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June 6, 2012 in Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence (BI), Business Performance Management (BPM), Cloud Computing, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), IT Performance Management (ITPM), Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Social Media, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Sustainability, Workforce Performance Management (WPM) | Tags: Analytics, Big Data, Cloud Computing, Information Management, mobile, Search | by Mark Smith | Leave a comment
More than 1,000 people attended the 32nd annual Information Builders Summit conference this week to learn about the company’s advances in big data, business analytics, cloud computing, mobile technology and social media, which CEO and founder Gerald Cohen announced and demonstrated during his keynote address. With WebFOCUS version 8, Information Builders has made significant strides in a range of technology areas to support analytics and visualization since my analysis after last year’s conference.
In big data, Information Builders has improved in adaptability and integration of data in underlying technologies such as from 1010data and Teradata. At the conference it demonstrated WebFOCUS Hyperstage, an in-memory technology for managing the caching of analytics results, which was released earlier this year. This technology provides a simple way to increase performance and scalability. In addition, WebFOCUS now has its own information connector to Facebook for processing text to determine specific sentiments and potential intentions of individual users. In a demonstration using a Walmart beef promotion from Memorial Day weekend, the software found potential issues in how people perceive buying meat at the retailer. Through the software’s tag cloud visualization users can identify and interact with sentiment. Thus Information Builders addresses what our big data benchmark research found is the top benefit of big data technology, which is to retain and analyze more data, and it also increases the speed and accuracy of the results.
Information Builders is moving from its Developer Studio to a new Application Studio product for creating WebFOCUS applications. The new technology provides a simpler user experience for analysts and IT, who can assemble a range of applications, dashboards or portals, and it helps empower a rapid cycle of information and analytics deployment while bypassing tools that are too developer-centric for business users.
WebFOCUS Performance Management Framework (PMF) integrates analytics, visualizations and alerts to uncover root causes for why goals and objectives are not being met. It’s designed to help organizations manage performance, not just improve it – a practice that is slowly gaining momentum as organizations establish a single foundation for business analytics and metrics.
Along similar lines, Information Builders has built on its BI platform the embedding and extension of R, a statistical modeling environment that provides predictive analytics capabilities. At the conference presenters demonstrated a pricing optimization application assembled from predictive analytics that allows finance, operations or sales professionals to input specific variables to see the impacts of adjusted pricing. Integrating analytics with business intelligence tops the priorities in 58 percent of organizations according to our predictive analytics benchmark research and addresses one of the top obstacles, which is the difficulty of integrating predictive analytics into the information architecture.
Information Builders also introduced a new generation of visualization, from business charts to statistical methods. The company has integrated the Moonbeam HTML 5 catalog to support rendering from Web browsers on computers and tablets, making it adaptable to future needs to consume analytics across platforms and tools. Information Builders also provides a native deployment application in the Apple App Store that WebFOCUS can publish to.
The company also demonstrated new capabilities in its Magnify search platform that can scale against specific big-data stores and assess sentiment within text. Our benchmark research on big data found that search is one of the top five capabilities not available in business today.
Information Builders announced Omni-Patient, its packaged information solutions to deliver consistent and quality data related to patients for healthcare. This uses the Omni Framework, which is built on IBI’s information management technologies for data governance, data integration, data quality and master data management. The product helps advance the use of information in healthcare by reducing the risk and time of having IT or consultants build solutions. Our benchmark research on information management found obstacles in staffing, according to 68 percent of organizations, and also insufficient training and skills, both of which are addressed with Omni-Patient’s prebuilt information management frameworks.
To ensure it can meet the growing demand for cloud computing models and software as a service, Information Builders provides subscription pricing and supports multitenant computing with the required level of security. It also has expanded its support for Salesforce.com to ensure it can be transparently accessed when embedded within its application framework. Its information management capabilities can support data-related activities within and between cloud environments and the enterprise; our data in the cloud benchmark research found that accessing, ensuring quality of and governing cloud-based data are important to more than three-quarters of organizations. Information Builders is beginning to see more demand for these features from customers who are dealing with a technological shift from on-premises to cloud computing.
Throughout its 37 year history Information Builders has demonstrated an ability to innovate without making acquisitions. The company has substantial growth in businesses and industries where the risk of not having information readily available can negatively impact business. I would like to see the company support more business and social collaboration in its products, to let customers share and capture the knowledge surrounding their information to reduce the time they need to make the best possible decision. With version 8 WebFOCUS supports key business technology trends. If you have not looked at how Information Builders has brought business intelligence and information management together to support business analytics, I recommend that you take the opportunity to see what its products can accomplish.
Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer
May 25, 2012 in Business Analytics, Business Mobility, Business Performance Management (BPM), Cloud Computing, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Operational Performance Management (OPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Social Media, Workforce Performance Management (WPM) | Tags: ADP, Compensation, HCM, HR, Human Capital Management, Learning, LMS, mobile, Performance, TCM | by Mark Smith | Leave a comment
Acquisitions and new product releases continue to make the market for human capital management a hotbed of activity, as organizations attempt to fully utilize and increase the value of their workforces as I have outlined in my research agenda. ADP, with more than $10 billion in revenues and more than 570,000 customers, is aiming for the top spot in this market.
ADP plans to grow its current human resources-centric outsourcing business and expand its software and services for human capital management (HCM) directly to organizations globally. It has three major products that target niches from small to midsize businesses to the largest global organizations. At the low end, ADP Workforce Now, launched in 2009, provides a collection of HR, benefits, payroll and time management capabilities to more than 24,000 clients. For midsize businesses, an application suite called ADP Vantage HCM is in pilot deployment and estimated for release in mid-2012. On the high end, through a partnership with SAP, ADP GlobalView handles transactions in 81 countries for more than 100 customers with 1 million employees. ADP’s latest announcement, touts having an integrated end-to-end application platform for talent management for all sizes of business. ADP also continues to offer other applications directly through its partnerships, such as one with Cornerstone for its talent management suite and another with Kronos for workforce management. (To confuse things, ADP just announced an extension to its reselling of Cornerstone OnDemand, which directly competes with the soon-to-be-released ADP Vantage HCM.)
On another front ADP purchased a new learning management system (LMS) to expand into this market. From my review it appears to be a good stand-alone foundation to build on and will need further integration with performance management and analytics and a better interface for users to collaborate and interact with others in the organization.
ADP also has expanded its ADP Mobile, adding to existing employee self-service capabilities such as paycheck, benefits, time and attendance, absence and retirement, new capabilities including inbox, work calendaring and pay-card management. I reviewed its mobile capabilities on the Apple iPhone and found it simple to use and covering key employee-level needs for any size of organization.
ADP Vantage HCM provides talent acquisition, compensation, performance and succession, and is built on a platform that is strong on configurability, utilizing workflow and a rules-based approach. At its foundation is a jobs library that stores information and profiles about individuals who have specific jobs and competencies. ADP has overcome the most impactful barrier to compensation, which is integration with the rest of the talent management suite, according to 66 percent of organizations in our total compensation management benchmark research. However, it needs to make usability a higher priority for employees and managers across its applications; in this area the software needs improvement, and usability is the number-one evaluation criteria for products in HCM according to our research. But ADP has made many tasks easier to use; for instance, it presents the alignment of goals for an individual in one screen for review. This helps align the workforce to business goals, which is the top benefit of a performance management investment according to 81 percent of organizations in our performance management for talent management benchmark research. It has also expanded in its support for competencies and salary data for benchmarking, and is starting to provide content for its newly released LMS.
Looking elsewhere, we see that ADP still could improve its recruiting and applicant tracking systems as part of its application suite. Today, with its talent acquisition capabilities, it can manage requisitions and interviews, handle onboarding by posting positions to specific job boards, get resumes, post applicants into the system and do background checks. ADP also acquired a recruiting processing outsourcing (RPO) company called The RightThing that has helped many large organizations with outsourced recruiting. It uses a candidate relationship management technology called SourcePoint that has the ability to identify and source candidates from job boards and social sites such as Spoke and ZoomInfo. But ADP has not integrated its recruiting technologies with the Vantage HCM suite, and that should be a priority. According to our benchmark in social media and recruiting, half of organizations plan to address candidate integration from sites like LinkedIn and Facebook to identify new talent pools. HR and recruiting organizations expect these capabilities from applicant tracking systems.
Another area where ADP will need to enhance Vantage HCM is workforce analytics; the current offering needs significant improvement in usability and functionality. ADP demonstrated a new technology offering that was demonstrated on a table that presents information in a logical and easy-to-read manner, with access to micro-analytic visualization for details on metrics. HR professionals expect analytics to be simple to use, according to 89 percent of organizations in our workforce analytics benchmark research. ADP also has been investing in search technology as an enabling feature to its applications, letting users search nouns, verbs and actions within the applications and information. One area that it has not addressed is the social collaboration that helps address the needs of employee engagement for retaining talent that our benchmark research finds is a new priority in business.
ADP wants to become the largest provider of cloud-based enterprise software, adding to its current 250,000 software-as-a-service (SaaS) customers with an estimated 18 million employees using its products. The company is building on its strengths in payroll and benefits and expanding its HCM portfolio. It faces some tough choices about continuing or ending partnerships with companies it is now competing against. Future releases of workforce analytics, support for tablets and improved usability of the Vantage HCM suite will help ADP be even more competitive in the market.
Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer