Happy New Year to all my readers and followers. I hope everyone has gotten some rest and is ready for a great 2013. 2012 was a busy year in which we saw a critical inflection point, where an elevated focus on new methods and innovative technological approaches such as big data, business analytics, business and social collaboration, cloud computing, mobile technology and social media become part of the mainstream business and IT dialogue. These technologies are beginning to be part of or embedded into enterprise software that will be available in 2013. This is a critical step forward that will help organizations become more efficient in their operations and use technology to its fullest. As we start the new year, I thought a reflection back on the some of the highlights from 2012 was in order.

I had a chance to review some of the most-read blogs from some of our research directors, and found many of them worth further mention as you look for insights. First, Robert Kugel educates finance and business professionals across a range of topics, and his leadership in areas like financial management is apparent in GAAP and IFRS Harmonize Revenue Recognition Standards. In Rob’s research on governance, risk and compliance (GRC) he identified the reality that GRC is about the individual words and that the specifics matter differently to finance, operations and IT. Rarely do you see an integrated process and technology strategy in organizations for getting the information required to mitigate risk and ensure the right level of governance and compliance, though it is so important that organizations ensure they are taking the proper steps with an understanding of their operations.

Next, Richard Snow continues to be a steady voice in customer and contact center management, helping businesses understand the value of technology and vendors learn how they can improve customer experience through more intelligent interactions. Richard’s post on his agenda in 2012 was our most read industry blog, and his contact center in the cloud post was a big read too. Each provided research-based guidance on how to improve an organization’s customer service culture. Richard’s research in customer feedback management continues to identity the immaturity of organizations’ measurement of and actions with customers across social media channels.

In the realm of business and big data, Tony Cosentino noted that business analytics is a priority for organizations, but found a lot of confusion on what approaches best fit specific roles. His post Making Sense of the Swirling World of Business Analytics outlines these challenges and explains what organizations need to understand to ensure the right level of process and technology. I personally liked Tony’s call to transform the three Vs of big data into three Ws of business analytics. Tony’s latest research on the next generation of business intelligence is uncovering what is important with mobile technology and where social collaboration is changing the way business operates. Tony’s recent analysis of the movement to leverage event- and stream-based data to gain better operational intelligence is also critical, since data across the network is definitely part of big data and should be harvested to its full potential.

Some of my own blog posts sparked both violent agreement and disenchantment. In one, I pointed out the silliness of placing a bunch of business charts on a web page, calling it a dashboard, and believing that this will help organizations improve performance. My title maybe caused some stir – The Pathetic State of Dashboards – but it helped instrument a dialogue on what business needs to see and do with the results of analytics, which is not just more charts that need to be deciphered or discarded. I followed this with a look at issues in the data within the charts, and specifically the relevance of key performance indicators (KPI) and what types of measurements are needed to provide actionable metrics (see The Stupidity of KPIs in Business Analytics). These blog posts collectively provided some honest analysis and heavy use of research to show how business analytics needs to improve to reach its true value and contribute to business outcomes in the most efficient manner.

I had some good insights unveiled in our research into the demand for social and mobile technology as part of human capital management and how they have become a necessity and how these are impacting the daily operations in the next generation of workforce management and I am happy to point out that we have a new research director to help advance our research and education in this critical applications and technology category.

We will publicly unveil the research agendas for 2013 on the second week of January that we completed last month and provided to our clients. We post research agendas publicly to provide depth on the themes and plans for our research in the year. Unfortunately most technology analyst firms do not publish their plans for the year and have dropped the process and ignore the rigor it takes to ensure an independent level of research is conducted. This is part of the challenge I laid down to the technology analyst industry last year. We have a passion for research and provide a strong focus on the best practices and insights to applications and technology that help business and IT be successful. I believe our firm plays a role in helping businesses improve in their use of technology.

We finished a decade of business at Ventana Research and as I mentioned in my analysis of a decade of research there is a great opportunity to use research as a more effective technology selection method. We have many surprises in store for 2013, from two summits that will align with our Business Leadership and Technology Innovation awards to a new look and feel in our brand, which we have already begun to roll out and which will soon show up on our website.

On behalf of the entire team at Ventana Research, we hope you find the best possible value from technology in 2013, and we look forward to hearing from you across any of our channels, from research, blogs or social media. You have a lot to do to make sure you adopt best practices, build the best business case and even select the right technology, and we are glad to be part of helping your organization be successful. Our research helps everyone bring the best possible technology to market and deliver the best possible value for every organization.

Best Regards,

Mark Smith

CEO & Chief Research Officer