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The demand for business information on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets continues to increase, while the technology to support it has not. In our benchmark research on information applications, only 11 percent of organizations said they are very satisfied with their ability to provide such information, and their top two complaints with existing technologies are that they are too slow and not adaptable or flexible. The unique aspects of mobile technology, from the small screen size to the use of gestures for interaction, make for a complex technological problem.
Roambi is a technology vendor active in this space, having been preparing and presenting rich information on Apple iPhone and iPad devices for several years, as I have written. Our firm recognized one of Roambi customers, Life Technologies, for business mobility in our 2011 Leadership Awards. It provides digital mobile access to rich information applications through Roambi Flow, which enables users to assemble information into a presentation, publication, application or whatever grouping they need to share with others. Roambi Flow can embed content, from text to images, to tell a story in a presentation or briefing book, or to create digital publications on a routine basis. Now, as the demand for delivering digital publications expands to marketing collateral, annual reports, market research and other documents, organizations need to further customize content for an unlimited number of people. To meet this need, Roambi has released Roambi ESX, which builds upon existing products Roambi Analytics and Roambi Flow to provide the means to reach a larger audience. Roambi ESX not only enables organizations to publish to their existing audiences of employees and customers but also provides commercial opportunities to generate new revenue streams. For example, organizations can create a branded experience by using a custom logo or graphic that users see when they review an application for download. Roambi has learned from its experience in publishing software to the Apple App Store and now enables organizations to publish their own applications. With this step, Roambi has entered the mobile information and application platform market.
Roambi also recently released an extension to Roambi Flow to help businesses publish content from existing presentations that they already use on a daily basis. Roambi Present addresses shortcomings of the original applications, including the difficulty and slowness of assembling information into views and deploy them, as cited by almost half (47%) of research participants. Presentations made in Apple Keynote and Microsoft PowerPoint can be starting points for enrichment through interactive analytics. Typically businesses create presentations using these tools, then save them in presentation mode or in static versions through Adobe Acrobat. Roambi Present can examine an existing presentation, capture the slides’ formatting, layout and content, and prepare it for enrichment within Roambi Flow. Then, through placement of Roambi Analytics or its reports into the slides, users can present supporting content as part of the presentation. Roambi also supports embedding hot spots in link images, such as maps, to charts. As well Roambi’s security prevents access to a presentation or data from those who are not authorized. This expansion will make Roambi more popular with business analysts who use Microsoft Office to create and email presentations.
This is a refreshing approach to helping businesses assemble and deploy richer information to mobile devices, and it comes as businesses increase their use of tablets, which are often the primary computing vehicle for many classes of employees. In fact, our business analytics benchmark research found that 38 percent of organizations demand analytics and metrics be available via mobile technologies. With Roambi, they can deliver this information in presentations without help from the IT department, which reduces the time it takes to get information to those who need it. Roambi exceeds the capabilities of many other technology vendors in the business intelligence space, who focus on publishing charts from existing reports within an IT-managed environment; today, that does not provide the flexibility or depth of content that many organizations need. If Roambi could add support for collaboration from within its deployed applications and also add Android mobile technology support they could grow even faster.
As organizations realize that Microsoft Office and its business intelligence tools do not meet their emerging information needs or suit how their business analysts operate, they will look for tools like Roambi Flow and Roambi Present to help engage their mobile audiences. As organizations look to brand and deliver their own custom information applications, Roambi ESX will help them quickly reach a large and growing mobile audience. Roambi continues to advance the technology that businesses need to meet their pressing cycles for both accessing and publishing information and analytics digitally across mobile technologies. It establishes a new standard for mobile information platforms with its interactive and visual discovery tools and its process to assemble and deploy publications, presentations and applications.
Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer
Salesforce.com made a surprising announcement of its agreement to acquire Rypple, a software company that defines its product as a social goals application. I call this a surprise because although Salesforce has been extending its reach beyond sales and customer service to IT in providing a platform, tools and a database for building applications and storing data in the cloud, until now it has not entered directly into other lines of business. After its annual Dreamforce conference last summer, I analyzed the company’s strategy and products. Now I want to consider what this acquisition means for Salesforce and the human capital management market.
Rypple provides a new type of application that operates within the confines of cloud computing that enables managers and team members to collaborate in accomplishing specific objectives in an interactive manner. Perhaps Rypple’s largest challenge has been waiting for potential customers to catch up to this innovation and be willing to try a new approach to coaching team members. Unlike traditional HR and talent management applications, Rypple addresses goals and objectives, coaching and feedback, and performance reviews in a social environment.
I decided to check out the application for myself and ensure my analysis is as accurate as possible, which I think its uniqueness makes necessary to understand what Salesforce.com has acquired. Rypple focuses on three key activities: coaching toward defined objectives, recognition of work accomplished and feedback on the performance of the individual who has done it. The application runs in the cloud, which no doubt pleases Salesforce. It took me just minutes to set up in its cloud computing environment with the application and engage members of my team with it, even accessing it with its native application on the Apple iPhone. Rypple provides a comfortable user experience and intuitive methods for people to work toward common goals and socialize the focus.
Rypple has been active in getting testimonials from its customers, which include Facebook, Spotify, Rackspace, Kobo, Jive Software and other newer companies mostly in the Internet technology sector. Rypple had a simple pricing plan that offers some basics for free and charges $5 to $9 per month for more functionality for goals and reviews, coaching and feedback along with enterprise-level integration and support. Rypple also provides integration with Google, iPhone, Jive and Pivotal Tracker, which demonstrates its ease of access from other environments.
Now the question is what Salesforce.com plans to do with Rypple. It will create a new business unit and rename the produce Successforce and is likely to integrate this with Chatter as part of an effort to make that an enterprise backbone for social collaboration. This layering of applications complements Salesforce’s strategy for Chatter as it has done with its Service Cloud. In the short term I doubt that Salesforce will jump into the larger market for talent management and try to sell Rypple to human resources departments; this requires focused investments into this line of business, which it has not been doing as much as it has with IT. So the impact of the acquisition on the human capital management software market is not clear. Salesforce will also need to address the future of its partnership with Jobscience which applies aspects of CRM to administer and support HR and human capital management and has been providing them some significant proof points of its efforts.
Salesforce’s customers in sales and customer service should be eager to examine this application as should those looking to build upon its use of Force.com in the enterprise. Rypple also could help Salesforce gain an edge on Oracle’s Fusion for HCM that I assessed and its recently announced Oracle Social Network that lacks the vision and demonstration as this announcement. This move puts Salesforce.com more in line with the direction of what Saba and SuccessFactors (which is being acquired by SAP) are doing to advance social collaboration into human capital management. At the moment it is not clear if Salesforce will continue to support the existing stand-alone offering and pricing of Rypple, let alone the free version, so users should be cautious until the deal is final and Salesforce communicates the new direction. In any case this is an interesting move as Salesforce continues to surprise the market with its progressive applications of social collaboration for enterprise lines of business.
Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer