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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 vr_Info_Optimization_04_basic_information_tasks_consume_timewidely 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.

Profisee is a software vendor that seeks to provide consistent definitions across data through master data management. It has been part of the MDM industry since its origins when the company’s founders created what is now part of Microsoft SQL Master Data Services. Profisee offers dedicated technology to help manage data across applications, databases and systems. Its data management platform and tools, Master Data Maestro Suite, provides the ability to establish and maintain consistent business definitions that help normalize any kind of data. It supports analysts, data stewards and others responsible for making data suitable for a range of operational and business tasks by helping them establish “golden” records – the agreed-upon data definitions and formats that users can trust.

Maestro Desktop provides the core functions of MDM, from modeling of data to definitions and mapping of data from applications and systems. It enables management of hierarchies that align, map and roll up data. In addition it offers Golden Record Management in which data quality, matching and survivorship contribute to establishing golden records for operational and analytical needs. Profisee handles various data quality tasks from simple ones such as address validation to location and contact services that help streamline tasks that can be difficult and time-consuming. The product has been designed to enable analysts across business units and IT to share in the tasks that ensure that master data is being applied properly. Because MDM should involve collaboration across roles in the organization, Profisee include workflow so the right people can share and approve tasks. Our information optimization research finds that in 42 percent of organizations business and IT work together; this is essential because business users are most familiar with the data and its use in business processes and resulting outcomes.

Profisee Master Data Maestro also provides analytics that help users understand the state of data governance and track data processing to determine issues to be resolved. It supplies adapters to help integrate data to databases and applications from Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce.com and many others. It also provides a developer’s kit to help design Web services and message-based interfaces needed for application and system integration. It also extends the use of Microsoft SQL Server and Master Data Services by providing broad support for data governance and MDM across an enterprise.

Our research confirms the growing number of data sources: A significant number of organizations that have more than 16 sources said it is very important to simplify information for business. This situation is creating increased pressure to improve vr_Info_Optimization_17_with_more_sources_easy_access_more_importantdata-related processes which MDM can help. Advances in so-called big data now enable organizations to take in huge volumes of data at rapid cycle times, and big data is an important technology in 41 percent of organization, according to our information optimization benchmark research. As big data becomes widely adopted, MDM becomes critical to ensure that data is used in the proper context. Our research finds that establishing master data has become a top concern in two-thirds of organizations. Profisee has expanded its support for big data environments including Hadoop, ensuring it can process data from various databases and platforms.

Another rising technology, cloud computing, also can benefit from MDM. Cloud deployment of applications and data increases the need to manage data outside the enterprise. Profisee recently announced MDM for Microsoft Azure Cloud, which enables Master Data Maestro to support Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise Edition and Microsoft Master Data Services in the company’s Azure cloud. Supporting cloud-based systems is nothing new for Profisee, which has developed several adapters such as it did in 2014 for Salesforce.com.

Addressing the need for quality and consistency of data is essential to business processes and decision-making that rely on business analytics. Profisee is contributing to this effort not only through its products but also through its range of services and industry models which help perform proof-of-concepts and establish a roadmap that will help ensure smooth adoption of MDM, avoid lengthy consulting engagements and save time and resources. Profisee is making MDM practical and easy to use, and its product does not require a large budget to get started and maintain data governance in small and midsize companies. If you are looking to improve your data governance process through MDM whether across the organization or within a line of business, Profisee is a supplier that you should examine closely.

Regards,

Mark Smith

CEO and Chief Research Officer

VR2014_TechInnovation_AwardWinnerAt its Oracle OpenWorld the multibillion technology provider showcased the breadth and depth of its cloud computing applications and platform. Chairman Larry Ellison proclaimed it the only unified and open approach in the industry. He criticized other large application vendors that use multiple platforms to support their applications, use a proprietary layer that is not fully extensible, provide only a portion of applications needed to run the business or run on Oracle’s database technology. These technical merits may not be relevant to the decision-making processes of business but can be critical for CIO and IT. But the strength of the Oracle Cloud Computing portfolio, which includes infrastructure, platform, tools and applications, is so impressive that our firm awarded Oracle the Technology Innovation Award in Cloud Computing for 2014. This builds from my analysis earlier in the year on the overall efforts of Oracle for cloud computing.

Oracle’s cloud application portfolio spans many areas of business, including human capital management, which my colleague Stephan Millard has analyzed. Its sales application portfolio also has reached a high level of maturity. Its efforts for sales organizations go beyond sales force automation (SFA) for sales reps and managers to other applications for those roles and sales operations and executives as well. In the years since its acquisition of Siebel Systems, Oracle’s position in this market slipped as nemesis salesforce.com became a major player. Now it not only has climbed back into a competitive position but has a more complete sales portfolio than salesforce at a more affordable price.

At Oracle OpenWorld it announced highlights of its advancements in sales. Oracle Sales Cloud version 9 advances sales force automation, partner relationship management and sales performance management along with adding support for mobile and social collaboration technology and sales analytics for roles from executives to front-line sales teams. The greatest changes as I see it are in the sophistication and usability of the sales applications and the embedding of analytics and collaboration that make them faster and easier to use. Oracle has ensured that the new versions are backward-compatible with previous iterations and integrated them with on-premises legacy systems such as Siebel and its own Oracle E-Business Suite to help customers that have mixed environments operate now and will migrate in the future.

Oracle has redesigned its approach to sales to focus on productivity enhancements in tasks related to meeting customers and updating information in more user-centric ways than most SFA systems have. For example, a new mobile application yet to be released, Oracle Sales Cloud Call Report App, enables smartphone users to review and update sales opportunities quickly and easily and to immediately see the impact of changes to forecasts and quotas. In a second area, collaborative selling, Oracle Sales Cloud Mobile is easy to use on smartphones and tablets, but still could improve in being more task and workflow based and be more optimized for touch gestures. In another area, however, Oracle has advanced beyond others: Oracle Voice users can interact verbally with the application to engage in sales at any time and place, even while driving. To reach this unique position Oracle partners with Nuance, as was announced earlier this year. It works on Apple iOS platform to enable a range of tasks to be conducted through voice operations.

Oracle knows that sales prospecting requires robust information that often exists outside the enterprise and across the Internet. To make it easier to get data from partners such as Dun & Bradstreet, the company announced Oracle Data as a Service (DaaS) for Sales, which enriches data with more than 150 attributes about organizations and 100 attributes about individuals. This product takes advantage of Oracle’s acquisition of BlueKai, which provides a marketplace for organizations to share and license data for use within their business. Oracle Data as a Service is a significant component of Oracle’s cloud computing platform and will be valuable for sales organizations.

In recent years sales organizations have become able to automate configuring products and quoting prices by adopting configure price quote (CPQ) software and integrating it with SFA to support interactions with customer prospects. Oracle’s acquisition of Big Machines complements the Oracle Sales Cloud by eliminating the need for a separate application that might not be integrated into the sales process. The company does market Oracle CPQ Cloud as a separate offering, but it is clearly part of the sales portfolio. The next step for Oracle in this area should be to enhance its portfolio for contract automation, which is a challenge that causes sales people and operations to spend significant time in creating a process and workflow of documents that legally define purchases, deliveries and invoicing.

vr_scm14_03_issues_with_incentive_calculationAnother key component is Oracle Sales Cloud Sales Performance Management. It uses analytics to manage and improve sales performance with applications designed for coaching and territory optimization. It also has a new mobile application for monitoring sales contests among teams in which progress toward quotas and goals can easily be seen and reviewed. Our firm takes a broad view of sales performance management to include operations, tasks and all sales processes; Oracle’s application is limited to gaining knowledge from analytics on sales activities. For other users seeking to manage sales compensation in general and the unique elements of incentive compensation the vendor has advanced from Oracle E-Business Suite Talent Management to Oracle Workforce Rewards, which includes compensation, benefits and payroll management as part of the Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud. Our benchmark research finds that the process of sales compensation continues to be an issue for almost two-thirds (65%) of organizations; it affects sales operations and executives along with individual sales reps, and for many it is a priority to improve.

vr_SF12_07_impediments_in_sales_motivate_investmentOracle has also expanded its analytics offerings for business. A relevant one here is Oracle Transactional BI Enterprise (OTBIE) for CRM, which provides a portfolio of analytics for forecasts, the pipeline and accounts and helps users understand past performance and predict the future. Analytics of the sales forecast and pipeline is another priority for sales; our research shows that scattered and inconsistent information are the top two impediments that drive about half of organizations to invest further in sales management systems. Oracle’s analytics build on its experience in providing operational reporting capabilities in Oracle Transactional BI Standard, which can present a range of metrics for insights on activities. New advances in sales analytics are evident in Oracle Mobilytics, which provides a sophisticated view of sales activities that can become interactive through visualization. There is also Oracle Sales Cloud Sales Predictor, which helps guide sales people on which products are most likely to be purchased. Overall Oracle has advanced the analytics in its cloud platform significantly this year. Recently it announced Oracle Analytics Cloud, which enhances its tools and the ability to access and embed them in Oracle applications.

As Oracle continues to advance its Sales Cloud, the products are less of a challenge than recognition of the company by customers as a leader in these sales applications. To be competitive in the market will require further investments in marketing and sales to gain momentum and customer adoption but also to continue to expanding the application portfolio. For the Sales Cloud Oracle currently charges $100 per user per month and considering the breadth of applications and analytics, this could be seen as very competitive; salesforce.com starts at $65 per user per month for the basic SFA, but the recently announced Salesforce Analytics Cloud will cost $125 per user per month of which both are significantly more costly. Others major application providers like SAP are also advancing similarly to Oracle for SFA and sales performance management but still have not been able to fulfill on the larger portfolio of application needs for sales operations and executives.

Oracle is a serious player in the market for sales applications and very price advantageous and innovative in its portfolio; we advise organizations to evaluate the company as one of the few that offers more than just SFA and operates in the cloud and mobile technology environment. If you are looking for an integrated suite of sales applications that can help everyone involved in sales, Oracle should be on your list for optimizing operations and maximizing sales performance.

Regards,

Mark Smith

CEO and Chief Research Officer,
Ventana Research

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