Mark Smith's Analyst Perspectives

Optimizing the Business of Selling in 2017

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 20, 2017 9:22:10 AM

I am happy to provide my personal perspective on the potential of sales organizations, processes and technology to supercharge business activity in 2017. The sales processes of organizations – whether they involve digital commerce or direct or indirect physical selling – should be part of continuous optimization efforts to reach maximum results. To do this, the people leading and running sales processes must be able to use technology that supports their responsibilities and analyzes the crucial information coming into the business. For almost 15 years, we have advocated for sales applications and tools that are necessary to optimize sales effectiveness and improve the outcomes of their sales efforts. The available portfolio is much larger than sales force automation (SFA) and involves more than the continued use of CRM, which has clear limits in its ability to manage customer relationships. The applications on offer include many facets of sales:  coaching, compensation management, contract management, configure price quote (CPQ), forecasting, quota and territory management, planning and optimization, pricing and revenue optimization, and target or market intelligence. New applications designed for sales also enable digital effectiveness that can transform organizations. Let me provide my perspective on six topics that are shaping the way sales can and should operate in 2017, and which are part of our sales research agenda for the year.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Machine Learning, Mobile Technology, cloud computing, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, analytics, digital technology, Billing and Recurring Revenue, Digital Commerce, Operations & Supply Chain, Sales and Operations Planning, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Sales Enablement and Execution, Collaboration for Business

Stibo Systems Continues to Advance PIM for Business and IT

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 20, 2015 7:05:03 PM

Stibo Systems has been providing product information management (PIM) software for decades. Its work has helped many organizations worldwide take control of their product information by developing a master definition that can be published acrossmany channels from Web to digital to print. We recognized its work with customers Delta Faucet and Masco Corp. in our 2015 Ventana Research Leadership Award in Information Management. In 2014 Stibo Systems customer Brady Corp. won a similar award for Information Optimization. I have made it clear  that in our view, when it comes to use all kinds of product content and data in business processes, product information management trumps master data management. Delivering value to business with PIM is much different than managing data infrastructure with MDM. There has been much angst in varying industry analyst views on this market segment. We analyze and rate vendors more rigorously than analyst firms that look at them only through an IT lens. Our methodology and framework put business first and IT second, and that shapes how we score vendors in PIM, MDM and other aspects of the software industry.

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Topics: Master Data Management, MDM, mobile technology, Operational Performance Management (OPM), PIM, Stibo Systems, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Management (IM), Information Optimization, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM)

Product Information Management Trumps Master Data Management

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 8, 2015 6:44:36 PM

Ventana Research defines product information management (PIM) as the practice of using information, applications and other technology to effectively support product-related processes across the customer, commerce and supply chain. As organizations increase the number and diversity of products and services they offer to customers and partners, they increasingly need to address limitations in the ways they manage and distribute product information, including related attributes and content that describes the pro­ducts. At the same time, compe­ti­tive pressures require them to be able to incorporate large amounts of new content – video and images, for example – quickly while ensuring that the information present­ed to customers is accurate, operational processes run uninterrupted and timely data is available for business analysis. In an en­vironment in which consumers, suppliers and partners use multiple channels to get to product information – including websites, kiosks, smart­phones and tablets – it is essential that the organization always be able to present complete and up-to-date product information to inspire interest and facilitate purchases.

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Topics: Big Data, Master Data Management, Governance, Marketing, Operational Performance Management (OPM), CIO, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Management (IM), Information Optimization, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM)

The State of Product Information Management Software for Business and IT

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 8, 2015 6:19:59 PM

The importance of product information management (PIM) has become clear in recent years and especially as it relates to master data management. As I recently wrote handling this business process effectively and using capable software should be priorities for any organization in marketing and selling its products and services but also interconnecting the distributed supply chain. Our research on product information management can help organizations save time and resources in efforts to ensure that product information is an asset to facilitate efficiency in many business processes. Through years of benchmarking, we have developed a blueprint for managing and improving product information. Using this approach enables companies to more effectively align and link their activities and processes. Of course achieving effectiveness also requires using applications that create consistent, reliable product information. We regularly update our Value Index for PIM to enable companies to evaluate vendors and their applications’ suitability for use in all business processes requiring product information.

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Topics: Big Data, Master Data Management, Agility Multichannel, Enterworks, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Stibo Systems, Webon, CIO, IBM, Informatica, Oracle, ADAM Software, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Management (IM), Information Optimization, Product Information Management, Riversand, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM)

Informatica Unveils New Platform and Tools for Information Optimization

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 3, 2014 9:09:20 AM

At the Informatica World 2014 conference, the company known for its data integration software unveiled the Intelligent Data Platform. In the last three years Informatica has expanded beyond data integration and now has a broad software portfolio that facilitates information management within the enterprise and through cloud computing. The Intelligent Data Platform forms a framework for its portfolio. This expression of broad potential is important for Informatica, which has been slow to position its products as capable of more than data integration. A large part of the value it provides lies in what its products can do to help organizations strengthen their enterprise architectures for managing applications and data. We see Informatica’s sweet spot in facilitating efficient use of data for business and IT purposes; we call this information optimization.

