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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.

 Regards,

 Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer

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?

Ventana Research intends to provide guidance here. We have identified important overall business trends identified, including big data, business analytics, business collaboration, cloud computing, mobile technology and social media; all of these areas offer new competitive opportunities for improving sales efficiency and effectiveness. For example, the use of sales analytics puts 17 percent of sales organizations at the Innovative level of maturity in the Ventana Research Sales Analytics benchmark research. These organizations benefit from daily and weekly metrics about the pipeline and forecasting, quotas and the performance of account reps. As well renting sales applications through cloud computing has become the preferred practice in 41 percent of sales organizations, compared to 25 percent that purchase them in an on-premises, according to the Ventana Research Sales Performance Management benchmark research. In mobile technology, 67 percent of sales staffs use smartphones today, 17 percent use tablets, and 30 percent plan to expand their existing deployments, according to our research. In the area of collaboration, having people broadcast and post their needs to help in the sales process is a top priority in more than one-quarter of sales teams, compared to legacy methods of electronic mail and instant messaging. 

Our upcoming research aims to help your sales organization turn these business technology advancements to your sales advantage. Ventana’s 2012 research agenda on the business of sales will focus on three key areas at the intersection of people, processes, information and technology: improving the potential of the sales organization, establishing dedicated methods to manage sales and accelerating time to sales readiness. 

In the area of improving potential, we will look at the use of social and collaborative technology to coach and guide sales. We will examine the use of mobile applications accessible from smartphones and tablets. And we will assess the use of product information management to help configure deals and price them efficiently. Each of these address the need to improve access for sales to the applications that can help improve the potential of achieving revenue targets.

Establishing dedicated methods to manage sales requires many sales organizations to improve compensation and incentives that influence sales reps’ performance. Sales forecasting was identified as the most important application for 65 percent of sales organizations in our research, yet most are still using spreadsheets, which we found to impede the management of sales. Instead, sales forecasting should be a team-based business process that incorporates management of the pipeline. Sales analytics and metrics can help optimize activities and processes in key management categories including people, performance, process and risk. Our research found that 86 percent of organizations want to have simpler sales analytics, but most struggle with the difficulty of building and maintaining silos of one-off spreadsheets and presentations. Managing sales can be much easier with targeted applications that can assist managers with oversight and guidance.

Finally, accelerating time to sales readiness is important because many organizations perform tasks that take two to 10 times longer than necessary, and they often wait for long periods to get the information they need. Organizations can use SFA as a source of information for the operational and performance needs of sales, but a best practice is to use integration tools. Cloud computing can reduce IT challenges and resources while providing ready access to applications and information. Providing information through mobile and social media also can improve sales readiness and make it easier to respond to sales opportunities. Scattered information was rated as the most significant impediment in 58 percent of sales organizations, indicating the importance of improving the management and use of information.

Our research agenda will examine applications that focus on sales, considering the broad range of analytics, assets, channel, coaching, commission, forecasting, incentives, leads, learning, objectives, performance, pipeline, planning, pricing, promotion, proposal, quoting, quota, reporting, rewards, sales force automation and territory. In addition, our Ventana Research Value Index methodology again will assess vendors and their suites of applications and tools in sales performance management. Our newly released benchmark on sales applications and technology uncovered the priorities of organizations in applications as well as new technology trends, and we have previously released research on sales analyticsbusiness and sales data in the cloud and total compensation management. The next benchmark we’re conducting is in the area of product information management, and it will be followed by sales forecasting

I believe that 2012 will be a critical year for sales operations teams, which have to perform more tasks faster and more effectively than ever before. Only 39 percent of sales organizations have any confidence in their organizations’ ability to manage sales operations and performance, indicating a significant opportunity for improvement. Utilizing new applications and software that can handle analytics and planning for tasks in sales will be essential in helping sales staffs utilize their time efficiently. Simplifying access to applications through mobile technology and enabling sales people to work collaboratively and socially should be key priorities for sales executives. 

Sales cannot overachieve without making investments that target the culture and environment that sales executives want to establish. Our research will help them understand the best practices that can save time and money while reducing the risk of failing to achieve maximum results.

Regards,

Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer

Mark Smith – Twitter

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