 22, 2014 9:28:45 AM

Like most vendors of on-premises ERP and financial management software, in moving to the cloud Oracle has focused on developing for existing and potential customers the option of multitenant software as a service (SaaS). (I’m using the term “ERP” in its most expansive sense, to include such systems employed by all types of companies for accounting and financial management rather than only systems that are used by manufacturing and distribution companies.) Oracle’s ERP Cloud Service includes Fusion Financials as well as planning and budgeting, risk and controls management, procurement and sourcing, inventory and cost management, product master data management, and project portfolio management. Although to date our benchmark research has consistently found that a large majority of finance departments do not prefer to deploy software in the cloud, we also observe the balance shifting in this direction. SaaS vendors that address finance department requirements have demonstrated faster revenue growth than those that offer products only on-premises. Like other vendors Oracle must establish itself as a credible vendor of cloud ERP and financial management services to be well positioned as market demand shifts further in that direction. The company made sizable investments in acquiring ERP and financial management software in the 2000s (notably PeopleSoft – which included JD Edwards – and Hyperion), and the investments have paid off as many companies have opted to keep their existing systems (and continue to pay maintenance) rather than replace them. Our Office of Finance benchmark research finds that over the past decade the average age of ERP systems in use has increased to 6.4 years from 5.1 years. The longevity of these systems is partly the result of the slow pace of innovation in underlying technologies used for business computing. Even so, modest year-by-year changes are adding up to make replacement a more attractive option while negative attitudes toward the cloud are dissipating. To retain its installed base, it’s important for any established vendor to have solid customer references and the ability to make sales of cloud products as demand for ERP and financial management software in the cloud increases.

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

FinancialForce Brings More Mobile, Social and Planning Technology to Market

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 17, 2014 9:25:55 AM

FinancialForce’s 2014 summer release incorporates improvements in mobile and collaboration features and provides enhancements to the planning dimension of its professional services automation (PSA) suite. In the last couple of releases the company emphasized expansion in the functional capabilities of its ERP suite, as I noted, focusing on human capital management and professional services automation as well as some supply chain automation capabilities.

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Topics: SaaS, Sales, Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, Social Media, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Office of Finance, Consulting, distribution, PSA, Unit4, Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, FinancialForce, HR, Professional Services Automation, SCM

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

Xactly Delivers New Inspiration for Sales to Maximize its Potential

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 9, 2014 11:22:16 AM

In an analyst perspective at the beginning of this year I wrote that sales organizations must step beyond conventional wisdom to generate the best outcomes. One such step is to invest in software that delivers immediate value to manage sales and be efficient in its operations. Our latest research on sales organizations finds that inconsistent execution (53%), scattered information (48%) and limited visibility (42%) are motivating investment to improve sales. At CompCloud, its annual conference, Xactly unveiled advances in its software to help improve the effectiveness and productivity of sales organizations. Spokespeople said the company’s sales compensation products have helped users manage US$10 billion in commissions in the past two years.

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Forecast, Sales Commission, Sales Compensation, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Insights, Quotas, Xactly

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

Epicor Faces a Challenging Future

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jun 2, 2014 9:46:51 AM

Epicor used its recent user group conference to explain its strategic direction and product roadmap. The company is the result of multiple mergers of business software corporations over the past 15 years; its target customers are midsize companies and midsize divisions of larger organizations. Its most significant products are Epicor (ERP software aimed mainly at manufacturing and distribution companies) and Activant Solutions (software for small and midsize retailers, including a point-of-sale system). The company also has software that manages CRM, HR and human capital and supply chains,  and provides financial performance management (FPM) and governance, risk and compliance (GRC) capabilities. These components of the software suites are adequate for the needs of many of the company’s target customers and are not intended as stand-alone applications.

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

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

Qvidian Helps Sales Optimize Execution

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

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

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

Successful Sales Forecasting Requires Dedicated Technology

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

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

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

Cloud Computing is More Than Multitenancy

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

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

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

ERP’s Future Is Hybrid Cloud

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 20, 2014 9:57:00 PM

Information technologists are fond of predictions in which the next big thing quickly and entirely renders the existing thing so completely obsolete that only troglodytes would cling to such outmoded technology. While this vision of IT progress may satisfy the egos of technologists, it rarely reflects reality. Mainframes didn’t disappear, for example. Although they long ago lost their dominant position, many remain key parts of corporate computing infrastructures. The IT landscape is a hybrid because technology users have varying requirements and constraints that can lengthen replacement cycles. Most business users of IT pay little attention to the religious wars of technologists because they take a pragmatic approach: They use technology to achieve business ends. This scenario is repeating itself in clamor about another corporate mainstay, the ERP system, which advocates claim will soon be redeployed en masse to cloud computing. That, too, won’t happen. I believe that ERP will increasingly become cloud-based, but it will be in hybrid cloud environments.

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

Microsoft Shows Off More than ERP with Dynamics

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 13, 2014 2:18:11 AM

Convergence is the Microsoft Dynamics business software user group’s meeting. Dynamics’ core applications are mainly in the accounting and ERP category, descendants of products Microsoft acquired: Great Plains (now GP), Solomon (SL), Navision (NAV) and Damgaard’s Axapta (AX), to which Microsoft has added its own CRM application. It has been more than a decade since the acquisitions of Great Plains (which itself had already purchased Solomon Software), and Navision, Damgaard and the software applications family has evolved steadily if slowly since then. More recently, Microsoft has added cloud services that simplify and improve the connection between remote users and the on-premises core systems, as well as integration with Office365.

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

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

FinancialForce Broadens Its Reach with ERP and More

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

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

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

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

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

Gamification Must Drive Software Ergonomics

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 2, 2013 8:43:28 AM

In business, the first rule of gamification is don’t call it gamification.

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Topics: Sales, Social Media, HCM, Social Collaboration, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance

Agility Provides Simplicity and Innovation in Product Information Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 31, 2013 2:04:54 AM

The need to be effective in the marketing, selling, manufacturing, distributing, and sourcing products requires more consistent and higher quality product information. This is where product information management (PIM) has great potential, and as I have attested is the responsibility of business to lead the process and technology improvements. Of course for PIM to be efficient IT needs to support business leadership to improve PIM and ensure access and integration of data and applications. One of the technology providers that help in this mission is Agility Multichannel, a software supplier that I have been tracking for many years and rated the highest level as a Hot Vendor in our 2012 Ventana Research Value Index for Product Information Management. In the scope of PIM its product has the ability to handle a broad range of channels of interaction for product information, from traditional print and electronic layout to email, portal, mobile and commerce interfaces across the life cycle of product information.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Operational Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Information Applications, Information Management, Commerce, Product Information Management, Supply Chain

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

Profitability Management vs. Managing Profitability

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 5, 2013 11:32:05 AM

Pricing and profit margins appear to be trending topics, which is normal at this stage of the business cycle. North American companies achieved high levels of profitability coming out of the last recession by staying lean, but this trend has run its course. Margins are being squeezed, and companies are looking for ways to add to the bottom line.

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Topics: Planning, Sales, Sales Performance, Office of Finance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, costing, FPM, Price Optimization, Profitability, S&OP

Salesforce.com Is Full of Surprises

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 10, 2013 8:58:13 AM

Anyone who follows salesforce.com is used to surprises, but over the last couple of months the company has come up with some that go beyond the usual. It rebranded the recent user conference in London as a customer company event. This follows from changing its messaging to urge every company to become a customer company not a social company. The event itself was everything we have come to expect, using an array of customer case studies to show how salesforce.com’s products help companies innovate and be successful, and a large partner and product showcase to prove how many products and partners salesforce now has. The real surprises were tucked away in meetings arranged for the many analysts present.

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Self-service, Operational Performance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Information Applications, Call Center, Contact Center, CRM

Xactly Makes Objectives the Incentive for Improvement

Posted by Mark Smith on May 25, 2013 11:41:03 PM

Sales organizations and individuals strive to reach their quotas and get paid the maximum commissions for their performance. In support of these goals, software vendor Xactly offers a suite of applications for sales performance management that operates in the cloud computing environment. An example of its success is receiving our recent 2013 Leadership Award in sales excellence for work by its customer Zuora. This achievement builds on its 2012 Leadership Award with customer GlobalEnglish. My last analysis of Xactly discussed its applications running on mobile technology including the Apple iPad, which answers the needs of sales people who prefer to use mobile technology. Xactly signed its 500th customer in late 2012, a milestone demonstrating its adoption by companies looking to improve sales.

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Compensation, Sales Performance Management

Nomis Advances Price Optimization in Financial Services

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 7, 2013 10:14:38 AM

At this year’s Global Pricing Forum, host Nomis Solutions announced the availability of its Discretion Manager software, which supports dynamic price negotiations. The annual event brings together thought leaders and practitioners interested in pricing. Nomis currently has 17 of the largest 100 banks as customers. With more customers, this year’s event had larger attendance than last year’s.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Sales Performance, Office of Finance, credit, financial analytics, Nomis Solutions, PRO, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, banking, Financial Services

Profit Velocity’s New Dimension in Managing Profitability

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 20, 2013 10:16:02 AM

Profit Velocity Solutions’ PV Accelerator is an analytic application designed to enable capital-intensive companies to consistently achieve substantially wider margins and higher return on assets (ROA). Companies in industries such as specialty chemicals, building materials, integrated steel mills and silicon chip fabrication (to name just four) routinely fail to make the right decisions about pricing, production and sales management because they use analytic methods that, from an economic perspective, present a distorted measure of profitability. Profit Velocity’s approach is to use profit contribution per unit of time as the core principle for driving decisions about production, pricing and CRM-related issues, including compensation-, customer- and account management.

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Topics: Performance Management, Sales, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, PV Accelerator, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Price Optimization, Profit Velocity, Profitability, Software, S&OP

The Spreadsheet and the Whale

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 29, 2013 9:06:29 AM

Banking giant JP Morgan raised eyebrows in 2012 when it revealed that it had lost a substantial amount of money because of poorly conceived trades it had made for its own account. The losses raised questions about the adequacy of its internal controls, and broader questions about the need for regulations to reduce systemic risk to the banking system. At the heart of the matter were the transactions made by “the London Whale,” the name given to a JP Morgan’s trading operation in the City by its counterparties because of the outsized bets it was making. Until that point, JP Morgan’s Central Investment Office had been profitable and apparently well controlled. In the wake of a discovery of the large losses racked up by “the Whale,” JP Morgan launched an internal investigation into how it happened, and released the findings of the task force established to review the losses and their causes [PDF document].

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, GRC, Office of Finance, error, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Information Management, Data, controls

SAP Business Analytics Strategy Built on SAP HANA and Delivers Better Business Intelligence

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 22, 2013 7:25:41 AM

SAP just released strong preliminary quarterly and annual revenue growth, which in many ways can be attributed to a strong strategic vision around the HANA in-memory platform and strong execution throughout the organization. Akin to flying an airplane while simultaneously fixing it, SAP’s bold move to HANA may at some point see the company continuing to fly when other companies are forced to ground parts of their fleets.

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, SAP, Supply Chain Performance, Business Objects, Business Objects predictive analytics, Crystal reports, Operational Performance, Visi, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, IBM, Operational Intelligence, Workforce Performance, cognos insight, SAP predictive analytics, Sybase IQ

The Business of Sales and Marketing – Our Research Agenda for 2013

Posted by Mark Smith on Jan 15, 2013 9:56:54 AM

Most organizations see improving the effectiveness of sales as a way to increase productivity. Those organizations that take advantage of the latest sales applications and technology are finding themselves with a competitive advantage, but many organizations lack the time and resources to assess and deploy appropriate platforms. That’s a shame, since most sales organizations have plenty to improve in their selling, forecasting, incentives and planning according to our latest research on sales performance management. We found a high demand even for many of the basics; for instance, many organizations still use personal spreadsheets or outdated applications that are costly to manage. At the same time, marketing organizations are investing heavily to be more revenue- and sales-focused to ensure they maintain relevance and contribute to their organizations’ performance and profitability. Both sales and marketing have fixated on specific processes and how they can work better together.

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Marketing, PIM, Sales Compensation, Sales Forecasting, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Financial Performance, CPQ, CRM, Product Information Management, SFA

What Every CEO Should Know About Software for Finance and Sales

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 26, 2012 7:11:48 AM

This is the third in a series of blog posts on what CEOs (and for that matter, all senior corporate executives) need to know about IT and its impact on running a business. The first covered the high-level issues. As I noted, it’s not necessary for a CEO to be able to write Java code or master the intricacies of an ERP or sales compensation application. However, CEOs must grasp the basics of IT just as they must understand basic corporate finance, the production process and – at least at a high level – the technologies that support that process. My second post was about four supporting technologies that will drive change in business computing over the next five years. It relates examples of how applications can help every part of a business operate more effectively, not just efficiently. Now let’s turn our attention to finance and sales – and as I’ve noted in the previous posts, what follows is an “elevator pitch” treatment of what could be a much longer discussion.

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Topics: Planning, Predictive Analytics, Sales, Sales Performance, Customer, Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, Budgeting, close, closing, PRO, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Information Management, CFO, CEO, FPM, Profitability, SPM

Quantrix Unveils Release 5

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 21, 2012 11:18:25 AM

Quantrix recently unveiled Quantrix 5, an updated version of its financial modeling software designed to fill the gap between spreadsheets and business intelligence (BI) systems. Quantrix provides users with many of the capabilities of an enterprise system and addresses shortcomings of desktop spreadsheet software without requiring extensive training.

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Topics: Big Data, Planning, Sales, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, FP&A, Office of Finance, Reporting, Budgeting, Quantrix, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Information Management, Workforce Performance, FPM

Saving Microseconds with Informatica’s Ultra Messaging

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 20, 2012 11:23:03 AM

Increasingly, global financial markets compete on speed, so much so that high-speed trading capabilities have become a performance differentiator for the largest financial services firms and some investment funds. Transmitting messages with quotes, prices and trade data is a core capability for currency dealers. Informatica recently introduced Ultra Messaging, which is designed to offer global currency traders an efficient, high-throughput, lower-latency (that is, faster) and more secure method of linking their worldwide operations.

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Topics: Sales, GRC, credit, currency, LAN, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Informatica, finance, WAN

Product Information Management is for Business

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 4, 2012 11:23:39 AM

To maximize the potential of their investments, businesses must manage product information, yet for many businesses product information is scattered and duplicated in many systems, which leads to duplication of effort, incorrect information about product descriptions and prices and improper tracking of products, all of which increase costs and waste time. At the same time, for marketing products and streamlining their distribution through sales channels, making product information accessible to consumers through smartphones and tablets is essential.

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Topics: Master Data Management, Sales, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Operational Performance, Business Performance, CIO, Customer & Contact Center, Information Management, Commerce, Product Information Management

Salesforce.com Positions as Cloud Platform Leader

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 24, 2012 12:52:40 PM

Salesforce.com launched more than 12 years ago as the founding CRM vendor in the cloud. Today it has grown to be the kitchen-sink vendor in the cloud. It seems every month it announces some new cloud service, and its services now cover almost the entire enterprise: sales, marketing, service, HR, finance and a list of supporting services that make it hard to determine just what the company now has to offer. Two things remain clear, however: Salesforce.com has established cloud computing as a credible way to source software applications, and all applications need to be socially enabled to keep up with new user and consumer preferences.

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Topics: Sales, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Experience, Social CRM, Voice of the Customer, Mobile Apps, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Call Center, Contact Center, CRM, Text Analytics, Unified Communications

Cloud Computing Challenges On-Premises for Software Preference

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 5, 2012 11:50:37 AM

Salesforce.com’s recent Dreamforce user conference got me wondering about how far the market for cloud-based software has come. To answer that question, I looked to our own research. For the past several years Ventana Research has routinely asked participants in its benchmark research what preference, if any, they have for deploying software they use to support the activity we are benchmarking. The choices we offer are on-premises, software as a service (SaaS – that is, in the cloud), hosted on a vendor’s servers) or no preference. I examined the responses from 1,110 participants in five benchmark research undetakings that cut across lines of business and IT areas to determine what, if any, patterns I could find in the responses.

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Topics: SaaS, Sales, Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, Supply Chain Performance, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Software

Oracle Fusion for CRM and HCM Ready with a Mobile Tap

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 4, 2012 12:10:17 PM

I attended Oracle’s annual OpenWorld conference this week. The company claims it holds the world’s largest technology conference, with 50,000 attendees and a million people viewing sessions online. It was a great opportunity to get close to the Oracle Fusion Applications, which the company presented as proven and ready, with customers using them on-premises and in private and public cloud computing usage methods. In keynotes from executives Larry Ellison, Mark Hurd and Thomas Kurian and application-focused sessions with executives Steve Miranda and Chris Leone, Oracle repeated the message that Fusion Applications are not just for cloud computing and web services but are also accessible through mobile technology called Oracle Fusion Tap that operates natively on the Apple iPad. The company left no confusion about its applications’ readiness for cloud and mobile computing, and provided insight into future advancements.

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, SAP, Social Media, Mobile Technology, Social Collaboration, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Information Management, Oracle, Workforce Performance, CRM, SFA, Workday, Workforce Analytics

Salesforce Helps Midsize Company Dreams Come True

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 21, 2012 11:42:53 AM

I cover the meat-and-potatoes aspects of corporate computing. I also pay attention to the special needs of midsize companies (by our definition, those with between 100 and 999 employees), which are unlike those of either small business or large corporations. After attending this year’s Dreamforce conference, Salesforce.com’s annual user meeting held this week in San Francisco, I can appreciate how difficult it is for executives and people who work in back office functions to cut through the technology hoopla to find the utterly practical (but certainly not dull) reasons why the cloud can help them run their businesses better. In fact, cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings can give midsize companies a leg up in ways that on-premises alternatives can’t. Here are four big ones that top my list.

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, Social Media, ERP, Office of Finance, CRM customer service, SMB, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Dreamforce, finance, Security, FPM

Anaplan is on a Mission for Planning Driven Performance Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 10, 2012 11:31:17 AM

When it comes to the task of managing performance, many organizations still find themselves fixated on the past rather than planning for improvement in the future. When performance management processes operate efficiently, technology to support activities such as modeling and analytics can optimize outcomes and help align them to targeted goals and objectives. This might seem trivial or easily done, but the reality is that most organizations lack a unified platform that anyone in the enterprise can easily engage and leverage.

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Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, Planning, Sales, Sales Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC)

Make IT Spending Transparent

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 9, 2012 10:17:46 AM

What does it cost to run an IT department? That’s an easy question to answer, but for most companies, why it costs that amount is not. IT departments often complain that most of their budget is devoted to funding daily operations and basic maintenance (“keeping the lights on”), but often, one big overlooked problem is the chargeback process that most companies use to assign IT department operating costs.

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Topics: Sales, Office of Finance, Budgeting, chargebacks, Operational Performance, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Financial Performance, IT cost

Product Information Management Is Hot for Business

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 2, 2012 11:21:49 AM

Ventana Research has just released our 2012 Value Index for Product Information Management (PIM), in which we evaluate the competency and maturity of vendors and products. Our firm has been researching this software category for many years, and our latest benchmark research in product information management, coming out shortly, finds PIM software providing substantive benefits in new channels of interaction with suppliers and customers.

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Topics: Master Data Management, Sales, Sales Performance, SAP, Supply Chain Performance, Enterworks, Hybris, Stibo Systems, Webon, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Data Governance, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), IBM, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Oracle, Heiler, Product Information Management, Riversand

Sales Performance Management Is Red-Hot with Applications

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 19, 2012 1:23:18 PM

We have just released our 2012 Value Index for Sales Performance Management (SPM), in which we evaluate the competency and maturity of vendors and products. Our firm has beenresearching this software category for many years, and our latest benchmark research in sales performance management found many areas for improvement among sales applications in a field where many sales organizations still use outdated or insufficient applications to manage revenue generation and customer relationships.

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Topics: Microsoft, Sales, Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, SAP, NICE Systems, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Oracle, CallidusCloud, Sales Performance Management, Synygy, Varicent, Xactly

Get Sales Applications That Make You Smarter and More Engaged

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 27, 2012 2:04:03 PM

It’s clear that sales organizations need to be efficient, but many are unaware of critical applications they could deploy to establish sales excellence. In my recent analysis, “Sales Organizations Need a Swift Technology Kick, I outlined why sales departments have to look beyond using sales force automation (SFA) and spreadsheets and examine dedicated applications for improving productivity and effectiveness. Our benchmark research in sales applications found a new set of application priorities in sales organizations that you should assess to determine how well your sales efforts match up to others’. Also, in most cases, we found the prioritization and needs of sales organizations are not aligned, resulting in wasted time and likely creating a lack of access to accurate information for sales management and operations.

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Sustainability, Sales Forecasting, IT Research, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Applications, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Workforce Performance, SFA

Xactly Helps Sales Go Mobile and Get Smarter with Incent 8

Posted by Mark Smith on May 24, 2012 9:46:15 AM

Businesses aim to make their sales function as productive as possible, but they don’t always support that goal with investment in technology. I recently wrote about sales needing a swift technology kick. Sales application vendor Xactly provides a boot with the release of Xactly Incent 8 and will make parts of the application suite available from the Apple App Store for the iPad in the coming weeks.

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Topics: Mobile, Sales, Sales Operations, Uncategorized, Compensation, CRM, Sales Performance Management, SFA

Nomis Global Pricing Forum Highlights Pricing Optimization

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 8, 2012 10:26:27 AM

I recently attended the 2012 Global Pricing Forum hosted by Nomis Solutions, a provider of software and services to banking and finance companies. This annual event brings together thought leaders and practitioners in the area of pricing and revenue optimization (PRO). This technique uses analytics to sift through large data sets to tease out customer behavior characteristics, identify customer segments and quantify their price sensitivities. These complex calculations require software designed for the purpose, but most in the financial services industry rely on older methods that produce less-than-optimal results. Analytics can help organizations more carefully manage the process of defining offers to customers (especially the levels of discretion offered to account managers and sales people) and the terms and conditions.

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Office of Finance, credit, financial analytics, Nomis Solutions, PRO, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Financial Performance, banking, Financial Services

The Business of Sales Research Agenda for 2012

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 6, 2012 10:28:24 PM

Investing wisely in sales-related people and processes is a key to business success. In 2012, helping sales staff perform at their highest levels should be a top priority for management. That may take some effort, according to our benchmark research, which indicates that only 14 percent of sales organizations operate at the highest level of innovation and competitiveness. In recent years, most organizations merely discussed moving beyond using only their sales force automation application and Microsoft Office for improving sales efficiency. Now sales organizations can move beyond systems that were designed decades ago, thanks to the availability of a broad range of applications to support sales activities and processes. In fact dozens of new types of sales applications are available to help sales focus on selling, which creates another issue. Where should sales organizations focus their limited resources and budgets?

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Planning, Sales, Sales Performance, Social Media, assets, Learning, Office of Finance, Performance, Reporting, Sales Compensation, Sales Force Automation, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, channel, coaching, commission, CRM, Sales Performance Management, SFA

SAP Aims to be More Cloudy and Mobile in 2012 and Beyond

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 20, 2011 8:20:33 AM

I attended the annual SAP Influencer Summit (Twitter #SAPSummit), at which executives from SAP meet with analysts and customers from around the world to discuss the company’s direction. Pointing out that in 2012 SAP will reach its 40th anniversary of operations, chief communications officer Hubertus Kulpus and chief marketing officer Jonathan Becher kicked off the summit, then passed the microphones to co-CEO Jim Hagemann-Snabe and CTO Vishal Sikka for overviews of the business and technology strategies. They presented a well-rehearsed dialogue on SAP’s definition of its software business as being in two areas, the “system of record” and “system of engagement”; the first term describes its transactional applications and the second its portfolio of business analytics.

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Topics: Mobile, Sales, Sales Performance, SAP, Social Media, Supply Chain Performance, Sustainability, Human Capital Management, Smart Phones, Business Technology Innovation, IT Performance, IT Research, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Business Technology, CIO, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Applications, Information Management, Information Technology, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Workforce Performance, Business Applications, CFO, COO, CRM, HR, Sybase, Tablets, Talent Management, Digital Technology

NICE to Acquire Merced Systems for Excellence in Customer Service and Sales

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 6, 2011 11:45:54 PM

NICE Systems last week announced an agreement to acquire Merced Systems, a provider of business applications for customer service and sales organizations. This acquisition slipped by with little fanfare, but it marks a significant milestone for NICE, a major provider of applications and technology for call centers and a player in their evolution into multichannel contact centers. Building on a good 2010, as my colleague Richard Snow noted, NICE expects to reach almost $800 million of revenue in 2011, which would make it one of the largest companies in its segment. NICE has made multiple acquisitions to build its software portfolio, including purchases of Actimize, CyberTech, eGlue and others mentioned below. It recently won our 2011 Ventana Research Leadership Award in the contact center category with its customer deployment at Alliance Data. NICE Systems plans to have Merced Systems as a foundation of its enterprise systems and a complement to its contact center workforce optimization offering. This purchase builds on its other acquisitions, including FizzBack recently and IEX and Performix in 2006, which helped NICE establish its customer service and back office agent performance management software. That area has not grown as quickly as NICE would like, mostly due to marketing that was not aggressive enough in attracting customers. NICE recently rebranded its NICE SmartCenter for helping agents, as Richard noted, and is leveraging its assets into the back office, which he also assessed. Our benchmark research on contact center technology found that companies’ priorities for future investments match up well with NICE Systems’ focuses on expanding customer service agent applications and analytics applications.

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Sales, Sales Performance, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Marketing, Merced Systems, NICE Systems, Revenue Performance, Sales Compensation, Sales Force Automation, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, Call Center, CFO, CMO, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Sales Performance Management, SFA, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Management

Patent Documents Useful for Buyers of Price Optimization Software

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 30, 2011 8:04:04 AM

Doing one’s homework is vital in buying business software. However, unless you’re replacing a relatively simple application, it’s hard to know exactly what to evaluate. Indeed, if people in a company given this task don’t have experience in using a specific type of business application or don’t understand how new or improved functionality will help execute business processes better, they may do a poor job of assessing the available alternatives. Third-party consultants may be helpful, but their prejudices and familiarity with a vendor’s products may cloud their objectivity. In the end, a buyer might agree with their point of view, but this agreement should be an informed decision.

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Topics: Performance Management, Sales, Sales Performance, Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, Zilliant, Model N, Navetti, Nomis Solutions, PROS Pricing, Servigistics, Signal Demand, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Oracle, Vendavo, Price Optimization, Profitability, Software, Vistaar Technologies

Spotfire 4.0 is Socially Collaborative and Interactive

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 17, 2011 7:54:50 AM

Tibco recently introduced Spotfire 4.0, the most recent version of its interactive discovery and business intelligence (BI) tool. Spotfire comes at BI through visualization. It uses in-memory processing and good user interface design to develop highly interactive displays of data. Version 4.0 attempts to enhance Spotfire’s dashboard capabilities and offers integration with enterprise collaboration tools. The former capabilities are necessary to broaden Spotfire’s appeal and applicability for more BI projects, but the latter capabilities are more interesting since they represent a fundamental shift in the way enterprises use business intelligence.

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Topics: Sales, Sales Performance, Social Media, Spotfire, Supply Chain Performance, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Performance, Chatter, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Dashboards, Financial Performance, Tibco, Twitter, Workforce Performance

Crystal Ball Is Cloudy for ERP Market

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 11, 2011 5:49:37 AM

As Workday continues to expand and the likelihood of its IPO becomes a more frequent topic of discussion, so does the movement of ERP systems to the cloud. Thus far, only a minority of companies have chosen to put their ERP and accounting systems in the cloud, but the numbers are growing and there’s evidence of success. NetSuite, for example, reported a 26 percent increase in its revenues to $145 million in the nine months up to Sept. 30, 2011. To be sure, this is not close to Salesforce.com’s size and growth rate over the past decade, but it does indicate a growing acceptance of the cloud for this software category, which I have commented on. Moreover, I expect that as more companies adopt cloud-based systems successfully, we’ll see accelerating adoption by more cautious buyers in the classic diffusion of innovation pattern described by Everett Rogers (and later reworked by Geoffrey Moore).

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Topics: Microsoft, Sales, Supply Chain Performance, ERP, NetSuite, Office of Finance, Dynamics, Epicor, Lawson, QAD, Operational Performance, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, IBM, Oracle, Workforce Performance, Infor, financial software, Intacct, PeopleSoft, Software

Successful Price Optimization Has Multiple Dimensions

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 28, 2011 9:54:25 AM

As its name suggests, demand-based pricing is a method that uses the buyer’s demand, based on an estimate of a good’s or service’s perceived value to the buyer, as the central element in setting price. Pricing strategies are most important because they can have a disproportionate impact (positive and negative) on a company’s bottom line. Managing prices has always been an activity of keen interest, but it has become even more so over the past decade as a result of the constrained pricing environment.

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Topics: Performance Management, Sales, Sales Performance, Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Price Optimization, Profitability, Software

Kinaxis Users Deal with Supply Chain Complexity

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 27, 2011 2:53:55 AM

I recently attended Kinaxis’ users’ group meeting and learned some interesting things. The company, which has been around since 1995, provides software for large corporations with complex supply chains. Over the past decade its product has evolved well past its roots as a material requirements planning (MRP) support tool. It is now an analytics suite that facilitates supply and demand planning, analysis and optimization with a focus on sales and operations planning (S&OP). This is a discipline that is much talked about but less well practiced, done effectively by only a handful of very large companies (Cisco, for example) and smaller ones that have defined their functional strategy around S&OP and logistics management. In our S&OP benchmark research, we assessed the degree to which companies have a broad cross-functional representation in the process (a critical aspect of an effective S&OP effort) by asking which parts of the business were involved. When it comes to five of the most important ones – executive management, manufacturing, operations, sales and finance – our research showed that only 21 percent of companies have four or five participating, while 45 percent of companies have none or just one.

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Topics: Planning, Sales, Sales Performance, Supply Chain Performance, Office of Finance, Budgeting, Kinaxis, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance, Supply Chain, demand management, Integrated Business Planning, S&OP

Just Buying Software Does Not Add Value

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 4, 2011 10:02:29 AM

I read a blog post by Ben Lamorte, VP of marketing and sales at Alight Planning who delivers business and financial planning applications, who askswhy financial reporting tools deliver no business value. This led me to think that there are more than a few ways to waste money buying software, but I want to focus on one of the most common ones: assuming that having a new application will automatically improve your business (or believing a vendor who tells you that it will).

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Topics: Planning, Sales, Reporting, Budgeting, Operational Performance, Business Collaboration, Business Performance, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance

Proposal Software Simplifies Key Aspects of Sales

Posted by Mark Smith on Sep 25, 2011 11:29:30 PM

Sales proposals can determine whether a deal is booked or lost. In most organizations the process of creating and delivering a proposal is manual and one-off, with many potential places for mistakes. This lack of rigor and efficiency impairs many organizations’ ability to leverage their resources. Proposal Software helps sales organizations with an application called PMAPS that addresses sales management and operations. 

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Topics: Mobile, Sales, Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, Social Media, Marketing, Sales Force Automation, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, CMO, CRM, DF11, Sales Performance Management, SFA

Salesforce Presents New Social Enterprise with Chatter, Mobility and Data

Posted by Mark Smith on Sep 3, 2011 10:13:06 AM

At the Dreamforce conference, Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) CEO Marc Benioff unveiled the latest evolution of the company’s strategy and supporting technology for cloud computing and mobile technologies. Its aim is to enable businesses to engage with customers and prospects via social media channels – what Salesforce calls the “social enterprise” – and empower employee and customer social networks to operate individually and together. Note I did not mention CRM, which doesn’t have a role in this platform for basic interactions with prospects and customers and is accompanied by a large ecosystem of partners that provide dedicated marketing and contact center applications. As summarized in its announcement, Salesforce’s strategy is clearly different from that of others in the applications market, including Oracle and SAP, which have products for the cloud computing environment and have made strides into integrating collaboration and social media capabilities into their applications.

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Topics: Mobile, Sales, Sales Performance, Salesforce.com, Social Media, Marketing, Sales Cloud, Sales Force Automation, Operational Performance, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Business Performance, Chatter, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Customer & Contact Center, Financial Performance, Workforce Performance, CMO, CRM, DF11, Sales Performance Management, Service Cloud, SFA

Salesforce.com and the Big Picture from Dreamforce

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 3, 2011 9:36:48 AM

Even here in the U.K., we are well aware that Salesforce.com’s annual event Dreamforce is happening this week in San Francisco. Unfortunately I couldn’t be there, but a contingent of the Ventana Research team is there, and from what they are telling me it is quite a show. I have written before that Salesforce has the best marketing machine in the world, let alone the software industry, and it seems to have topped previous events. The company undoubtedly has changed the way many companies think about software, forced many vendors to change their delivery models and is impacting the way consumers think about communicating and running their lives. But let me make a few long-range observations.

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, Sales, Salesforce.com, Social Media, Customer Analytics, Customer Data Management, Customer Experience, Customer Feedback Management, Social CRM, Speech Analytics, Voice of the Customer, Operational Performance, Analytics, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Customer & Contact Center, Customer Service, Workforce Performance, Call Center, Contact Center, Contact Center Analytics, CRM, Desktop Analytics, Text Analytics, Unified Communications, Workforce Management