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Topics: Big Data, Master Data Management, application architecture, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Business Analytics, CIO, Cloud Computing, Data Integration, Data Management, Informatica, Business Intelligence (BI), Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), Information Optimization, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM)

Agility Provides Simplicity and Innovation in Product Information Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 31, 2013 2:03:27 AM

The need to be effective in the marketing, selling, manufacturing, distributing, and sourcing products requires more consistent and higher quality product information. This is where product information management (PIM) has great potential, and as I have attested is the responsibility of business to lead the process and technology improvements. Of course for PIM to be efficient IT needs to support business leadership to improve PIM and ensure access and integration of data and applications. One of the technology providers that help in this mission is Agility Multichannel, a software supplier that I have been tracking for many years and rated the highest level as a Hot Vendor in our 2012 Ventana Research Value Index for Product Information Management. In the scope of PIM its product has the ability to handle a broad range of channels of interaction for product information, from traditional print and electronic layout to email, portal, mobile and commerce interfaces across the life cycle of product information.

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Topics: Agility, Agility Multichannel, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Commerce, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM)

The Secrets to Big Data and Information Optimization Revealed in 2013 Research Agenda

Posted by Mark Smith on Jan 16, 2013 3:09:37 PM

Managing the access, storage and use of data effectively can provide businesses a competitive advantage. Last year I outlined what the big deal is in big data, as the initial focus on the volume, velocity and variety of data – what my colleague Tony Cosentino calls the three V’s – is only one small piece of how organizations should evaluate this technology. The more balanced approach is to include what he calls the three W’s – the what, so what and now what, which shifts the focus to an outcome-based view that can handle the time–to-value urgency found in business. Big data analytics can help assess the volume of data, while the velocity of data that is potentially in-motion is best handled by what we call operational intelligence. Beyond these, techniques and technology such as predictive analytics and visual discovery facilitate extracting more value from big data. Along with a wide variety of data, these tools help organizations focus on optimizing information assets. We will soon conduct benchmark research into information optimization to determine how organizations are dealing with their information today and what steps they are taking to improve. In-memory computing will surely be one of those steps, as it can significantly improve the time-to-insight equation.

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Topics: Big Data, Master Data Management, Predictive Analytics, MDM, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, CIO, Cloud Computing, Data Governance, Data Integration, Information Management, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Business Intelligence (BI), Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM)

The Business of Sales and Marketing – Our Research Agenda for 2013

Posted by Mark Smith on Jan 11, 2013 12:39:29 PM

Most organizations see improving the effectiveness of sales as a way to increase productivity. Those organizations that take advantage of the latest sales applications and technology are finding themselves with a competitive advantage, but many organizations lack the time and resources to assess and deploy appropriate platforms. That’s a shame, since most sales organizations have plenty to improve in their selling, forecasting, incentives and planning according to our latest research on sales performance management. We found a high demand even for many of the basics; for instance, many organizations still use personal spreadsheets or outdated applications that are costly to manage. At the same time, marketing organizations are investing heavily to be more revenue- and sales-focused to ensure they maintain relevance and contribute to their organizations’ performance and profitability. Both sales and marketing have fixated on specific processes and how they can work better together.

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Topics: Big Data, Sales, Social Media, Marketing, Operational Performance Management (OPM), PIM, Sales Compensation, Sales Forecasting, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Business Intelligence (BI), Business Performance Management (BPM), CPQ, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM), SFA, Workforce Performance Management (WPM)

Product Information Management is for Business

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 4, 2012 11:23:19 AM

To maximize the potential of their investments, businesses must manage product information, yet for many businesses product information is scattered and duplicated in many systems, which leads to duplication of effort, incorrect information about product descriptions and prices and improper tracking of products, all of which increase costs and waste time. At the same time, for marketing products and streamlining their distribution through sales channels, making product information accessible to consumers through smartphones and tablets is essential.

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Topics: Big Data, Master Data Management, Sales, Operational Performance Management (OPM), CIO, Information Management, Business Performance Management (BPM), Commerce, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Information Management (IM), Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM)

Informatica Goes Heiler for PIM and Product Information Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 2, 2012 11:03:02 AM

Informatica is a Hot vendor when it comes to our Value Index for Data Integration. When it comes to meeting the business need for consistent and high-quality product information, Informatica just raised its prospects with its announced takeover of Heiler Software. Until now, Informatica has lacked a product information management (PIM) offering. Germany-based Heiler Software, whose presence has continued to grow in Europe and North America, was recently ranked as a Hot Vendor in our Value Index for Product Information Management, as you can read in our no-cost executive report. Informatica’s purchase brings complementary products together from one supplier and will help organizations provide a higher quality and volume of product information throughout business processes, and help place business, rather than IT, in the role of creating, using and sharing information.

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Topics: MDM, Operational Performance Management (OPM), PIM, CIO, Data Governance, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Management (IM), Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM)