You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2011.

This week the management of Peopleclick Authoria renamed the company PeopleFluent, reoriented its vision and launched a new suite of applications. This effort is intended to hone its focus on the intersecting aspects of talent management and respond to the increasing importance of mobility in this field. This move indicates the dynamic changes that are occurring as the software industry tries to meet the expectations of the next generation of workers and managers. PeopleFluent will rely on not just the rich history of Peopleclick and Authoria in the talent management market but also the recent acquisition of Aquire that brings it workforce analytics; its goal is to further expand its customer base with technology that provides the most usable applications in this market. Company rebranding efforts are always risky, but this one will be worth watching.

The name change is the eye-catching part of these announcements, but more important will be PeopleFluent’s upcoming suite of mobile applications on the Apple iPad. The new mobile suite will not be available until this fall, but it looks promising from demos. Unfortunately PeopleFluent did not allow me to review it on my own iPad yet, and without that I cannot give full credibility to any claims for the product. For the time being I’ll make some observations on what I have seen of the suite. As background I will note that our research of various kinds has found a surge in demand for mobile software that can provide tools and applications for business purposes.

PeopleFluent’s mobile suite is centered in an executive explorer that resembles a management review application. It has a range of capabilities that include organizational review, interaction with talent and access to individual and company metrics. It works with what the company calls the manager guidebook to support front-line managers. I like that the manager application imitates the old-fashioned folders and tabbed files you would find in a drawer when organizations stored all records on paper; this provides a comfortable context that may appeal to managers who aren’t technically adept. The ability to review information quickly is the key feature. I like that it can present analytics in the form of individuals’ photos to show who is over budget. This is a way of responding to the finding in our workforce analytics research that 89 percent of organizations want their analytics to be simpler. PeopleFluent is one of the few vendors providing what I call key people indicators, which are important for measuring process effectiveness or group performance through individual talent assessment.

The company also demonstrated a compensation application that provides not just support for a review but also quick access to compensation guidelines and other relevant information. The integration of performance and compensation is the direction that organizations want to take, according to our performance management for talent management benchmark. The suite also includes a candidate explorer to simplify the hiring process. It has direct integration with LinkedIn, for example, to show the Internet-based public profiles of internal and external candidates and even link to video streams on YouTube. I believe these are critical capabilities that will show up in our new benchmark research that starts shortly on social media’s intersection with recruiting and talent acquisition.

Without handling the suite myself, it is hard to see how fully PeopleFluent is replicating the Apple iPad experience; some vendors are taking shortcuts through using a Web application instead of native support. PeopleFluent spokespeople did not mention plans to support other tablets such as the RIM Playbook, Android-based ones or HP’s TouchPad, which could see a surge in adoption by corporations. The cost of tablets is likely to hold down adoption by the lower levels of managers at least for a while. Of course that could change rapidly. I did not get the feeling that PeopleFluent understands the full opportunity of having its mobile capabilities on smartphones; both the price and footprint of these are growing faster than for tablets.

PeopleFluent builds on a series of recent announcements of integrating planning and analytics together for compliance needs that signal its dedication to helping companies apply workforce analytics. It also has had a commitment to compensation management for many years and recently advanced it with a new release called Compensation 10.14. It provides a method to calculate pay for performance and provides easier HR and compensation analyst capabilities for defining calculation libraries. It also has advanced capabilities including payment caps, limits, stock, overtime adjustments and linking quantitatively to goals set by agreed-upon collaboration with the employee. Its Decision View analytics provides a link for managers and employees to define and track goals and accomplishments. These advancements are critical for competitiveness in the compensation market and match up with demand found in our latest total compensation benchmark and Value Index on Total Compensation Management released earlier this year.

PeopleFluent has a strong focus on the life cycle of talent in an organization. Starting with the hiring and recruiting process, it can provide accurate and simple analytics to determine the current talent pipeline and funnel of people outside and inside of the organization and also represent the workforce in an interactive organizational chart. This unique visualization of workforce analytics in the applications is a plus for the company and customers using it.

The importance of sourcing candidates effectively to get the best talent and then getting optimal performance from the resulting workforce should be top goals for every organization. PeopleFluent is working to expand its footprint in talent management, recruiting, vendor management and workforce compliance, all of which will be more accessible from its mobile applications on the iPad. PeopleFluent will join other people and workforce application vendors that are delivering on smart phones and tablets like Kronos and Saba that I have already assessed on these technologies. This is an important step at an obviously critical time for the company as it seeks to change the dynamic of what is possible with a new generation of business applications.

Regards,

Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer

The recent buzz around business analytics has generated resurgent conversation about what businesses need from their data to optimize business processes and make better decisions. Our benchmark research on business analytics in more than 2,500 organizations produced unprecedented information about business and IT usage and competency with analytics. It confirmed that effective use of business analytics requires a balance of people and skills, processes, information and technology not just to provide capabilities but also to engage business analysts and users across the organization. The research also identified significant challenges facing organizations in terms of inefficient analytics processes and ineffective technology. 

Making the most of business analytics means enabling the business analysts who support the departments and processes of the line of business. These individuals and teams may be found in finance, operations, the supply chain, sales, customer service, marketing and other areas; in each they are the ones accountable for using analytics to determine the metrics and key indicators that they need to present to management and collaborate closer together. These individuals usually work with their IT organizations for data access, but in some larger organizations they work with line-of-business technology groups. In recent years businesses have hired data-focused analysts to support their thirst for analytics across a range of data and sources.  

Unfortunately, many IT departments are unable to provide automated data feeds fast enough to support the analysts, and that creates gaps in the analytic process. Our research found this to be a serious issue, as people spend 69 percent of their analytics time in data-related tasks, not only preparing data and reviewing it for quality and consistency but also just waiting for the data. This leaves too little time for analytic tasks such as determining root causes of issues, assembling scenarios for analysis and determining the impact to business from planned changes. The best path forward is to ensure that these data-related activities are automated or streamlined to meet the business analytic needs. In addition, IT should spend less time trying to dumb down and standardize delivery of data through business intelligence and spend more cycles helping business analysts get the data at the frequency they need. In other words, IT needs more focus on data governance, which our benchmark found to be critical to bring data integration, data quality and master data management into a single, standard process. 

Beyond the data gap in business analytics, the analysts have to deal with the issue of what technology they use to conduct analytics. As technology spending has gotten more controlled, centralized and standardized in IT organizations, fewer organizations have purchased specifically tailored analytics tools. Instead, our research shows more use of spreadsheets; they’re the most often used technology in 60 percent of organizations, followed by business intelligence in 49 percent. Line of business or analyst-specific software is used in less than 20 percent of organizations. It is clear that this has to change, as more than half (55%) of organizations are dissatisfied with their analytics process, saying it is hard to build and maintain and too slow. Well, that is what you get with spreadsheets, along with disorganized business processes.  

What do business analysts need from their analytics technologies? Our benchmark research found the top request was access to source data for analytics (52%), followed closely by the ability to take action on the outcome of analytics (47%), the ability to design and maintain the business model (42%) and to quickly generate presentations and other analytics reports (41%). These might sound straightforward, but it’s not if you are using Microsoft Excel, and it’s even worse in a shared work environment. A growing base is looking for analytics to be delivered in an on-demand, software-as-a-service mode (27%), though more than half (52%) of organizations still prefer the status quo of buying and installing software on-premises.  

All of this leads me to urge analysts to stand up and demand the tools they need to be more efficient in their analytic modeling and planning. Ask yourself how easily can you make changes to your analytics model and recalculate a forecast that links to the integrated business plan? Can you adjust and decrease a metric such as days sales outstanding (DSO) by one day to see the impact on cash flow in the business? Can you adjust the sales and operational plan by adjusting the forecast by one day? You should be able to make these and other model and variable updates in minutes, not days, and be able to share the results with others to determine actions and outcomes. Knowing that you can do the what-if and planning based analytics should be easy and straight forward. 

At the same time, the speed at which analytics get computed and information generated needs to improve, and the assembly and deployment to business users must be made more efficient. Our research found that businesses want the basics; searching for specific answers was the top priority of 83 percent, who deemed it important or very important. Also important is exploring the data underlying analytics through drilling and navigation, cited by 78 percent of organizations. These are not standard functionality in spreadsheets, presentations and documents, and not what you get in reports or most dashboards.  

Our research indicates that the more innovative the organization, the more sophisticated the results. We performed our own root-cause diagnostic on these mature organizations and found that they have automated the data aspects of business analytics from data access to data quality. They also are able to generate more sophisticated analytics and metrics, and perform more frequent reviews. These organizations also foster great relationships between their analysts and their IT teams, which work collaboratively on business analytics. These organizations are also the ones expanding their deployments to smartphones and tablets, integrating forecasting and planning and using predictive analytics. 

The time has come for business analysts to lead the fight to improve business analytics to ensure their organizations have the information they need. Instead of having silos of reports, dashboards, spreadsheets and other data points, organizations need unified analytics and planning capabilities built into a common set of technology using a sophisticated modeling for representing the business and integrating data efficiently. Our recent business intelligence and performance management benchmark research found that this need to bring analytics and planning together is a top priority in more mature, sophisticated organizations.  

So put the uncontrolled use of spreadsheets into the box it came out of and focus on working together to ensure that business analytics is like any business process – documented and automated to meet the majority of an organization’s needs. Look for simple and sophisticated means for analysts to work together on the business analytics journey and ensure you vocalize your needs for better investments. If you are not sure if you have the business analytics you need, let me know. The self-assessment is easy, but planning to adapt and change, well, that might take some work. 

Regards, 

Mark Smith 

CEO & Chief Research Officer

Mark Smith – Twitter

Top Rated

Stats

  • 164,995 hits
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 17,644 other followers

%d bloggers like this: